International Storytelling Festival

1 nonprofit 🫶 | 3 days of storytelling 🗣️ | 8 minutes of transformative video 🎥

Where we started

The International Storytelling Center (ISC) is all about enriching lives through the preservation, performance, and practice of storytelling—they document endangered cultural traditions and facilitate over 300 hours of performances annually.

National Storytelling Festival, in particular, is ISC’s most important yearly event. Over three days every October, they gather presenting artists from across the globe for a series of inspiring, thought-provoking, and even paradigm-shifting storytelling events.

The festival is known worldwide and attracts a good deal of attention all on its own. However, ISC recognized a need to upgrade their media presence in order to connect with younger audiences—and that’s where our partnership began.

Why it matters

At Cumberland Marketing, storytelling rests at the very core of what we do. We understand the difference it can make when building connections with others, whether it’s practiced onstage, around the dinner table, or in the boardroom.

Connecting through storytelling reminds us of our shared human experience. It’s something that’s been around for thousands of years and will continue for thousands more. 

That’s why we set out to tell the story of storytelling—or, more specifically, the story of the National Storytelling Festival.

How we proved it

Knowing the target audience, we pitched the concept of a new long-form promotional video, filmed at the upcoming festival, that could also be cut down and shared across various social media platforms. The team at the International Storytelling Center loved the idea. After all, digital video is today’s most popular form of storytelling.

The video had to simultaneously address many of ISC’s ongoing challenges, from outdated messaging and minimal marketing funds to finding ways to connect with younger audiences and reach new geographic markets while sustaining relationships with existing attendees.

Not only did we organize and execute every step of the shoot, but we ultimately delivered the finished project five days ahead of schedule. 

Concept development, Pre-production, Video storyboarding

We came up with the idea of creating a mini-documentary for the International Storytelling Center. Then, another project partner was introduced—E Pluribus Unum (or EPU), a nonprofit working for racial and economic justice in the American South. They wanted to partner on a project to create a shareable, adaptable, high-quality video. So, we reimagined our initial idea and created an interview-driven featurette about the power of storytelling filmed at the National Storytelling Festival in order to serve both parties.

Content creation, Video production, Logistics management, Talent scouting, Location booking

We brought half a dozen top-notch videography professionals to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and interviewed attendees, storytellers, and staff. The interview questions centered on a topic near and dear to both nonprofit organizations —how storytelling can help us create a more inclusive society.

Post-Production & Content Strategy

Our expert content creation team turned the interview footage and B-roll we captured at the festival into a series of individual videos of different lengths. Why? We know the importance of catering content to different apps and algorithms, and we’re happy to do the legwork to get the word out with efficiency.

How we made an impact

When we teamed up with the International Storytelling Center and E Pluribus Unum, we created narrative magic. The skills of professional storytellers and the lived experiences of diverse festival attendees came together in an insightful collage of video content.

Where we went from there

Everyone’s story deserves to be told, whether they’re a national nonprofit organization or a small start-up business. But, as the folks at ISC will tell you, storytelling is an art form that requires time, dedication, and creativity. As ISC continues to come up with stories to tell, our hard-working, dedicated team will be here to help. 

Following completion of the video, Cumberland Marketing proudly received the region’s first Mosaic Award at the 2023 American Advertising Awards for Northeast Tennessee.

Recognized by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Mosaic Award honors companies and individuals who embody the Mosaic Principles—an action-oriented roadmap to create a more inclusive industry. Mosaic Award recipients display their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through creative work, advocacy, and company-wide initiatives.

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