Professional communicators constantly talk about storytelling. Indeed, the first step to any strategic communications campaign involves carefully crafting and solidifying a brand’s story and messaging.
For new organizations, this exercise requires starting from scratch. More established organizations might look to revisit and revise their messaging to keep things fresh. Either way, a brand’s story forms the backbone of all communication.
The marketing department is usually where a brand’s story is conceived and born. Today, traditional public relations practitioners are working more closely with clients to organize the brand’s corporate and specific marketing messages. While marketing is a good place for story and messaging to start, this is unfortunately where it all too often stops.
An organization's story and messaging should remain consistent across all business functions. Messaging can be tweaked for different audiences, but core messaging should permeate and guide all efforts.
Here are three business areas outside of the traditional marketing arena where PR professionals should be working with clients to sync their brand story:
Traditionally, marketing and sales have often butted heads. One is in charge of generating leads, the other, closing them. While marketing and PR often use messaging to create brand awareness, the larger organizational story and messages should be synced with the sales team early and often.
Salespeople are in the unique position of being on the front line of communication with customers and prospects. They often understand better than anyone else what’s required to keep customers happy and to convert prospects into clients.
It’s a mistake for marketing to create its own messaging and for sales to use something completely different. This isn’t to say that sales should blindly cut and paste marketing messages into their content, be it a sales deck or prospecting email, but certain messages should be aligned for consistency of brand vision, values and voice.
The product development team can consist of programmers, data scientists, designers and engineers. Just as with sales, the product team shouldn’t be using its own separate messaging to communicate with clients. The marketing and product development teams should regularly sync up for major product launches and even small product update emails going out to clients.
Often, product explanations and descriptions are detailed, technical, and in-the-weeds. Marketers and PR folks should take the time to understand product innovations and distill these complex ideas into easily digestible information. Certain parts of the brand’s story and messaging will be integrated into how products are presented.
The overall company story (the vision and guiding force) should be the foundation of all new product development. If a company can’t answer how a product fits into who the company is, why it exists, and the problems it’s trying to address or solve, it should ask, “Why are we building it?”
An organization’s story and messaging is critical for external messaging (marketing, sales and product), but also plays an important role in internal communications and attracting talent. Part of any company’s vision is its values. These values outline not only how a brand interacts with outsiders, but also how it interacts with existing and future employees.
Everybody wants to be part of a company with a strong culture and clear vision. An HR director can use the brand story and messaging in different types of content whether it’s in a handbook, newsletter, company intranet, or other forms of employee communication.
The brand story and culture should shine through in recruiting efforts. Just as applicants are working to sell themselves, companies interested in attracting and retaining the best talent must communicate in a way that reflects clear purpose and vision. This could be a job posting or how an executive delivers a presentation at a networking event.
You’ve helped your clients discover and develop a great brand stories. How are you helping every part of their organization tell that story?
*This post originally appeared in Ragan's PR Daily