If you made it all the way to the bottom of Vox.com’s Hillary Clinton interview, you might have noticed something in the credits: "A Vox Media Storytelling Studio collaboration." Sound new? It is! We are the Vox Media Storytelling Studio and welcome to our new home on the internet.
This team has been a long time in the making. Vox Media has always been at the forefront of pushing visual storytelling to its limits and building the tools to scale that work across many different brands and teams.
Now we’re ready to push ourselves even more. We’re living in a truly distributed world, where our own websites are less and less likely to be the place where a user will read or watch our journalism. We’re leaning into that concept hard as part of our Storytelling Studio approach. That could manifest in more traditional communication (email newsletters?) or new, but increasingly important partner platforms (Instant Articles? Google AMP?) or completely emerging ways of storytelling (Bots? Something else?). There are a lot of question marks in those parentheticals because we don’t know yet. Every story will be different, and every platform is ever-changing.
But, despite the technology, we value being...
- Multiplatform: We value the many touch points our users have with our brands, and recognize that our own websites are not our most important platform. We seek to meet the users where they are, and tell the best story in the best medium for the user.
- User-driven: We build to serve the audience. We think about the needs of our users by leveraging analytics, user research and testing, and an empathetic, human-centered approach to design and engineering and storytelling.
- Close to the story: Above formats and function, the thing we care most about is the story — the people, their motives, the voice and tone, the audience it’s meant to reach. The story is our starting point and driver for what we build and design, and it’s what shapes format and function.
- Experimental: We will develop hypotheses, test against them, and make sense of the results. We will break out of our comfort zones, and never take "we’ve always done it that way" as a reason. We will question our assumptions, and feel confident about taking risks. We will push our colleagues to do the same.
- Brand-building: We use stories as an opportunity to deliver on the promise of our brands’ mission, purpose, and vision. Every touchpoint with our users is an opportunity to help them connect to our brands, and better understand what our brands represent.
- Educators: We cannot do this alone. We need to work with revenue and video and editorial and product teams. We will continue to shepherd visual literacy through training, documentation and knowledge share. We will share what we learn, both internally and with the wider storytelling community.
- Trustworthy: Collaboration is hard. Even harder when teams don’t often work with each other. Since we sit in the intersection of content, design, product and revenue, it’s our responsibility to create a shared language and a safe environment to foster insanely great storytelling.
Another marked change is that this group will not live within Product; Storytelling Studio is part of our Growth and Development department, which lives with Editorial. Our team is still made up of product thinkers who put the user first, are metrics-informed, go through a product development cycle, test our work with users, and constantly iterate. But in the ethos of being "close to the story," we need to apply that to our placement in the company. We’re thrilled to be even closer to our partners, the editors, reporters, photographers and videographers who know the stories best.
If you want to keep up with what we’re up to, follow us on Twitter!