Authentically communicating your organization’s impact builds connection, trust and loyalty among your employees and community. We spoke to B:CIVIC investors in marketing and communications to gather storytelling best practices that can transform your organization’s voice and expand your reach. Everyone agrees that it’s most important to:

  • Tailor your message to a specific audience
  • Connect your stories to your organization’s purpose
  • Tap into the human element of your impact

Keep reading below for more insights on building your strategy and visit part two focused on internal communication and employee engagement.

What are your favorite brand stories?

– “One brand story that is very compelling is ‘Unbecoming is Beautiful promoting natural haircare products from My Black is Beautiful by Proctor & Gamble. Aired during the 2023 NAACP Image Awards, the TV spot is very innovative storytelling about Black women and their ‘hair stories.’ Applying the idea of relatability with an emotional connection, it inspires Black women to define their own beauty,” shares Paula McClain, Principal, BPM Global.

How do you approach developing a strategic storytelling narrative for your business (or clients)?

– “If you try to talk about everything, you end up saying nothing. Instead, we try to pick one or two memorable things and build intensive campaigns around them. That doesn’t mean you stop doing everything in your CSR/ESG strategy, it simply means you don’t talk about them all at the same time,” says Sarah Hogan, Chief Purpose Officer and Co-Founder, Barefoot PR.

 – “My approach is to position storytelling as an integrated brand messaging strategy. The strategy development includes the company’s values, people, products and culture. Brand storytelling delivers authentic, meaningful stories to increase brand recognition, develop credibility, drive growth and foster customer loyalty,” Paula McClain adds.

 – “Similar to building any messaging or marketing campaign, when it comes to strategic storytelling development, we at Scream Agency, start with a brief or framework. Here’s a rough approach to how we get started:

The Why: You should start by thinking of your relevant 5 Ws of telling your story (For Who? Why? What? Where? When?).

Goals: Set goals in telling your CSR and ESG story. Use the 5Rs to guide your actions. Is the goal of your CSR marketing or storytelling to increase Revenue? Build brand Reputation? Retain employees? Recruit? Build partner Relationships?

The Audiences: Why should your audience listen or care? Is your CSR/ESG story unique? How will your story benefit your reader/audience?

The Content: Be sure to add emotion to your story, make it sticky, or create an element that personalizes the story. Make sure to add facts and data points that are relevant,” shares Lora Ledermann, Founder and Creative Director, Scream Agency.

– “The best storytelling from companies comes from employees themselves. Want to create authentic engagement? Listen to employees. There are inspiring stories everywhere – people who go above and beyond in quiet ways that make you stop and say, ‘Wow.’ 

These are the stories that you find out about one on one – waiting for the coffee to brew or working alongside a colleague at a volunteer project. A good storyteller is a good listener. And if you have permission, respect and trust — and good production values — these stories can be shared with fellow employees and other stakeholders to create connection points of shared humanity,” says Tara Rojas, Principal, Tara Rojas Communications.