Story by Andra Brichacek
Joshua Trujillo, a key creative for Starbucks’ new “Upstanders” web series, will be leading a conversation at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication in Portland about the innovative storytelling that Starbucks and other companies are using to build ethical brand identities and engage with communities. The talk takes place on March 7, 5:30-8 p.m., at the UO SOJC’s George S. Turnbull Portland Center on the historic White Stag Block in downtown Portland.
“We are delighted to be hosting this conversation with Josh Trujillo,” said Regina Lawrence, executive director of the UO SOJC’s Portland programs. “His impressive career and pathbreaking work on the ‘Upstanders’ project show how journalistic and storytelling skills can elevate socially responsible branded content to make a positive social impact.”
Trujillo’s career as a filmmaker and photojournalist has focused on innovative ways to engage community sources and cover important news events as well as everyday stories from Seattle to Afghanistan. As Starbucks’ senior manager for photos and video, he oversees much of the company’s visual storytelling and is a major contributor to the “Upstanders” web series.
Through short stories, films and podcasts, “Upstanders” shares the experiences of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities. By showcasing stories of meaning and inspiration to do real good in the world — rather than just look good — the series is a leader in the growing trend of socially responsible brand communication.
Trujillo’s talk, which is sponsored by the UO SOJC’s Portland-based professional Multimedia Journalism and Strategic Communication master’s degree programs, will focus on the growing opportunities on brand communication teams for multimedia storytellers who want to make a difference in the world.
“There are brands out there that are capable of and willing to tell and share authentic, real stories, much in the same way that you would do if you were working for any news organization,” Trujillo said. “Often these stories can touch on social, environmental and even political issues. Many of the people in corporate leadership have recognized that this kind of storytelling has faded from traditional sources, such as newspapers and long-form television shows, and they are looking to step up and see what they can contribute in the social issue space.”
According to Trujillo, corporations are uniquely situated to make a positive impact, as long as they do it in the right way. “These companies have megaphones of tens of millions of social media followers, and if they use those megaphones responsibly, ethically and with authenticity in their storytelling, they can open eyes and hearts and minds,” he said.
The free event will begin with a networking reception in the Shirley Papé Forum in the George S. Turnbull Portland Center. Trujillo’s talk, titled “Starbucks, ‘Upstanders,’ and Social Impact: A Conversation with Visual Storyteller Joshua Trujillo,” will begin at 6:30 and will be followed by an optional class with students of the UO SOJC’s Multimedia Journalism Master’s program at 8 p.m. Registration for the event runs through March 1.
Andra Brichacek is the SOJC Communication team’s writer, editor and editorial content planner. She has nearly 20 years’ experience creating content for print and online media and has specialized in education since 2008. Follow her on Twitter @andramere.