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I was on the radio show show and the following Twitter chat (#TChat on January 28, 2015). Below are the questions and answers discussed during the show and the chat.
Q: What’s the difference between content marketing and authentic storytelling in the workplace?
They certainly are close relatives and some of the best content marketing includes great storytelling. When it’s authentic- that’s even better. In the context of talent coordination (I don’t like the term talent management) and recruiting, authentic storytelling can be very beneficial in recruiting the best and keeping the best.
Authentic storytelling means that an organization has a defined purpose and it’s actively lived by employees and leadership. Everyone in the organization is then empowered to share their piece of the overall story.
The defined purpose, by the way, does not include money – though we all want to make money and it’s quite OK to make a lot. The defined purpose is bigger. For example, The Authentic Storytelling Project’s purpose is to encourage truth and realism in content marketing. The more honest we all are with each other, the better on many fronts. Teaching people how to do this certainly is a business endeavor.
Stories can only be changed when we change them on the front end. We have to change the way we live and then share that publicly and with each other.
Q: What makes a story meaningful to the workplace and why?
Teams that share a narrative and goals are stronger together. They are going after a shared goal together and have some shared passions. Some shared passions, because in the greatest teams there’s room for personal passions. The way those personal passions and strengths are put together makes the team great.
Now, once you have that great team and workplace, that’s a good start, but when you start sharing the team’s great stories publicly that’s when you start to practice authentic storytelling. Once people know how great the team, the environment and the collaboration is, people won’t want to leave and more talent wants to come work for you,
Remember though that authentic storytelling only works when it’s actually true. We are not talking about shaping some marketing message here. First it’s lived, then it’s told.
Q: How has storytelling in the workplace evolved with the Internet and social networking?
People already share their stories online on social networks and some even blog – sometimes anonymously. Sides like Glassdoor.com and others also are worth mentioning here. People leave reviews and assign ratings to companies. We might as well assume that potential employees and even current employees read the reviews. Encourage staff to leave their own reviews and once you start sharing your own authentic stories on other sites – like a blog, social media, etc. – those sites might start outranking Glassdoor and others when people research companies.
Q: How and where does one start with authentic storytelling in the workplace? How do we sustain it?
It starts with the top. When top leaders participate and publicly endorse it, it works. When they don’t it’s still doable, but a lot harder. And even kind of dangerous for employees. In addition, positive feedback from leadership helps. Let’s say somebody shares a great story publicly. A leader in an organization positively mentioning this goes a long way. It makes that particular employee feel great and continues building that feeling of empowerment in all employees.
Q: What role should business leadership play in storytelling?
They have to lead it and publicly endorse it.
Q: How does storytelling impacts talent strategies and the business bottom line?
The better the talent and the more in sync these talented employees are, the more successful companies will be. That also translates into revenue. Talented employees have choices. Creating an environment that people want to be in, helps business owners keep talented employees. Sharing that story widely additionally helps recruit more talented employees.
While authentic storytelling – like content marketing – strategies might take a while to work and won’t happen overnight, they can help businesses in the long run add more talented employees, keep the right ones and make an impact on the bottom line.
Related video from a 2014 talk: