What is Transmedia Storytelling? (Keynote Topic)

Steve Rubel, the keynote speaker and EVP/Global Strategy and Insights at Edelman, will be talking about transmedia storytelling. Do you know what it is?

Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Insights, Edelman

Transmedia storytelling. It’s a Hollywood buzzword, but for those who live outside the glitz of that world and who aren’t early-adapters in the advertising world, it’s likely an unfamiliar term. Or maybe you’ve heard it, but if someone asked you what it was, you’d probably mumble something vague about games and then change the subject.

To put it (somewhat) simply, transmedia storytelling is about creating complex, immersive experiences that consist of multiple narrative storylines within the same fictional universe presented on multiple forms of media. Sometimes this includes games, but it doesn’t have to. Facebook, TV shows, big-screen movies, YouTube videos, videogames, comics and more—these could all play a role in a transmedia strategy.

To be clear, it’s not merely presenting the same content on different mediums; instead, it’s about allowing each medium to do what it does best. It’s about “seeing the entire ecosystem and how all of its different parts impact each other,” as Steve Rubel, the senior VP-director of insights at Edelman Digital, says.

Why tell stories this way?

Because, with mobile and social technologies and our fast-paced culture, people are consuming media differently. Today, content has the ability to permeate lives and create engagement in new and evolving ways. A “society of media snackers, jumping from one piece of content to the next” is what Rubel call our current culture.

Still, it’s important to consider that not all stories need to be told in this way. Transmedia is a creative tool and needs to be understood and well thought out.

Transmedia examples?

Many of the current and previous transmedia products have been directed at children or geeks, especially through science fiction, horror and fantasy, as a Fast Company article published in April 2011 pointed out. However, these non-linear experiences are being explored in other areas too.

Disney is one company that gets transmedia. Rubel mentions how they expanded their “High School Musical” concept to TV, film, theme parks and consumer products. He also includes Apple as a transmedia company because they focus on the brand and control the entire experience from end-to end.

A recent example, and perhaps a first for he auto industry, is the way Ford is introducing its new vehicle through a social media game. They partnered with social-platform gamemaker Zynga to create what they are calling the world’s largest version of the “Words With Friends” game. This event was the first in a series of social gaming initiatives to be launched as part of Escape Routes, an upcoming online interactive reality series that will feature six teams of two that will travel across the country and compete in virtual and real-life challenges, according to Mashable.

The SoCon 12 keynote by Steve Rubel will be held Saturday February 4 from 9 to 10 a.m. at KSU. Register NOW if you haven’t already.

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