Cliff Angelo Narrative-Borne Risk Header

A threat to your business can take many forms. It can be a strategic threat – something along the lines of an approaching industry disruption that will require you to either adapt or be left behind. Or it can take the form of a security threat, either physical or digital. 

In any case, staying ahead of the narratives that emerge and spread online is key to managing these threats – or even turning them into opportunities.

Cliff Angelo, Managing Director of Corporate Communications at Accenture, understands the importance of staying on top of emerging narratives. In our recent Town Hall, From Reactive to Proactive with Narrative Intelligence, Cliff shared lots of valuable insights, including some of the key things he considers when a narrative catches his team’s attention. Keep reading for more, and watch the recording of the Town Hall to learn more from Cliff and our other panelists. 

Take a look at the Zignal Narrative Intelligence Cloud.

Infographic: Key Questions When Evaluating Narrative-Borne Threats

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1. Does the narrative impact your business?

When evaluating a narrative, a good place to start is by determining whether that narrative has an impact – or could have an impact in the future – on your company. This may seem obvious: why pay attention to a narrative that’s not even about you?

Things get a little less simple, though, once you start expanding the definition of “impact.” We’ve discussed on this blog – and other panelists mentioned in the Town Hall – that it’s important to broaden your application of narrative intelligence to include narratives that may not appear directly related to your business, but which may impact you all the same. One example that comes to mind is the explosion of online narratives related to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause this past April. While those narratives, for the most part, only had a direct relation to J&J, they may have contributed to the subsequent decline in COVID-19 vaccine uptake more broadly, which affected other vaccine makers as well.

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2. Who is moving the narrative?

Just as important as what is being said is who’s saying it. Getting ahead of narrative-borne strategic threats is about more than understanding the narrative itself. Who are the leading voices driving this narrative? What can you learn about them? What platforms or forums are they relying on the most to amplify the narrative? 

Perhaps most importantly: How are these things changing over time? A minor voice within a narrative today could be a major driver tomorrow. A narrative has many components, and understanding how they shift is a key part of understanding how a narrative is evolving and, potentially, growing – and whether its impact on your organization is set to increase.

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3. Is it something we need to be concerned about?

Even if you determine that a narrative does, in fact, impact your organization, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to act on it – or that it’s even a strategic threat. Some narratives present more opportunities to a business than risks. And while we’ve talked before about how strategic silence is a less viable option in today’s media environment than it has been in the past, sometimes it might still make more sense, depending on the prominence and trajectory of the narrative, to sit tight instead of jumping into the fray.

Want more insight from Cliff on handling high-impact online narratives? Take a look at another clip below, and watch the Town Hall recording for the full discussion.