John Hagel discusses the difference between stories versus a narrative in his research. The central contrast of the two according to Hagel pertains to the role of the audience in the content. If the contextual ideas for a company focus on what its audience is doing, it is considered a narrative. However, if the context focuses solely on the company, it is considered a story.
In my eyes, successful storytelling is an art form. When reflecting on this talent, it’s crucial to analyze hindrances facing a storyteller. Many public relations practitioners fall into the trap of exaggerating a corporation’s narrative for financial gain. This is ineffective in conveying a corporation’s true financial narrative.
We can look at the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) actions against the makers of the cancer drug Photofrin as an example of overreaching to increase product fascination. “According to the FDA, patient and physician videos on the (drug’s) web page presented Photofrin as helping patients live symptom free, or even providing a cure. However, the studies on the efficiency of the drug did not support these claims.” (Stewart, Daxton. Social Media and the Law. 2013)
Hagel states, “A powerful narrative can differentiate – it can help a company to stand out from the crowd in a powerful and sustainable way. Narratives are by definition a long-term, sustaining call to action” (Hagel, John. The Untapped Potential of Corporate Narratives). While come PR professionals and investor relations departments struggle with conveying corporate financial narratives, other excel through effective and luring storytelling.