Digital Storytelling for Impact

Track Leader: Mimi Pickering

This track will focus on developing communications strategies and digital storytelling skills in order to share experiences more broadly, expand awareness of the work of community and regional organizations, and to help bring about change in public attitudes and policy.

Storytelling is a powerful tool for personal development. Storytelling can also inspire action and change and influence thought leaders and decision makers. In the digital era, the shape and delivery of stories has shifted dramatically. While there have never been more ways to reach audiences, it has also never been more difficult to really reach them.

This track is designed to bring greater and more effective communications capacity to the work of organizational leaders, staff, community volunteers, and individuals by increasing knowledge and competency with strategic communications planning, low-cost digital technologies, and social media opportunities.

What Can I Expect to Learn?

  • Develop a basic Strategic Communications Plan for an organization, campaign or issue
  • Identify Capacity Strengths and Challenges – What is the level of support within your organization for communications work? As an individual, how do you find time and resources?
  • Learn to Tell Our Stories for Impact– Hands-on activity creating messages, photos, and video
  • Explore Social Media Platforms – What tools for creation and distribution are available; which are the best to use; setting up accounts and posting
  • Evaluation – How do we know what impact we are having with our digital communications?

Who Should Attend?

Anyone interested in better communicating about their community or the work they/their organization does. Especially recommended for organization staff with external communications responsibilities and/or the desire to increase communications capacity.

Bringing a laptop and digital camera (smart phone or camera) is recommended. We will check in with attendees regarding equipment and skill level before the session, and adjust the curriculum as necessary


  • Draft Strategic Communication Plan
  • Templates & Worksheets
  • Digital Storytelling Resource Material
  • Creation of a Digital Postcard or Story

Track Limit: 12

Mimi Pickering is an award-winning filmmaker with Appalshop, the media, arts and education center founded in 1969 in Kentucky’s Appalachian coalfields. Pickering also directs Appalshop’s Community Media Initiative (CMI), which provides media production and training as well as strategic communications support for community groups, social justice organizations and public interest advocates. As part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mid-South Delta Initiative, Pickering led a series of Digital Storytelling Workshops with community groups in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas to assist them in using digital tools to document their work. Since 2010, she has coordinated Making Connections: New Ideas for Appalachia, a multi-media story bank exploring sustainable and just economic options for renewing Appalachia produced in collaboration with WMMT-FM (