BY STEVE RAMOS
The power behind interactive storytelling projects is that it drives and ignites future interactive projects across diverse industries and varieties of scale. The inspiration for Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival, taking place Thursday November 1 and Friday November 2 at Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm Street in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, goes back to the content marketing and strategy I contributed to an award-winning activation on iconic record label King Records at the 2017 BLINK Cincinnati art and light festival.
I’m still inspired by my BLINK experience collaborating with the design agency We Have Become Vikings. I’m proud that my content and strategy helped transform a classic, projection mapping activation at BLINK with audible storytelling, a narrative tale with a beginning, middle and end; a craft ‘zine inspired by American music critic Lester Bangs; a Pop-up newsstand as well as live music performances.
Creating a Culture of Innovation, a series of design experiences celebrating thought leaders in business, culture, science and technology, is one of my latest interactive storytelling projects. Its inspiration goes back to a pair of panels featuring Cincinnati creators and creative thought leaders from Beth Silvers, Co-host of the podcasts Pantsuit Politics and The Nuanced Life, Sam Korach, Interactive Storyteller and Startups, Innovation and Disruption Manager, EY, speaking about how they embrace the concept of a creative shift to ignite innovation in how they create, live and work.
The idea of a creative shift also drives my collaboration with Sean C. Davis, Founder of the podcast Squirrel Stories and Senior Software Developer at Ample; Whitney Dixon, graphic artist and founder of the creative agency Pixxel Designs; Tamia Stinson, founder of Tether, a community and talent agency for creative image-makers; and Kailah Ware, an emerging mixed media artist and former People’s Liberty grantee, in the build and design of Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival.
For many offline events, the ideas, inspirations and strategies require creative journeys spread across multiple months. Much of the time is spent on creative briefs, proposals and sales cycles. Finally, after convincing the customer on the value of your experience, you and your team sprint to build, design and implement the event on a lean budget and in a short amount of time.
That’s certainly the case for Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival as well as our upcoming Good Discovery(s) summit Tuesday February 5. Our team is in sprint mode; implementing startup-inspired processes around agile design, lean budgets and a rapid build. In fact, we describe the inaugural Cincy Podcast Festival as a minimum viable product built with the highest quality.
Here are Five Values from Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival to Help You Build Successful Design Experiences.
1. Build your design experience in the spirit of a Minimum Viable Product
A modest budget for Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival reduces financial risk for both customer and creative team. It also inspires our festival team to embrace the spirit of a minimum viable product when it comes to materials and timeline for building the day-and-a-half podcast summit. One of our core values is to design with the mindset that the first event does not have to be perfect; just very good. Our team is made up of entrepreneurs; so we naturally lean towards agile, lean and rapid design at the highest quality. Once you build an event in the spirit of a minimum viable product; you’ll be in a strong position to make the most of future budget increases.
2. Make your design experience accessible, affordable and attainable
The design spirit of a minimum viable product should also impact your decisions about ticket costs. Lean design is meant to be accessible, affordable and attainable to the largest, most diverse community of customers. It’s natural to put a premium value on your unique experiences in order to boost revenue. However, step aside from the premium ticket mentality that drives many academic, business and design conferences. Make your experiences affordable to all creatives. Look to other paths of monetization other than box office. Our festival claims an affordable $60 all-fest pass and a $30 mainstage live podcast pass. Making affordability one of the driving values of your design experiences will result in a diverse audience; which will ignite the creative spirit of your event.
3. Build your design experience with a diverse and inclusive team
You will increase your chances of attracting a diverse community of customers and partners if your design and production team is diverse and inclusive. I’m proud of the diverse team behind Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival. We’re diverse when it comes to gender, race and age. Some of our team members claim deep experience when it comes to their creative professions. Others are emerging designers lifting their skills to new levels with this festival. Our diverse team helps drive the unique programming throughout our event. Our diverse team will also increase our chances for attracting a wide variety of customers. After all, the concept of Open Source Innovation demands a diverse community of participants in order to be successful.
4. Build an interactive experiencee that’s truly interactive
Most of the design and marketing conferences our team attends involve elaborate, onstage presentations directed to convention center audiences in their seats. These are broadcasts; content delivered from point A to point B. Interactive design needs to be truly interactive throughout the event. That’s why programming at Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival leans towards brainstorms, design sprints as well as live, recorded podcasts. Interactive programming ignites connectivity between presenters and participants. This connectivity increases the chance of delivering valuable takeaways that attendees can implement with their own products, projects and services.
5. Build your design experience in a setting as unique as your storytelling
Finally, delivering a design experience capable of igniting inspiration for innovation in business, culture, science and technology needs a setting as unique as your collaborator and the stories they’re sharing. Granted, the capacity and scale of your event may require a large footprint like an urban convention center. However, your design experience will make a more powerful impact if you place it in a setting as unique as the your content and storytelling. Memorial Hall OTR, a century-old, recently updated performing arts venue, delivers a one-of-kind setting for Cincinnati’s First Podcast Festival. Its convenient location adjacent to Washington Park and two Cincinnati Streetcar stops also provides our event to grow with a village concept.
At his core, Steve Ramos is a content marketer who helps businesses grow via his ideas and writing. He’s also a published author and his business, culture, science and tech stories have been published in ‘QZ/Atlantic Media,”Fast Company’ and ‘NY Mag.’ In fact, it was his ‘Fast Company’ story on filmmaker Joss Whedon, Why You Need a Creative Shift Instead of a Vacation,’ that inspired his creative shift into branding, interactive marketing and strategy.