The Evolution of the Corporate Narrative

Corporate Narrative by Jodi Ireland

The corporate narrative no longer focuses solely on the CEO, category and product talk tracks. It’s broadened in topic and scope to act as another influencer on today’s generation of talent and buyers valuing purpose and connection. 

And really, every company needs a narrative. We’re not talking about self-contained stories with a set beginning, middle and end, but rather an ongoing, open-ended tale focused on the customer — not the company. 

Far too many companies struggle with crafting a compelling, inspiring corporate narrative that’s customer-focused. Successful companies have included Nike, with its “Just Do It” slogan, Google’s “Telling our Story” initiative, Zendesk’s “Let get real” story or Apple’s “Think different.” 

In this post, we’ll talk about the merit of corporate narratives and how companies can expand their storytelling to reach more audiences, create customer loyalty, build resiliency and more.

A brief history

In the early 20th century, most large companies focused narrowly on selling products and services, and corporate messaging centered on product features, quality and customer service. By the mid-1900s, companies expanded their narratives to include related topics such as their history, relationships with communities, social responsibility efforts and value — a significant shift from the original product focus to building a broader identity and reputation.

More recently, companies have extended their narratives to include cultural branding, purpose-driven messaging, social causes and weightier topics like inequality and climate change.

Now, organizations seek to convey compelling stories across multiple channels — advertising, PR, social media, etc. — infusing those stories with personality, emotion and pillars that go beyond profits.

Benefits of telling more stories

So, why do stories matter? Have stories always been important, and we’ve only just taken notice over the past few years? Or have the audiences themselves changed?

There isn’t one single reason why stories have become more important. Still, the numbers show that Gen Y and millennials — who value purpose and meaning when choosing vendors — comprise most of today’s decision-makers. 

Millennials expect something beyond the typical, traditional sales pitch. They crave meaning when selecting a vendor, and since millennials are involved in 73% of all B2B buying decisions, companies need to step it up to sate this craving. Brands must employ any strategy to attract those buyers, including creating a strong narrative beyond products and:

  • Building an emotional connection.
  • Inspiring evangelists.
  • Driving culture.
  • Guiding decisions.
  • Cultivating trust.
  • Sparking movement.
  • Differentiating the brand from its competition.

Drive authenticity by involving the C-suite in narrative development and leveraging more “internal” SMEs — think CHROs, DEIB and ESG leaders — externally to add layers to the corporate narrative and its importance.

Sure, marketing can distribute the message, but leadership must immerse itself in customers’ needs and expectations. By understanding the full scope of potential opportunities, your leadership can author a narrative that truly resonates. 

Once the C-suite is invested, invite employees to embrace and buy into it. Help them grasp the narrative’s significance, connecting it to their roles in enabling customer success. An inspired, unified workforce multiplies the narratives’ power. When each employee lives out a meaningful story, customers feel the impact.

Looking beyond products fuels inspiration. Delve into your customers’ needs, aspirations and ambitions. When their purpose resonates with your own, passion ignites. Let that intrinsic excitement guide you toward other paths for shared growth.

Then, empower meaningful action. Outline achievable steps to engage customers’ potential. The path to action should challenge — not overwhelm. Progress takes commitment; with care and courage, customers can act on the narrative to drive change.

Best practices for creating a corporate narrative

Corporate narratives have grown increasingly multidimensional and sophisticated, focusing on invoking something beyond a transactional relationship with target audiences. These expanded narratives help attract talent, connect with customers on a deeper level and portray the company as more than just a business. 

But the narratives also invite more scrutiny if actions don’t fully match messaging or aren’t backed by meaningful policies and practices. Avoid serious missteps with these best practices.

  • Articulate a clear purpose and values driving your organization beyond profits to build a solid and consistent foundation.
  • Align the narrative with business goals and strategies to ensure you’re not simply sharing fluff.
  • Get to know and understand your audiences so you can tailor your messaging and channels to resonate with target customers, stakeholders and communities.
  • Showcase company culture authentically, with transparent glimpses into what’s really happening versus portraying more idealistic interpretations of the culture.
  • Make corporate social responsibility (CSR) integral to your company, incorporating it into practices rather than treating it as merely an add-on or afterthought.
  • Evolve and grow the narrative as your company and social expectations change.
  • Substantiate the narrative and claims with action via concrete policies and measurable progress.

Not “The End” but rather a continuation

Investing in your brand is the most powerful intangible asset on your balance sheet. When you invest in expanding your corporate narrative to tell stories that your audience wants to hear, you foster customer loyalty, influence perceptions, drive advocacy, establish credibility, differentiate yourself from the competition, build a solid foundation in a changing world — and perhaps most important of all — create resilience. 

Modern PR: All About Business Value

The PR industry has traditionally been a fan of big numbers. Hitting the 100+ pieces of coverage mark is exciting. Watching the likes and comments flow in on social media provides a dopamine rush. Metrics like advertising value equivalency (look, we’re in the millions!) or total potential reach (we’re in the billions!) can look great on a slide deck.

But, friends, the hard truth is that all of these KPIs or KRs — sheesh, we’re a fan of alternatives to “goals,” too — may not provide any real business value. 

Is this the end of the industry? No, not at all. Do we have to evolve? Absolutely. Modern PR professionals must take a data-driven approach, tying their efforts to broader marketing objectives and demonstrating contribution to real business impact.

This post shows how traditional PR measurement limits PR and marketing teams and how the industry must shift to metrics that matter.

The Drawbacks of Traditional PR Measurement

Most PR teams report to marketing leadership, and according to MuckRack’s State of Marketing and PR Leadership, lead generation, the number of stories placed, sales, web traffic and conversion rates are the biggest priorities. 

