Showcasing Your Strategy Through Storytelling
22 January 2015 at 10:03 am
The social sector ‘strategy’ is now receiving a makeover, thanks to storytelling techniques that are transforming routine reports into compelling content writes National Marketing Manager, Social Sector Banking at Westpac Lali Wiratunga who offers his top tips to help bring a Not for Profit’s mission to life.
The social sector has become adept at documenting and reporting strategic plans. An increasingly regulated operating environment and high expectations of investors have demanded it. Often considered the end-product of months of consultation and planning, the ‘strategy’ is now receiving a makeover, thanks to storytelling techniques that are transforming routine reports into compelling content.
Here are some top tips for Not for Profits:
1. Publish on Digital Platforms
Each year, more and more Australians move online to access information, transact, and interact. Publishing on platforms like mobile handsets, websites and social media means you deliver your story to your audience in a timely and accessible way. And digital media can more easily deliver added features that print publications cannot: sound, movement, human expression and emotion.
Westpac’s 2014 Annual Review and Sustainability Report was published online as an interactive ‘click through’ report, with personal stories of customers and staff, and videos from the Chairman and CEO, to bring the Group’s performance to life.
Siobhan Toohill is Head of Group Sustainability and Community at Westpac and says, “Personal stories help us relate to concepts in a way that numbers and charts often don’t. We find it is the best way to create a connection with our sustainability strategy and bring our initiatives to life.”
2. Select the Right Narrator
Markus Zusak, author of the highly acclaimed The Book Thief, admits to struggling with the draft until he finally settled on the right narrator for his story—in this case, a candid and somehow personable Death.
Described as a ‘masterstroke’ of the author, the narrator here offers a unique and emotional perspective into each event and character, giving the reader insights that only the narrator can reveal. “Telling stories from the perspective of those people who have benefitted from the work you do shows stakeholders why what you’re doing matters. The stories of the beneficiaries are what connect people to an organisation,” says Cath Keenan, executive director and co-founder of the Sydney Story Factory and Award Recipient Community Leaders Awards 2014 in the Board Member category.
Not for Profits should consider who in their organisation can authentically connect stakeholders with the different layers of the strategy—is it a beneficiary, a member, a volunteer or the CEO?
3. Your Community is Your Cast
In essence; your strategy document will outline the scene, the obstacle and the intended journey. Not for Profits have a large number of interested stakeholders and this presents a fantastic opportunity to write each one of them into your story. In your story, who are the characters that need your help? Who gets to be the hero? The beauty of using storytelling principles in your strategy is that each of your stakeholders can be included in the narrative.
4. Provide Proof of Social Impact
Social impact is more than a buzzword. Stakeholders genuinely want to know that your strategy delivers real social change. Telling the story of change through case studies and personal profiles is positive proof that your mission is materialising.
Innovating your strategy using storytelling principles is a great way to reach your stakeholders and hold their attention. Insert clear calls to action and hopefully, your story with your stakeholders will read ‘to be continued…’
Screenshot from Westpac's 2014 Annual Review & Sustainability Report
About the author: Lali Wiratunga is the National Marketing Manager, Social Sector Banking at Westpac. To ask a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with Lali Wiratunga via LinkedIn