Multi-channel Storytelling: Duck Tales

February 18, 2014by Dave StawinskiStorytellingTechnology & Platforms


In previous posts, we have looked at how enterprise social and mobile can become part of your game plan, and how storytelling should be at the heart of your communications. Now we want to putthose elements together to explore how we can use all available channels to your employees to get them to invest themselves in the stories you need to tell.

Stories, at their essential cores, have characters and plots.

  • Characters – The charactersin your storyare mainly your company, your people, your customers and your competitors. You, and the leadership of your company, are not the main characters in your company’s engagement story. You are the storytellers. The main characters are the people hearing, and investing themselves in, the story. The protagonists are your employees. Know that, and act on it, and you have begun to build a truly effective engagement program.
  • Plot – The plot should be about getting from point A (here and now) to point B (goal achieved). Along the way, we benefit from innate human affinities for feeling that we are on a journey of importance, with people we care about, toward a place we want to be.
  • Challenge – We construct engagement programs from this raw material, as stories. The best stories have high stakes and challenges that not just anyone can overcome. For example, you might be locked in single combat with a major competitor (that’s an easy one). Or, you might be planning a strategic shift that, to your teams, will seem like a hard turn off of well-traveled roads and into unknown and unruly lands. Maybe you just need people to understand why your customers are special and need to be loved and cared for. Whatever your goals are, your teams will make them their own when they realize that “the story” is their own story.

There’s no magic bullet here. Crafting an effective narrative is our business, and it’s rarely the same job twice. The secret is that we embrace the idea that there is always a storytelling hook. In everything.

What’s in our Storytelling Toolbox

How do we tell our story? Wow. We are lucky to live when we do. We have the most diverse storytelling toolbox in human history. I mean, go for campfires and cave paintings on your weekend retreats if that’s what your culture is into. But on the day-to-day, create a story delivery platform of diverse digital, video and printed components, and punctuate the journey with real-life interactions and events as your “turning points” and “climaxes.”

In our post about enterprise social networks, we saw how looking and functioning like the social media your employees are already using is key. Yammer and Jive feel familiar to users of “other social media,” and thus eliminate much of the learning curve that often dampens the adoption of new technologies. This frees us to focus on the important work of constructing narratives.

The Next Chapters: Mobile, Social Media, Brainstorming…Oh My!

We have also seen how your employees already are using their smartphones to handle a million things unrelated to engagement (or maybe even to their jobs). So, in similar fashion to how we deploy social media effectively by showing up at a party-in-progress as gracious and wanted guests, we can become a go-to mobile friend and content source and capture some of that attention in a way that builds engagement.

In coming posts, we will explore our storytelling tools through examples and brainstorming. We’ll look at things like social and mobile, the best times to use print, and how to construct real-word events that feel like turning points in your stories while still doing the heavy lifting they need to do. We will leave no story untold!

Meanwhile, have you heard the one about the duck who walks into bar and asks the bartender, “Got any burgers?”

Dave Stawinski

With nearly 20 years of production experience working for leading digital agencies such as DNA Studios, BLITZ and Second Story, Dave has managed a large number of diverse projects and teams. Over the years he has managed important projects for clients like LOFT, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Honda, Anheuser-Busch, Sony Pictures, Disney, Microsoft, HP, the Library of Congress and others.