[event] TEDxTransmedia or Why Public Service Broadcasters Have to Dare to Dare

April 3, 2010

in Conference, Events, Interview

Nicoletta Iacobacci

Nicoletta Iacobacci, Head of Interactive TV & Crossmedia at EBU

The TEDx format can be a powerful instrument for inspiration when applied to the right message, which is a key point I think most TEDx organizers often forget. The big brother TEDs (no pun intended) always have a polarizing theme to which most talks connect to, for example TED Global 2010’s one is “And Now the Good News” and TED 2011 goes by “The Rediscovery of Wonder“.

This sense of belonging to a higher purpose was the underlying drive of Nicoletta Iacobacci, Head of Interactive TV & Crossmedia at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), when she decided to host  TEDxTransmedia inside the standard programming of Eurovision TV Summit 2010. (The EBU  is the largest association of national broadcasters in the world, promoting cooperation between broadcasters and facilitating the exchange of audiovisual content, with an estimated audience reach of 650 million people per week).

I’ve been a die-hard fan of TED events since my days living the USA. Even just watching the TED Talks on the web raises your standards… you start dreaming big. I’ve been working to get the message out that Crossmedia is no longer enough, that we should embrace Transmedia, with the turmoil created by  the Swedish series The Truch About Marika being a great example of what kind of results can be achieved. I started to get involved in Transmedia by organizing internal events and evaluating the creation of a co-production between various members of EBU.

What would you like to achieve with TEDxTransmedia?

The official website states that “TEDxTransmedia aims to inspire broadcasters, and in particular, public service broadcasters, to “DARE” more for creating innovative content and borderline strategies to connect with the audience of the future.TEDxTransmedia is designed to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences amongst creative professional in the ‘otherMedia’ sphere”.

I think broadcasters should change their mindset. The big problem is that broadcasters are losing their reach into young and “always on” audiences, which are “smart and spoiled” and already experiment content through different platforms. If broadcasters go on in the same direction as now, they will lose these new generations.

As Nicoletta explains, the difference between Transmedia and Crossmedia is blurred and TEDxTransmedia will also help make things clearer.

There’s no official definition but in general terms Crossmedia is repurposing content in different platforms, meaning you have one content or brand and you re-edit it in a different channel. Trasmedia instead means that the audience gets involved at the beginning of the storytelling. It’s not repurposing the content but having one story and the possibility of entering it from various entry points. Each of the entry points has its own lifespan from the beginning to the end but all belonging to the general narration. (Read this article for further details on the difference between Crossmedia and Transmedia)

If you open different doors, especially giving the possibility to the audience to participate for example through social networks, you almost lose completely the control of the story. Broadcasters can’t evolve without losing control and that’s why they have to switch to a new mindset. You have to let go a little bit, lose control and give it to the people.

The Theme “Dare to Dare”

Each speaker has a “dare”. The verbs Surprise, Share, Change, Inform, Design, Make, Educate and Engage should be part of the public broadcasters operation.

Why? There is a daring activity for the broadcaster in doing something new. The professionals in the public service media gather in Lucern every year and they have specific meetings on their own genres. For this edition  I decided to give them the possibility to get inspired, and the best way to get inspired is through the TEDx platform.


Attracting Speakers

Nicoletta says that with the TEDx brand it’s easier to attract speakers for two reasons: 1) the TED brand is well known and it’s an honor to participate to a TEDx event and 2) you give them the possibility to be different.

Because they know that if they’re coming to TEDx they are not going to do the usual corporate pitch or the usual project/case studies presentation but actually they have to do something different. It’s a big work coaching the speakers. You try to get from them real passion and a story that comes from the heart, because you really want to inspire people… and you don’t inspire them with case studies or corporate pitches any more. You can use the most advanced software to make a powerful presentation but if the story is not really compelling, you don’t inspire them.

I Have a Dream

My real intention is to provoke and my dream is to initiate a sort of evolvement of the public service media… not only through transmedia but with “new media” and the tools we have today  public service media can really fulfill what should be their mission. Today it’s easier to reach an audience and it’s easier to create “an army” that could save the world or at list help in the process.

How do you do that?

Embracing the new technologies and the new language.. because Transmedia is a new language, not a strategy. In order to get the young generations you have to let go and give them some power. In order to have an evolution you have to kill something… like it happened with the dinosaurs.

Creating a Theatrical Experience

Almost all of the top event organizers I have met give emphasis to the global experience a conference-like event should offer and Nicoletta Iacobacci is no exception.

My real background is theatre and deep down I’m still in love with theater. When you do a TEDx you have to do a theatrical show. You have to be very careful for every detail as it’s more than just an ordinary conference. You have to give passion. You want to really give the [to people] possibility to go home with something real and concrete.


TEDxTransmedia will take place on April 22nd, 2010, at the historic Swiss Museum of Transport (Verkehrshaus), in Lucerne during the Eurovision TV Summit 2010, the largest summit for European public service media gathering the top 700 Public Service Broadcasters decision-makers.

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