As we emerge from the pandemic crisis, and begin to try to move past the problems of Brexit too, people will be looking for a new narrative. It’s natural after the old normal has been blown up to begin to look around for who is going to lead us to what’s next.
This kind of leadership is all about who has the best story about the future. There’ll be a lot of competition to tell those stories.
Our full Board Briefing examines in depth why and how you can position your agency for the period of recovery ahead. However, in this blog we are going to look specifically at the why, what and how of telling your agency's narrative of recovery, and why your clients need to hear it clearly from you.
Shaping a narrative: echoes and innovations
When shaping your business narrative there are two dimensions for you to consider to make your story stick.
Narratives that work, stories that have real impact on their audience, are either echoes of existing stories or new innovations on those stories — stability or experiment. They either express the tradition, the established way of saying things; or they are a transgression, a new light and a fresh perspective.
Audiences resonate with both types, depending on their situations or needs, on what they bring to the story.
Some will want reassurance that the way things have been done before is the way things will always be. That is what works, and a narrative that reinforces the world they know, albeit in a fresh expression, is both welcome and reassuringly familiar.
However, in other circumstances, the long-established way of doing things is no longer adequate. It’s become sedimented, deep-frozen, and ultimately problematic. A new innovation is needed, a different story that shifts paradigms. Stories that change perspectives are not anarchic — they still follow storytelling rules, they still connect with the world-that-was, even as they recast the way the audience sees things.
The consequence, though is that different competing stories can be told about the same situation. The struggle is on, then, for which is the more compelling, which can convince and persuade the audience.
Telling your story
If you want your clients to believe that it’s your agency that can lead them to what’s next you’d better come up with a really good narrative about what’s ahead and why.
Look at the commercial property arena, for example. PR companies are already working hard on clients’ behalf to place stories about mental health issues with remote working, surveys about how people can’t wait to return to the office and so on. Meanwhile, many others from environmental groups to the workers themselves, are placing the narrative that we’ll never return to a full 5 day week in an office, the future is hybrid working. Those are competing narratives, and how well they are told will determine the decisions of some huge companies.
Narratives of recovery
What about in the sector and profession you’re in? What could be the competing narratives? There’ll be competing interests even within your clients’ organisations trying to shift the focus of investment, or the impact of cuts — let alone all the competing narratives from their advisors and other suppliers.
- What do you think is the best route out of crisis and into recovery for your clients?
- What do you want them to do to achieve that?
- How can your agency help them get there?
This is your recovery narrative. Think of it as a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The recovery narrative your clients buy into will determine how they react as things begin to return to business as usual. This will have a huge impact on your agency.
Read the full Board Briefing on positioning your agency for the recovery. Subscribe to Agency Radar for access to the full paper.