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Archive for the 'Planning Business Messages' Category

HailoHailo is a popular taxi-hailing service operating in London, New York, and other major cities. With a quick tap on a smartphone app, passengers can hail any Hailo-registered cab in the area, without waving in the street or hunting for a place where taxis are likely to be found.

The system does have a potential downside for drivers, however. They have to spend time driving to the passenger's location and waiting up to five minutes once they arrive—time during which they aren't earning any income. If drivers suspect that a potential passenger will want only a short ride, they are more likely not to respond to the request because the short ride won't compensate for the time they have to invest.

This phenomenon can be troublesome for the system as a whole during peak hours, when more passengers are trying to use the system. To keep its app users happy, Hailo wants as many drivers as possible to participate during peak times. To encourage participation, it guarantees drivers a minimum amount of revenue for every Hailo rider they pick up.

The Hailo service in London recently raised its peak-time minimum fare and announced the increase in an email message to app users. The message is a model of how to present negative news in a positive way. It is also a great example of using the indirect approach for organizing a message.

We've included the message on a set of annotated PowerPoint slides so you can share it with your class.

Bovee and Thill blog – Hall of Fame – Hailo


EdisonThe timeline feature in Facebook is a great tool for visual narration, particularly if a company has a rich library of compelling photos and other visuals to use. And as GE demonstrates, if you're telling a story of innovation, it helps if you can start the story with an image of one of the most famous inventors in history!

This PowerPoint slide shows the beginning of the GE timeline story.

Bovee and Thill blog – Hall of Fame – GE on Facebook

In the beginning, there was storytelling.

Humans have been telling stories for as long as they’ve been communicating. As individuals, stories are central to our experience of learning how to communicate. And much of the communication in contemporary life, from journalism to political discourse, relies on narrative structure.

In spite of its pervasive role in human affairs, though, storytelling is often overlooked as a mode of business communication. However, stories can be an effective way to organize business messages in a surprising number of scenarios, from recruiting and training employees to enticing investors and customers.

Advertisements are often mini-narratives, with the product or a user of the product playing the role of the hero. Entrepreneurs use stories to help investors see how their new ideas have the potential to affect people’s lives (and therefore generate lots of sales and return on investment). Companies tell the story of their founding and early years, using their heritage as a way to explain who they are today.

Career-related stories, such as how someone found the opportunity to work on projects he or she is passionate about, can encourage skilled employees to consider joining a firm.

Business stories can be cautionary tales as well, dramatizing the consequences of career blunders, ethical mistakes, and strategic missteps.

Whether one’s purpose is to inspire, persuade, teach, or warn, chances are narrative technique can make the message more interesting, personal, and memorable. As the business media landscape continues to evolve and fragment, storytelling is likely to become evenmore important as a way to stand out from the clutter and chaos of competing messages. In fact, we’re adding significant coverage of storytelling to the newest editions of our textbooks, including a variety of student activities and cases.

Have you discussed storytelling in your business communication classes? We’d love to hear any stories you have to tell. Go to, search for this topic, and write your comments.