Strategic Storytelling: Maximum Impact in a Digital World

Date  
Nov 21–22, 2019 $3,750
Jun 11–12, 2020 $3,850
Nov 12–13, 2020 $3,850
 Rachel Ginsberg
Contact
Rachel Ginsberg
Columbia University School of the Arts
+1 831-295-9133
rg3265@columbia.edu
Location
Columbia University Campus
New York City 
Plan your stay

In partnership with
Columbia University School of the Arts

“I tell stories to jurors in the context of representing business people accused of serious federal crimes. I cannot begin to say how much you taught was directly applicable to my work environment.”
– Past Participant John Lauro, Attorney and Owner, Lauro Law Firm

Get a first look at the Strategic Storytelling program.

Storytelling has always been central to human experience – it's how we explain and make sense of the world. But today, as media-savvy audiences begin to tune out advertising messages while searching for ever-more-immersive entertainment experiences, the way businesses and professionals need to communicate is changing. Led by best-selling author Frank Rose and offered in partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Strategic Storytelling introduces the concept of “story thinking” and shows how it can be used to achieve maximum impact in a digital world.

Story Thinking

As a member of Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, Rose is helping to pioneer a new understanding of narrative and its role in the digital age. Research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology has shown that stories are typically more effective at changing people’s minds than rational argument. This means that people — leaders in particular — need to view the world in narrative terms, not as a thesis to be argued or a pitch to be made but as a story to be told. Because stories provide a structure for reality and a key to understanding, because they play to the emotions and rely upon empathy, story thinking is a powerful tool.

Strategic Storytelling builds on these insights to show how story is used by entertainment industry professionals, by leading brands, by B2B providers, and by non-profits—and what each of these can learn from the other. Over the course of two days, you will engage in a mix of deep learning and hands-on workshops that will leave you with a thorough understanding of the digital media ecosystem as well as the expertise you’ll need to communicate strategically within it.

The Strategic Storytelling Model™: Four Levels of Engagement

You will learn to employ the Strategic Storytelling Model™, a simple suite of visualization tools designed to help manage the complex narrative ecosystems that audiences are coming to expect in a highly interconnected, digital environment. Developed by Faculty Director Frank Rose and Senior Fellow Paul Woolmington, this model shows how a hit television series like The Walking Dead will spawn not only spin-off TV and Web series but also interactive online quizzes, highly participatory multi-player video games, and even real-world experiences like the AMC Zombie School. Together, these four levels form a self-reinforcing network that deepens the connection of existing fans and brings new ones in. This strategy, and the model that describes it, can be applied not just to entertainment properties but to all sorts of communications, including marketing and journalism.

To learn more about the model, download Frank Rose’s strategy+business article “The Power of Immersive Media.”

 

Preferred Pricing for Strategic Storytelling and Digital Marketing Strategy
 

Preferred pricing is available for executives who enroll in the Strategic Storytelling and Digital Marketing Strategy programs. The two programs feature complementary learnings and run back to back during the same week at Columbia Business School.

Please Contact Us

Please contact our Learning Solutions Specialists at +1 212-854-3395 for a personal conversation to learn more.

IMPACT

With every new communications technology, the way we tell stories has changed. Now it is changing again, to a new form that is profoundly different from the one-too-many broadcast model of 20th-century mass media. Digital technology is blurring distinctions between content and advertising, author and audience, fiction and reality, while at the same time provoking new and challenging expectations among audiences and consumers alike. Columbia’s two-day intensive will supply the understanding and context you need to navigate this new world as well as the skills you’ll require to turn these developments to your advantage.

Through a series of lessons, case studies, and highly participatory workshops, this program will explain:

  • The central role of stories in human experience
  • How storytelling is changing in response to transformative technologies and why these technologies are having the effects they do
  • The role of social media in storytelling strategy
  • The need for authenticity and the appeal of user participation.
  • The allure, and the limitations, of virtual reality and other cutting-edge techniques

By the end of the program, you will be equipped to:

  • Express your brand’s or organization’s appeal in narrative form
  • Leverage universal storytelling techniques while embracing new rules and strategies for the digital age
  • Satisfy the desire—particularly strong among Millennials—for immersive experiences and participatory engagement
  • Make the transition from simply telling stories to creating rich and immersive environments that people can enter and make their own

Upon completion of this program, you will earn two days towards a Certificate with select alumni and tuition benefits. Learn more.

PROGRAM STRUCTURE

Strategic Storytelling connects narrative concepts and strategies with actual case studies. Participants will work together in small groups to address real-world challenges that require innovative thinking as well as a thorough understanding of narrative technique. You will leave with an essential grounding in immersive storytelling strategies as well as a conceptual framework and a set of tools you can put to use right away.

