Seminars and Workshops

As a senior fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, Frank heads two distinct initiatives. He is faculty director of the Strategic Storytelling seminar, presented in partnership with Columbia Business School Executive Education, and he is awards director of the School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, where in 2016 he launched the Breakthroughs in Storytelling awards—the “Digital Dozen.” He also leads private seminars and workshops for corporate and institutional clients and consults on brand identity issues.

Coming April 22-23: Narrative Strategy seminar at Zurich University of the Arts

On Friday and Saturday April 22-23, Frank will lead a special, 1½-day seminar on Narrative Strategy at the Zurich Centre for Creative Economies, a research center at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Participants will engage in a mix of deep learning and hands-on workshops that will leave them with a new understanding of the digital media ecosystem. They will learn how to employ the Strategic Storytelling Model™, a simple suite of visualization tools designed to help manage the complex narrative ecosystems that audiences are coming to expect in a highly interconnected, digital environment. This model shows how a hit television series like The Walking Dead can spawn not only spin-off TV and Web series but also online quizzes, multi-player video games, and even real-world experiences like the AMC Zombie School in Atlanta. Together, these properties form a narrative platform — a self-reinforcing network of stories that deepens the connection of fans and can be applied not just to entertainment properties but to businesses of every sort.

The seminar is intended for a small group of executives who want to understand the power of immersive storytelling and learn how to leverage its potential in a digital world. It will include a dinner at Zurich’s Widder Hotel featuring a “fireside chat” with Frank and Markus Gross, professor of computer science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), vice president of research at Walt Disney Studios and director of DisneyResearch|Studios. To register for the seminar, please contact Lucienne Gürtner at ZHdK.

Strategic Storytelling at Columbia

Storytelling is how we explain and make sense of the world. But today, with media-savvy audiences tuning out ads while seeking ever-more-immersive entertainment experiences, the way we need to communicate is changing. Cognitive science research suggests that stories are typically more effective at changing people’s minds than rational argument. So we 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. Columbia’s Strategic Storytelling seminar builds on these insights to show how story is used by leading brands, entertainment industry professionals, B2B providers, and nonprofits—and what each of these can learn from the other.
Strategic Storytelling

Private Workshops and Consulting

In addition to his Columbia seminar, Frank leads private workshops tailored to the needs of select corporate and institutional clients. He also consults with agencies and their clients on brand identity issues: brand purpose, brand promise, brand narrative and brand voice. To see how this might work for you, please contact Frank directly.

Brand positioning and story creation for a client of BOND, the global brand and experience design agency.
December 2021-April 2022

Digital Storytelling Training
AbbVie
Global Medical Affairs
July 14-15 and 28-29, 2021

UN

Communicating for Maximum Impact
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government
UN Secretariat
New York, Dec. 9, 2019

Foresight Factory

Customer Experience Entertainment Workshop
(for a major corporate client)
Foresight Factory
Geneva, Jan. 22, 2019

Pure Insurance

Narrative Thinking Workshop
PURE Insurance
White Plains, N.Y., July 19, 2018

Brand positioning and story creation for Siili Solutions, the Helsinki-based technology platform with clients in aviation, automotive and entertainment.
November 2017-January 2018

TBWA

Narrative Technology Workshop
TBWA\Chiat\Day
Los Angeles, Nov. 19, 2015

Digital Brand Storytelling and
Writing Breakthrough Concepts
L’Oréal USA
New York, Nov. 6 and 9, 2015

Brand Stories Workshop
Future of Storytelling Summit
Snug Harbor
Staten Island, N.Y., Oct. 7, 2015

“Embracing Analog:
Why Physical Is Hot”
Attitudinal survey and trend report conducted with J. Walter Thompson Intelligence
March 2013

Special issue of the fictional Millennium magazine for David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
42 Entertainment, Fall 2011

Introduction to “The Pool Lane 2: Short-form Online Video,” a report on experimentation in advertising formats for Web video
VivaKi, January 2011

Academic Symposia and Master Classes

Columbia

Empathy and Immersion
Columbia Graduate School
of Architecture, Preservation & Planning
Avery Hall, Feb. 1, 2019

Scuola Holden

Strategic Storytelling Workshop
Scuola Holden
Turin, Nov. 2-4, 2016

Roundtable Discussion
Chief of Naval Operations
Strategic Study Group
US Navy
Brooklyn, Sept. 11, 2014

mediaX

The Future of Content
in a Publish-on-Demand World
Stanford MediaX
Palo Alto, Ca., Feb. 4-5, 2014

Politecnico Milano

Notes for the Future
Semi di Futuro–150 Anni
Politecnico di Milano
Milan, Dec. 4, 2013

USC Innovation

Re-Envisioning the Home TV Experience
USC Annenberg Innovation Lab
Los Angeles, Nov. 20, 2013

Beaumarchais SACD Orange

Master Class in Transmedia
Bourse Orange–formats innovants
L’association Beaumarchais–SACD
Paris, Nov. 4-5, 2013

NYU

Master Class in Literary Reportage
Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute
New York University, Oct. 2009

Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab

The Digital Storytelling Lab at Columbia University School of the Arts is a next-generation media lab harnessing the arts, humanities and emergent technologies to tackle some of the world’s impossible problems through collaboration, experimentation, exploration and creativity.
Columbia DSL designs stories for the 21st century, building on a diverse range of creative and research practices while never losing sight of the power of a good story. It is a place of speculation, creativity, and collaboration between students and faculty from across the University. New stories are told here in fresh and unexpected ways.   Learn More…

The Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards

The DSL’s annual Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards celebrate the past year’s most innovative approaches to narrative. Launched in 2016 to spur creativity and further the Lab’s educational mission, the awards honor 12 signal achievements—the “Digital Dozen.” Out of these, the Breakthrough Award goes to the project in any field that best exemplifies the spirit of inventiveness at work today, while the Special Jury Prize is given at the discretion of the awards committee. Winners are chosen by an interdisciplinary jury of Lab members and university faculty and announced each spring. All 12 projects are archived in the Lab’s online gallery. The DSL’s goal in citing them is to further digital media’s potential to break free of rigid, industrial-age classifications and evolve in ways that analog media could not.
Breakthroughs in Storytelling