A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Engage Digital Storytelling conference in NYC on behalf of Racepoint Group’s Digital Consumer Practice. This full-day event was studded with top executives from HBO, MTV, Esquire Magazine, Facebook, Buzzfeed and many more awesomely relevant brands. While waiting for the event to begin, I met a sports publicist, a mobile developer, an entrepreneur in graphic design, and a public relations pro who had traveled all the way from Switzerland – a true representation of how digital storytelling is applicable across a web of interconnected industries all striving for brand relevance and success.
Our Digital Consumer Practice team found attending this event to be a real treat, especially considering how digital storytelling constantly comes into play for our clients. We’re always looking for new and creative ways to tell a client’s story, and creativity was definitely delivered in large doses during each session.
As I began writing this recap, I realized there was far too much interesting content from the conference to fit into just one post. As a result, this is the first post in a series on Digital Storytelling, one which highlights three distinctly unique perspectives on how technology is the new blank canvas for storytelling.
Perspective 1: Adam Berger, Creative Strategist, Facebook
Adam’s creative strategy is built around an important foundational belief – people don’t change. Sure, technology and the mediums through which we consume content are constantly evolving, but ultimately, people will remain constant in their core interests, needs and desires. From the newspaper to online content to social media, people always apply what they know from the previous medium to the next. You’ll see this in the repurposing of print articles online, and the subsequent repurposing of these posts on social media. The message really hasn’t changed, it’s just the medium. And ultimately, no matter what medium is being used, brands can’t forget that it’s about the people.
So how do we build brand identity in a world where the medium for message dissemination is changing faster than ever before? The answer: cater to the feed. Most digital content today is consumed through feeds, meaning the most effective stories will be designed as if the feed is the most important canvas of all. There are three important rules to designing a storytelling strategy for these new canvasses, which brands should pay special attention to:
Be respectful of people’s feeds. Don’t clog feeds with content that isn’t both a part of your brand narrative and useful to people.
Start with the brief, and realize that sharing is really just talking. Approach feed content as a conversation, instead of a blast of information.
Respond in real-time. Brands need to be timely and relevant every day, while providing rich, deep storytelling.
Perspective 2: Brian Ballard, CEO, APX Labs
Brian’s approach to digital storytelling is to design it with the technology of the future in mind. Over the next five years, he forecasts people will be interacting with each other in a completely different way due to an innovation you’ve probably heard of at this point: Smart Glasses.
Smart glasses such as Google Glass create a real-time digital layer that overlays information over the real world. They’re designed to be on and with you everywhere you go, meaning the story isn’t confined to the times when you’re checking your smartphone or laptop. Every time someone looks at something, a story can be told that is specifically tailored to their preferences, allowing for more immersive storytelling. For example, two people can look at the exact same thing, whether it’s a storefront or a commercial while watching TV, and see two totally different things based on what part of the story they care about most. This is a whole new level of social, where brands can choose not only how much to share, but exactly when and how quickly.
Perspective 3: Nick Hooker, Creative Director, Framestore
Most people are extremely familiar with the work of Framestore, including special and visual effects in major motion films such as Iron Man 3, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln. The problem is no one knows they are looking at Framestore’s work. As soon as a director comes to them, the art department gets to work on establishing the DNA of the film through mind-blowing graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics are top secret and never revealed to the public. In order to lift the curtain between the audience and the awesome graphics their creative designers produce, Nick decided to embark on a bold new experiment in storytelling – giving the entire story to the audience.
In partnership with io9, Framestore started creating and progressively publishing images from the art department with zero accompanying narrative. They then asked the audience to build a narrative around the image. Framestore then selected five submissions and asked the community to select the best, from which the art department designed another image, which was posted and carried through the same process, until ultimately there was an entire story built purely by crowdsourcing and engaging the audience. Nick touts the success of this experiment and relates it to how brands can harness the innate storytelling power of their audience and take lead from them.
He provided the example of a piece of art on DeviantArt that depicted a teddy bear over a sleeping child’s head fighting off a bad dream with a sword. This image spoke to people so much and received so many shares and engagements that Hollywood bought the rights to it and will make a movie about it. This is a prime example of recognizing the mysterious connection that sometimes happens between an audience and a story from the grassroots up. Allowing an audience to steer you in the direction of what it is they really care about and then harnessing that to build a narrative creates a true, deep connection.
What is your approach to digital storytelling for your brand? What have you learned along the way?
More than ever personal electronics are taking center stage in our leisure time. From watching movies and television to catching
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up that book you’ve been meaning to get to, it’s becoming more and more likely that you’ll have a tablet, smartphone or laptop in tow.
With spring in full bloom and summer on the horizon, Racepoint Group wants to take a look at just how you plan to integrate tech into your summer fun. Spare a moment and submit your answers on this short survey we’ve put together and let us know how personal technology plays a role in your life.
