Refreshing something as sacred as an organization’s values requires careful deliberation. Push too hard, and the new values feel rushed and inauthentic. On the other hand, slick, over-produced efforts can come off as propaganda.

Values express the heart of an organization, becoming the principles you hire and fire on. And because values should persist, changing them on a whim risks them coming off as a “flavor of the month.” Expressing them in timeless, authentic language is critical.

Given the opportunity to recast our organizations values, we decided to put storytelling front and center. A listening project collected ideas, opinions, and points of view from hundreds of employees. We used a photo and video series to share employee sentiments in their own words. And to give everyone an opportunity to make the values their own, we used a six-word story project to collect simple, honest statements and celebrate them in a custom art wall.

The result? A year-long effort concluded with a successful launch, universal praise, and clarified values that everyone considered his or her own. For detailed insights into our process, check out this write-up in the PR News Book of Employee Communications Strategies and Tactics.

My Contribution: I’d be out of line if I didn’t note up front that a project this massive requires consistent, long-term effort by a huge team of talented people. I was honored to serve the team as creative lead, launch event producer, scriptwriter, and writer. If you need someone to express your messages in ways that employees will find authentic and inspiring, I’m your guy.


Mark McElroy: lives in Atlanta | is blogging again | is author of a dozen books | works as a professional storyteller | has a husband | is working on a novel | is an engaging public speaker | lost fifty pounds in 2017 | is a little obsessed with pizza.

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