Multimedia Storytelling Research

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I started working at a Graduate Research Assistant here at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in September.

I’m working for assistant professor Seth Gitner (@sethgitner), (Newspaper and Online Journalism) for the Multimedia Storytelling Book he’s creating for COM 117 Multimedia Storytelling, a required course that all undergraduate in every program at Newhouse must take.

It’s a little difficult to explain in say, a tweet, what I’m doing for this project. Working on a Google Drive Doc 40+ pages long, I’ve been collecting the very best examples and discussions of multimedia storytelling in advertising and public relations. Here’s some of what I’ve found…the following is more of a collection than a narrative so bear with me.

Without any hesitation I can say that charity:water has the best and most compelling storytelling videos. Look at their 5-year-anniversary video.


Another great non-profit example is Tom’s Shoes. Watch just the first two minutes of this video and you’ll see what I mean.

If it hasn’t become apparent to you yet, the future of public relations for large organization will rely on what GolinHarris refers to as Holistic Transmedia Storytelling, that is, telling your brand’s story full through multiple channels. The key isn’t to replicate content and put it on every platform but to use each channel most effective way to tell part of the story on that channel. It’s not about media silos for the consumer but telling the brand message through different media.

Even Etsy, the hippie shop, is trying to tell things through stories.

Even bands like OK GO have realized that there is an alternate model for content creation that includes sponsorship directly from companies.

One example of the use of this type of storytelling is for retail. Ralph Lauren created a children’s story with in-story shopping capabilities.

In terms of public relations, one should keep in mind Edelman’s Media Cloverleaf, that is, the idea that in order for companies to reach their publics they have to do so through traditional (mainstream), owned, hybrid (new media), and social media.

Companies have been getting more and more creative in reaching consumers beyond “our product is cool, buy it”. They’ve used what seem to be homemade videos and help to spread them virally.

Red Bull has been a pioneer in branded content (remember the Red Bull Stratos space jump?).

In addition to huge history-making productions, they’ve been doing things on a much much smaller scale for a number of years. See “Way Back Home” which is really just a cool video of Danny MacAskill riding his bike around the British countryside, and, you know, off castle walls. The only catch is that there’s a couple seconds of the Red Bull logo.

One company even lied to the public, saying they knew nothing about a video showing ‘athletes’ using their shoes to walk on water.

Coca-Cola, one of the world’s leading brands has even caught on that they need to keep up and adjust to changing media. They released a video explaining their model for content creation which is 70% safe, 20% building on what works, and 10% “high-risk”. They’re aware that most content about them isn’t made by the company but by the public so their strategy is to “provoke conversations” based on “liquid and linked” ideas to earn a disproportionate share of pop culture. I can’t do justice to the video by explaining here. You really need to watch it.

That’s what I have for right now. I’ve been really busy working on pretty interesting class projects and other things. Hopefully in December I’ll have enough time to really be caught up on explaining what I’ve been doing here.

For now, here’s a video of Professor Gitner discussing what he likes about students at Newhouse, classroom innovation, and out-of-the-classroom interaction.

It’s the use of fresh ideas that is part of Newhouse’s constant efforts at innovation, especially when it comes to journalism.