Monday, October 31, 2011

The Power of Transmedia Storytelling

The closing keynote address at this year's Netspeed Conference was delivered by Kevin Franco. The subject matter of the address was transmedia storytelling - a unique and interesting concept that I thought should be shared.

Kevin was one of the creators of the "Transmedia Storytelling Thriller" One Child - an online book released in real time through a variety of media. The author of the book is Jeff Buick, and Kevin is the marketing genius who brought the book to life through transmedia storytelling. Jeff wrote the story which follows the lives of several people, seemingly un-related, over a 30 day period in the summer of 2010.

The basis of transmedia storytelling is that it uses multiple story threads that intersect to create a full story. In the case of One Child the story was released in real time as it would have occurred. Here are some of the different ways in which the story came to life:
  • A soundtrack for the book was created
  • Social media was used to support the characters and the storyline - online profiles were created for characters in the story so that readers could interact with them
  • An online radio station was created to support the storyline - it broadcast fresh audio everyday with news reports that incorporated actual events happening in the world, coupled with the news and events happening within the story (each new day in the story begins with a radio broadcast).
  • Websites were created for 4 fictitious companies from the story - you could go online to learn more about the companies and how they would be perceived in a real world situation.
  • 4 scenes from the story were recreated on film - so when readers read one of the news reports in the story they could click it and actually watch the news report right there on their iPad or desktop reader.

The really interesting part of this whole project was that the different media used did not simply duplicate the story. In fact the different threads of the story may or may not have been mentioned in the original narrative. The way in which the storyline and characters were supported created a real blending of fact and fiction which gave readers a completely different kind of reading experience - one that they became truly emotionally invested in.

You can learn more about the story and even purchase it at

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