Strategic storytelling: Circle of Fellows #20


Storytelling is a hot topic in communication circles. Posts and articles abound that hype the magic of storytelling in marketing and PR, why the human brain craves stories, why brands need underlying stories and employees need corporate narratives. PR service companies are promoting storytelling while PR media outlets inform us we have it all wrong, that it’s storytelling techniques that matter, not telling an entire story. We learn about critical narrative elements while internal communication pundits insist we need to focus on journalistic storytelling.

So much advice can be overwhelming. Does every message we deliver require a hero on a quest? Must a protagonist overcome obstacles and undergo transformational change? Is there a role for an antihero in communications? And more to the point, just what elements of storytelling do we need to employ in order for the stories we tell (or the messages we deliver with storytelling components) to achieve some measurable objective?

In this Circle of Fellows discussion, IABC Fellows unpack what it means to apply storytelling to organizational communication.The panel, hosted by the FIR Podcast Network’s Shel Holtz (also a Fellow), included:

James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru®, is a bestselling author, national speaker, and trusted strategic advisor to FPO and NPO business operators and leaders during crises, disasters, reputation attacks, contentiousness and when the boss’s future is at stake. Corporate Legal Times listed him as “one of 22 crisis counselors to have in your speed dial when all hell breaks loose.” For more than 30 years, he has confidentially guided hundreds of company leaders through tough, touchy, sensitive situations. Lukaszewski’s strategies inspire constructive, ethical problem resolving management behavior. A powerful and inspirational speaker, he teaches executives and managers the lessons he has learned. A prolific author, he is quoted and interviewed often as one of the most recognizable leaders in his profession.

Barbara Puffer owns Puffer Public Relations Strategies. Previously, she was corporate communication manager at Barnes Group for 13 years; her communication management career spans 25 years, including work in banking, insurance, and telecommunications organizations. She is an associate professor at the University of Maryland University College.

Jim Shaffer is a business adviser, leadership coach, author, speaker. As leader of the Jim Shaffer Group, he helps organizations accelerate results through superior strategy execution. The Jim Shaffer Group creates hard business results by translating the business strategy to the people who need to implement it, aligning systems, processes, and culture to make the gains sustainable.

Jennifer Wah, MC, ABC, has worked with clients to deliver ideas, plans, words and results since she founded her storytelling and communication firm, Forwords Communication Inc., in 1997. The company operates as a strategic alliance of hand-picked professionals; all renowned for work in their areas of specialization. This approach means the right team is assembled for each project; no more, no less. With more than two dozen awards for strategic communication, writing and consulting, Jennifer is recognized as a storyteller and strategist. She has worked in industries from healthcare to financial services to academia, and is passionate about the opportunity for stories to inspire actions and reactions within organizations.In 2013, Jennifer was named Associate Faculty of Royal Roads University, and in this capacity, continues to teach, coach and mentor others with an interest in business communication.

Watch the video broadcast right below or on YouTube. If you can’t make it for the live broadcast, the video replay will be available shortly afterward. You can also subscribe to the Circle of Fellows podcast to get the audio for later listening (and never miss a future episode).

Jessica Burnette-Lemon

Jessica Burnette-Lemon is the senior content manager for IABC.

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