Presented by Incubation Lab: So, You Want to Be Transmedia, Huh?

The Presented by Incubation Lab series shines the spotlight on what it really means to be "Transmedia." Mike Bauhof, Director of Digital Engagement for The Nine Network of Public Media weighs in:

So, you want to do a transmedia project, huh? Great! Transmedia is trendy, transmedia is now. Transmedia is where we are all heading.

Wait, what is transmedia? Are you kidding me? We all know what transmedia is! It’s….um….not just media….it’s transmedia. It’s media with “trans” in front of it.

Okay, I’m kidding. But once you get beyond the buzzword aspect, what really defines a transmedia project? For those of you Googling right now, I’ll save you the trouble. Our friends at Wikipedia define transmedia storytelling as “a technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats.” So there you go. Get to it.

Again, I’m kidding. In reality, many of us in Public Media have been doing versions of transmedia projects for years. We have the ability to tell stories and engage our communities through many platforms. We have our broadcast signals, our online spaces, and the opportunity to meet with our communities face-to-face. In many ways, Public Media is ideally positioned to succeed in the transmedia world.

Here at the Nine Network, our Homeland project—focusing on immigration in our community and our nation—is one example of the power and potential of transmedia: Homeland will have a broadcast series coming 2012, but has had an active Web site with original and community content, social media channels, and in-person community conversations since 2010.

At the 2011 NETA Conference I was lucky enough to be part of a panel discussing Public Media and transmedia. We talked about how Public Media organizations can take on transmedia projects and succeed. Here are a few of the key points we discussed in that session (a big thank you here to Matthew Meschery from ITVS, who facilitated the panel and pulled together these notes):

  1. Make sure that a cross-disciplinary team (production, programming, web, community engagement) is at the table from the beginning.
  2. Get buy-in from senior management.
  3. Video isn’t one-size fits all. What you use online shouldn’t just be what you use on-air. Take advantage of freedom online video can provide.
  4. Involve the community. Find those in your community with an interest in your topic and ask them to create content for you.
  5. Try something new. Everything you try won’t work, but if you don’t try it, it can’t work.

So there you go. Is there more? You bet. I didn’t even mention mobile, or gaming, or going old school with a print tie-in. If it’s a content platform, it’s possible for transmedia.

But I’ve gone on too long already. What do you think? What are your favorite transmedia projects? I’m sure I’d love to “borrow” from them!

The Presented by Incubation Lab Blog Series tackles the digital media topics that matter to stations, while highlighting and celebrating the online efforts of stations. These regular profiles of products, people and trends can provide you with inspiration and potential collaborators for your own projects.


  1. I like more of this...I did Google it and also found the following...

    "Watch Henry Jenkins discuss Transmedia Storytelling" (video)

    which help me get oriented a little more...

  2. Jesse Schell did the keynote at the KIDS Producers Summit in 2010. He talked about Transmedia and how it's been going on for centuries; Santa Clause was my favorite example.

    Check out his slides:

  3. Mike Bauhof/Nine Network of Public MediaMay 20, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Love that deck! Tis true, what is old can be new.