NOTICE: In response to the Covid-19 crisis, in-person sessions of Strategic Storytelling have been cancelled.


Instead, the seminar will take place at a reduced price in a live, virtual setting this March and June. Using techniques pioneered by the Columbia University School of the Arts Digital Storytelling Lab, the program will replicate its customary team focus online while also bringing in speakers from other parts of the world for responsive conversations with participants. In order to accommodate participants in disparate time zones, the program will take place in four half-day segments on March 2-5 and June 15-18 instead of the usual two full days.

Maximum Impact in a Digital World

Storytelling has always been central to human experience – it's how we explain and make sense of the world. But today, as media-savvy audiences begin to tune out advertising messages while searching for ever-more-immersive entertainment experiences, the way businesses and professionals need to communicate is changing. Led by best-selling author Frank Rose and offered in partnership with Columbia Business School Executive Education, Strategic Storytelling introduces the concept of “narrative thinking” and shows how it can be used to achieve maximum impact in a digital world.


Narrative Thinking


As a member of Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, Rose is helping to pioneer a new understanding of storytelling and its role in the digital age. Research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology has shown that stories are typically more effective at changing people’s minds than rational argument. This means that people—leaders in particular—need to view the world in narrative terms, not as a thesis to be argued or a pitch to be made but as a story to be told. Because stories provide a structure for reality and a key to understanding, because they play to the emotions and rely upon empathy, narrative thinking is a powerful tool.

Strategic Storytelling builds on these insights to show how stories are used by entertainment industry professionals, by leading brands, by B2B providers, and by non-profits—and what each of these can learn from the other. Over the course of this intensive program, you will engage in a mix of deep learning and hands-on workshops that will leave you with a thorough understanding of the evolving digital media ecosystem as well as the expertise you’ll need to communicate strategically within it.


The Strategic Storytelling Model™: Four Levels of Engagement


You will learn to employ the Strategic Storytelling Model™, a simple suite of visualization tools designed to help manage the complex narrative ecosystems that people are coming to expect in a highly interconnected, digital environment. Developed by Faculty Director Frank Rose and Senior Fellow Paul Woolmington, this model shows how a hit television series like The Walking Dead — itself a conventional, one-way broadcast experience — will spawn not only spin-off TV and Web series but also interactive online quizzes, highly participatory multi-player video games, and at the extreme end of the spectrum, targeting only the most dedicated fans, real-world experiences like the AMC Zombie School for people who want to play “walkers” on the show. Together, these four levels form a self-reinforcing network that deepens the connection of existing fans and brings new ones in—resulting, in the words of former AMC president Charlie Collier, in a series that “exists on television as a live event for only 16 nights a year, but remains an active and vibrant community all year long.” This strategy, and the model that describes it, can be applied not just to entertainment properties but to all sorts of communications, including marketing and journalism.

"I tell stories to jurors in the context of representing business people accused of serious federal crimes. I cannot begin to say how much you taught was directly applicable to my work environment.”

John Lauro, Defense Attorney


July 26, 2021
In turning a product into a platform, AMC Networks also turned a show into a cultural phenomenon that invited fans to interact and co-create.

by Frank Rose

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April 7, 2021

The DSL’s sixth annual Digital Dozen, announced on April 7, included several projects that were developed or reimagined in response to the pandemic—including the Breakthrough Award winner, London’s Darkfield Radio, an audio experience that brings disturbing theater into your own home.


Winners of the 2020 Digital Dozens: Breakthrough Storytelling Awards

Winners of the 2020 Digital Dozens: Breakthrough Storytelling Awards

June 11, 2020

During a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Digital Storytelling Lab co-founders Frank Rose and Associate Professor of Professional Practice Lance Weiler, many project creators were brought together for an online discussion with presenters.

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'Where There's Smoke' by Faculty Member, Lance Weiler, Premiered At Tribeca Film Festival 2019

'Where There's Smoke' by Faculty Member, Lance Weiler, Premiered At Tribeca Film Festival 2019

May 8, 2019

Where There’s Smoke, an immersive storytelling experience created by Faculty member Lance Weiler, received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this month.

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