Reporter's Notebook

The art and science of the interview

Archive for December 2012

OK, Here We Go!

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Arrow In Flight

For the last week or so, I’ve been telling my Twitter followers that when I reach 400, I will make a special offer.  OK, so I’ve hit 400 followers.  And now it’s time to say what the offer is.  Social media users (you) want to promote something, whether it’s their business or their talent or themselves.  And I want to promote the interviews I do so people will want me to interview them and I can make some money doing it.  So for a limited time (until January 5 2012 @ 0000 UTC), you can let me know if you want me to promote you.  In other words, I will create either a 1:00 or less video promo or a :30 or less audio promo about whatever you want to promote.  Granted, it has to be about you not somebody else, and it can’t be anything immoral or illegal.  But otherwise, I’ll basically create a commercial for you about you or something you care about, like a business, a talent, a hobby, a passion or a belief.

Before I forget, if you want to see an example of a video promo, look at this one I did for Cathy Dachenbach aka @cgdachenbach on Twitter.  And if you want to hear an example of an audio promo, listen to this one I recently did.  They’re simple and get straight to the point w/o a lot of frills.  But they’re portable and tell your story quickly, which is exactly what a commercial about something is supposed to do.

OK, so getting back to the promos, I’ll do them in the order I get requests for them, which is a first come – first served basis.  And as far as compensation, I offer you two choices.  I can do them for free, OR I can ask you to pay me what you think they’re worth.  That’s called Pay What You Want (PWYW), and it’s actually quite common.

I worked with a non profit called One World Everybody Eats that was entirely based on the PWYW model.  Radiohead experimented with it.  Panera Bread is trying it out right now.  So, it’s not so crazy.

But I do ask me “Why would I do this?”  This is obviously crazy to do this much work for this many potential people for free?  What about all that stuff about if a business doesn’t value its work, no one else will?  And people don’t value free stuff.  Well, I donated to Wikipedia b/c I realized these people put a ton of work into it and I was surprised how well they did it and how much I appreciated it.  I’ve also donated to developers of some of the free software I use for the same reason.  But they offer it for free because getting known and becoming indispensible is more important than getting paid, at least in the beginning,  … not much more mind you, but a little more.  For all I know, this may be a huge mistake.  I may be overwhelmed and not be able to deliver.  Or I may get no bites and end up feeling personally rejected.  But that is what taking risks is all about.  I want my start up to succeed.  And if that means I can do what I can do to help you succeed, I’ll do it.

So, that’s the deal for my first 400 followers.  To hear the audio version of this post in in my own voice, click here.

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Written by Interviewer

December 31, 2012 at 03:43

Posted in Scratchpad

Drake’s Equation applied to Piers Morgan

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Drake’s Equation basically says that for any population, the most relevant within that population is determined by an increasingly specific set of parameters.  Piers Morgan and his unique sensibilities is enjoying the sturm and drang he has whipped up among some of my countrymen and countrywomen.  And he took to Twitter to rub our noses in it.  But, he misspoke as pundits and politicians often do when using numbers and people to justify something.

So to apply Drake’s Equation to his post that “Still only 90,000 Americans have signed the White House petition to deport me. That leaves 310,910,00 who presumably want me to stay.” … uh, not exactly.

Take the total population of the United States – 312 million

  • Subtract children who likely don’t know or care about him – ~105 million
  • Subtract elderly who likely don’t know or care about him ~85 million
  • Subtract those not in the above groups which include the mentally ill, the incarcerated, the homeless or others who don’t know or care about him – ~15 million
  • Subtract those not in the above groups who are working their asses off trying to sustain their families and don’t have the time to watch pundits pontificate – ~50 million
  • Subtract those not in the above groups who might not have the means to watch Piers Morgan, i.e., the $ for cable, for example – ~10 million
  • Subtract those not in the above groups who will watch anything besides Piers Morgan – ~30 million
  • Subtract those not in the above group who may watch Piers Morgan but not care enough about him to sign a petition to deport him – ~17 million

What remains is about 90,000 plus a few especially vocal folks on Twitter and Facebook. So if 95,000 or so represents all of the people who are truly relevant, can anybody say, “Plane Ticket?”  Just sayin.

