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Faculty Perspective

Communicating with Purpose: The Art of Storytelling

woman standing on stage

With the burgeoning power and influence of social media, what organizations say and how they say it matters now more than ever. Even with innovative advancements surrounding media and communication in the past century, Salesforce reported that 86% of 1,400 surveyed executives, employees, and educators attribute workplace failures to inefficient communication and a lack of collaboration. So, why is it that despite having tools and platforms created with the very purpose of increasing communication and collaboration, businesses are still experiencing disconnect between their customers, their brand, and even their own employees?

The answer may lie in the human emotions and capabilities that technology and digital automation have yet to adapt. From authentic empathy and purpose to striking the right tone while adapting to the audience, humans surpass machines when it comes to telling a story. To captivate an audience, Penny Kreitzer, acclaimed actress, communications consultant, and executive coach, says every presentation must become a dynamic story in order to have impact and be remembered.

Stories call people to action, evoke emotions, teach life lessons, and ultimately, connect all of us. Storytelling is human nature and although we have been telling stories since the beginning of time, the same story can have a very different impact depending on how it is told. You can have the best product and brand on the market, but when it comes to driving value, being able to effectively tell your story in a way that makes people listen and care is what really matters.

Storytelling, when done well, can transform a business by giving purpose to your brand, creating customer loyalty, and giving people a cause to believe in and support. In Corporate Culture & Performance, John Kotter and James Heskett proved companies that deliver purpose have a profit ratio that is 750x higher than their counterparts that don’t emphasize shared values. Organizations that humanize their business through stories create authentic connections and brand loyalty.

Take Nike, one of the best storytelling brands of our time, for example. Through telling the authentic stories of Michael Jordan and countless other athletes who question the status quo, Nike has built a cult following that feels genuinely connected to their brand. When Nike released the 2018 ad highlighting the story of Colin Kapernick and those who “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”, critics raised red flags over the controversy. However, according to Apex Marketing Group, Nike received over $43 million worth of media exposure in the first 24 hours after the campaign was released and has since earned $6 billion. Telling great stories not only matters, it sells. 

The value of storytelling doesn’t always have to be on a grand scale to make an impact. Adam Leipzig, adjunct faculty member at the Haas School of Business and CEO of Entertainment Media Partners, believes telling a great story can not only help build a brand but can also make an individual more memorable. According to Leipzig, a great story is “sharp, concise, vital, and visual.” Effective communication on every scale depends on authenticity, likability, and connection

At the end of the day, even with the rise of technology and media, people would rather invest in an authentic business that utilizes these platforms as a vessel to share their story and connect with others than a company that doesn’t use their voice effectively.

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