Erin Reilly

Managing Director & Research Fellow

Erin Reilly is Managing Director & Research Fellow for Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC's Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism and Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad USC.  In her role, she oversees all aspects of lab programming, product design and mentoring students in developing applications and business ideas using digital media and how it impacts society. Her research focuses on new media literacies, transmedia play and learning, social entrepreneurialism, audience engagement and the future of media and entertainment.

Erin’s most recent research is on Leveraging Engagement with an initial case study on Fans. Passions. & Brands. Global Study on Football (Soccer).  Currently, she leads multiple teams who conduct engagement research in the areas of unscripted entertainment, transmedia entertainment, music and sports.   Having received multiple awards, such as Cable in a Classroom’s Leaders in Learning, Erin is a recognized expert in the development of processes and resources for educators and students and conducts field research to collect data and help shape the field of digital media and learning.  Erin has successfully designed and implemented the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s CRUNCH Student Design Challenge.  This incubator supports student teams to learn new skills, meet industry leaders, and learn about what it takes to design new products, and in the past four years, two of the winning teams have gone on to accelerators and launch their startups. Erin has also developed the lab’s Think & Do ideation session to engage the wider community in re-envisioning the media and entertainment industry.  This ideation process was a finalist in the MIX prize awarded through Harvard Business Review and McKinsey.

Before coming to USC, Erin was Research Director for Project New Media Literacies at MIT and also has conducted classes as a Visiting Lecturer at MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Department and Harvard University’s Project Zero Summer Institute.  She is most notably known for her social entrepreneurship activities in founding Zoey’s Room, one of the first social media citizen science programs and networks for young girls to connect with women role models.  She has also led many R&D teams to explore the future of media.  

Erin published her first digital book, Flows of Reading, to inspire teachers and student to reflect on what can be considered as reading and what kinds of reading they perform in their everyday lives.  An exploration to define the concept of Transmedia Play was applied in developing a dynamic book prototype using the wordless picture book Flotsam as a transmedia play experiment.  This experimental platform explores new forms of reading and writing as well as joint media engagement between children and their caregivers.    Her recent publications also include T is for Transmedia: Learning through Transmedia Play, Visualization as a New Media Literacy, Shall We PLAY?, PLAY! (Participatory learning and you), and Designing with Teachers: Participatory models of Professional Development.

Reilly is a graduate of Emerson College and has her Master of Fine Arts degree from Maine Media Workshops + College.  She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Vice President board member of NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Educators) and serves on advisory boards, such as Disney Junior and PBS Emmy-award winning Sci Girls. Erin consults with private and public companies in the areas of audience engagement, creative strategy and transmedia projects. 

  • Research Fellow Susan Resnick West and Creative Director Erin Reilly have designed the Think & Do Process for the Annenberg Innovation Lab to foster an open space for people of varied...



  • PLAY! (Participatory Learning and You!)

  • PLAY! is a visual platform for social learning and curation in the cloud.  We aim to disrupt the way people discover new ideas, share...

  • We’re collaborating with The Alchemists Transmedia Storytelling Company and Caldecott Award-winning author David Wiesner through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing company in taking his...

  • In recent years, transmedia has come into the spotlight among those creating and using media and technology for children.  We believe that transmedia has the potential to be a valuable tool...

  • How might we tell stories in 360 degrees, on such platforms as the Oculus Rift or the connected home? One team at the New Screens Think & Do was thrilled by what 360-degree viewing experiences...

  • In collaboration with BC “Heavy” Biermann and FOX

    How might 3D printers be used as a component of a transmedia storytelling campaign? Audiences could experience a show and receive...

  • ...

  • How might connected smart objects become meaningful components of a tangible transmedia storytelling experience?


‘Headspace VR’ Study Examines Audience and Empathy

By Erin Reilly and Amara Aguilar

Fan Favorites

In order to build engagement and loyalty in a climate of intense competition and distraction, media companies have to understand...

What is a Think & Do?

USC’s Annenberg Innovation Lab Research Fellows Erin Reilly and Susan Resnick West designed the Think & Do process to foster...

SXSW 2015 Upcoming Panels Featuring USC Annenberg Innovation Lab Thought Leaders

SXSW Interactive 2015 features two panels with thought leaders from USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.

The CRUNCH Student Design Challenge + Incubator

CRUNCH students “learn by doing” through an accelerated, skill-based, community-centric collaboration between students and external partners.

SXSW Interactive 2015 Panels Now Open For Voting

SXSW panels are now open for voting & we need your help to make them a reality!

Learnings from Design and Implementing Think & Do's this past year

So exciting news!  My colleagues, Susan Resnick West,

Exploring Curation and Discoverability from a Man + Machine perspective

At the Annenberg Innovation Lab, some of my research is helping to lead The Edison Project, a multi-year research and...

Think & Do: Business Models In An All-Mobile Environment

How can we create new business models to take advantage of an emerging all-mobile environment?

Think & Do: Building a Better Arts Press

How can we build a better arts press?