THE EDELMAN MASTER NARRATIVE
“THE MOST IMPORTANT STORY YOU HAVE TO TELL”
Lead the Dialogue: The Master Narrative
People have always communicated through stories. Companies, however, continue to focus on key
messages as their primary communication vehicles. Today’s stakeholders are becoming
suspicious of corporate messages that are increasingly generic and poor at capturing imagination
or inspiring action.
By contrast, a well crafted narrative helps a company stand out in a cluttered environment and
encourages stakeholders to care about the outcome. Even an unfinished story acts as a force for
dialogue with stakeholders and brings audiences along on your journey.
Relevant in Japan?
IN JAPAN, MAJORITY NEEDS TO HEAR COMPANY INFORMATION MORE THAN 3 TIMES
TO BELIEVE MESSAGES
2% ONCE (1)
10% TWICE (2)
89% MORE THAN THREE TIMES
TEN OR MORE TIMES (10+)
SIX TO NINE TIMES (6-9)
FOUR OR FIVE TIMES (4-5)
46% THREE TIMES (3)
Q165. [TRACKING] Think about everything you see or hear every day about companies, whether it is positive or negative. How many times in general do you need to be exposed
to something about a specific company to believe that the information is likely to be true? (Provide Space to Insert Number) Informed Publics Ages 25-64 in Japan (excludes
Don’t Know Responses)
What is a Master Narrative?
• The master narrative is YOUR STORY – who you are, what makes you
different, why that’s important.
• It is based on evidence, facts, and measurable results – but it’s told in
• It's a key tool for BUILDING CONSENSUS for an organization that has
many moving parts.
• It’s an efficiency engine that makes everything you say work
harder…because all the instruments are PLAYING THE SAME TUNE.
THE MASTER NARRATIVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STORY YOU HAVE TO TELL
Why a Narrative?
• People don’t remember facts; they remember stories.
• Stories and metaphors help people grasp complicated
• Storytelling is the most convincing way to make a
point; people see themselves in stories.
• A story isn’t static; it continues and begins a dialogue.
Answers three fundamental questions:
1. What do you stand for?
2. How are you different?
3. Why does that matter?
CAPTURES WHAT YOU ARE DOING, WHERE YOU ARE GOING, WHAT YOU VALUE, AND WHY
How Do You Tell Your Story?
• How does your past shape what you are today?
• What obstacles stand in the way of your
• What’s at risk, for all of us, if you fail? Why do
• What are you DOING about it? What do you
have to deliver to make your strategy succeed?
• What’s in it for me? How do you convert your
activities into BENEFITS
GETTING THE RIGHT STORY AND CONTEXT TO STAND OUT
Master Narrative Structure
Elevator Pitch Core Speech Paragraphs
A 30 second oral narrative
covering the most
compelling element of your
supported by proof points
– the “reasons to believe”
in a company’s story –
organized as a quick
A series of story headlines
that use the Master
Narrative for media
A one-page narrative that
provides depth and
dimension to your current
defining story. Provides
template paragraphs that
can be dropped in to
speeches as needed.
leveraged in multi-media
content (audio, video and
images) for use across all
external and internal
NARRATIVE PACKAGE CONTAINS MESSAGING TOOLS NEEDED TO ENGAGE TARGET
AUDIENCES AND ENCOURAGE ACTION
Review of existing
Review research findings and interviews.
Develop first draft
Present Narrative to client and
refine based on feedback
1 Discovery 2 Discourse Development
Desktop research covering media
and work through
The Master Narrative Process
Developing the Master Narrative
• Elevator Pitch
• Core Speech Paragraphs
• Message Architecture
• Media Storylines
• Drafts submitted for client
• Redrafts after feedback
• Approval from top
• Media Audit
• Industry Audit
• Competitor Audit
• External Stakeholders
• Initial Narrative
• Working group
• PR Materials
Migrated across All Communication Channels
Bringing the Master Narrative to Life
APPROVED MASTER NARRATIVE APPLIED TO:
• Communications materials (off-line and on-line)
• New and evolving marketing materials
• Press release boilerplate
• Media pitches
• Thought leadership, industry relations, public affairs
• Employee engagement and change management
• Kick-off meetings / training with managers
• Media training
FINALIZE AND PERMEATE MASTER NARRATIVE ACROSS YOUR ORGANIZATION WITH
HALF- OR FULL-DAY INTERACTIVE MESSAGING WORKSHOP
– Garner feedback on Master Narrative from
– Internalize Master Narrative through interactive
– Present Master Narrative to participants
– Dissect into manageable chunks and ask for
– Conduct exercises on how to use the messaging
in their everyday work
– Each group is to presents its theme, objective,
and how it made use of the key messages