Inside Marketing: 5 Steps to Creating a Storytelling Program in Your Organization

Group of coworkers listening as one tells a story
By Arek Gazda

3 minutes

Stories help communicate the who, why and what of your credit union while building engagement and trust.

Storytelling is not a new concept. Everyone loves a good story, especially stories that educate, showcase real-life experiences and connect with our emotions. Storytelling is also an essential tactic for corporate communications teams, allowing us to amplify the message of who our organizations are, why they exist and what they stand for.

Communication professionals now have a seat at the strategic planning table. We have the ability not only to advise our leadership but also to tell strategic stories that connect audiences to the business, break internal silos and increase employee and customer engagement.

Working for organizations like credit unions with many great stories allows us to build storytelling programs and tell stories that move audiences and feature the people closest to the work. The key to such a program’s success is to make yourself known and that you’re in constant need of story ideas by following these five steps.

1. Establish a Core Team

Depending on how your communications team is structured, find internal partners who will understand the benefit of a storytelling program and help you launch it. Colleagues on your PR, social media, brand and copywriting teams are the best people to start with.

These teams want quality content. Invite them to participate by explaining that they’ll gain access to all the stories and have the ability to post them on the various marketing and PR channels they manage.

Once established, the core team will assign, produce, edit and review the content, filter story ideas, and decide what channels to share them on. You can also use their expertise to train your reporters to become better communicators. On that note…

2. Find Your Reporters

Involve your core team in nominating employees to join the program. Look beyond your company’s top performers and invite those employees who have the quality of a reporter.  

The best folks to join the team are those who are in the know, highly engaged, gatekeepers to project and leadership teams, curious, empathetic and energetic. They’ll find the stories.

3. Organize Newsroom Meetings

This is the most important step. You have to find a way to bring the group together, get them in the habit of thinking about stories and make them feel excited about adding the program to their already busy schedules.

Reporters need to come to each meeting ready to share story ideas. Your job is to run fun, exciting and informative sessions. Welcome all story pitches by discussing how they align with the organization’s strategic goals, values and communication objectives. This will allow the reporters to come up with a new and better angle for the story when needed or scratch it all together.

4. Deliver on Your Promise

Make sure this is a meaningful experience for everyone. Use the newsroom meetings to generate story ideas and train and engage your reporters. Remember, these are internal influencers who like to stay in the know and want to grow their skillset.  

You can spend the first half of your meeting sharing new ideas, providing information on what’s coming up, gaining feedback on your work and providing communication training.

Consider engaging your core team in creating communication training or using external partners if your budget allows.  

5. Publish on Multiple Channels

Here is where your program gains the biggest momentum.

Use your core team’s expertise and interests and get the most out of each story idea by discussing where it fits best and publishing them on multiple channels. One story could easily work for internal, social and PR channels.

Core team members can assess and repurpose the content for the channels they manage.

A memorable story needs to include the essential element of every company culture—its people. Consider building a storytelling program and involve your colleagues in helping you shape an impactful narrative by telling stories from across your organizations and featuring people closest to the work.

Arek Gazda is the culture and internal communications manager for $16 billion Alliant Credit Union, Chicago.

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