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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

MTV Entertainment Studios' Culture Orientation

Finalist in Multicultural Community Engagement


Storytelling has the power to change hearts, minds and culture. For decades, MTV Entertainment has created content for diverse audiences focused on compelling stories that reflect their experiences while also building understanding, fostering empathy and driving impact around the world.

Culture Orientation is the foundation of MTVEs’ Culture, an immersive learning experience that explores the power of inclusive storytelling and empowers our creative community to shape culture through diverse, multidimensional and nuanced stories. The engaging 90-minute workshop helps our creative community elevate their storytelling impact by examining representation in pop culture and unearthing insights from the experts and creators behind some of the industry’s most groundbreaking content. The workshop includes:

The program also provides access to an expansive guide featuring best-in-class expert partners and curated resources across issue areas.

MTVE Culture Orientation primary goals:

Strategy and Execution

You Shape Culture. This phrase is the driving force behind Culture Orientation and sets the stage for our workshop participants. We believe that everyone in our creative community, no matter their role or title, has influence on the content we share and the power to shape culture. We planned to develop a curriculum for internal employees and third-party production partners that sets a baseline understanding of our values, shares expert insights and engages participants in discussions around pop culture and inclusive storytelling.

With no roadmap for developing this type of program, we started by doing a thorough landscape analysis and conducted interviews with stakeholders from internal teams, external production partners and leadership. We engaged 14 non-profit partners at the intersection of social justice and representation to serve as advisors and help us build the curriculum’s framework. It was a big challenge to take all the knowledge and feedback and create a curriculum digestible for such a large audience. Ultimately, we stuck to what we know-inspiring and engaging content for creatives by creatives.

To bring this to scale, we needed to engage an e-learning platform. We knew we needed a live-facilitated curriculum and an online “self-paced” version to be shared widely. Diving into e-learning was new territory, so we engaged an expert instructional design consultant who helped us select the Thinkific platform, build a custom site and develop the home for MTVE’s Culture. One key feature of the curriculum is our video content. Once we knew the three key learnings to focus on, distilled from advice from our expert partners, we worked with our editorial team to find case studies that strongly showcased examples from our content. We highlighted examples of where we’ve made mistakes, where our content has missed the mark and how we’ve learned and grown. It was important to us to acknowledge instances where we have evolved.

Videos in the curriculum feature expert partners, talent, creatives and clips from our content. They serve as the backbone of our curriculum. Once we scripted, shot and edited the videos, we pulled together the final curriculum to start previews and pilots with stakeholders. We took time to dial in the facilitation strategy, making the workshop approachable and rooted in humility, honesty and pop culture.

We launched in late June 2022, and in less than two months, more than half of our internal employees participated in a Culture Orientation workshop. We’ve also developed, scripted and shot our self-paced curriculum, hosted by incredible talent at the Daily Show. We are preparing to launch our self-paced curriculum later this fall, where the workshop will be available to our larger creative community of production partners.

The reception and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and each workshop takes on a life of its own with engaging discussions at its core. We are really just at the beginning of seeing the impact. Like so much of the work of our Social Impact team, we are always learning, evolving and adapting to discover what comes next.


Culture Orientation launched this summer and was immediately met with an overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic reception. 95% of respondents rate Culture Orientation as “excellent” or “good.”

Feedback includes:

“Even in my position...I can do my part in making sure under-represented stories get told through our content.”
“The variety of examples across network, era and identity grounded the discussion for maximum impact and ideation.”

Delivering this workshop widely across our creative community with the encouragement and participation of senior leadership demonstrates the importance of inclusive storytelling and the expectations MTVES has of our teams and partners, accomplishing our goal to create a universal understanding of our commitment.

Through the curriculum and corresponding resource guide, Culture Orientation reinforces our team and nonprofit partners as experts in storytelling for impact. As facilitators, our team builds trust and establishes us as partners in this work, which was another major objective of this initiative.

In each session, we facilitate thought-provoking, collaborative discussions. The impact can be seen in each workshop as participants share their “aha” moments and takeaways. We have heard repeatedly, both in live sessions and feedback, that participants leave with a clearer understanding of how they can play a part in creating stories that have an impact. It is a huge measure of success that our teams and creative community understand and accept the responsibility we all have for the content we create and its impact. Yes, You Shape Culture!


Video for MTV Entertainment Studios' Culture Orientation

Entrant Company / Organization Name

MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks


Entry Credits