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Brand Storytelling to Offer Groundbreaking Brand Film Certification

Industry leaders lend experience and insight with course powered by ETSU

JOHNSON CITY, TN (December 6, 2021) – Today’s leaders in business require creative and diverse professionals with crossover skills in marketing, media and film, but there is a significant talent gap. To answer this call, Brand Storytelling and East Tennessee State University along with seven global industry sponsors have stepped up to bridge the education and diversity gap with a first-ever professional certification program.

The Brand Storytelling Brand Film Certification is a 100% online professional certification taught by industry leaders connected to Brand Storytelling’s world-class network of professionals in media, production, marketing, advertising, culture and entertainment. The certification will appeal to industry professionals and recent college graduates looking to better understand the intersection of business, brand and film. The first Brand Storytelling Certification cohort begins Jan. 31, 2022, with five additional cohorts launching throughout 2022.

“Today, our industry is propelled by consumer behavior and forward-thinking brands,” said Rick Parkhill, founder of Brand Storytelling. “Led by our core mission of education, the Brand Storytelling community is in a unique position to grow, cultivate and inspire the next generation of brand storytellers through innovative education that they know is taught by professionals in the industry.”

This innovative certification is sponsored by world-class brands Discovery, Southwest Airlines, Intel, Univision and BODYARMOR, alongside leading brand storytelling production house UM Studios. The involvement and support of these leading companies grounds the program in the real world of brand-funded entertainment, giving program participants the opportunity to get actionable, hands-on experience they can apply upon the completion of their certification.

Sponsors support immersive scholarships, valued at $2,000 each, granted to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) students to participate in the immersive program. Scholarships provide opportunities for direct interaction and mentorship with sponsors, faculty, and advisors. These scholarships help foster greater opportunities for students and professionals looking to advance their skills in brand storytelling while brands get access to emerging talent.

“We are so proud to participate in a program that provides amazing opportunities for professionals from diverse backgrounds,” said Patrizio Spagnoletto, chief marketing officer for Discovery. “This program also serves to help participating sponsors like us to identify the next generation of media production and marketing leaders.”

Parkhill and Stephen Marshall, ETSU professor and chief marketing officer for the ETSU Research Corporation, recognized brand storytelling industry needs for on-going learning and saw a collaboration opportunity between their organizations. By supporting the industry-focused program through a university, the Brand Storytelling Certification perfectly blends industry expertise with academia’s prestige.

“The worlds of marketing, media and film continue to merge in what is still considered new territory,” said Marshall. “Partnering with industry to innovate education outcomes and diversity needs is central to the ETSU Research Corporation’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) mission. We are proud to ‘power’ this professional credential with world-class education experiences. Professionals from around the world can take this virtual course, and outcomes will build a diverse community of brand storytellers.”

The certification course will feature some of today’s most influential names in brand storytelling as instructors: Marc Battaglia, co-founder of Story + Strategy and former global executive creative director for Marriott International; Brian Newman, founder of Sub-Genre brand consulting agency; Marcus Peterzell, chief executive officer of Passion Point Collective entertainment marketing agency; and Dawn Reese, senior vice president and managing director of UM Studios.

Additionally, instructors will bring a variety of guest presenters from their own professional networks to speak during their module content. These guest presenters will broaden the academic scope and provide further industry knowledge to benefit students’ understanding of brand film.

As part of the Brand Storytelling Certification, each student will develop a capstone project at the conclusion of the program that answers a request for proposal by a brand partner, the first of which is Intel. The projects will feature detailed responses to real-life challenges and needs from the partner.

“The Brand Storytelling Certification is one of the most comprehensive and innovative industry programs available,” Battaglia said. “It’s specific focus on brand film and entertainment makes it not only unique but supports how today’s industry is evolving. Featuring top industry experts; the program includes hands on experiences, collaboration and networking opportunities powered by Brand Storytelling, a thought leadership organization with the mission to support, educate and inspire brand-funded content.”

Courses built into the certification include Brand Storytelling 101, The Brand Film Journey, The Business Behind Brand Films, and Beyond the Screen: Marketing, Measurement and Distribution. In addition to brand storytelling knowledge, students will build their professional networks through collaboration and class discussion throughout the program.

Brand Storytelling and the ETSU Research Corporation will host six Brand Storytelling Brand Film Certification cohorts throughout 2022.

Learn more about the certification and application process at

For more about Brand Storytelling, visit Visit to learn more about the ETSU Research Corporation.

About Brand Storytelling

Founded by B2B media entrepreneur Rick Parkhill, Brand Storytelling believes a new era of media and marketing is rapidly emerging, one empowered by technology and driven by creative storytelling. Its mission is to create a higher level of collaboration amongst advertisers, agencies, media partners and creators, leading to a richer media environment for all.

About the ETSU Research Corporation:

The ETSU Research Corporation launched in January 2021 with a mission is to connect, convene and create world-class innovation in a rural setting. It serves to enrich the university’s culture of research on campus through internal and external partnership opportunities and by assisting in innovation and economic development in Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Learn more about the ETSU Research Corporation at

Contact: Becky Parsons |

Dec. 6, 2021


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