Transmedia Storytelling in Action
In the good old days – actually, not that long ago – market development for a new product or service launch was considered to be predictable. A skilled marketing communications or PR person would contact “the media” and pitch them the same story – over, and over again.
That repetition resulted in a crescendo of editorial coverage -- as that limited list of qualified journalists recited the “messaging” to their assumed to be receptive audience. Any reported market buzz was typically followed by a prolonged period of relative obscurity.
Why Cross-Media Methods Thrived
Those schooled in legacy product marketing or public relations practices offered a non-solution. They would essentially perform the exact same exercise again, only this time expecting a different outcome. That wasted effort would likely generate little incremental value.
The more enlightened digital marketing practitioner would use cross-media techniques to take the same basic narrative -- about the product or service attributes -- and repeat it across different media. Sometimes that effort rekindled or sparked new interest in the marketplace.
How Digital Storytelling has Evolved
Today, the savvy marketer is experimenting with a more advanced approach to digital storytelling and multimedia asset development. It’s inherently strategic in nature, partly because it’s not an afterthought. The story-world is conceived at the very beginning of the project. It’s the foundation for purposeful ongoing story development.
Transmedia storytelling is the technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital publishing methods – where we develop narrative across multiple forms of media, in order to deliver unique pieces of related content via our chosen channels.
These storyline threads are woven together and are in sync with each other – closely linked by the structure that was envisioned within the conceptual story-world ecosystem. Commercial non-fiction storytelling is now being transformed by this forward-thinking methodology.
When to Tell the Whole Story in Stages
Armed with a holistic view of the market potential, transmedia storytellers will design the hooks and connections for interactive engagement in the pre-production phase of content development -- with the intent of creating the environment for story immersion.
By having gained the foresight of a story-world outline, you’re now able to position individual characters or storyline elements within the context of an episodic story arc. You can then decide when to introduce the main narrative and the back-story ingredients to the marketplace.
Moreover, emerging social commerce practices enable your target buyers to tap the recognized market influencers -- who have been exposed to your transmedia story assets -- and follow their collective shared insights and trusted guidance. That's why real thought leadership is so valuable.
Where to Apply Commercial Transmedia
Learn how to tell your own authentic story in the most compelling and engaging way. We can show you how to develop your own distinctive next-generation narrative. We'll also help you uncover the back-stories that demonstrate the true depth and meaning of your organization's accomplishments -- in words that engage and inspire your stakeholders.
Once your plot is set, and you've produced the multimedia content assets that have captured the best stories, then you're ready to arrange and distribute the key components of the narrative structure via the best-fit online platforms.
How does the shift to commercial transmedia produce results? We created the "Connected Life Exchange" for Cisco Systems. In 2013 the project was honored with the Content Marketing Award by AdAge B2B -- here's what they said about the impact.
"Blogs are an ideal way for a company to establish itself as an authority on an industry. A corporate website can highlight products, services and the company itself, but the blog is an opportunity to go bigger — to address the challenges and opportunities that extend beyond the marketer. Cisco Systems does just that with its 'Connected Life Exchange' blog, home to well-written columns both by regular and contributing writers. The blog's editorial focus is on how networks and technology are changing the world. One post, for example, features an interview with a manager at a company that provides mobile software to community health workers in rural areas with limited or no access to doctors. Another post includes a video from Cisco's well-produced 'Network Effect' documentary-style video series; the video highlights how a cellular service provider in rural Africa set up local offices in donated shipping containers, and how another organization helped Latin American micro-businesses solve connectivity problems. With a wealth of strong, non-promotional content all in one place, participants have plenty to talk about."
Cisco has built upon the lessons learned and evolved -- from a traditional press release producer to a forward-thinking content marketer -- via branded stories. Cisco moved beyond articulating "what we make" (products) to "what we make possible" (business outcomes).
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