The Corporate Storyteller

Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Social Media: Core Part of Marketing Communications

If you're still wondering whether social media are an important part of your marketing communications mix, the numbers recently reported by Forrester Research should remove any doubt. Forrester estimates that $716 million was spent on social media marketing last year and expects spending to quadruple to $3.1 billion in 2014.

One of the key uses for social media in the corporate world: recruitment. No less than 80% of companies report using social media to find job candidates.

So to be competitive, you've got to be there. As with any medium, strategic positioning will be key. Eric Qualman, the author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, sums up the issue this way: "The question isn't whethert you should participate in social media; the question is how well you do it."

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Stories Cut through the Clutter

What we typically call "information overload" is so heavy--and growing so rapidly--that it's become an avalanche. According to some estimates, as many as 5,000 messages a day compete for each person's attention, so cutting through that clutter is a monumental task.

Stories will help you help your employees not only cope with the mountains of information bombarding them, but also, more importantly, filter out which messages aren't relevant to the tasks at hand.

Stories are the glue that help people stick together and stay focused on the goal. And because stories touch the heart--evoking emotions that are connected to our own experiences--they're memorable. They become a lasting, internal compass for employees who otherwise will easily get lost in the piles of information.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Bill Cosby: Storyteller Extraordinaire

Summing up his extraordinarily successful career as an actor and stage performer, Bill Cosby describes his talent with the simple statement, "I'm a storyteller."

In an interview The Seattle Times when he was in town for a performance, Cosby told the reporter: "I can get your attention unless you're negative or have problems. Stories deliver something" that capture the audience.

How can you learn from the master and incorporate the power of storytelling in your corporate communications program?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Authenticity Lacking in BP's Storytelling?

More news about BP's Gulf of Mexico clean up efforts reveals a need to manage its story more judiciously. Associated Press reported today that Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, is accusing BP of "withholding evidence" needed to investigate the cause of the worst maritime oil spill in history. In a confidential internal document the AP obtained, Transocean says BP's refusal to turn over the documents has prevented the rig owners from fully informing families of the victims as well as state and federal investigators about the accident.

The letter from Transocean says, "This is troubling, both in light of BP's frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation, and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any entity other than BP from investigating the cause of the April 20 incident and the resulting spill."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Authentic Cultural Stories Shape Who We Are

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell set out to help us understand that the culture we're part of and the people we surround ourselves with shape who we are and (who we become). As he writes, "Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives...and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we cannot make sense of our world without them."

This has been the case since humans first populated the earth. Each tribe's set of stories taught members--and reminded them throughout their lives--who they were, how they viewed the world, and what their place in the world was. These stories formed the foundation of decision-making for life.

The same principle is true today. Each organization we join becomes another "tribe" that influences our world view and guides our choices. It's crucial to listen to the stories a prospective employer tells, and to stay tuned to the organization's stories once you're on board. As noted in my previous post, the personal and business-related stories that a CEO and other leaders tell reveal values that each employee must identify with and support for the entire organization--and each individual in it--to thrive.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Yahoo CEO: Leaders Need to Fit Company's CultureTo Be Effective

The importance of recruiting people who fit the organization's culture has been stated here before, and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz recently added another dimension to that discussion.

In an interview with "Fast Company," she shared her belief that if someone--including the CEO--discovers a disconnect with the culture after they're on board, they need to face the reality and deal with it. "If who you are doesn't fit where you are, then you should go," she said. "I personally think that the most important thing you can be is who you are.... If you're trying to change who you are it doesn't work. People sniff that out."

I say, Amen! Telling an authentic story about the organization, what it stands for, and how it operates is one of the primary responsibilities of a leader. To do that requires that the leader first demonstrate personal authenticity. Sharing stories about why they joined the company, how/why their own values align with the organization's, and experiences that shaped their leadership style all reflect who they are--and help employees relate to them and support their goals.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The Changing Story on Books

What is a book, anyway? The definition is changing at warp speed, it seems. recently reported that the number of e-book sales has surpassed print book sales, and the terms "multimedia" and "interactive" are becoming just as applicable to books as to presentations.

Times of transition that fundamentally change how we go about our daily lives are always disorienting--and they're also exciting. As I develop a self-guided e-version of the Corporate Storytelling system, I'm both frustrated at the complexity and excited about the dynamic nature of the end product. The "book" will be a virtual online presentation with audio and video; and it will be relatively simple to incorporate periodic udpates. Not only will the multimedia format enable me to include fresh stories to illustrate what's happening in the world of organizational storytelling, but it also will allow me to continually add value and help clients maximize results!

The bottom line, as explained in yesterday's "The Wall Street Journal", is that it's the idea that counts (and I would say, the rich experience and results), not the way it's delivered.


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