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Harvard Business Review Gets Us

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We love articles here at Stories Incorporated. We read, retweet, and comment on them on Twitter; we send them to each other; we fall down rabbit holes of links and sidebars; sometimes we even write them ourselves. We see so many that jive with what we’re all about.

Rarely, however, do we read one so perfectly fitting as Patti Sanchez’s recent HBR post “Why Marketing Needs to Hire a Corporate Folklorist.” It’s filled with exactly what we do and why it’s so crucial.

Part journalist, part librarian, and part storyteller, the folklorist is much like the cultural anthropologist who studies the language, myths, and rituals of a society, or the ethnographic researcher who investigates the habits and mind-sets of target audiences. Using similar methods of observation, analysis, and documentation, the folklorist would be responsible for capturing and publishing the oral, written, and visual history of a company and how it serves its constituents — customers, partners, influencers, and employees. … A corporate folklorist’s work goes beyond documenting innovations, entertaining visitors, or even building a culture. It’s also about promoting a common understanding of the organization’s values and purpose.

That’s a goal all businesses should have.

That is our business in a nutshell.

Corporate storytelling

We love the idea of each company having a corporate folklorist. We’re filling that void for our clients as an outside firm as well as supporting companies that do have one (it takes a village), which means a few differences. Specifically, we alleviate that challenge of discovering your own story through our in-depth interviews. We explain and celebrate physical artifacts and rituals through media archives rather than act as an in-house steward of those materials. We’re doing the roles of the journalist and storyteller, and we make sure our clients are equipped to be the librarians of the products we develop for them.

Sanchez argues for housing in the marketing department for nuanced and compelling reasons, but commenters suggest HR or C-Suite. Regardless, the formal recognition of this role would do wonders for any business.