Archive

Archive for the ‘Multimedia’ Category

Leverage and Who Holds It In Travel Journalism

May 21, 2010 2 comments

Just shy of three years into my freelance journalism career I’ve learned a handful of things I wish I’d understood before I quit my PR job. Most are the basics — get an accountant, paying quarterly taxes is expensive, the check is always in the mail — but then there are the big ones. The type of lessons that make or break a career if you can’t adapt quickly.

This past week while at the Society of American Travel Writers Editors Council I got a chance to work on one of the biggest of these lessons: Understanding leverage, who holds it, and how to use the little leverage you have to increase your overall value.

While it’s not appropriate to go into details about the conversations I had with editors from USA Today, Denver Post, Travel and Leisure to name a few, it is fair to say that leverage in the travel industry is increasingly becoming one-sided. What I reconfirmed was what I already knew: as a freelance writer my leverage is based on how little I can charge and how quickly I can turn it around. The fact that I can produce HD video, print-level photography, or a variety of other multimedia elements isn’t enough to catapult me past if I can work on spec or for .10 cents a word.

This brings up a major roadblock: Do I play in this space and accept the skewed reality? Or do I look where everyone else is going and walk the other way? It is no secret that travel writing is a career filled with dreams of free extended trips on the Riviera and gourmet dinners with no checks, and while some of that does happen, the harsh reality of the travel writer lifestyle is usually broken relationships, catastrophic health insurance and a lifetime of renting.

If I look the other way, however, I’m looking into a world dominated by rich content complete with a high production value, strong narrative and a budget beyond $300 for a five-minute video. The reality of this lifestyle leads me to bankruptcy in six months.

Over the weekend at the beginning of my presentation on video I told the group of editors my job is to look where everyone is going and walk the other way, while still continuing to build my career in the traditional sense. There were some raised eyebrows and a few chuckles. Of course it could have been because they aren’t used to hearing a 27-year-old presenter say something like that, but I have to think it’s because they wish their job gave them the leverage to do the same thing.

Which is where we find the answer to who holds the leverage in travel journalism. Right now it’s not the editors, not the writers, not the PR pros who can’t offer free trips to a large segment of their target base, but instead it’s upper-level management who are looking at balance sheets and ROI models. And until these individuals are able to break away from projections and quarterly profits, the leverage of pushing boundaries and moving forward with larger brands will continue to be sluggish and frustrating for many parties. Which is why I’m still playing the game by pitching traditional outlets, but also why I’m looking as far away from their business model as possible and trying to figure out how I fit into the great unknown. I just hope bankruptcy never comes.

Advertisements

Quick iPad Thoughts From a Travel Journalist

April 7, 2010 1 comment

Still not sure how I feel about writing iPad, but whatever, it’s just a name. Here’s a few observations from my end. Nothing revolutionary — there is already way to much published about the darn thing — but nevertheless:

  • In no way is this the savior of media. It’s a cool idea, cool concept, has some cool features, but $500 bucks for a device that can’t be dropped, smashed, chewed on (folks with animals and toddlers) and spilled on. (Think morning coffee and the NYT’s and a sudden bark from the dog and you jump up just to tip if over…….)
  • When working on applications with text make sure to ask the developer to devise an action to have the text fit directly to the screen. Playing with NYT’s columns was cumbersome (note: this was the online version) and at times frustrating to size the font just right. If there was a way to tap or execute a series of taps to autofill that would be sweet.
  • Photos look fantastic. I might just buy one of these for the next wedding I shoot. Download the photos en route to the reception and let people see them at the tables. (Need to figure out the spilling and theft deal), but it’ll make more than one head spin.
  • It’s a great portfolio device. Going on a trip through NY to shop your work with editors? Bring this, it’s a goldmine in this application.
  • Word processing on first glance was a bit cumbersome. Without a mouse and apple key to activate keyboard shortcuts, it’s going to take some time to nail down. Probably just a few weeks, or days, or days, whatever, but it’s not looking to be something you’ll want to use to produce fine edits on a longish piece.
  • It’s definitely a game changer. The fourth screen. The slate that does everything. But it’s a long way off I think. Price deduction, third party apps, third party accessories and price deduction are the keys I think. Family of four? You’re out 2k. Ouch.
  • Forget anything travel oriented with this and produce education applications. This is a goldmine for students. Think K-12 with a college set happening afterwords. First group to nail a killer app for J-schools is going to make a bundle. (That is if said J-schools have deans who understand that Apple is not a fruit)
  • It’s heavyish. I need to workout.

Overall: This thing didn’t exist six months ago. The iPhone is only three years old. iPods at first were shunned. Apple is onto something here. The early adopters will create a cool and sexy hipster vibe that will flood the creative New York world with iPad toting artists just ready to show off their work. Those who can afford one will boast about it’s awesome game-changing power and create those like me who don’t need one into thinking it’s keeping me back. If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve in app design and understanding how content can be repurposed it’s a solid investment, but as I thought when I was playing with one: It’s not about creating content for one device in our field. It’s about telling a compelling story. If the story is there, the device will follow.

Apple’s iPad, Apollo 13 and The Media Industry

January 27, 2010 2 comments

During the past 18 months I’ve been having lots of conversations about rethinking media. A month ago while speaking with several Conde Nast employees I used an example from Apollo 13 as my thesis for what media has to do today. In honor of Apple’s Tablet iPad, I thought I would share my entire thought processes in one, one minute clip.

