Transmedia Storytelling with Steve Rubel

I really enjoyed Steve Rubel’s talk at this week’s Must See Monday speaker series at the Walter Cronkite School on transmedia storytelling using social and digital media to create better content and keep stories alive. Steve Rubel is the executive vice president/global strategy and insights, Edelman, an international PR agency. Rubel began with outlining five big changes over last few years that have caused us to rethink media.

1.Explosion of media channels. Sources of content and info come from professionals, friends, and corporation. The amount of content that was created from the beginning of time up until 2003 is now created in 2 days.

2.We live in a multi-screen world. There are four main screens people consume media from: TV, tablets, smartphones, computers. Experiences are now connected, watching, tweeting and using Tablets.

3. Every Company can be a media company. It’s extremely difficult to be a corporation and a media company, but now there are opportunities for companies to go directly to audiences, which wasn’ t true 10 years ago.

4. Stories are social. People share what they read and what to engage with the content.

5. Stories last forever. Google is where stories go to get reincarnated, because it’s such an influential channel. Arguably the most powerful media entity next to Facebook.

But with all those changes, Rubel said there are still three things that remain constant.

1.Time and attention are finite. It’s a problem as a content creator because of overload and competition

2.We love a good story. When crafting your story, think about the conflict, setting, protagonist, antagonist, plot and leverage technology to tell the story and reach people.

3. Content is king. If you create content that people want to read, you will be successful. There is tremendous room to be innovative.

The key insight Rubel shared with the attendees is the concept of the media cloverleaf, four overlapping circles of traditional, social, owned and hybrid media. At the center of the cloverleaf are two strategic assets: a deep understanding of search mindset and good content. According to Rubel, effective storytelling spans the media cloverleaf in order to better reach audiences which are now living in a multi-screen world.

Traditional media is mainstream, high reach with trained journalists, media that clients want to be featured in the most. Examples are NYT and CNN. Hybrid media is born digital, consists of blogs that act like media companies, have personalities,are more search-savvy and aggregate material. Examples are TechCrunch, Huffington Post and Politico. Owned media is corporate produced and co-produced own media content through websites and mobile apps and can have strong SEO. Rubel recognized GE, Starbucks and American Express as leaders in owned media. Social media is all the social networks that have a built-in audience like Twitter and Facebook. Rubel said social media is not a cure for marketing and PR, but simply a part of the system.

Rubel also highlighted the important of creating strong content and making information findable for users. Using tools like Google Insights and Analytics can help media companies, journalists and PR practitioners select better search terms and key words to attract traffic to their sites. He said PR needs to use language that matches up with what readers and robots are searching for and not just use nice lexicon that clients want. Infographics, photography and slideshows are also very popular ways to keep people’s attention and to represent complex information in an easy manner.

As an aspiring PR practitioner and freelance writer for non-profits and NGOs, I was very interested in this topic and hope to learn how to use all the media platforms to get my clients’ message out and persuade audiences to support their social and humanitarian causes.

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