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21 April 2015

The Value of Creative Collaborations
By Richard Edelman

Written by: Richard Edelman, President and CEO at Edelman

Culture, Media

Today Edelman will be hosting the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Day Lab storytelling program. The New Frontier program is designed to showcase new technologies and methods in storytelling, such as immersive designs, game theory and virtual reality. Founded in 2007, New Frontier has an annual exhibition during the Sundance Film Festival to show its work.

A large number of our clients are creating content, as part of the theory that every company can be a media company. One key way to do so is via partnerships with the right people and platforms that will allow them to tell their stories in a more authentic, credible and meaningful way. For example, last week, GE* inked a deal with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer to do films on innovation for the National Geographic Channel.

Kamal Sinclair, co-director of New Frontier (Lab Programs) and transmedia producer, will talk about the four trends in storytelling: Co-creation (including social or algorithm co-design); Interactive storytelling (includes game-based stories and touchable media); Transmedia Storytelling; and Immersion with Expanded Senses (motion capture performance). Among those who will be at Edelman today are Jon Harris, an expert in data visualization, Nonny de la Peña, who uses virtual reality and 3D environments to convey the feeling of news as part of immersive journalism, and Scott Snibbe, a pioneer in digital art who asks viewers to engage physically with diverse media such as digital projections. We have already seen companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods use the short film on kids and sports to good effect, with an entry in the Tribeca Film Festival.

We are doing this type of creative work in other venues. In Sweden, we created a room in Minecraft for A Non Smoking Generation* that gives teens a safe place to discuss their fears around growing up without resorting to smoking. We engaged with the passionate Facebook community for Adobe’s* Photoshop with a Halloween murder mystery game using a layered file, with fans swapping clues and theories on the murder weapon, with 22,000 game downloads and big jump in brand sentiment.

The reality of our industry is an increasing overlap of skills with advertising, digital and media buying agencies, all of whom seek to be the leading purveyor of ideas that drive campaigns. But in today’s marketplace brands can no longer demand the attention of consumers, they must earn it. This requires that communications be grounded in the rigor and analytics of marketing, while infusing marketing with the storytelling mindset and marketplace reality of communications.

Our advantage in PR is that our creative work stimulates earned media and thereby social conversation, as in the case of Photoshop with 4.8 million media impressions. We also have built communities on platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, which demand engaging content (and participants provide their own, which we can move around to others). All of us should have the courage to experiment with organizations such as Sundance in order to change the client perception of public relations from a supporting to a primary marketing communications function.

*Edelman client

This article originally appeared on 6A.M., Richard Edelman’s blog on trends in communications, issues, lessons and insights.

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