A simple, quick takeaway? Vanity metrics don’t cut it. Stakeholders want to see the measurable impact of PR, not just feel-good clips. Efforts need to sync with broader business goals to raise PR’s value. That requires moving beyond shallow reporting to prove links between PR programs and tangible marketing outcomes.

Using ABM to Demonstrate PR Impact

Let’s explore a concrete example of reorienting PR to business goals. A recent Terminus report reveals most marketers have an Account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, which relies on aligned cross-functional efforts across the most relevant and highest-value target accounts and contacts.

PR teams can support ABM by reviewing your target account list and decision-maker details to understand the businesses, roles and industry demands. 

It can support sales penetration by spotlighting those accounts through earned media and relevant thought leadership. This captures decision-makers’ attention while associating the brand with strategic interests. It also provides valuable touchpoints for account reps to reference, facilitating meaningful engagement.

How does this look in action? A three-pronged effort could focus on:

Cornerstone content supporting lead generation 

  • Dynamic short-form video puts the company and experts front and center in our digital “town square.” 
  • Educational blog series provides content worth sharing 

Customer elevation, supporting referral traffic 

  • Fresh and timely case studies give your best ambassadors the spotlight. This can be tough, but we outlined the customer PR process here!
  • Strategic award nominations provide additional validation.

Sales support, supporting conversations 

  • Use our ABM list to incorporate key names in contributed content or podcast interviews, catching key targets’ attention. 
  • Drafting sales enablement emails to better equip your front line with the latest and greatest wins

The Bottom Line? PR Needs to Be Part of the Bottom Line.

The future of PR is integrating with broader marketing frameworks and goals to demonstrate real business contribution. Whether supporting an account-based sales pipeline or overall brand lift, PR must quantify impact through goal-aligned metrics rather than isolated vanity metrics. 

By keeping measurement tied to targets the C-suite cares about, data-savvy PR teams make the function indispensable. Ready to modernize your PR program? Let’s chat.

What Is Non-traditional PR?

What is non-traditional PR? By Kate Johnson

Traditional PR, digital PR, modern PR, non-traditional PR — these terms are constantly thrown around in the marketing and public relations world. But they often lack context.  

Some people may find themselves asking: what do all of these terms mean, and what services fall into each one? 

Let’s focus on non-traditional PR. Some define non-traditional PR as the art of building links and influence rather than relationships. But this is only partially true. Non-traditional PR does break away from traditional PR’s sole focus on placing stories and securing interviews based on a “who you know” mentality. But parts of non-traditional PR still require relationship-building through touchpoints with media contacts. 

Non-traditional PR, by the BLASTmedia definition, is PR that moves beyond print and contributed content articles in trade magazines. Instead, it leverages modern, digital formats or unique placements to amplify company messaging and reach target audiences. Some of our most successful targets include podcasts, placements and swaps on software company blogs and video coverage through webinars, influencer vlogs or broadcast media outlets. These outlets diversify a client’s coverage mix and build a more robust overall strategy. 

Let’s dive into some of these mediums and examine why they’re so effective: 


More than half (57%) of US consumers listened to podcasts in 2021. This is a 55% increase from the previous year, proving that podcasts are an increasingly popular source for everything from news to entertainment to advice. 

Numerous podcast options live in the SaaS space, and many are hungry for industry-specific stories. When exploring podcasts, ask yourself, what audience am I trying to reach? Do I have a spokesperson who is equipped to be live and is comfortable in an interview setting? What unique stories does my business have to tell? 

Nearly every company has a target audience, a compelling story and a spokesperson who loves to engage with the media. And with so many consumers tuning in, podcasts are a fantastic way to amplify your message with target prospects, investors, consumers and beyond. 

Ex: Leaving Cookies Behind, With Dstillery’s Chief Data Scientist Melinda Han Williams

Software Company Blogs 

Have you ever heard startup leaders say things like, “I want to be the next Salesforce of the X industry,” or “we are aiming to be the next HubSpot in our space?” Indeed, many SaaS brands try to emulate an aspirational company. In this case, another effective non-traditional PR tactic that helps hone in on a target audience is leveraging software company blogs. Companies like HubSpot, Drift and Moz have various editorial options, including guest posts on blogs, industry influencer Q&As and podcast interviews. 

This non-traditional PR strategy attaches your organization to a highly regarded player in the space. And placing content or thought leadership with these organizations provides a level of third-party validation to your company and product. 

Ex: Which Social Media Channels See the Most ROI? [New Data + Expert Tips]

Video Coverage

Video coverage no longer simply refers to traditional broadcast TV interviews. While there is still value in those broadcast opportunities, video coverage has expanded to include influencer vlog interviews, webinars, trade media broadcasts and more. 

Securing opportunities to speak on video offers similar benefits to traditional broadcast news but can be even more engaging. Face-to-face video coverage not only makes interactions with consumers feel more natural, but you can also provide other value adds like demos or infographics that can help make a product or topic more attractive and engaging. 

Companies can also leverage smaller on-camera opportunities to help secure more prominent broadcast placements. After all, your key spokespeople already have publicly available video interviews that are recorded and easily accessible. 

Ex. How to Enhance Workplace Learning and Development

PR continues to evolve, and in our modern and extremely noisy world, capitalizing on non-traditional PR tacts is critical to a successful campaign. And the brand awareness created through an impactful PR campaign can be invaluable, helping companies stand out among the competition. 

Want to learn more about how BLASTmedia can help? Contact Lindsey Groepper to find out more!