trends in storytelling
trends in storytelling

New ways to capture your audiences

Enthralling, captivating and even hyperreal storytelling is not for external communication only. Soon (if not already), our internal audiences will crave the same innovative storytelling from employee communication. But how?  We'll tell.

By: Andreas Ringsted, creative advisor & Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, communication advisor (28 March 2017)

Maybe you were one of the 154,000 viewers per episode of the Norwegian hit series SKAM? Or maybe you have caught some of the 88 billion Pokémons that Pokémon Go users have caught to date? Then you would recognize the feeling of not wanting the story to end. According to Forbes, this is a growing phenomenon within external communication where digital platforms are dominant.

At Open, we truly believe this will have a great impact on our audiences’ expectations to internal communication in the future so here are some major storytelling trends which will affect the framing of internal communication.

Never-ending stories
The appetite for captivating and instant stories seems insatiable among audiences. So much that they do not want stories to end. This means that not only will stories unfold in real-time, like on Twitter, but they will also occur day and night, seven days a week.

A great example of a never-ending story is the popular Norwegian series SKAM. One season at a time, you get a deeper insight about the characters and their world and SKAM has successfully used many different types of platforms to create an authentic universe and share the continuation around the clock.

In employee communication and campaigns, never-ending stories are a given as organizations are in constant change. From this point of view, there is less reasoning in talking about change communication, we should stop creating isolated and one-time employee campaigns and instead see employee communications as on-going and never-ending.

Hyperreal storytelling
The future of visual storytelling will not only be never-ending. It will also appear more real than reality itself. Hyperreal storytelling combines technologies such as augmented and virtual reality to create immersive communication that engages the audience in new ways.

An example of hyperreal storytelling is Pokémon Go, where players use their smartphones to locate, capture, battle and train Pokémons appearing on the screen as if they were part of the same real-world as the player.

In the coming years, we will experience more augmented and virtual reality in employee communication. These types of campaigns aim to awaken the employees’ curiosity. And with the spread of cheaper and more efficient hyperreal technology, campaigns using this form of storytelling are already invading both internal and external communication.

Connective storytelling
People who grew up with the internet crave interactive experiences rather than passive spectatorship. They want to connect with other people, whether real or fictitious. This is not really a new phenomenon, but with the reach of smartphone technology, the possibilities for creating emerging and story driven cross-user interaction are endless.

Connective storytelling is about stories that are designed to connect people and organizations through a shared purpose. The audience do not just want to hear about the purpose, they also want to experience it. E.g. in ‘Project Syria’, with the use of HTC Vive, people can experience what it is like to live in a Syrian refugee camp.

In employee communication, we will see more of connective storytelling as smartphones become a part of the corporate toolkit at all levels of organizations. Employees will be exposed to internal campaigns and strategic messaging no matter the platform and geographical setting. And most importantly, be invited to take active part in the communication.

Social impact storytelling
Related to connective storytelling, visual storytelling of the future will also be used to increase empathy for others and raise funds for social causes through hyperreal experiences and social media.

The Women Against Trump’ campaign is a prime example of social impact storytelling through social media. A movement fueled purely by stories that started on Facebook, where only one woman succeeded in mobilizing around 4.6 million marchers around the world.

Social media has a tremendous impact on our personal lives, so it has become a natural part of our professional lives, too. Consequently, for companies, the line between internal and external social media communication has become more blurred and we are seeing employee communication campaigns that combine the use of personal and corporate social media channels.


An example of mixing internal and external communication is NNIT’s campaign: One NNIT. Employees shared their view of being a part of NNIT on Instagram under #onennit.

Innovative brand storytelling
In brand storytelling, established brands are using interactive media to craft new and unique experiences for their consumers. With the rise of virtual reality in external communication, storytelling is going beyond text, visuals and video, to be something the audience can experience themselves. Take for example, IKEA’s virtual reality kitchen experience.

There are whole new ways to promote a brand and expand a story, which we’ll see more of. As it happened with other innovations, this will also be replicated in employee communication in the future. It could take the shape of employees as ambassadors in actual VR campaigns or organizations communicating to employees in innovative ways. An example could be using chat bots and hyperreal experiences as an internal communication channel, next to or replacing traditional and often cumbersome intranet solutions. However, we will probably be waiting a couple of years before we see VR elements created for employee communication only.

Different shades of storytelling are invading employee communication. Social media, augmented and virtual reality are opening doors to engage employees in new and exciting ways. For us working in employee communication, we must follow these trends very closely as our audiences are expecting workplace communication to be as captivating and enthralling as SKAM and as groundbreaking as Pokémon Go.