Storytelling in employer marketing. Who's doing it?

Happy National Storytelling Week! Everyone loves a good story, right? I've pulled together some great examples of storytelling in employer marketing to get in the spirit of NSW.

Stories have played a big role in my life. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings hooked me into a magical journey from comfort to adversity to enlightenment. I grew up with Star Wars and replayed that space opera under the dining room table at home with my toys. The S Town podcast was an engrossing companion while training for a marathon. Netflix has been responsible for many, many hours on the sofa captivated by the likes of House of Cards, Breaking Bad and Stranger Things. My daughter just won't go to sleep unless I tell her a bedtime story. My LinkedIn summary starts with "Son of an adman..."

And I love how marketing has the power to influence people's decisions in the first, or next, steps in their career. It's meaningful stuff.

The bedtime story. That favourite book. The film that bagged those gongs in London and Hollywood. That podcast you can't get enough of. That addictive Netflix series. The underdog prevailing against all of the odds. The family stories told by your parents and grandparents that connect you with your past.

It's human nature to crave stories. There are loads of quotes about storytelling online and these are some my favourites:

“Good stories surprise us. They make us think and feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that a PowerPoint crammed with bar graphs never can.” 

Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, The Storytelling Edge

“Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution; more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.” 

Lisa Cron, Wired for Story

“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” 

Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal

So when we're hard-wired to consume and enjoy stories, storytelling is really important in cutting through all of the noise. It's does something I think is so important in social media in particular: giving people a genuine reason to stop scrolling and spend time with a piece of content. It also plays an important role in trust...

"The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that despite a strong global economy and near full employment, none of the four societal institutions that the study measures —government, business, NGOs and media— is trusted. The cause of this paradox can be found in people’s fears about the future and their role in it..."

Edelman Trust Barometer, January 2020

What is employer storytelling?

A company espousing the benefits of working for them? Not really. An interview with an employee who says no day is the same? Not that either.

I strongly believe great employer storytelling is about creating empathy between the story and the reader/viewer/listener. It creates a common bond that comes from sharing experiences that we can associate with. This isn't possible through job ads, straplines and tag lines alone.

This is why I like these examples of storytelling.

Apprentices Fire It Up Campaign: It's National Apprenticeship Week too so this one's worth a shout out. The backstories are a great way of endearing you to the apprentice and associating with their experiences.

The Royal Air Force: Tackling known misperceptions and concerns about the role and showing what life is really like. Nicely done.

Microsoft Life: This website definitely has a Humans of New York feel. It's full of stories from their employees. Microsoft was one of my first social media clients nearly 10 years ago so it's great to see their continued commitment to employee powered content.

User Voice: This organisation has ex-offenders helping in the rehabilitation of offenders. I first came across them while working with the National Offender Management Service and would often show this as a great example of storytelling. These stories are very raw and tell you the why of working at User Voice.

EY and #CluelessMum: Part of their early careers attraction campaign, EY work with Lucy to share the experiences of a mum and her son in the school leaver job hunt through this article and vlog.

Crown Prosecution Service: Ralph is a Crown Prosecutor and shares a life-changing story and oozes his passion for the job. One of my mates was the Art Director on this campaign and is rightly proud of it.

Life At Next Instagram: It's great seeing this Instagram account in action. I helped set the account up and do the kick off strategy and playbook. This account is full of moments and stories from employees, like this one from Jade. A story of where it all started...

Life At HSBC Instagram: A freelancer who once worked in a team of mine recently joined HSBC and this is one of their projects. Again, it's full of moments and stories. Eileen's story shows overcoming challenges has helped her in her career.

The AA - Ant Middleton's Ready for Anything Challenge: The AA didn't want to just tell potential candidates they were "Ready for Anything", they wanted to show it. So they got Ant Middleton, Chief Instructor on the Channel 4 series SAS: Who Dares Wins, to head up the Ready for Anything Challenge. This was a Who Dares Wins style challenge over 24 hours. Six AA employees took part and shared their stories of challenge and adventure. Powerful stuff. And their challenges were decided by people on social media as Ant pushed them to their limits in the wilderness. The AA want people who are ready for anything and the employees proved it.

What does great employer storytelling mean to you? And have you come across any great examples? I'd love you to share.

This is part of my Marketing 2020s series that looks at how we can all keep our marketing meaningful, relevant and up to date by looking at insights, new techniques and case studies. If you want to contribute to this feel free to get in touch here or on

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