The fact is, stories are being told about your organization all the time. Whether the stories are good or bad, they are being told by clients or customers, by service providers, employees and contractors (and their families and friends), by competitors, your board members, government officials and by the media.
When we start working with a client, we often do a little bit of research and find some of the stories that are being told about the organization. There is a great deal of information that can be found online, in blogs, in media coverage, on social media networking sites and on consumer review sites. We also often develop and execute communication audits that ask a range of stakeholder groups for their confidential feedback. Focus groups, both more formal and informal, can also help to inform us of what your story is “on the street.”
Once you have a sense of the story that others are telling about you, it helps to understand what type of story you should be telling at this point. Are the stories that are being told by stakeholders positive or negative? Are they accurate or do they contain errors or misinformation? What is the theme of the stories?
You can learn a great deal from what is being said about your organization now. Understanding this component is the first step in developing your organization’s story on your terms and, when you share it, having your stakeholder groups connect to it and retell it – the way it should be told.
Next week – step two and three.