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From Strategy to Storytelling: Getting Social Impact Communications Right

Now more than ever, effective social impact storytelling is a powerful way for companies to connect with stakeholders, inspire action across their employee base and demonstrate the positive contributions they are making in their communities. Yet we know first-hand that many corporate social impact professionals regularly face challenges when thinking about their communications strategies. They struggle with crafting a narrative to explain their strategy clearly and concisely, while at the same time making sure its inspiring and memorable to the intended audience.

In this article we will explore some of the common communication hurdles our clients regularly grapple with, and offer some practical tips to effectively navigate and overcome these challenges together with your corporate communications team.


Bridging the Gap between Strategy and Corporate Communications.

While some organizations benefit from having a dedicated communications team member well-versed in corporate responsibility, others find themselves assigned a corporate communications generalist or, in some cases, no communications resource at all. We often find our clients are frustrated when communications developed miss the mark—messaging that lacks rationale or a connection to business objectives, or that comes across as isolated from broader corporate positioning.

And while you may not be a communications professional, you are uniquely positioned to provide unparalleled insight into your company’s social impact strategy and use it as a unifying force between purpose and profit.

You also understand the key messages that should be conveyed across various stakeholder groups, the “why” behind your strategy, the competitive landscape in which your business is operating in, and even a sense of the channels best suited to deliver your messages. With a little bit of organization, you will be well positioned to partner with your communications team to create a framework for your social impact communications plan, arming them with the information needed to start incorporating your messaging into the company’s broader strategy and ensuring they are avoiding corporate jargon and communicating the real meaning of your work.


Making Your Work a Priority.

Success often relies on education and partnership. Inspire your corporate communications team by sharing best practices and best in class examples of strong social impact storytelling in action. Leverage industry benchmarks to help your team understand the benefits of doing this work right – from increased visibility in the community, to recognition from consumers, to a stronger employee value proposition and much more. Help them see communications and storytelling is key to reaping these rewards.

Foster an environment of collaboration so that your teams can exchange ideas, insights, and objectives. This will help further align social impact initiatives with the overall messaging, positioning and branding strategies of the company.

Your work should be more than just a landing page or tab on your online newsroom. It can and should be the proof points that bring your corporate purpose to life.


Creating Content that Resonates.

Determining which aspects of your social impact strategy will resonate with stakeholders can be challenging. At Changing Our World, we embrace the opportunity to leverage stakeholder engagement and use the feedback we hear to shape our strategies. Conducting interviews, issuing surveys, and regularly monitoring your social media channels can all provide valuable insights into what matters most to your audiences. Leverage this feedback to tailor and segment your content so that it aligns with stakeholder interests and concerns.


Crafting a Differentiated Narrative.

To stand out in a crowded landscape, companies must develop messaging that distinguishes from peers but also reflects the distinct aspects of your corporate culture, purpose and values. Take the time to conduct a landscape analysis of your peers and other companies addressing similar social issues to ensure your narrative and positioning is distinctive.

Take stock of the data you have available and quantify the impact of your partnerships and initiatives. Showcase how you are leveraging innovation as well as the unique ways you are utilizing your additional corporate assets, products and people, to drive social change.

And connect with your HR team to identify opportunities to leverage your narrative and incorporate it into broader communications and positioning. By embedding this messaging into your employee value proposition, you will be well equipped to attract and retain talent that is interested in working for a company with a commitment to purpose.


Focusing on Authenticity.

While showcasing achievements is important, many corporate leaders equate communicating success with appearing boastful. We know from our own consumer research that when companies showcase alignment to their social impact initiatives and broader business objectives they are often perceived as genuinely authentic in their work. A clear strategy and a clear narrative can become the cornerstone of effective storytelling, fostering a deeper connection with the stakeholders that matter most.


Final Takeaways

We know social impact storytelling is hard! It requires planning, collaboration, and time which can be challenging on top of your day-to-day job. But by allocating a few hours each month to communications planning and execution, you will be well positioned to partner with your communications team and begin to share an authentic impact story that enhances brand visibility, resonates with key stakeholders, and strengthens your overarching employee value proposition.

If you are struggling with where to start, Changing Our World’s team of social impact experts can help you put a plan in place to begin bridging the gap between strategy and storytelling.


A black and white photo of a woman smiling.


Maureen Flynn,
Vice President