While we’re nearing content overload, people want stories more than ever. Stories are different from your average business content in that they tend to give the audience a peak into a company culture, belief system and values held important by the organization. Company stories that are emotional and revealing can demonstrate what the brand, and employees, stand for in ways that captivate and find the reader wanting more.
The key to sharing great stories is, of course, to capture them. Companies that can develop a culture of story gathering are well-positioned for content success for a number of reasons. Capturing stories is often one of the biggest challenges for the internal content manager. It’s not a one-man task, but is often a one-man gig. To be effective, they need an army of people, especially on the front line talking to customers, partners and vendors, seeking the stories they’re not event aware of. There’s gold in those stories and they need to be told — but first they need to be revealed.
When the entire organization is contributing story ideas, there is a sense of ownership and pride that carries through. Employees can be hesitant to mix business and pleasure, meaning they don’t always want to promote their company’s marketing efforts with their social network. When they, or co-workers, have contributed, the story suddenly doesn’t feel like marketing and they’re eager to show off the great place they call work.
Developing this culture of story gathering relies on the habit of capturing moments, quotes and anecdotes as they happen, across the entire organization. The content manager must make it super easy for people to simply submit an idea — that’s it. Asking people to create the content is the #1 reason (excuse) why people won’t contribute ideas. For a smart, experienced content creator, tracking down details of the story and bringing it all together is the easy part!
I’ve successfully done this with former employers and with many clients in my own marketing consultancy practice. It takes time and diligence, but the payoff is worth it! Here are five tips and tricks to start cultivating a story gathering culture in your own organization.
How to Develop a Story Gathering Culture
1. Identify how you want people to submit ideas. Will you use an internal wiki, have people send ideas via email or post to a Trello board? Have a plan that makes it crazy easy for submission.
2. Promote the concept of gathering and sharing stories. Consider launching with an internal campaign that includes posters around the office (include the bathroom – everyone goes!), emails and other elements to promote the effort.
3. Keep story gathering top of mind. Announcements at meetings and semi-frequent emails will help people remember to be on the hunt for good stories. Ask people to come prepared to team meetings with stories to share from the past week.
4. Communicate what you want. Give employees examples of the kind of stories and moments you want them to collect. Make sure they understand how to differentiate between taking a picture of a co-worker going out of their way to help a customer, and sharing what someone had for breakfast.
5. Show off success. Share the stories back internally and highlight the employee who submitted the initial idea. If you can get everyone in the company to subscribe to your blog or social media channels they’ll see it that way, otherwise print them out and leave copies in popular areas.
Stories shared will lead to more stories. Keep up these efforts and you’re sure to gain momentum.