Storytelling is an age-old craft with the power to do achieve things. It informs, it entertains, it persuades, it closes deals, it seduces, it rallies people to action or discourages them from something, and much more.
Today, I will narrow my scope down to Covid-19 times. All companies have a unique story to tell about their experience during the pandemic, each different from the rest. And whether they are small or large, profitable or loss-making, there are gems that can be picked from each of these firms’ accounts.
Imagine if we collected an anthology of corporate stories for the past six months and publish it. Better still, do a documentary, capturing the tension build-up in boardrooms, sleepless nights for managers, the tears, cracking voices and then the cries of joy after bouncing back, in the wake of finding ways to avoid sending workers home.
Likely to emerge are stories bearing multiple shades, from triumph and resilience to failure, from survival to despair, from tales of empathy to heartlessness.
More than anything, what will give colour to these accounts are the strategies and tactics that businesses deployed to navigate the Covid-19 landscape littered with potential minefields. Some made that one wrong move that ended up costing them their entire business lifeline. Yet others made a series of small missteps that slowly bled their ventures dry.
On the other hand, there are many more organisations that survived even after initially taking a hit, and then proceeded to pursue stronger recovery pathways in a true spirit of resilience. In so doing, their stories if chronicled could make a beautiful read of rising above challenges.
Generally, there are lessons to be learnt from each case: best practices and strategies, the pitfalls to avoid, the mistakes, the opportunities and innovation.
Storytelling is at the core of humanity. It is the bedrock upon which relationships are formed and maintained, as is for trust.
More importantly, a product or idea delivered by way of stories is more likely to emotionally connect with the target audience or market.
For this reason, enterprises could set out to tell their side of the pandemic story. The goal would be to humanise their operations amid unprecedented challenges, put a face to their struggles, triumphs, strategies and innovations. It could be seen as a way of rewriting the pandemic story in the corporate domain.
The way some have gone to extra lengths to tell their customers the safety features they have put in place is the same way firms should share stories of their journey, navigating the crisis.
A story could take such an outline:
What was the first step taken after the virus was confirmed in the country? What changes happened in the market soon after and how did you respond? What measures were initially taken that later turned out to be missteps or masterstroke with benefit of hindsight?
What was the single biggest challenge your business faced during the pandemic and how did you handle it? How prepared was your team for such a crisis? If a similar crisis strikes again in future, how better prepared would you be? What personal challenges did the workforce grapple with and how did the management address this? How did the managers cope with the head-spinning uncertainty that sent markets into chaos?
What part did your corporation play in managing and mitigating the pandemic impact on the society? As the society circled the wagons and sought to bridge divisions, what supporting hand did your firm extend and receive? What new partnerships and relations were formed as a result? Did competition intensify or reduce during the crisis?
What survival and recovery strategies did you deploy? What challenges were encountered during implementation and how was this managed? What kind of support did you need to ride out the storm and how easy or difficult was it to access it?
What lessons have you learnt for the past six months? What new ways of doing things have you adopted during this period and what have you let go of?
Sharing such an account will not only humanise a brand’s experience but could also endear it to the public, effectively cementing its customer loyalty and brand visibility.
Chronicled stories may also form a key part of the history of a company, storing invaluable lessons and memories.
It is often said that a crisis shouldn’t be left to go to waste; something positive must come out of it. This is no different; corporates should strive to put a positive spin to the unfolding situation.
This story was originally published by the Business Daily