Quinnipiac Assignment 02 – ICM 590 – Compare Project Management Styles for Media

Compare Project Management Styles for Media

What are the differences between managing a media project (e. g. making a film) and managing another sort of endeavor? The defense of a legal case shows both differences and similarities.

Media

At Vjeko.com, writer Vjekoslav Babic outlined the secrets of Hollywood project success in the context of a review of James Persse’s book on that subject. Babic was comparing media production to IT development, and found there were:

“8 important similarities between movies and IT:

  1. Both deal in intangible product development.
  2. Both are shaped to directly address a deadline-oriented business need.
  3. Both require significant investments.
  4. Both are built against a specification open to change.
  5. Both rely on specialized production protocols and technologies.
  6. Both require the integration and collaboration of specialized teams.
  7. Both require careful analysis, design, execution, and integration.
  8. Both must be thoughtfully delivered to their target audiences.”

Babic further noted, “…it distills down to a simple framework of five phases: development, preproduction, production, post-production and distribution.”

“…development roughly corresponds to project initiation, with pre-production mostly having to do with project planning. Other three phases could be mapped to project execution and monitoring.”

“In first three phases, most revolves around the script, the Hollywood’s equivalent of requirements document, and although Persse found out that the script also changes, it tends to be more of a holy scripture than requirements are in IT. For Hollywood, it is much easier to set Big Requirements Up Front….”

At Creative Skill Set, the definition of a Production Manager includes, “Production Managers are in charge of the ‘below-the-line’ budget. This covers costs relating to the crew and the practicalities of running a production.”

Legal

Compare Project Management Styles
The first “automobile accident”? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things differ in the legal field. Let’s look at a moderately-sized insurance case, an automobile accident. It’s a left-turn case, where the client (defense) made a left turn in front of the plaintiff’s vehicle, causing a collision. Both parties are at fault although the percentages differ. For sake of argument, this will be a jurisdiction where comparative negligence is the law, e. g. there can still be some questions and plaintiff fault isn’t a sure-fire loser like in a contributory negligence jurisdiction.

The project manager is the attorney handling the claim. The purpose of the project needs little clarification: it is to either win the case outright or limit the amount paid by the insurance carrier (and the client, too, if damages exceed the amount of the policy). Similarly, the purpose of a film project is to make a movie. It’s not to make an artistic statement or even to make a profit, although those are favorable collateral consequences. Similarly, the purpose of defending a lawsuit is generally not to make law although that can also be a result.

For filmmaking, the goals and objectives are more on the profit side. Movies are made in order to meet financial projections, often to satisfy shareholders. In the law, the goals and objectives are to save insurance company money but also to garner experience for more junior attorneys and to build favorable reputations for lawyers with any level of expertise.

Scope for films is to make the one picture, or the three pictures in a trilogy or whatever the contract says. For legal cases, it’s just the one case, and it often does not include appeals if the matter gets that far, mainly because appeal work tends to be more specialized. Scope usually does include impleader (adding more defendants) for cross-claims or third-party claims which may be other sources of settlement or verdict funds. In the automobile accident fact pattern, if the traffic lights were mistimed or were not working at all, defense might wish to implead the town or its maintenance company. This might be seen as scope creep; the prudent law firm will allow the impleader if it is likely to provide a substantial benefit (note the ABA Model Rules of Professional Responsibility require a zealous defense; hence what in other projects would be seen as scope creep may very well be necessary under ethical considerations. The Model Rules have been adopted by many American jurisdictions).

Budgeting is strict for filmmakers. For attorneys, a balance must be achieved between keeping costs low and mounting an effective and zealous defense. Costs can be lowered with having paralegals perform research and more junior lawyers attend preliminary hearings and motions. Budgeting can be a dimension of time for lawyers, too, as a carrier might want an older case settled during the next quarter or might push for settlement if billed hours exceed a certain amount. Unlike in many other disciplines, budgeting in the law may be desired but not possible under ethical considerations.

The expected benefits for both disciplines center on reputation. For a film production company, a completed project could signal future development partners (actors, screenwriters, etc.) that the company can make an award-winning piece of art, or churn out a cheap film quickly to take advantage of a hot news story. For a law firm, a favorably concluded case can demonstrate a thorough understanding of the law or an ability to settle for less.

