Numbers and sponsors

Jeff Jarvis's informal ad plan for my business

Numbers: boy is it dispiriting to realize how truly difficult math is for me, even as a fully fledged adult. As with Shakespeare, I think I assumed, when I was a teenager, that somehow I would get better at math as I aged. What a crazy thought. Just as I continue not to understand 400-year-old English, I continue to be confounded by mathematical problems that are barely problems to the numbers-enabled. Luckily I managed to re-do one of my test answers in the nick of time and get it right, but the other? I totally messed it up. I must go over the class we had last Monday becuase that too was numbers-heavy. I promised msyelf I would do so this week, but, as with so much else, it slides down the list as the week keeps spewing more and more (and more) work.

Latest issue to confront: approaching sponsors. Yes, yours truly, the arts-brained, self-selling-disabled person whose ability to talk herself up at all has taken years of US living to develop, must somehow get together a good sponsor pitch. This involves convincing myself that I am a businessperson (gulp), believing what I say about the show (actually this won’t be a problem) and composing some kind of correspondence that convinces the recipient I’m at least worth looking at. I know this is all good for me – very good. Sometimes I just wish it was easier. If this program can help turn me into a truly effective salesperson, I’ll be forever grateful. Pitching a story is one thing. Pitching a business is another.

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Posted in Biz

Adventures in audio

I had a good audio/mixing lesson with Chad Bernhard this morning. I’ve been wanting to improve my rudimentary mixing skills for ages and I spent about an hour and a half with Chad while he gave me the rundown on mixing basics, such as volume levels, fades and so on. We also went through the session I’d put together when making the first episode of The Broad Experience, and he told me where I could have done things differently and why I didn’t need to push all my little audio boxes together to produce good transitions. That’s Ashley-speak I realize. He said I could come back with the next podcast mix to ask any specific questions before I boiled it all down to one file. Very glad I went.

Letting go

A very quick post this week because it’s been a crazy week and I’m swamped. I went to Catalyst’s 50th anniversary conference  on Wednesday and Thursday (Catalyst is a non-profit advocating for women in business so it’s perfect for my project). I got a lot out of it, did some interviews and met some women over lunch or coffee who could be helpful in one way or another with my podcast.

Here’s a snippet of an interview I did on Wednesday with Tiffany Dufu of The White House Project, another women’s non-profit. This one focuses on getting more women into leadership roles (the idea behind the name being that there’s never been a female president – the ultimate leadership role). Anyway, this tape probably won’t resonate if you’re young and childless, but the issue of ‘having it all’ become a big one for professional women with kids. The need to do everything, and do it well, is the source of huge amounts of stress, and I thought Tiffany made a good point here: if you’re going to have the job, the house and the family and not lose your mind, you have to give up some control. This is really under-discussed in all the noise about work/life balance (a topic that only ever seems to be discussed in the context of women’s lives).

 

My priority is to get a mock podcast up here. I’ve told myself I will do that by the end of the weekend. Hope I can stick to it and do enough revision for Monday’s test. Oh yes, I met with Jeff this morning and he urged me to blog about my start-up growing pains, saying the things I’m trying to help women get over are in fact the very things I still get bogged down with myself. Too true. You can read about my Jarvisization here.

Posted in Biz

Broad Experience

Last Monday was packed with market research discussions and marketing strategy in the morning and wisdom from the Watershed Post’s Julia Reischel in the afternoon, closely followed by a robust two-plus hour discussion of journalistic ethics and values led by a passionate Jeff Jarvis, sparked by the Mike Daisey/This American Life debacle.

On the topic of market research, I really enjoyed the research I did for my project even though it felt like it was taking over my life for a while. I’d keep getting drawn deeper and deeper in, as one piece of reading would get me curious and lead to more research, more reports and so on. (I felt it was important to dig up a lot of data partly because my idea doesn’t lend itself very well to the ‘what do you need?’ question. Women don’t know they need this stuff. It’s all going on beneath the surface.) I did go to the Baruch library, per Barbara’s suggesttion, which is where I got access to eMarketer. I didn’t find Mintel useful for my project because it deals in goods rather than people and you have to work backwards from the goods (shampoo, say) to work out who buys it. There wasn’t any pertinent information on professional women there. I got a certain amount of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website but it can be hard to work in to exactly what you want so I called them and got Gary Steinberg, who helped me with a story a couple of years ago. I recommend talking to him if you ever need help parsing BLS data. He’s very friendly and helpful. He said it’s getting tougher for BLS to work out, say, what counts as a ‘professional and managerial’ job because the job market is changing so fast, and it’s not as easy as it once was to put things in strict, BLS-defined categories (in other words, the government is behind the real-world curve – can you believe it?)

Yesterday I came across this Nieman Lab piece about public radio listenership and Pew’s 2012 State of the Media report, and found this rather worrying nugget on podcasts:

“Less than half of Americans know what a podcast is, and about a quarter of Americans used podcasts in 2011, according to the Pew survey. ‘The podcast, while still hitting a significant segment of the population, appears to be losing momentum,’ the report says.”

Not music to my ears. If a quarter of people listen to podcasts, that’s better than I thought. But ‘appears to be losing momentum’? Bad news. If indeed it’s true. I have scanned the Pew report itself and can’t find the part about podcasts or any reference to podcasts at all. I’m about to email Pew to ask if they can point me directly to that information.

I’m also about to meet with Santiago Perez at Baruch in the hope he can help me focus my business – I don’t want it to be just about women’s career stuff because that limits other things I can touch on, but I need a tagline or something to help me define what it is I’m encompassing. I’m also working on creating a mock-up podcast now, per Jeremy’s suggestion. I’ve settled on the name Broad Experience – or should it be The Broad Experience, as Jeremy suggests? Weigh in if you like.

Posted in Biz

Video bootcamp

Last weekend’s video bootcamp rocked. I’d been half-dreading spending the whole weekend at CUNY (I do like me a good weekend) because I thought I’d be exhausted, but in fact the work we did was so different from what I do all week that it was a case of a change being as good as a rest. Now I’m not saying I can now effortlessly shoot and edit video for the Web. Far from it. But what the class did was teach us the basics – and the Flip camera we used was pretty basic – and give us the confidence that, with practice, we could in fact produce a watchable piece. The two-day session was well planned: we spent some of the time watching and being inspired by others’ video work, and the rest of the time with a partner doing hands-on stuff, such as shooting (I think most of my time was actually spent trying to work out how to set up the tripod), editing, and doing audio interviews. I actually wanted to post my effort here but I think this blog is too cheap to let me – when I try to upload the file nothing happens, but a small message at the bottom indicates I can do a ‘video upgrade’. Yet when I click on that link, nothing happens either. Actually I’ve just realized WordPress doesn’t want to deal with the .mov file type. I presume that’s the answer to my blank screen. I’m sure it’s killing you to miss out on my 60-second creation. Maybe I’ll make a longer, more polished video that will truly be post-worthy one of these days.