How to tell your story better: ask ‘why?’

Telling the story of our work to make places happen

If you work in comms, you’ll know that explaining your job to other people is challenging at times. This isn’t the same as explaining what you do, which can also be hard. *

Explaining the work of the organisation you represent is also tough, not least because it’s not just about you. It takes time navigating different perspectives. It requires understanding of the organisation and its key audiences. The explanation must be clear, memorable and relevant.

And (deep breath) it needs approving before it sees the light of day.

Often, discussions about narratives start with things that organisations do. I’m of the view that good organisational narratives should answer one fundamental question: why do we exist? Everything else flows from this.  

Without it, organisations can craft a decent list setting out what they do. This is useful and relevant, but it’ll be little different from competitors’ services.

Why you exist and what you stand for matters in this context. It’s only going to become more important as organisations take social value seriously.   

Stories with purpose

We’ve gone through this process over the last two years or so at Social with our rebrand, developing our Life.Happens value and defining our ambition to improve people’s lives.

Recently, we’ve taken this a step further to better to explain our offer to those who work in the built environment – developers, housing providers, local authorities and landowners.

This sits across two areas, which are geared towards the outcomes our clients look for:

  • Making places happen through our consultation and engagement work.
  • Helping place-makers to succeed and grow.

What we do plays a role in enabling those things to happen. We’ve set this out on our website, which also has a dedicated digital offer explaining the work we’ve been doing for years.

Story told in 50 seconds

To support this, we created an animation which tells the story of our work to make places happen better than any committee could. It’s had some tremendous feedback since it was developed.

Making Places Happen animation from November 2020

I’m really pleased with it, and it was great to work with the team in developing it. Narratives take time to craft, but getting them right is important. Asking ‘why?’ will help to achieve that. If you’d like help with yours, then I’d love to chat with you.

* When it comes to my job, it’s tricky as I said. But here goes: I help organisations build relationships and tell their story to move their work forward, enhance their reputation and support their success.

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