Day 1 begins by delving into the art and science of storytelling—why it’s effective, how it works, why it’s changing today, and what that means for anyone with a story to tell. We look at how Hollywood sells its own stories, showing how movie studios and television networks have moved over time from a highly restrictive marketing strategy to one that embraces digital media, fan involvement, and immersive participation. We show how this goes beyond story to involve the construction of “story worlds” that audiences can project themselves into. And we introduce you to the Strategic Storytelling Model™, which provides a pair of simple yet powerful conceptual frameworks that will enable you to easily visualize the complex narrative ecosystem that such an approach requires.

Day 2 breaks down these techniques into a point-by-point methodology, detailing the role of such key ingredients as authenticity, purpose, and voice. We will show how such strategies have been adapted and deployed by organizations in a wide variety of fields, from entertainment to consumer goods to B2B. Guest speakers from the worlds of media and commerce will explain how they have employed these tools and what pitfalls they have encountered, while a series of hands-on workshops will enable you to put what you’ve learned to the test in real-world scenarios.

To learn more, download the sample agenda.

PARTICIPANT PROFILE & TESTIMONIALS

The program is intended for executives and professionals who want to understand the power of immersive storytelling and learn how to leverage its potential in a digital world. The focus is on demystifying digital media and assessing how your project or organization can take advantage of the unique opportunities for narrative engagement it has to offer. This will help those in corporate strategy, media and entertainment, brand marketing, B2B products and services, and non-profits and NGOs alike.

Typical Participant Mix

Geographic Spread

Years of Management Experience

Job Function

Industry

Hear from Past Participants:

FACULTY

Frank Rose, Faculty Director
Senior Fellow, Columbia University School of the Arts
Member, Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab
Author, The Art of Immersion

Frank Rose is a leading authority on the future of media and communications. In his most recent book, The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories, he argues that we are witnessing the emergence of a new form of narrative that is native to the Internet – one that is nonlinear, participatory, and immersive. He has addressed this issue at marketing summits and film festivals in New York, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Sydney, and Hong Kong, in academic gatherings at Stanford and the Politecnico di Milano, and at such companies as Google, Lucasfilm, Unilever, and the BBC. Hailed as "an essential overview" by the International Journal of Advertising and “a new media bible” by the Italian daily La Repubblica, the book is required reading for business, film, and game development courses at Columbia, Cambridge, NYU, USC, and other schools.

Previously, as a contributing editor at Wired and a contributing writer at Fortune, Frank worked as a journalist at the intersection of media and technology, covering such developments as the making of Avatar, Samsung and the rise of the Korean techno-state, and the posthumous career of Philip K. Dick in Hollywood. Among his earlier books are The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business, about the rise and and eventual unraveling of the oldest and at one time most successful talent agency in Hollywood, and the 1989 best-seller West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer, which detailed the ouster of Steve Jobs from Apple and was named one of the year's ten best by BusinessWeek. Having gotten his start chronicling the punk scene at CBGB for The Village Voice, he currently contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications.
 

Guest Speakers*

Christian Madsbjerg
Co-founder and Partner, ReD Associates

Christian Madsbjerg is a leading corporate consultant whose focus is on the study of humans — our culture, rituals and everyday behaviors. Using anthropology and ethnography — the in-depth study of human societies — as a means of data collection, he and his associates work with companies like Coca-Cola, Lego, and Adidas to discover the hidden reasons for business success or failure.

A native of Denmark, Christian studied philosophy and political science in Copenhagen and London. He co-founded ReD Associates in Copenhagen and now heads its New York office. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Der Spiegel, Bloomberg Businessweek and numerous other publications. In his first book, The Moment of Clarity, he and his business partner Mikkel Rasmussen examine the business world’s assumptions about human behavior and show how these assumptions can lead companies off track. In his 2017 book Sensemaking, he argues that the humanities are not a luxury in the digital age but a competitive advantage.

Ellen Lupton
Author, Design Is Storytelling
Curator, Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Ellen Lupton has been cited as one of America’s “design legends” by AIGA, the professional association for design. A writer and designer herself, she is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York and director of the MFA program in graphic design at Baltimore’s Maryland Institute College of Art, where she also heads the Center for Design Thinking.

She has spoken at TED and lectured at numerous schools and universities, including Princeton, Yale, Cranbrook, the University of Michigan and the MIT Media Lab. Among her books are the 2004 classic Thinking with Type and the recently published Design Is Storytelling, a “playbook for creative thinking” devoted to showing designers how to use storytelling techniques to make their work more satisfying.


 

*subject to change

* Program location may vary. While the majority of our programs run on campus, some programs may run off campus in New York City.