And now for something completely different

Being a storyteller at heart, I was deeply inspired by Brent Friedman’s presentation on transmedia storytelling.  As I listened to him explain the complexity of the work he creates, the vast number of moving parts and the dependencies and interconnections between these pieces in order to create a cohesive whole, I kept thinking there must be great tools available to help assist this process.  But there aren’t.  In speaking with Brent both in class and via email, I discovered a gaping hole in the tools provided for this more woven approach to production.  Based on Brent’s experience and the video interview with Bernie Su about his Emmy winning production of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” I started to brainstorm approaches to assist in these engaged stories.

Since this class I have been digging into the problems, opportunities and possible solutions in creating a new workflow for transmedia storytellers.  Given the inevitability of the “death” of traditional linear television programming, I think there is a huge opportunity to shape and democratize the development and archive of more flexible, engaging and adaptive storytelling model.  In my “terms of engagement” I focused on my desire to help spread better storytelling tools for the next generation of storytellers.  I assumed I would slowly collect perspectives and theories over the course of many classes, quarters, possibly years.  Instead I find myself working feverishly on this project with a renewed level of inspiration and purpose at work.  I’m striving to start transforming the future of storytelling immediately, no longer satisfied to be sitting in an observer’s seat.  If this is what one class can do, I’m a little worried how I’ll harness the innovation generated by the rest of the program.  But honestly, it’s a good kind of worried.

endings

With the final presentations done, last class meeting concluded, I am just two short writing assignments away from ending my first class in graduate school.  That will merit its own post later, but for now I need to push through and get these last assignments posted.  So here we go.

Evergreen Health

Let’s start by just confirming the fact that their video was one of the funniest, most creative things I’ve seen this quarter.  All of the participants could have been real actors for the quality of performance they provided, right down to the dot of mayo under Zack’s nose during his interview.  Brilliant.  I was really impressed with research they did and while at times I wondered how far out the technology they were discussing really was.  I had the opportunity to ask this in the Q&A and they had really done their research.  With the rising cost of health care, engaging individuals in their own health management becomes a critical responsibility of all care providers and individuals.  This was an exceptionally well done presentation. 

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was more information on the specific types of data to be monitored and more details of the estimated improvement in outcomes.  I think this is beyond was is reasonable to expect for this class, but it is the only thing I think I’d look for if I was really involved in a discussion of implementing this program.  Great work!

Asana

Being tasked with making B2B software “sexy” is a pretty uphill challenge.  I thought this team took a smart approach by engaging with customers to build a better affinity for the brand via storytelling and really understanding why mobile is a key to success (though I may never think about oral hygiene the same again).  I have long been of the mindset that individualizing the message to make it resonate as something more personal than institutional is critical, (Perhaps it’s that GenX “what’s in it for me” mentality rearing it’s head here) and I think they illustrated it nicely.  Again, their slides were spectacular.  Pulling images from some of the most identifiable stories of my youth was another way to get my “yes” vote.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was less of the competition’s video messaging.  I think the concept of showing how little their competition was using a storytelling approach was good, but I didn’t get to see enough of the video to understand what they were doing and it was too much if we were just being shown that their video is pretty standard corporate video.  A minor nit pick, but it stood out to me in an otherwise strong presentation.

Pikshare

Regulation is never an easy balance.  No regulation leaves a system open for abuse, but too much regulation can easily put a damper on creativity and expression.  I thought the Pikshare team did a good job of balancing the requirements of the individuals participating in the service as well as the liability of the Pikshare company and corporate partners.  I think it was well summed up in the “We’re watching, but not in a creepy way,” summary.  I do think this service would be viable given how the individual unprompted photos of products and services seem to be more sincere than most marketing content and this would be an interesting brokering of those connections.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was more discussion of regulation struggles in the past over “offensive” materials.  I think there was some great case history, but I really liked their response to the breastfeeding question I asked and it seems like the did some great consideration there that we didn’t get to hear too much about. 

Amazon

This was my pod, and as difficult as it was to get organized for the presentation with such large groups of people, I was really pleased with the final outcome.  I wish we had more time to go deeper into some of the issues at play.  We did a lot of research and the situation with Amazon is extremely complex due to their corporate culture.  Specific concepts around monetizing the platform and/or the purpose built tools designed for their internal use would have been whole other section of the presentation, but it really fell out of the scope of our assignment.  Overall, it was a really good experience and an interesting problem to solve.

Gennection

I have to say I was a little disappointed when I found that they had changed the discussion topic from what was originally proposed.  This was the subject I had envied when pod assignments were made, but I do think they handled the framing of the new discussion well.

Clearly they did a lot of research.  I was hoping to find their slides before I wrote this reflection because in the wealth of information I was inspired to go do more research after class on this topic, it was that engaging for me.  As a discussion of the traits of the various generations, I think this presentation hit its stride early.  As they went deeper, it felt like it became less focused on how to work with Millennials.  Many of the statements made about best practices or the desires of Millennials in the work place felt like they could be more broadly applied.  For example, I can’t think of anyone who says, “I want my boss to be authoritarian, provide a dull work environment and heaven forbid I work on things that I am passionate about!”  I think the core of the conflict (if there is one, I tend to think this is more of a media created problem designed to fill air time) is the fact that this generation is more direct about asking for what they want and are more willing to leave a company to go get it.  That said, the needs are not unique to this population.  In following the twitter feed during this presentation, I kept seeing comments that people felt they were describing their desires in the workplace to a T, but I think this was reflected by people other than the Millennial audience they were speaking about.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was a better discussion of why it matters?  The fact that there are a lot of Millennials entering the workplace is not enough reason for an employer to completely rethink their current practices.  If they are not bringing a unique and necessary skillset or perspective to their job, why should employers care.  I would also like to say that I thought the continued focus on the Boomer-Millennial rift was overplayed since in my experience more Millennials will be in organizations reporting to GenXers and I would have liked to hear more about those specific differences.

