Day 4 at #SMWLdn: Event Spotlight (Democratizing Storytelling)

Members of the audience (pictured above) engage with the panelists in the small group session on storytelling.

Members of the audience (pictured above) engage with the panelists in the small group session on storytelling.

Event: Democratizing Storytelling

Hosted by: Fieldcraft


Liz Scarff (@LizScarff): Fieldcraft Studios

Nic Seton (@NicSeton): Greenpeace

Rosie Shelley (@RosieScribble): Google

Alice Klein (@AlicerKlein): On our Radar

Quick Recap:

Each panelist discussed their storytelling campaigns (process, results) and ended with information on what they learned and tips for those who would want to do similar work.

Intimate group (15-20 attendees) which meant there was a vibrant and interactive Q&A session. Lots of great questions and answers by both the audience and panelists.

In-Depth Summary:

Greenpeace UK launched the #IceClimb campaign where six women climbed The Shard” building in London to raise awareness about their Save The Arctic campaign. They live-streamed the event (multiple producers/angles) and intermittently had guests discuss the campaign during the live show. It also maintained elements of humor and engagement (listeners could request songs during the climb), and at its peak, there were a quarter million viewers tuning in. Here are some interesting points of conversation the group had about this campaign:

Because the activists were all women, many in the session suggested that it made the campaign more engaging.

There were two separate teams handling output of content and oversight of the content (e.g. for Twitter).

The activists (“characters” of the story) remained central to the campaign’s storytelling angle. Also, Greenpeace leveraged their social media accounts and had them live tweet while they were climbing (thus engaging their respective followers).

Contingency plans were created in case a different result than the expected happened — but Nic mentioned that it’s important to be “flexible and adapt” to changes that will likely arise during campaigns.

It was an image- and video-heavy campaign. They produced a video about the back story and activists/climbers involved, and pushed that content out during the actual climb.

Liz Scarff launched the iCancer campaign which successfully raised £2 million on Indiegogo for a potential cancer cure research that lacked the necessary funding from pharmaceutical companies (who felt that they could not profit from the research/cure so they opted out). Liz and her team took the crowdfunding approach and paired it with very strong storytelling. The emphasis in the messaging throughout the campaign, she says, was to enable and encourage collaboration (sharing of stories, grassroots organizing of fund collection). Here are some interesting points of conversation the group had about this campaign:

Pairing the social media efforts with traditional media and offline organizing was integral for the campaign’s success.

Individuals were organically organizing their own communities to help the cause

A crowd-funding campaign is a lot of work — although it may not seem like it to someone who has never ran one before — it’s important to set aside time to make sure it gets done.

It’s important to find the strongest advocates, who really believe in your cause, and engage with them in the campaign.

On Our Radar uses SMS messaging / cell phones paired with journalism training to equip individuals with the skills to report on local issues in their communities worldwide Their tagline is “from the margins to the front page.” The two-women team leverages partnerships/relationships with established media organizations to bring these local stories (told by local people) to a larger audience.

What was personally interesting to me was that they work with what’s already available (e.g. building partnerships with established news organizations) to achieve their mission. On the flip side, they also worked with a developer to create a phone application because none of the other ones on the market fit the bill. It’s about balancing these two approaches.

On-going support is very important for their work. They don’t just sit on their hands after they assign a story. They constantly engage with the reporter to make sure they are supported and have all of the resources they need to do the job well.

NGOs need a new way of interacting and collaborating with their beneficiaries. Also, they need to amplify REAL voices and REAL stories by REAL people, even if it doesn’t meet the preconceived expectations of that NGO’s marketing/communications team.

Rosie from Google shared examples of how individuals and organizations are using Google+ Hangout. Some of the most popular examples were the Google+ Hangout with U.S. President Barack Obama and music artist Jessie J connecting directly with fans who won a competition. One striking example was NYC-based Ghetto Film School’s use of Google+ Hangout to facilitate film education courses for aspiring filmmakers around the world. Check out this compelling video (notice that it focuses on one individual–that’s character development) that explains the project. Have your tissues on standby because it’s an emotional video. Here are some interesting points of conversation the group had about this campaign:

When thinking about these connectivity tools, it’s important to remember that there is a digital divide. More than 5 billion people are still without access to the internet. Google hopes to address that through its Project Loon, a wifi network using balloon technology–yes, this is a real thing. Unrelated to Project Loon, but it reminds me of the guy who tried to fly across the Atlantic with just helium balloons.

Google+ Hangout (or variations of video chats) allows organizations and individuals to directly engage with their audience on an interactive and dynamic platform.

Technology are simply tools, which are only as good as the people who are using them.

This post was written by Scott Shigeoka, a 2013 Social Media Week Travel Award winner. Click here for more of Scott’s writing on SMW.

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