Governement Relations

Storytelling to Help Build Better Relationships in Public Affairs

Don’t you find convincing government stakeholders tricky? Although communication is the one skill every public affairs professional must have, conveying your ideas and persuading your target audience is not that simple!

Being heard and understood represents one of the biggest challenges to tackle in order to make your organization’s projects become a reality.

Let’s face it. Regardless of what industry you are in, and without question, there is a substantial amount of competition out there. Not only is there competition, but many of these other companies are targeting the same government representatives you are. It’s always more difficult to make your point in a busy, overcrowded environment.

How can you stand out? How can you get noticed by your most important stakeholders? And how can you build a stronger relationship with them to improve the success of your lobbying activities?

The answer may be in the old art of storytelling.

What is storytelling and why it's important for public affairs management

According to InsideHr:

“Storytelling can be described as the art of communication using stories and narratives. This practice has been derived from the age-old practice of folklore and cultural stories which have been passed down generation after generation verbally and often in the written form. Commonly they are called grandmother stories and they are narratives of identity, history, individuality and culture.”

Usually associated with marketing and advertising, storytelling can be helpful for various areas of expertise.

It’s an important tool to explain complex issues and tying them up with a person’s interests, values or experience. For instance, as a professional in public affairs, you could use stories to humanize particularly dull issues.

In order to connect with your stakeholders on a deeper level, you need to communicate your brand’s mission and vision in the form of a story that they can easily understand and identify with. Not only will your added-value become clearer, your stakeholders are much more likely to relate to a story that somehow connects to their personal lives.

People are tired of seeing arbitrary numbers all over the place. Figures are still important to prove your point with true facts, but you need to shape the narrative around them if you want to be heard. Especially when dealing with government representatives who hear numbers – which are not always true – all day long.

In fact, the connection between storytelling and public affairs tends to become more and more obvious. Thus, the Public Affairs Council recently launched a Public Affairs Trend Lab, which introduces great public affairs storytelling examples and gives ideas on how to improve your own organization’s storytelling.

What makes storytelling good

Not all storytelling is valuable. You might make things worse if you tell a story of poor quality or that is off-topic. Authenticity is always the key here; don’t make the story up!

So, what makes storytelling great? While doing some reading I came across an article from Jason Thibeault, marketing specialist, author and entrepreneur, and I thought that his list of facts that make awesome storytelling summarizes pretty well what’s important.

Here are 8 specific attributes of a good storytelling (adapted to the public affairs context).

  • Connected: A good story has to connect you to your stakeholders. It needs to be a shared experience.
  • Committed: Embracing storytelling isn’t a “one-and-done” mentality. It has to be a life-long run.
  • Stakeholders: It has to be about stakeholders and not your company.
  • Character: Cast an interesting character with which the audience will form an emotional bond.
  • Crescendo: Prepare a surprise ending.
  • Consistent: You can’t match the story to your mood of the day. Furthermore, all members of your team need to know the story and share it as well with the same guiding principles.
  • Convincing: The story ultimately has to convince stakeholders. That’s the magic: linking your lobbying activities to the art of storytelling.
  • Emotional: Stories have to be emotional (and we don’t talk only about tears here but all kind of emotions). If the story fails to elicit a reaction from the audience, they will forget it.


Are you looking for a tool that will ensure you target the right government stakeholders, reduce manual work and mistakes, and access your data anytime, anywhere? Request a demo today and see how Boréalis can help you build better relationships with government stakeholders

Get started with
Borealis stakeholder engagement software today!