Success for both disciplines looks a lot like completion. A finished film, under budget, is the desired end result for a production manager. For lawyers, success is a closed case, and not necessarily a win. And then, for both, it’s time to move onto another project.

Quinnipiac Assignment 01 – ICM 502 – What is Information? What is the Role of Design in how we Receive Information?

What is Information
System information (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Information?

BusinessDictionary.com says information is:

“Data that is (1) accurate and timely, (2) specific and organized for a purpose, (3) presented within a context that gives it meaning and relevance, and (4) can lead to an increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty.”

But is that all there is?

The first part of the definition – accuracy and timeliness – seems to be more of a definition of facts, which are almost the quanta of information. Facts are bits of information, like the capital of Uruguay (Montevideo) or the proverbial price of tea in China (varies).

The second piece – specificity and organization – takes information away from the realm of random trivia and gives it a reason for being. Uruguay’s capital makes sense as a piece of information if you’re flying there or doing business in the country. It could be a fact which is specific and organized for something like winning Jeopardy! It’s not organized for the purpose of passing an Anatomy examination, however.

The third aspect – meaningful and relevant context – further removes it from random factoids and pop culture references. If the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow will get you over a necessary bridge, then it is utterly meaningful and relevant data. If it doesn’t, then you’re left with just so much cerebral flotsam and jetsam. As Frode Heglund says, “Information cannot exist without context.”

The fourth bit – understanding increases while uncertainty decreases – further emphasizes the idea of meaningfulness.

Information tells you something you don’t already know, and is, to crib from Facebook, relevant to your interests. It’s accurate and timely, too. It is useful for you.

What is the role of design in how we receive information?

On page 6 of White Space is Not Your Enemy, Rebecca Golombisky and Rebecca Hagen say, “Good graphic design does four things. It captures attention, controls the eye’s movement across the page or screen, conveys information and evokes emotion.”

Essentially, what Golombisky and Hagen are saying is that design is one of the aspects of information conveyance as much as body language is a part of verbal and visual communications.

Rune Madsen adds, when talking about William Addison Dwiggins, “…seeing is as important as reading, and … typography and illustration can be used for symbolism.”

A great example is in the Twilight series book covers. Love or hate the stories (in the interests of full disclosure, I worked for the publisher, Hachette Book Group, when Breaking Dawn was first released) the covers are a festival of symbolism.

What is Information?
Twilight Series Covers (image is reproduced for educational purposes only)

Twilight, the first in the series, sports a cover which easily symbolizes Biblical temptation, just as the title refers to an in-between time of the day – analogous to the in-between stage of life the main character, Bella, is in. Furthermore, since the hands don’t quite match, they might be intended to reference the couple at the center of the story. The second, New Moon, with its bicolor flower and dropped petal (which looks like a fresh drop of blood) shows a conflict just as the title refers to a time with no reflected sunlight, when the stars are at their brightest. For the third book, Eclipse, the sun (or perhaps the moon) is utterly blotted out in the title, and the cover image references a fragile and nearly completely broken bond. It is the darkest of the covers. And in the end, with Breaking Dawn (a book added to the series which may not have been originally planned), the cover shows a white queen leaving a red pawn in its wake in chess, a classic strategic game. The title is a hopeful one, symbolizing a new beginning. Yet the queen is not quite triumphant, and in chess, the piece is safe from capture but is also not shown in a position where it can take the pawn.

The covers also move from human contact or at least a human at center stage to another living (possibly dying) thing and then two images of nonliving possessions. Even if a curious book buyer was unaware of the plots in the series, they can readily see from the covers that the story progresses from temptation to conflict and possibly even violence, and the upshot is a possible potential triumph which does not seem to be realized yet. The title font is mysterious and the ‘l’ in Twilight looks almost like a stake in a vampire’s heart.

Through good design, six title words convey a wealth of meaning. Design can do this.

Book Review – Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown

Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown

As a part of the required readings for my User-Centered Design course at Quinnipiac University, I purchased Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown. The book is … okay.

Communicating Design

Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown
Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown (cover image is from Amazon)

User-centered design is the act of putting together websites in a way that users will understand them quickly. The last thing a website owner should want is for users to be scratching their heads over how things work. Or, worse, leaving because a site is so frustrating.

Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown  takes this idea and brings it back to site development. That is, the reader is given the tools for presenting designs and their various documentations while a site is still in its nascent format.

Documentation

The book spends a lot of time talking about design documentation. While this is all well and good and appropriate, the book also spends a lot of time talking about how to present these various documents at meetings. I have conducted numerous meetings in my career, and so this felt superfluous. But it’s not just that I have the experience; it’s also that the basics of presenting a document at a meeting were iterated and reiterated. After a while, I hope that a designer would understand how to be diplomatic and good at explaining designs and documents and descriptions. Repeating this information grew tiresome in short order. While it is possible that the intention was for the chapters to be used as standalones, the basics of presenting in a meeting were already there. Why not just tell the reader to check back in Chapters One and Two?

The many documents were thoroughly explained, though, and about one-quarter of the way through the book, I realized that the process of design is rather similar to that of iterative software development. Stop, start, tweak, start again, etc.

The document types presented were as follows:

  • Personas
  • Concept Models
  • Site Maps
  • Flowcharts
  • Wireframes (this was rather helpful to me)
  • Deliverable basics
  • Design Briefs
  • Competitive Reviews
  • Usability Reports

My rating would have been higher if I had not already been there, done that, with so much of what was covered in this book. It’s a good, thorough resource for beginners.

Rating

3/5

Community Management Tidbits – The Circle Game

Community Management Tidbits – The Circle Game

Forums have cycles, and so do users.

English: Boredom Italiano: Noia
English: Boredom Italiano: Noia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There isn’t a lot that you can do about this. You can, however, stretch out the individual phases.

Discovery

The first phase is discovery. It all starts with excitement. The user has found your forum! It seems huge! The user can’t possibly read everything. It’s all too much. It’s heady, and the user may very well tell everyone he or she knows about you. Or, the user might want you all to him or herself. Either can happen.

Nesting

The next phase is nesting. The user makes friends and starts to get into an enclave or two. Enclaves are little groups within your forum, whether formal or informal. Even if your forum does not have actual designated groups, per se, this still happens. In a single fathers’ community, for example, a user might hang around with other users who became first-time fathers after the age of forty. In a folk music forum, a user might spend time with (and follow around) other users from Ohio.

This is perfectly normal — a carving of familiarity in an alien sea. But it does set up the next phase.

Boredom

The next phase is boredom. The community has too much sameness and does not seem to be changing quickly or thoroughly enough for a user’s taste. But the user sticks around, however, grudgingly.

Departure

The final phase is departure. Whether that comes with a bang (a user suspension) or a whimper (the user simply fails to sign in any more), is immaterial. Or, there is a third type of endgame, where the user posts a topic about their departure. This topic can be fond, hostile or even a ploy to get other users to beg that person to stay.

Does it always have to be this way? Well, this kind of a cycle is more or less inevitable. The trick is to stretch out the first two phases — discovery and nesting — as much as possible, or to have the user cycle back from boredom to nesting again (e. g. to find a different group to hang with). Or, a positive situation would be if the boredom phase were at least short (and put off) so that the departure phase would not be a suspension and would be less fraught with meaning. A user taking leave — no matter how popular that user is — will leave behind less of a hole if he or she is a part of a 100,000-person forum versus a 100-user community.

How do you do this?

The Discovery phase has two essential elements: new users and new topics. Increase both with good SEO and with encouraging as much user participation as possible.

The Nesting phase can be encouraged and promoted by keeping your community a safe, warm and welcoming place. Having formal specific groups is not strictly necessary for this, but it can be of help if your users are struggling in this area. And, if you do go with formal groups, ask your users which groups they would like. They might surprise you. And it (almost) doesn’t matter whether a group is terribly active. It will still serve its purpose — to continue to afford your users with a friendly place within the forum — even if it is small. This is a place they can call their own.

The Boredom phase can be delayed and/or truncated by keeping the twin flows of new users and new topics going. This means more and better SEO, offering new features and encouraging your users to continue adding new, interesting and diverse topics. Can’t think of new topic fodder? Try taking a stand on a controversial subject, or ask for comments on a related news article. Or look in your archives, and see if an older subject might benefit from a fresh, new take.