Oh, and we’ll be giving out three $25 iTunes gift cards to randomly selected respondents to help kick start their summer movie fun!
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s episode features a very special guest from RPG’s Hong Kong office, Emma Matuschka (coolest Kiwi in the world), Ben Haber, Nick Liberati and Ally Peebles. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Social Media During Disasters
Does social media help or hurt more during times of distress and tragedy?
Is social media too powerful in the wrong hands? What (if anything) can be done to prevent occurrences like the AP Twitter hack (and the subsequent stock market dip) from happening?
3. Google Glass
Have you tried anything like it yet? What do you think of the concept, is it inevitable that we’ll all be wearing these in a couple years? Will you be an early adopter?
4. Emma Loves Boston
What has been the best/worst part of Emma’s trip to Boston?
When last week’s horrific events occurred in Boston, people who were at the marathon (or in the Boston area) were flooded with calls, texts and messages, asking if they were safe. During this time I was driving home from the Marathon with my wife, who had finished the race, and she spent the entire car ride answering texts and phone calls to both of our phones, letting people know we were our of harm’s way.
Once we arrived home I want on Facebook and put up a message, letting our friends and family know we were home safe. While the calls and texts still came in, the post was able to inform many people at once, and the message was also passed through cousins to older family members that weren’t on Facebook:
As I scanned through my Facebook news feed, I saw countless other friends and acquiescence who posted something similar. Some were at the marathon, others work or live in/around Boston. In either case, Facebook became the place to ensure everyone that you were safe.
When the September 11th attacks occurred in 2001, there wasn’t Facebook or another social network that people were using. The only way to find out if someone was safe was through a phone call, text message, email or word of mouth. As a result, it took folks much longer to discover if their friends and family were safe, especially considering the cell towers were overwhelmed by the amount of calls being made. In Boston last week the cell towers were again overwhelmed at times, but social (and smartphones) provided a way around that.
The impact that Facebook has on today’s world is unprecedented. Never before have so many people been connected in one way, with the ability to share information to one’s near-entire social circle so quickly and efficiently. While many people complain about Facebook’s privacy changes, news feed updates and other annoyances, there’s no doubting the importance that the social network brings in moments like these.
In case you missed our announcement, here’s a quick recap of a piece of news coming from the Racepoint team this time around!
Last week, we introduced a new product to the Racepoint family of offerings – FieldFacts. In a nutshell, it’s a super-powered database and campaign management system that draws on a powerful combination of technology and human intelligence to target influencers and key opinion leaders.
With the digital and social worlds becoming our main sources for everything from grocery shopping to world news, the days of rallying people to join the online community are over. We’re all on, all the time. But what does that mean? In any given week, less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with brands they’re fans of (source: Marketing Science). This makes finding and engaging with the right people, or influencers, crucial to maximizing your share of voice.
Providing Racepoint Group clients with a balanced scorecard for the influencers most essential to their campaigns, FieldFacts solves this issue and lends a unique level of intelligence in managing brand and issue interactions and generating influence for Racepoint clients.
FieldFacts is industry-agnostic and can be used for public relations, government relations and public affairs programs. Check out the official release below for all the techie details you know and crave and let us know what you think in the comment section.
After the identities of two suspects were released during last night’s FBI press conference, admittedly Boston was in a bit of a frenzy. Not even a week after the tragic events of the Marathon, we now had two someones at whom we could point our fingers. We were relieved, fearful, hyper-sensitive. This morning, Arkansas State House Representative Nate Bell quipped about gun control. I don’t care what your stance on gun control is: The wounds are still fresh. Needless to say the whiplash was impassioned. Bell later apologized, but we’ll see how long it takes for that apology to be accepted.
It happens in politics and it happens in PR. Check out this pitch sent to Brad McCarty of The Next Web that pitched video technology in the wake of the blasts. Brad did a pretty good job of summing up why this was a terrible idea. Moral of stories: don’t push your agenda during times of crisis.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all suffering through this atrocity and those risking our lives to bring the perpetrators to justice.
This morning upon logging into Facebook, I was greeted with the following status at the top of my news feed:
I’m used to seeing statuses about my friends’ dogs urinating, not urinating, wearing sunglasses, and getting dog-shamed. I don’t mind it – in fact I usually find it at the very least amusing. What I’m not used to seeing is a MySpace infiltration of emoticons in my feed. That’s cool, I guess, but couldn’t I just do that with the standard emoticons on Facebook? I was doing just fine with happy, sad, really happy and the heart. Now I can be… great? Wonderful? Better? I’m riding a roller coaster of emotion, but Facebook only allows me to use one at once.