Is Your Brand Ready For The Apple iSlate?

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

The Apple iSlate, otherwise known as the-only-possible-thing-on-the-planet-that-can-save-media, is supposed to be released next week by Apple and the media is scrambling to be ready. But what are you doing to get your own brand in place to take on this new technology?

Not sure? Consider the following:

  • If Apple does in fact release the iSlate, magazines and media companies will be turning to advertisers in droves to fill their new digital properties. This means ads will need to be placed next to interactive content and possibly be interactive themselves. Is your brand ready to be interactive and have multiple campaigns?
  • If you’re brands video is placed next to a Sports Illustrated video recap of last night’s NBA game, how will your video quality compare to the high definition video SI is using? Flip camera’s worked great last year, but now as mobile displays are able to distribute video in full hd will your ad take advantage of that?
  • Advertising, or rather good advertising today, is all about storytelling and providing viewers with a story. With interactive ads, brands can now highlight personalities, product demonstrations, real-world situations and story lines that support their message and engage the viewer. Outdoor brands and travel brands have a strong advantage here. Who wouldn’t want to see yesterday’s snow conditions, check out interactive trail maps, and view 360-degree photos of hotel rooms when deciding if they were going to book a trip that weekend to their favorite resort?
  • Are you still thinking one-way? Or are you using your ads to encourage conversation and participation? Advertising is no longer about putting out a message and expecting it to stick. We all know this, but for some reason advertisers are still approaching ads as if they were ads and not their own branded content. Most magazines have little to no online budget, so ads can take advantage of this and use various mediums to create their own content targeted specifically at iSlate users. For instance, if your brand was a rafting company, approaching your advertisement as a narrative travel story following a select number of guests, engages the viewer more than just a bunch of b-roll video with crappy copyright-free music. If you are thinking like a journalist, your brands advertisements will stick out. Big time.

There are many more ways brands can set themselves up for the iSlate and mobile advertising, but by far the largest step needs to be action. Like podcasting and iPhone Apps, the early adopters were able to grab market share quickly and stay ahead of the game by innovating along the way. So instead of wringing your hands, start small and build from there. Brands that do will succeed and I believe will stand out sometimes even more than the editorial content they are next to.

You Boys Like Mexico!

October 5, 2009 4 comments

Name the movie and I’ll give you props. (Have a feeling most won’t be able to nail it.) But the line stands true this week as I prepare to head down to Guadalajara, Mexico for the Society of American Travel Writers annual conference. I’ll be speaking again this year on multimedia and will also be launching my new company Plus Ten Media. It’s going to prove to be quite the trip I’m sure, but like all things, I’ve come to realize I won’t now it’s full power for many years to come.

Social Media vs. Traditional Media: The Wrong Argument

September 3, 2009 2 comments

After reading a well thought out post on assessing ROI in a social media world, I responded with a comment. To see the original post go here. I have pasted in my comment below, which I think stands for itself.

Great post Jason, I can’t agree more with the Kool-Aid references. From a young professionals standpoint who grew up with both traditional marketing and new media marketing I can’t help but get frustrated with a majority of the conversation today about social media and how businesses are being told to pick “one or the other.”

Social media in my opinion is a tool, albeit a very powerful tool, but nevertheless a tool within a marketer’s toolbox. Too many times I feel we forget marketing is a 360-degree experience. Customers can be anywhere today – TV, print, online, mobile – and it is a company’s job to effectively target and reach their selected customers through each of these mediums utilizing a variety of distribution methods.

When I explain marketing to potential clients I draw a circle and put their brand in the middle. Each part of the circle represents a different part of the pie, and in order to reach each section the company has to push their message out in that direction. Media once it reaches the edge can then flow in a circular pattern – say someone retweets and blogs about a message they saw in print and suddenly customers are reached across the circle – but it’s a complex web that must be built up over time and with the understanding that there is no one simple one answer.

Many times I find companies look at social media as a powerful tool, but then opt to place an Intern or entry-level employee at the helm. A senior executive might oversee the strategy, but the lack of economic investment means the “saving grace” of the companies marketing program is left up to an employee with potentially little allegiance. This makes me wonder: just what value do you really see in this? When I speak to companies I make it a point to not paint a social media vs. traditional media picture, but rather one that involves everyone in a form considered non-traditional.

The other large piece of the puzzle, and one that I consider equally if not more important, is the rise of content creation and understanding how content can be utilized in multiple mediums for the same purpose, but that I’m afraid is another topic.

Forget Tradition It’s All About Creativity

August 6, 2009 1 comment

Traditional advertisements are a thing of the past. Okay not really — watching NBC Nightly News I can’t help but wonder just how sick I’ll be in ten years — but there is a new breed of highly creative marketing videos hitting the web, and some of the best are choosing Vimeo.com to host.

Last night while clicking around I stumbled across three in particular that caught my eye. Each had a different angle, but the same concept: With this product you can be creative in ways you didn’t think possible. I’d be curious to know what the budgets were, but for now I’ll just enjoy the videos and ponder how much time it took to actually create them.

Enjoy

Categories: Multimedia, Video