Written by Interviewer

December 29, 2012 at 05:11

Posted in Scratchpad

Who Does What for Entertainment Types?

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Personal Assistant

I came upon these terms, and realized I didn’t have a clear understanding of what they meant, especially with all of the creative types on Twitter and Facebook.  So I decided to try to define them.

  • Booking or Talent Agent – Somebody who finds work for creative types (authors, dancers, actors, singers, musicians, etc.) and athletes who are associated with the entertainment business.  Agents may represent many people and represent them directly.  In recent years, some managers have become agents to combine skills and be more effective and useful for talent.  But in some states, this is not allowed.
  • Personal Manager – Managers establish connections with producers and studios, labels and publishers. The responsibility of the talent manager is to oversee the day to day business affairs of an artist; to advise and counsel talent about professional matters and personal decisions which may affect their career. Managers tend to work with only a few people.  Some people believe a manager’s job is to prepare talent for agents.
  • Business Manager – A business manager is a representative of musicians and/or recording artist whose main job is to supervise their business affairs, and the proper handling of their financial matters. The role as it is understood today was helping them to both invest their incomes wisely and to recover unpaid (or underpaid) royaltoes and fees.  Business managers commonly have an overlapping presence in both the entertainment and sports industries.
  • Public Relations Manager – This is someone who researchs, writes and edits materials, including press releases, bios, newsletters and more. In addition to creating PR strategies and establishing media opportunities for talent, they create and execute client launch plans for trade and business press, while working with personal managers to create creative and timely social media content.

Each of these people can charge between 10% and 20% for their services.  Consequently, because there is overlap from double-duty, some of them are not always needed by talent while others are needed only periodically.

Written by Interviewer

December 29, 2012 at 00:20

Posted in Scratchpad

Head Not Explode

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It has been a steadily busy last week or so.  But I want to just touch on a conversation I had this morning on Twitter. The thing about social media, as I mentioned in a previous post, is that they are (or can be) just like face to face conversations except without the face.  For some people, that’s an excuse to say things you would never say if you didn’t have another face looking back at you.  In other words, it gives some people the courage to be cowardly and say incredibly mean and cruel things.  I think the term is still “flaming.”  So, it seems to me that only people w/a high degree of social skill can use social media and get the benefits of social media to include the clout of social media.  That because, I think, that other people can see how they handle flamers, especially when they are sharing the other side of a quite reasonable argument w/no real reason to “go off”.  I’ve been fortunate to have had several such conversations with such people, and I had one this morning.  This gentleman and I differed on what we thought were the benefits of brick and mortar libraries v tablets which bring more than a library ever could to your lap.  Our views don’t matter as much as the outcome which was me saying I enjoyed the conversation and he concurring. If only the world could see that the honorable Felix Frankfurter, a former US Supreme Court justice was right when he said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”  I appreicate it when it happens.

Written by Interviewer

December 28, 2012 at 23:24

Posted in Scratchpad

Technical Glop

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So, I did an interview with a sweet little old lady, and I’m trying to upload it to the server host.  I go to the website software and add the interview, make the links to the Soundcloud account and figure, since the promo will take longer and the interview is already done, I’ll make the changes to the website now and do the promo later.  After changes, I save them to disc, but uh oh …, no folder.  The old Conversus folder is on the old PC.  So I create a new folder and save the changes to the folder.  Then, I go to the FTP site and try to upload the folder to the server host but uh oh … the server doesn’t recognize the name I gave the folder.  “htdocs” seems to be the default folder name servers recognize for file uploads via FTP.  So, I go looking for the htdocs folder and drop the new folder with the new changes into it.  I go back to the server host and try to upload the files but uh oh … there is something that is preventing a connection to be made.  It doesn’t let me drag files or folders from my PC to the uploader because it doesn’t make some other connection it needs first.  So I Google “You are not connected. Please connect first” and “Could not load remote file listing” and learn it has something to do with Windows 7 and Java and security authentications.  I change SSL settings … nothing.  I disable and reenable the Windows Firewall … nothing.  So, I sent an email to the server host, where I expect them to charge me about $60/hr to click a box I know not which.  I hate glop.

