New HTML5 website helps organizations navigate interactive storytelling projects

Press Release

December 4, 2014

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MIAMI—Dec. 4, 2014—While the digital age has created fresh opportunities to connect with people through rich storytelling, social good organizations are under pressure to use the latest multimedia innovations to share their work. A new site helps foundations and nonprofits navigate that terrain, providing insights into the ever-changing world of interactive storytelling.

The site, Leading Interactive Expeditions, is designed as both a show and tell. The HTML5 animation offers a multisensory journey that illustrates the storytelling possibilities for  nonprofits with limited resources. The narrative, meanwhile, offers insights that will help those tackling multimedia projects have a successful experience.

“We have so many platforms and tools to connect our stories with people, but for social good organizations interactive work is considered out of reach or something you farm out for big dollars,” said Knight Foundation Creative Director Eric Schoenborn, who produced the report. “I’m trying to provide metaphors to help demystify the process for my colleagues and collaborators who I often feel are waiting around to hire a unicorn to make them interactive. Leading creative projects is much more like leading a whitewater rafting adventure than landing on the moon. A guide with the proper experience, connections to talent and collaborative leadership ability can lead to realistic, but still beautiful, interactive storytelling experiences.”

The site, which focuses on the role of the “guide” in projects, offers key takeaways, including:

1. Invest in expertise: Interactive storytelling requires a skilled leader, or guide, with specialized knowledge, who is able to remix ideas, inspirations and media collections into core concepts. The guide helps keep the team on track, assesses demand for resources, deals with setbacks and leads the team to success.

2. Make two-way storytelling part of the culture: While many nonprofits have evolved their communications, conversations largely remain one-way. Interactive storytelling allows audiences to become immediate players in the narrative, engaging with content according to their personal interests, motivations and goals.

3. Collaborate: Immersive, interactive experiences require a more dynamic and complex collaboration between the guide, production team and target audiences. These connections are essential to creating a cohesive, thought-provoking experience.

4. Test and refine: Once the vision is determined, start testing ideas and improving or discarding them as the project demands. Don’t be afraid to change course.

The lessons are drawn from Schoenborn’s work leading the teams that built Searchlights & Sunglasses, an HTML5 e-text on the future of journalism, and report platforms such as Why Contests Improve Philanthropy and Finding a Foothold: How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability. In addition to his work at Knight, Schoenborn is co-producer of the acclaimed Pickathon Music Festival in Portland, Ore., and principal of the Miami creative experience agency Phenomenal. His design and build skills have made him an invaluable resource to large nonprofits, advocacy campaigns, journalism organizations and artists worldwide.

To take part in the interactive storytelling expedition, visit KnightFoundation.org/features/storytellingexpeditions/

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, please visit KnightFoundation.org.

CONTACT:

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]