The fun doesn’t stop there, folks! You can also tell the world what you’re watching, listening to, drinking and eating (see what I did there?) – but only one at a time. So you can tell the world that you’re drinking an Old Speckled Hen, but you can’t simultaneously tell the world you’re happy about it. Unless, of course, you do it the old-fashioned way:
I even got an emoticon in there! I have to imagine that everything Facebook lets me tag gets sold to countless companies and will allow for even more targeted advertising. You’re eating ice cream, you say? Check out these new Ben & Jerry’s flavors! Reading Game of Thrones? Check out the HBO series! While many of us say what we “like” in our profiles, that information can get stale. For instance, if you joined Facebook as a college freshman in 2005 and said you love frat parties, it’s possible that you’ve lost interest in them since then. If you don’t update your likes regularly, however, it’s outdated information for advertisers. What you said you were listening to five minutes ago is an entirely different story.
Some folks get defensive about social networks selling their data to advertisers. While I don’t like the idea, I doubt much of my information is private any more. And as far as advertising is concerned, I’d much rather see ads for goods and services that I actually find interesting as opposed to, say, mail-order brides. Whether I actually use the feature is yet to be determined.
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s guests include Tyler Kizner, Erin Knapp, Amanda Nadile and Carrie Weiss. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Employers asking for Facebook passwords
Do you think certain employers should be allowed to ask potential employees for passwords to access their social media accounts?
Twitter’s video service has already been used to apply for jobs, what are some other possible uses for this platform?
Have you tried this new Chrome application that lets users insert hidden messages into their Facebook photos? Does it seem useful to you, or just another gimmick?
4. Zombie Apocalypse
TV shows like The Walking Dead and upcoming movies like World War Z seem to be quite popular these days – what do you think you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!
Regardless of how many precautions are taken to ensure a pleasurable experience, there are unknown variables that can turn that pleasure cruise into a voyage of the damned. Cruise lines will put every effort they can to prevent a bad situation from happening, but the human element is unpredictable and can cause a great deal of problems.
When the unimaginable happens, it can be very damaging to the cruise line name. Even if the situation happened thousands of miles away, mainstream media will make sure that “so-and-so” cruise line is held responsible. Damage control needs to take place immediately in order to quell loss of income from these voyages.
1. Responsibility - Accepting responsibility immediately when something goes wrong is a start. By claiming responsibility from the beginning, the company can begin the healing process by showing the public that they made a mistake and are taking measures to make things right. It’s all about showing an effort to the situation. Even if the captain is personally to blame for causing the circumstance, the company needs to acknowledge that the responsibility of putting him or her at the helm was a mistake.
2. Expedience - In order to reduce accusations and speculations, the public needs to be updated of changing information as quickly as possible. Mainstream media has a habit of taking unsubstantiated facts and reporting on the tragedy as quickly as possible. This usually tends to be based on information that doesn’t have a solid foundation. As news reporters, it’s their job to report on situations as quickly as possible in order to be the first broadcast agency to do so. This is why numbers and statistical information are always differentiated at the beginning of a story. If the cruise line intervenes with its own information based on facts, then the fear-factor of journalism can be reduced.
3. Making Amends - Not everyone can be bought off with free tickets or refunds. In order to heal the damage caused from a bad situation, a more active approach needs to be analyzed. Obviously, an internal investigation needs to be conducted and the findings made public as to why this situation happened in the first place. A public effort needs to be displayed by the company showing everyone that steps are being taken to ensure the troubles never happen again. And finally, a humanitarian outreach needs to be embellished in the public view in order to show that the company cares deeply for its patrons.
4. Follow-ups - Continuous follow-ups placed in public view of methods and technologies to prevent the past mistakes needs to be a priority. The Internet has provided a location for a wide range of people to keep stories and videos alive for decades. Any detrimental video needs to be accompanied by one that shows remorse for bad decisions. Although bad news usually lives longer in the memories of people than good news, a great deal of effort and a change of policies within the company can keep the situation from being one that bankrupts the cruise line.
The bottom line is that no one is perfect. Not every contingency can be planned for as the random element will always exist. The best a company can strive for is to diminish the amount of damage the press can wreak on any bad situation. Not everything can be quelled by throwing money at it.
Jason Miner an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other’s efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom.
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s guests include Ashley Crutchfield, Colleen McCarthy and Lori Niquette. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Original Content
Do you subscribe? How do you feel about their original content and which devices do you watch on?
2. iPhone vs. Android
Have you recently made a switch? What features would you like to see on the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S? Are phones now becoming too big?
3. March Madness
Who do you have winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? Have you been following via an app on your smartphone? (Note: this recording is from yesterday, 3/28 – Miami was crushed last night by Marquette 71-61, once again destroying Evan’s bracket hopes and dreams…)
4. Spring has Sprung
What are you looking forward to most about Spring?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!