In The Dark Knight Arises movie, Batman says,
“A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.”
While we are in no way near to the end of the world, but this is the closest that humankind is witnessing one in several decades.
Organisations big and small are facing a tricky choice of what is to be done during this COVID19 crisis. In my opinion, the most important of them all is, to communicate or to stay silent?
Since saying nothing also says something, the next big question is, what to share? I talked about how storytelling can be used for crisis communication earlier.
People are experiencing a collective crisis; in this situation, sharing their stories becomes more critical than ever. But it also means the story narration needs to be powerful, which connects people as well as creates a positive impact on the people the organisations care for.
Austin Kleon, the author of Show Your Work, a book on creative process writes: “The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work.”
For a health care organisation or a telecom service provider, this is a time when their services are most needed, and people are looking for their best efforts to treat them and help them connected to work respectively.
But what about those people who are behind these organisations? They are in the midst of a life-threatening situation. Their health, personal lives, work conditions are no more the same.
Organisations have to adjust the way they have told their stories about how their work has been making an impact on the lives of people. It also calls for a change in the ways to find and share stories.
Here are three ways to find and share stories. An organisation can use it to communicate and create an impact on its employees and clients.
1. Invite Stories From Your Employees and Clients on Their Experiences
If your organisation doesn’t have a story culture, this is a perfect time to start one. Let the founder or the CEO launch this initiative with an invite to employees and clients to share their experiences. In parallel, it is best to have a team that consists of leaders from the HR, marketing and client teams. Check and filter these stories for sensitivity and relevance.
If done well, this initiative will help organisations to demonstrate their culture, which clients make a note of and directly helps in employer branding too. I have found several employees and organisations already sharing their experiences via different social media platforms and more prominently on Linkedin.
2. Show How Your Organisation’s Values Are Lived Through
I found this quote of Maya Angelou apt for a story that my friend shared, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My friend got a call from his client, a Senior VP of IT for a large healthcare provider. “Adam, the way you guys responded to the situation by being proactive in your communication and being transparent with us during these times makes you and your organisation stand out. I didn’t expect anything less from you after having worked with you for the past couple of years. Do not lose this quality.”
Trust and customer commitment are two of the core values of the organisation to which Adam belongs too. Is there a better way to live by?
Some organisations’ values are nothing but that adorns a wall, while for some like Adam’s, you can see their values in action. This makes for a great story of how people are demonstrating and living the company’s core values.
Find and share stories of how your culture shines in times of adversity, people can connect with them, and it is a great way to engage even your detractors.
3. Collaborate with Clients and Competition to Share Stories that Make an Impact
This situation also provides an excellent opportunity to work with your clients beyond the usual business teams and engage with extended stakeholders such as their Marcom and HR.
In times of crisis, there is more to say, but there are fewer resources to do that. A better option is to join forces and create shared content between organisations that have common values. When going down this path, make sure stories are simple, credible and delivered with an emotional appeal.
Collaboration with clients and competition can happen in different forms. With clients, it could be about the joint impact your frontline staffs are making to keep the services normal in this unusual times (for ex. Telecom service providers and their partners) or how both the organisations are rising to the occasion by risking lives (for ex. Hospitals and their service providers).
With competition, it could be as an industry you are facing a life and death situation (ex. Airline industry) and this opportunity calls for collaboration to share stories of what you are going through.
Here is an example of how India’s Airline players had a coordinated humour exchange while going through the pain of staying grounded!
We are social animals, but when social distancing is the name of the game, there is only animal spirit left in us. To keep that spirit alive and kicking, we must connect and share the commonalities in our hopes and dreams.
Stories bind us together across cultures and centuries. It helps us to make sense of our world when our world doesn’t make sense.
How is your organisation communicating through this crisis? Have you explored storytelling yet? If not, it is time to start out!