Finally, the Departure phase can, of course, be put off if the first two phases are stretched out. When departure happens, don’t ask most users to stay. Unless you’ve got a very tiny forum, this kind of behavior will be impossible to scale, and it generally doesn’t put off the inevitable for too terribly long. Instead, try to find out from the user just why they are leaving. Except for purely personal, internal circumstances (e. g. the user just started a new job and has no time for your community any more), there may be something you can learn from and improve on. Asking why will also give you an opportunity — not to entreat the user to stay — but to let the user know that he or she is welcome to return at any time.

Your users’ interest in your community is going to wax and wane. You cannot always do anything about it, but if an effort is made, your users are generally going to appreciate that.

Thank you for reading.

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The Conquest of LinkedIn – Q & A

The Conquest of LinkedIn – Q & A

So you’ve got a decent presence on LinkedIn. Your resume is complete, searchable and easy to read. You’ve been networking, on and offline. Now what? What’s LinkedIn Q & A.

The Conquest of LinkedIn - Q & A
LinkedIn pen (Photo credit: TheSeafarer)

You may be seeing questions and answers coming up. Your contact feed might be dominated by notifications that Mary joined a group, or John answered a question. What does it all mean?

Once you’ve exhausted your basic set of contacts, the natural next step is to attempt to link to their contacts (e. g. convert your secondary and tertiary contacts into primary ones). And it may take you a while to make your way through all of these people. Or you might decide that some of them aren’t worth your time, perhaps due to simple geographic remoteness or their field(s) being significantly different from yours. So, how do you get a new and different crop of potential primary contacts? And, more importantly, how do you target the right people better, and spin your wheels less?

Here’s where the Groups and Answers functions on LinkedIn can truly help you.

Groups

These can be found by going to the Groups page. Then just run a search on whatever interests you, say, Topeka or chemical engineering or Liberty Mutual, or even the Toronto Blue Jays. I would advise not to join any group under false pretenses, e. g. if it’s a group for Brown graduates, and you didn’t attend that university, don’t join that group.

By joining, say, a group about cycling, you’ve opened yourself up to more possible connections. But why would I want to join a cycling group on LinkedIn? Isn’t that what Facebook is for? Well, yes, if you want it for purely socializing. But here are a few reasons why you might want to join a LinkedIn cycling group:

  • You own a company that sells cycling equipment and are looking for possible future customers, distributors and suppliers.
  • You work for a healthcare company that is promoting proactive health initiatives, such as getting more exercise, and you’re looking for potential enrollees/customers or even physicians who share this outlook.
  • You want to connect with someone and you know for a fact that this is an interest you have in common. So long as you aren’t faking the interest, this is a perfectly legitimate way to telegraph that commonality, or,
  • You really like cycling.

That last reason might seem to be flip but there is absolutely nothing wrong with showing a little of your inner self online. Hiring Managers are often looking for little flashes of personality amidst all of the talk of tasks and company awards. And cycling, fortunately, has much less of a chance of turning people off, unlike being associated with a group devoted to the Tea Baggers, Catholicism or Gay Rights. Not that you can’t join any group that you like, of course, but do recognize that, just like joining such groups offline, there is a potential for some unintended consequences.

Keep in mind, too, that there’s a limit on the number of LinkedIn groups you can join. Hence your cycling group might have to be dropped in favor of a group of realtors in South Florida. So be it.

Answers

Answers can be another way to expose your profile to people outside of your immediate network. Answers may be accessed from here. There are any number of questions out there that are dying for answers. So long as you don’t try to hard sell your company, goods, services or yourself, and your answer is on point, your answer will be appreciated by the asker and/or by your fellow answerers, if any.

Or ask a question yourself. Give it a good, descriptive title and make it short. If it is answered, be sure to thank all of the responders, even if their answers weren’t very good, so long as the reply isn’t a spammy one (report spammy replies, of course!). And, be sure to select the Best Answer. When a responder’s work is chosen enough times as a Best Answer, he or she can get an Expert Designation on LinkedIn. I’ve actually gotten 5 Best Answers in Using LinkedIn, which I feel helps to showcase my approachability.

And you can be showcased, too, if you provide good responses to enough questions. Do that enough times, and people will ask to link to you because of that. They might even wish to hire you as an expert in the future, thereby fulfilling even more of LinkedIn’s promise.

