Corporate storytelling is currently a challenge for most companies. Few haven’t felt the impacts of inflation, supply chain challenges, a retreating stock market, and the general discourse around a potential recession. Only time will tell if we’re experiencing an actual recession or a temporary pullback driven by forces beyond PR’s control.
Even companies that have weathered things well face an inherently skeptical media environment. Once simply reporting on “trust us” growth metrics for several years, reporters are now digging deeper into company claims. Where will the media go from here, and how can corporate communicators control their story?
Here are a few tips for companies to combat the headwinds of a turbulent market and skeptical media landscape. They also just happen to be good PR practice in all environments:
- Double down on third-party validation. Reporters have grown skeptical of companies overhyping growth and valuation metrics, meaning that they need to see more proof of success. PR teams should prioritize customer and partner storytelling, independently verifiable or corroborated data, and other assets as a way to prove what the brand is trying to communicate to the market.
- Shift to an external narrative. The past few years have seen companies lean into self-reflective stories about corporate growth and success. In the absence of metrics to crow about or on the heels of layoffs, telling those sorts of stories can be tough or impossible. It’s a good time to get away from talking about what the brand has done and get back to why people should care. By amplifying the “why” in the company narrative, you can boost your relevancy to the megatrends of the moment which will inject the brand into more outward-looking conversations with less financial scrutiny.
- Lean into digital content. At a time when some companies might be nervous about putting spokespeople out there, owned content has become a more attractive option for distributing stories yet maintaining consistency of the messaging across channels (i.e. website, social profiles, blog, newsletter, podcast). Companies have an opportunity to share their thought leadership beyond earned media and reach new audiences using strategic content marketing.
- Use data to show and tell. Data is a great way to show the scale of the business and push a trend narrative. Whether it’s data mined from across the customer base and anonymized to show a larger trend or external surveys juxtaposed against public data, data reports can be a tentpole piece of content for your entire marketing communications program.
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