Innovative Digital Storytelling is Now an Enterprise Imperative - AvNetwork.com

Innovative Digital Storytelling is Now an Enterprise Imperative

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Inspiring success through innovative digital storytelling is now an imperative in the enterprise.

Employee media consumption habits have dramatically evolved with the rise of online video, social media and mobile platforms. The “old ways” of communicating with people, especially employees, just aren’t working all that well any longer.

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The use of video super-charges Darden’s content strategy because it attracts far more attention, encourages retention, and connects with the target far better than text alone (800% more, believe it or not). At Darden, we’ve been on a mission to transform our communication approach in an effort to preserve our organizational culture across our vast employee base, which is made up of seven restaurant brands and 150,000 employees. By the way, more than half of our employees are Millennials.

To accomplish our goal, we needed to do a better job telling—and sharing—the stories of our people and their passions. With industry-leading engagement scores, low turnover rates and generally high guest satisfaction, there were plenty of great stories to be shared. We just needed to do a better job finding them.

But even the best story can flop if it’s not relevant. And it is your audience who defines relevancy.

Darden’s heavy base of millennial employees (born 1981 – 2000) consumes media differently than their Gen X and Boomer colleagues. Millennials are the biggest adopters of the mobile web, social networking and digital video. To connect with this generation, relevant communications must be delivered in a voice and a format that will be perceived as pertinent.

A new company-wide intranet provides an important pipeline that improves our ability to reach employees, share content and measure impact. It also contains social tools that allow users to comment, like and share, and access it on their mobile devices. With a direct connection in place, we needed to shape the conversation to answer the inevitable question, “So what?” Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.

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Kristin Kelley, Director, Employee Communication, Darden RestaurantsEmily Clark, Manager of Employee Communication, Darden RestaurantsREACH IS ONLY HALF THE BATTLE.

Research and benchmarking confirmed that whatever content we use needs to be fresh, fun and visual to earn attention. The use of video super-charges our content strategy because it attracts far more attention, encourages retention, and connects with the target far better than text alone (800% more, in fact!).

In competing for employee mind-share, our corporate messaging is effectively going head-to-head with digital diversions spanning YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. As professional communicators, we are challenged to capture a slice of a team member’s discretionary time. In that moment when they take a break from their work and pick up their phone or launch their internet browser, how can we create something so interesting that they choose to click on our content versus another digital app or website?

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Competing for employee mind-share, Darden’s corporate messaging is effectively going head-to-head with digital diversions spanning YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, & Instagram.

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ENTERTAIN TO ENGAGE, INFORM AND INSPIRE.

The secret to attracting employee attention and encouraging them to interact with corporate messaging is creating “buzz-worthy” content. Our goal at Darden is to inject information with emotion in order for it to resonate with employees and be memorable. We believe compelling stories well tell will win employee hearts and minds and generate even stronger loyalty and brand passion.

Do we hit the mark every time? Absolutely not. We still distribute the occasional “Dilbert-like” memo, news story or policy statement. However, we can say with pride that great progress has been made.

We have found that if there’s no way to make communication “buzz-worthy,” at least make it “job-worthy.” Too often, employees are bombarded with too much information from a multitude of sources that keeps them from focusing the proper time and attention on their core job. We must ensure we’re using our communication channels wisely and not getting caught up in the latest bells and whistles they offer. Instead, we have an opportunity to use this new functionality wisely—to help deliver on the goals of our business.

Kristin Kelley, director of Employee Communication, Darden Restaurants, provides strategic and day-to-day communication support to Darden’s CEO and other members of the Senior Leadership Team. In addition, Kristin is charged with responsibility for Darden’s culture and engagement strategy and activities. Emily Clark is the manager of Employee Communication, Darden Restaurants. Both Kristin Kelley and Emily Clark will be presenting a general conference seminar at CorpComm Expo 2015 entitled, “Inspiring Success Through Story Telling,” on Thursday, October 1st from 1:00-2:00pm at the Georgia World Congress Center. For more information about CorpComm Expo, or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn more about digital communications technologies and strategies, please visit www.corpcommexpo.com.

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