Have you ever searched for the greatest internal comms strategy ever delivered? One that changed the behaviour of the audience in such a way that it changed the world. Well, you need look no further. As part of our quest to understand great storytelling so we can share that knowledge with our clients, we kept coming back to Winston Churchill. Why are we calling this an internal comms success, please bear with us and we will try to explain our theory.
In 1940 Britain stood on the edge of disaster, the Germans had broken through the French front line and the majority of our troops in France were unable to join the action, leading them towards retreat at Dunkirk. The rest of Europe had thrown in the towel and this small island was all that stood between freedom and a life under the Nazis. Paying the price for appeasement over the previous years, we now stood alone with an overpowering Germany on our doorstep, ready to batter our door down. As we know, the easy option which was being considered, was to lay down our arms and give up. Luckily, up stepped a new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill to deliver a series of unforgettable speeches that changed the future of the world.
Imagine if you will, this sceptred Isle of Britain as a company under attack from a larger corporation. Think of the Uk population as the staff and Winston is the new CEO. Financials look bleak, sales are down and customer service is no more than a word given to a team of unenthusiastic daydreamers. There may also have been internal strife, with a lack of leadership and management always taking the soft option or easy route. With no-one to guide the way, our company is on the ropes and about to go down the drain. What is required and has so often been the case in business and politics is a bit of quality leadership and some powerful storytelling to change the direction of our ship.
Our workforce is downbeat with no vision of how the future might look, we are searching for new jobs and better companies to work for. The population need some guidance and inspiration to pick them back up. What we need is to stand up and fight, to believe in better and have a gift of a free future.This is why we believe Winston is the master of internal comms.
He single-handedly took a rudderless country and asked them to put their lives in his hands. To stand up and literally fight and die for what he believed, eventually persuading us that his vision should be ours. His infamous “fight them on the beaches” speech sparked 5 more years of hunger, death and injury. Not exactly an enticing prospect, to have the whole might and fury of the enemy turned upon you.
Imagine yourself in his shoes and think how would I persuade a large group of people to change their behaviour, which after all is what marketers seek to do. The battle for successful internal comms is a hard one and one that can be won by the power of storytelling. Get your audience to believe not just in you but the bigger picture. Get your audience to picture themselves on that metaphorical beach, in the fields, in the streets and on the landing grounds.
An extract from the “Fight them on the beaches” speech below:
“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.
Hitler knows that he will have to break us on this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.”
Winston Churchill, Master Storyteller