Next: Last Little Bits of LinkedIn

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Book Review: Killer UX Design by Jodie Moule

Book Review: Killer UX Design by Jodie Moule

Killer UX Design by Jodie Moule is a decent beginning book on user-centered design. What was probably of most interest to me was how close the process of user-centered design (at least, according to Ms. Moule) is to iterative software development.

Book Review: Killer UX Design by Jodie Moule
Iterative Development Model (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe that anyone who is familiar at all with iterative software development might not need all of the basic information provided in this work.

Further, I found that Ms. Moule pushed for a lot of rather manual and paper-centric activities surrounding design. While roughly sketching out a design or even a set of wireframes might be of great use to designers, those of us mere mortals who really can’t draw are going to end up with a lot of incoherent scribbles. My understanding is that Visio or even Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator would be the tools for this. Not that I don’t mind a cheaper and probably faster solution. But if all the illustrator can do is barely draw a circle or a square and a few stick figures, these sketches won’t necessarily make anything easier or more comprehensible.

Another curious aspect of the book was Ms. Moule’s push to involve users in numerous phases of the project. This made a great deal of sense. She starts users off with a kind of homework where they write about what interests them in the upcoming project. Users are invited to look at the sketches (again, bad sketches don’t necessarily help anyone, I feel), to evaluate the manufactured prototype, and to beta test the initial product and take it out for a spin. To my mind, the often manual and paper-based aspects of this made more sense, as users don’t always have access to the kind of technology, hardware and software, and talent that professional designers are going to have as a matter of course.

The book reads well although the end portions of each chapter (and of the entire book itself) are really the only parts that you need to know. The remaining details are all well and good, but since I already knew the basics of iterative software development, they were a bit superfluous to me.

The book is better than average and is certainly of help. Readers with less experience with iterative software development will likely rate this work higher than I do.

Rating

3/5

Writing

Writing

The Nano Rhino says...
The Nano Rhino says… (Photo credit: mpclemens)

The Before Time, Where There was Weeping and Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth

One aspect of my career transition has been writing a lot more.

And I found that I’d truly missed it.

Sure, I had typed tons and tons of stuff before. But a lot of it was such thrilling topics as documenting queries, or making lists of terms used by public service officers. It was rarely topics with wit, or style. And I certainly wasn’t allowed to make up any of it.

NaNoWriMo, I Love You

I had known about NaNoWriMo for a while, but hadn’t thought I had anything to offer.

In 2013, I woke up with an idea during the last week of October. I created a wiki and an outline for it, and signed up.

And I wrote. And wrote. 

And about halfway through the month, I was done. By the end of the month, the story was edited.

Now the Real Fun Begins

Because, yes, it was published.

It was and is the right thing to do, and the right path.

It feels fun. It feels exciting. It feels like it’s a fit.

It isn’t something where I’m stretching to fit into someone else’s idea, or parallel someone else’s vision. It isn’t going through the motions. It isn’t ho-hum, same old-same old.

It feels right. It feels honest. It feels free. It feels good.

It feels like it’s about time already.

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Podcasting for Fun and Possibly Some Profit

Podcasting

It’s a means of getting to a wider audience. It’s a different medium from what you might be used to. And it offers practice and the opportunity to polish some skills that you, the writer, might not have realized you needed, such as thinking on your feet and being an interview subject.

Getting Started

What do you need for podcasting? This image is a pretty good summary of what you need –

Podcasting
Podcast 1 (Image by user Tim Wilson on Wikimedia Commons). File is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The good news is that you have most of this stuff already. In fact, you don’t even need everything that’s in the image.

Computers

It doesn’t seem to matter too much which type of computer you use. You really just need an Internet connection. You will need some speed, so dispense with dial up if you’re still using it (someone out there is, right?). I would, though, recommend using an actual computer as opposed to a phone for podcasting, as the resultant file is going to be huge.

Microphones

The image shows a studio-style mic, but the truth is, you don’t need to get quite so fancy. My own microphone is part of a headset from an outfit called Hama. I know I bought it a few years ago. It works just fine and most importantly, the mouthpiece is adjustable. You want adjustability because, inevitably, you’re going to sneeze or cough, or the phone will ring or whatever.