And like that, it’s done.  Thank you fellow #CommLead students, it has been an inspiring experience!

The Home Stretch

Saturday’s presentations were overwhelmingly good.  I feel lucky to be part of a cohort with so many intelligent leaders. And while these presentations took up most of the day’s course time, I was thrilled to have the class end with being given some insight into the best practices for social media photography, especially when the iPhone is your tool of choice. Fantastic class overall.

If you followed my Twitter activity during class, it was obvious that I was hanging on Josh Trujillo’s every word.   I have been moved by his work in the past as he has an impressive ability to capture moments in scenes of chaos that convey deep emotion.  Having his tips in my pocket are sure challenge me to capture more unique views of my environment to include in my storytelling while at the same time improving my photos of my dogs and dinners for my Facebook feed.

Now on to the group presentations.

Monetizing Communities Mini Cooper:

I think the idea was interesting, and since the events are simply an amplification of local road trips that are successful in their smaller community, I think it could have traction.  My question is really more around the monetization opportunity.  Given the financials that were presented, it felt like the opportunity was small-scale for a brand like BMW to consider successful.  I wonder if there might be stronger opportunities in partnerships that gave access to this highly desirable demographic of drivers on a broader scale.  Since the information we were presented said that they were social media social butterflies, it seems possible to use that activity not only to amplify the Mini brand, but to drive partner opportunities to both target and be endorsed by this community.  Even flipping the opportunity to have it become a select group of Mini owners who are selected for their social media savvy being given a unique Mini sponsored trip with additional sponsors adding events and prizes to the experience may be more beneficial to the sponsors than the limited reach that a 40 person road trip would normally have.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the board of BMW is validation of their facts.  I found myself wondering “where did they get that data” frequently during their presentation.  Especially if it was contrary to my own experience with the Mini owners I have contact with.  One other thing I’d like to see, a different phrasing of their summing up the 50+ audience of Mini owners as “old people.”  Ouch!  While I’m not 50+ yet, no one wants to be called old and the audience of that meeting is likely to have many in attendance who fit that demographic.

Engagement in Organizations- Pollinator Pathway:

This presentation had the most beautiful materials, video, photos and posters.  I was impressed with the mission and goals of their organization.  having never heard of it before, I now want to find ways to contribute and bring a similar project to my neighborhood.  While I loved the organization and materials, I felt the content of the group was a bit too instructive.  I left the presentation without a clear idea of what I was supposed to take away as a member of their audience.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the stake holders of Pollinator Pathway is a clear call for action.  I want to know what steps I should be taking, who I should be contacting or what I need to be researching next.

The Data Challenge- MYPulse:
I learned so much in this presentation.  The format was concise and direct, the references were well researched and interesting.  They did a wonderful job of summing up the ask of the board and supporting both possible decisions.  My notes for this presentation focus on the data they presented, it make me feel like I really understood the business challenges they were facing and the pros and cons of the approaches taken by the competition.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the board of MYPulse is a bigger deal made of their celebrity spokesperson.  As much as it didn’t directly drive the data discussion, if the team has a high-profile celebrity ready to endorse their product, that should have been the first point in that part of the discussion.  As I said, this is a quibble, as I thought this was an excellent presentation.

The Behavior Change- Aspen:

This group did an excellent job of framing the problem they are trying to address.  Instead of taking a broad swipe at increasing recycling overall, they narrowly defined their target audience and gave real thought about how to motivate a behavior change.  It was especially effective that the team took on roles in their presentation and really sold the pitch as a credible engagement with Seattle Public Utilities, and it made the presentation more fun as an audience member.  Adding the concept of competition, active message participation and a “coolness” factor to the communication felt like an opportunity for success with their targeted audience.  I also appreciated that they addressed past failed efforts in this area and took time to dissect and investigate why these efforts didn’t have the success they were hoping for.  One very effective tool used in the presentation was the video of the train hauling garbage to a landfill in Oregon.  It really drove home the fact that while Seattle is a leader in waste management, there is still a long way to go.  Less successful was the 2nd video.  I didn’t understand the message it was trying to convey and felt it just took time away from the core message of the project.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the stake holder of this effort would be a better example of a web video.  To make the project compelling, the “crown jewel” needs to be much more of an attention grabber.

The Free Threat- Root:

It is hard to believe that this was not a real magazine.  Their presentation was so compelling that as they spoke I kept coming up with more ideas to help keep this magazine alive.  By the end of the presentation, I was hoping they would be moved to start this project just so I could subscribe.  Their goals for keeping the print magazine relevant while driving a community around it to support the paid subscription were so well researched and convincingly presented, I was completely wowed.  Their visuals were stunning and the goals of presenting the beauty in food and the world of urban farming really attracted me as a half-assed urban farmer myself.  Taking the community more in the direction of an upscale movement really resonated with me and I think their strategy was compelling as it really felt to understand the evolution of the modern urban farmers.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the team at Root would be a discussion of the strategy for community curation.  This is a big departure for a magazine, but one I think is admirable.  Also, I believe their decision not to make a tablet version of the magazine is a misstep.  With the audience they are targeting, tablets seem like a natural progression.  If the desire is there to differentiate the print magazine from a purely digital offering, perhaps having additional features in the print model.  One idea that came to mind for me was to have the last page of the magazine be a seed paper.  This is a kind of paper that has seeds imbedded in the paper pulp.  They can be planted and the seeds will then sprout and grow in your garden.    Again, I thought this team did an exceptional job with their strategy, now if only they’d go make this magazine for me, I’d be happy.