Creating a public narrative marks an essential step in the process of introducing your organization and cause to a wider audience. It is a means of making your values, goals, and strategy known, both to those within and not yet a part of your community. And yet, if you’ve never crafted a public narrative before, you may have many questions about how this important tool functions.
In this post, we’ll introduce some of the basic facts and features of a strong public narrative.
What Is a Public Narrative?
In its simplest form, a public narrative bridges the gap between story, strategy, and action. That’s precisely what makes it such an important element in any organization: It explains what the group stands for, what it hopes to accomplish, and how it will act to reach those goals, and it can be directed to individuals both within and without the group.
A public narrative accomplishes this lofty objective by approaching the story it tells from multiple angles. It threads the needle between being a story of self (that is, individuals in the organization or community) and being a story of us (that is, the group as a whole). It also fits in a third element, the story of now, which lays out the organization’s intended strategy.
Who Can Craft a Public Narrative?
While part of being a leader is accepting ownership over a group’s public narrative, anyone and everyone can and should be part of creating it. As mentioned above, one of the key elements of a public narrative is the story of self. Every individual in an organization has their own compelling story, and each of those feed into the story of the organization as a whole, as well as driving the need for action.
Crafting the public narrative of a group is really only the first step for great leadership. As a leader, you help reinforce that public narrative by teaching and empowering those beneath you to tell their own stories. Some members of the group may not believe they have a story worth telling, or they may not possess the skills and abilities to confidently express their story; through guidance, practice, and self-examination, you can lead them towards understanding just how valuable and necessary their input is to the complex picture of your organization.
Why Is a Public Narrative Necessary?
The answer to this question is the question itself: why. Why does your group exist? Why do the members of it want to work together? Why should others in the public at large become potential supporters or new members of the organization? A well-craft public narrative holds the key to answering all of these questions and more.
Despite the word “narrative,” the goal of a public narrative is not just to tell a group’s story, but also to illustrate the group’s strategic goals and the actions necessary to achieve said goals. The emotional power of storytelling is used to transform strong values and beliefs into actions. This can in turn motivate both current and potential future members of the organization by providing a clear sense of meaning and momentum, as represented by the structure of the stories being told—stories of self, stories of self, and stories of now.
Are you looking for more help creating your public narrative? Sign up for a Wild workshop, where you can learn more about how public narratives are crafted and even work through exercises to help you tell your own story.