Software

To be able to talk to your fellow podcasters on your show, or to your guests, you’ll need some software. Essentially what you are looking for is chat. My team and I like to use TeamSpeak. I imagine you could do as well with Yahoo! or Facebook chat. Just make sure that whatever you are using is private. Oh, and turn any sound notifications off.

If you’re going to put your podcast on YouTube (I think this is generally a good idea), you’ll need software for that, too. I use software that comes from my school, Screencast-o-matic. The school also uses TechSmith Relay but I prefer Screencast-o-matic. Either way, you want software which allows you to record a fairly long video.

You may not think that you need any sort of visual art software, but I beg to differ. At minimum, your podcast needs a logo or at least a slide that you can slap onto the front of your YouTube video. Photoshop or Gimp is ideal, but Paint or even Microsoft PowerPoint can do in a pinch. If you are going to use an image that you didn’t make, check the license! I like to use Wikimedia Commons as a lot of their images are open licenses or they just require an attribution and nothing more. Remember – just because an image is online and you can right-click and save it, does not mean that you have permission to use it! When in doubt, use one of your own images. I like to use scenery images if I don’t have a logo. Scenery can even be something really tiny, such as one flower bud.

For sound editing, the beauty of TeamSpeak is that it allows for sound recording. But you will still need to trim something or other. I have Audacity though I admit I don’t use it for much (I don’t do the sound editing for our podcast). But Audacity is otherwise useful.

Practice

You should practice before you try to go anywhere with podcasting. It doesn’t need to be long or involved. Get to know the software. For example, TeamSpeak allows for a push to talk feature. Use it! This will help a lot when you are recording, as you need to consciously press a button for any sound to come out. Practice using this until it’s second nature.

Use Audacity, and record yourself saying something simple and scripted. It can be a nursery rhyme or the like. You don’t want to be doing this for more than a minute or so. The idea here is to listen to playback. Can you be understood? Are you too breathy? Does your accent push through a bit too much? Do you talk too fast? Every single one of these issues can be fixed, including the accent. Generally, you will need to slow down and enunciate. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun, but at least in the beginning you’ll want to talk more slowly, in particular if you have a thick accent. If you’re too breathy-sounding, try adjusting the mic so that it’s farther away from your mouth. As for outside noises, you’ll need to close windows and doors, put pets outside, and turn off fans and space heaters. Set your phone on mute.

When you work with co-hosts, practice with them at least once. Remember to not talk over them and, if you’re laughing at their jokes, you need to be sure that even your laughter is being recorded.

Hosts and Guests

Consider your subject and your potential audience. On the G & T Show, we talk about Star Trek and Star Trek Online. This includes the novels and cosplay. We will also branch out to talk about other gaming and other science fiction. Having this broad a topic but with its own limitations makes it fairly easy to come up with show ideas. As for guests, our hosts network at conventions, in the STO game, and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

A co-host is an extremely good idea, as otherwise you’re talking to yourself a lot. While it’s possible to carry a show by yourself, it’s a lot easier if you don’t have to. Three hosts tends to be a really good number, particularly if the third is not too active. You’ll quickly find your hosts unconsciously dividing into three groups:

  1. The talker – this person won’t necessarily stay on topic all the time, but they are great for filling dead air.
  2. The organizer – this person understands creating a theme and keeping the show on target. This person is often the one to remember to thank the guests.
  3. The utility infielder – this person is good for chiming in and also covering if either of the first two are unable to podcast. Along with the organizer, this person is often a researcher who gathers potential podcast material in advance.

As for guests, consider your circle, both online and off. You can podcast without guests, and you will most likely need to get a few under your belt before anyone will be interested in being your guest. But when you do get guests, the usual details apply, e. g. be polite, give them ample time to plug whatever they want to plug, and prepare questions for them in advance. If your guest is an author, for example, you might want to talk about the themes in their book, where they get their inspiration, how long they’ve been writing, and how they first became published. Think outside the box and consider guests who are a little removed from your basic subject. That is, if your subject is books and writing, why not have a cover artist on as a guest, or a professional editor, or even a literary agent or a representative from a publishing house?

Extras

At G & T we have a Streaming page and use a minicaster. This also includes a hosted chat room – the show is broadcast live and the audience can listen and follow along in the chat room. This is not necessary, but it’s fun.

