“One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.“ — Joseph Stalin
As humans we have a deep need for stories. They help us make sense of the world, bringing order to chaos. Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. We identify with characters who deal with conflicts that we can imagine ourselves facing, and we want to see how it all turns out.
Stories are all around us, including in our businesses. When we mine the story nuggets from employees, customers, volunteers, retirees, board members and others associated with our businesses and nonprofits, we can then use them to further our vision and values. Stories evoke an emotional connection with our audience, whether we are communicating with employees or customers. And emotion is a far superior motivator than intellect.
We identify with people — not programs; names — not numbers. It’s fine to give statistics, but also provide a real story, a “case study,” if you will, with a real name and face to go with it, showing one person with whom your audience can identify. An example: When working on a project for Optima Health and Sentara Healthcare (see story at right about our awards), we identified a central story in a video to show how one employee had improved her health through the employee wellness program.
You can use your stories in a myriad of ways — on your Web site, blog, newsletter, sales materials or — depending on the story — as a news release or media pitch to generate great publicity. Future newsletters will feature more ideas, as does our blog.Storytelling: Why it works for business by Gail Kent