Written by Interviewer

December 20, 2012 at 07:23

Musings

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Watching commercials about food, especially about M&Ms, Frosted Mini Wheats and Hershey’s kisses, all three of them encourage their people co-stars to eat them.  It’s an interesting self-annihilation message that I don’t think was sent as much by earlier foods/cereals.   The bee in Honey Nut Cheerios is not the cereal, but rather a representative of the cereal, so he doesn’t get eaten.  Neither did anthropomorphised Tony the Tiger, the leprechan of Lucky Stars or Captain Crunch.  But at the same time, M&Ms, Frosted Mini Wheats and Hershey’s kisses are also saying they will never die because all of them could never be eaten.  They are one.  So if any live, the all live, essentially forever.  Sort of reminds me of that scene in “Toy Story” when Buzz Lightyear realized he wasn’t an individual, but only one of billions of other dolls on a superstore shelf.  This kind of ubiquitous and simultaneous disposability, interchangability and indestructability says something about how the marketing departments of these three food conglomerates think we see ourselves now compared to earlier times.  Cereal representatives like talking tigers were closer to us as equals.  They had limbs and were sometimes full sized.  Besides, the tiger could scratch you, the leprechan sometimes threw magic and the captain had a sword.  These newer avatars, although they can speak, don’t look like us as much, and they are always much smaller.  It’s almost like they were made harmless on purpose, like pets or smaller little buddies who would never be a threat.  Also, as opposed to a sea captain who you might think has independence as an entity, community, comraderie and sameness (everybody coming out of the same box or bag) is important with kisses, wheat squares and chocolate drops.  A simple mission and a single job (taste good) is important.  Looking good (have you seen the brown lady M&M, with heels?) is important. Talent, or better, usefulness (bell choir Hershey’s kisses) is important.  And good naturedness (Chex happily swimming in the impending doom of milk) is important.   Reeses Peanut Butter cups are simply things to be eaten with no dialogue or agency and no attempt is made to help them form a relationship with the viewer.  Chik-Fil-A, by contrast sends a completely opposite message; do not eat this.  Namely,  anthropomorphised cows encouraging us to eat chicken.  If logic followed, it would make more sense to have the chickens of Chik-Fil-A telling us to eat beef.  But I guess Chik-Fil-A doesn’t want to take the chance that we might actually go and eat beef.   And of course, their chickens must not have any power to speak for themselves. What does this have to do with interviews?  Nothing.  Just observations on media and marketing.

Written by Interviewer

December 19, 2012 at 13:56

Posted in Scratchpad

Off Message for a Second

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This is a blog about interviewing.  But someone on Twitter asked a very good question, to which I think I have a decent answer.  It is an answer that doesn’t speak to the conflict we as a nation have between our freedom, liberty and violent nature.  And it is certainly not a defense of that conflict.  But I think it gets to the connection between the three pretty cleanly and simply.

I don’t know why the gun lobby doesn’t just say that the reason why it doesn’t oppose assault weapons isn’t so that hunters can shoot whatever they want with whatever they want.  And it’s not because they believe a citizen should be able to defend themselves against their next door neighbor with whatever type of weapon is legal.  I think it’s because the gun lobby believes that the citizenry needs to be at least able to resist a military or a government that has gone rogue.  It is a simple, uncluttered and crystalline mindset that is based on a Constitution that is based on dissidents trying to escape an oppressive government.  If the gun lobby benefits from the sale of guns in the same immoral way that the government benefits from arms sales, it would be fiercely denied.  If you’re a gun lobby, you can’t say the right of people to have guns to kill other people is worth it because it makes us money.  But you can say people have the right to have powerful guns because the government has powerful guns.  Maybe both kinds of people are in the gun lobby, but the former better never make themselves known since the latter may shoot them themselves.

It a weak and pitiful justification that guns solve any problems.  And the fruits of that justification bears names like Columbine and Sandy Elementary and Clackamas Town Center and Trolley Square.  But the gun lobby’s DNA is based on the second amendment and that amendment was all about firearms, citizens and military power.  And to keep this semblance of freedom the gun lobby believes we now have depends, according to it, on a balance of guns, like cold warroirs believed in a balance of bombs.

Written by Interviewer

December 18, 2012 at 03:41

Posted in Scratchpad