Publish your organisational stories and feel the love

Love sign Who doesn’t want to feel the love at work?

Only Human designer Clive Jones and I were having a late afternoon debrief the other day: talking about those projects where our clients really, really LOVE us at the end.

And inevitably, we ended up talking a lot about our book projects. Yes, yes, I know. Books? We get the love from books? Those expensive, bulky, tree-destroying objects that have such high opinions of themselves that they even require their own furniture. (Bookcases: hah!)

CJ and I have watched books work on so many levels and succeed where using other media exclusively doesn’t. And we’re always amazed by their power, both in execution and results.

How books bring the love

Clients always APPRECIATE books and share them like nothing else.
They NEVER complain about the budget once they have reviewed the outcomes.
They ALWAYS invite us to the launch and say nice things.
They are simply PROUD of what has been achieved and the insights and relationships that have been gathered along the way.

Books are not always the easiest option

So with that nice warm and fuzzy memory in my head…I started thinking about why, these days, I don’t suggest books more often. Sure, I might gently throw the idea into the mix but I retreat to video or online alternatives pretty quickly because books are a really hard sell. It’s like many people see them as just paper versions of online content. And they find the idea of producing them just really annoying and old hat. Sometimes, especially if they’ve inherited some old unsuccessful book strategies… they can even get really, really agitated about the idea. And I do get that: books do make budgets squeal, they take a lot of time and specialised input; they can’t be easily UPDATED, they can be challenging to DISTRIBUTE…

Rewards, rewards, rewards

But the rewards are massive. In longevity, in reach, in relationship outcomes, in prestige, in value, in simply creating something that says…we value this and believe in it and stand behind it.

Books are especially effective if your subject matter is:
very special or iconic
very sensitive, difficult or contentious
needs to reach a broad community
depends on contribution from a range of diverse (and not always happy) stakeholders

If you spin through our work section, you’ll find some good examples of what I mean. Try here and here and here.

And I’ve posted here before about how books work. For today, I’ve dug up this old Harvard Business Review post that’s about a very cool book initiative using stories from working mothers across a large organisation.

It’s a great read because it uses the story of this peer-driven strategy to show the value of books, both inside the organisation and out. Their book of real stories spread the message about the organisation’s inclusive practices more than anything they had attempted before.

I like this quote about the Vice Chairman’s response. It shows how having a copy of the book in his house brought him the love… and he could share it around too.

The physicality of the book, in fact, makes it an ideal tool for starting a conversation. William J. Teuber Jr., vice chairman of EMC’s board of directors, describes one such encounter: “I had that book in my house. A woman I know was there, and she picked it up, and she immediately bonded with it. She said, ‘You know, this personalizes EMC in a way that I had never understood.’ I said, ‘If you like the book, you can have it,’ and she took it home with her. She doesn’t work for EMC, but she’s a working mother, and she identified….”

About Moya Sayer-Jones

Moya Sayer-Jones is one of Australia's foremost experts on story; she consults with government, NFPs and corporate clients to help them access and use story to support their strategic objectives.