IABC has joined forces with the internal communication consultancy Gatehouse to convert the popular Accelerate program into an online learning opportunity. Here, Gatehouse expands on an Accelerate program hallmark of narrative, messaging and content by emphasizing the importance of a strategic narrative and identifying the six key components of creating that narrative.
Are You Sitting Comfortably? Then Let’s Begin…
When telling your corporate story, creating a strategic narrative can elevate your messaging.
But if all you’re doing is living out your dream of writing for a living (are you even in the right profession?), tinkering with a few words and dropping a pun into your copy, then what’s the actual point?
In order for us, as internal communication (IC) practitioners, to be taken seriously as trusted advisers and strategic enablers, we must elevate the art of messaging beyond clever wordsmithing to ensure that every word we write adds real value.
Having completed over 100 IC audits in the past 12 years here at Gallagher Communication, we know that having a compelling strategic narrative is a key driver of employee engagement. If employees don’t have a solid understanding of why the organization exists, what it’s trying to achieve and where it’s heading, how on earth can they have that all-important “line of sight?”
If the direction in which the organization is traveling is unclear — even to senior leaders —this will filter down through layers of management and create confusion on the front line.
How does this impact results? You end up with employees who can’t see how they contribute to the success of the organization and don’t know what the business is trying to achieve over the long term.
Crafting a clear, compelling narrative is arguably the single most important thing we can do to stop this from happening. So let’s do it right.
Make sure your narrative targets:
- Why the organization exists (its purpose)
- Where it’s heading
- What will be different when you get there (its vision)
- How it plans to get there (its strategy)
- Who you’re communicating with
- When you need them to take action (And, while you’re at it, make sure it captures the big strategic priorities that guide the day-to-day activity that individual teams and departments are focused on.)
Working with the executive team to review existing strategies is key to nailing this — and looking into the history of the organization is key to projecting yourself into the future. Understanding the competitive landscape and the macro-environment is essential when it comes to identifying those key goals, too.
Once you’ve got that all sorted, you’ll want to understand what employees need to think, feel and do to make it all happen.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
A good strategic narrative will be clear, memorable, repeatable, visual, emotive and inspiring. When you have that kind of material to work with, bringing it to life through stories, anecdotes and metaphors should be the best part about working in IC.
As we said earlier, it’s not just about the words — a really good strategic narrative can, quite literally, paint a clear and compelling picture of the future. And when you throw some captivating creative into the mix, too, that’s when you really strike gold.
Sharing your message via aesthetics is every bit as important to the internal communicator as the words themselves. Using the right, colors, imagery, typography, icons, layout, graphics and video can all create a next-level visual shorthand for your strategy.
And when expertly crafted words team up with fantastic design? Well, that’s when the value of your messaging goes through the roof.