Ragan survey: Brand storytelling increases in importance

And communicators are doing a lot more of it, too.

What clients want from content marketing

Brand storytelling has dramatically increased in both importance and volume over the last three months, likely driven by the communications urgency of the pandemic and associated crises of 2020.

More than 62% or respondents in a new Ragan survey indicated that storytelling has increased in importance for them, while fewer than 30% said it hasn’t changed and only 6.8% of respondents say it’s decreased in importance.

And the pace of messaging has increased significantly as well. Nearly 76% or survey respondents said communications around their brand’s values and mission has increased in recent months.

The findings are part of Ragan’s Annual Survey on Brand Storytelling, which was conducted recently and sought to get a sense of communications priorities in brand messaging and preferred channels.

The survey and an accompanying event were sponsored by 3BL Media and News Direct.

Respondent profile

Of the respondents, more than 58% have responsibility for both internal and external communications, with the rest specializing in one or the other. Nearly 40% of them work for for-profit corporations, while about 25% work for nonprofit organizations and associations. Respondents also came from agencies, government, and were independent practitioners.

Most of the respondents—just more than 40%—come from large companies with 500 or more employees. Nearly 13% said they have more than 10,000 employees. Just under 36% of respondents come from companies with fewer than 100 employees. The rest—23.3%—work at companies with between 100 and 500 employees.

Topics include brand values, products, and DE&I

The increased volume of brand communications focuses on a variety of topics, survey respondents indicated. The most common subject was “how we’re helping our community,” with 60.1% of respondents saying that’s a topic they’re focusing their efforts on. The next most frequent topic was brand mission and values, with 53.4% of respondents citing it, followed by products and clients, with 38.8%, and diversity, equity and inclusion, at 36.8%.

Video was overwhelmingly ranked as an essential tool for communicators. Asked to quantify how important video is on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being most critical, just over 90% of respondents ranked it as 3, 4, or 5.

Social media is a crucial channel

In terms of the most frequently used channel for communications, social media dominates. Just under 80% of respondents say that’s their primary go-to channel. Following social was email, at 50.4%, websites and brand journalism at 40.7%, content marketing at 33.0%,  video at 31.0% and media relations at 24.2%. Surprisingly, given the buzz around them, podcasts were cited by only 5.8% or respondents as the channel they’re using the most to share their brand narrative.

Among social media platforms, Facebook was most frequently mentioned as the most effective social channel, with 39.8% or respondents indicating it’s most effective for them. Close behind is LinkedIn, at 33.9%, and Instagram at 18.4%. After that, there’s a big drop off, with Twitter mentioned by 4.8% or respondents. Snapchat and TikTok were not mentioned by any of the respondents.

You can participate in the survey here.


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