We also blog about the show, which means that notes are taken (in our case, it’s the utility infielder who does this). The blog is a great place to get the URLs in that we may have talked about but our audience might not have gotten the first time we mentioned them. With the blog, we can just make clickable outbound links. We also make sure that a player is embedded into the blog, so that a reader can listen to the show if they would prefer that.

Our podcast is always uploaded to not only iTunes, but also MixCloud and YouTube. These are more ways to spread our broadcast. We use a regular logo card as the image accompanying our YouTube videos. For special interviews, we make different images, usually with our guest’s provided headshot.

To introduce new segments, we use what are called bumpers. These are just short (less than half a minute long) introductions to various segments (e. g. Star Trek News). Ours are our utility infielder’s niece giving the title of the segment and then some introductory music that we have permission to use (always get permission or make sure that music is public domain!). Bumpers are helpful because they provide a smooth transition between segments and they can cover up any ragged transitions. These are spliced into the completed file. Our announcer girl has also recorded our intro and our credits portion (with music we are allowed to use), so those are also added as a part of post-production. Again, these provide recognizable transitions for our audience.

Promotions

We promote our show on social media, with mainly our YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. We also have Tumblr, Google+, and Pinterest accounts but those are used less. Our main promotions come from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. We also promote at conventions, including a table at Star Trek Las Vegas for the past few years.

Why Not Podcast?

So what are you waiting for? Why not give podcasting a try?

Janet Gershen-Siegel is freelance social media marketer and a Master’s degree candidate (Interactive Media, ’16) at Quinnipiac University. Her novel, Untrustworthy, was published by Riverdale Avenue Books in 2015 and is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions.

Employer Access to Employee Passwords

Employer Access to Employee Passwords

This issue has begun to crop up, and it is only going to continue doing so.

Does your employer have a right to your social media passwords?

Employer Access to Employee Passwords
Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you reflexively say no, the truth is, unless this is expressly forbidden by law, companies have been taking advantage of a less than stellar economy and less than powerful employees and demanding access into social media accounts. As a result, a variety of bills have been introduced around the United States in an effort to address this matter.

Massachusetts

Here in the Bay State, a bill was introduced in May of 2014 which would block employer access to social media passwords. The Boston Globe reported that the idea, according to State Senator Cynthia Creem, a Democrat from Newton, who originally filed the Password Protection Act, is that demanding passwords as a condition of employment, “doesn’t seem acceptable.”

Louisiana

House Bill 340 “Creates the Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act; prohibits employers and educational institutions from requesting or requiring individuals to disclose information that allows access to or observation of personal online accounts; prohibits employers and educational institutions from taking certain actions for failure to disclose information that allows access to personal online accounts; limits liability for failure to search or monitor the activity of personal online accounts.”, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New Hampshire

House Bill 414, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Relates to privacy in the workplace and legislative approval of collective bargaining agreements; prohibits an employer from requiring an employee or prospective employee to disclose his or her social media or electronic mail passwords; provides that violations by employers subjects them to a civil penalty; provides that the cost items of every collective bargaining agreement entered into by the state shall be approved by the Fiscal Committee of the General Court before each takes effect.”

Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s House Bill 2372, “Relates to labor; prohibits employer from requesting or requiring access to social media account of certain employees; prohibits an employer from taking retaliatory personnel action for failure to provide access to social media account; authorizes civil actions for violations; provides for recovery of attorney fees and court costs; defines terms; provides for codification; provides an effective date.” as per the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rhode Island

House Bill 5255, per the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Establishes a social media privacy policy for students and employees.”

Employer Access to Employee Passwords
English: Great seal of the state of Rhode Island Français : Sceau du Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tennessee

Tennessee’s Senate Bill 1808, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Creates the Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014 which prevents an employer from requiring an employee to disclose the username and password for the employee’s personal internet account except under certain circumstances.”

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, State Bill 223, per the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Relates to employer access to, and observation of, the personal Internet accounts of employees and applicants for employment; relates to educational institution access to, and observation of, the personal Internet accounts of students and prospective students; relates to landlord access to, and observation of, the personal Internet accounts of tenants and prospective tenants; provides a penalty.“.

Other States

Maryland was apparently the first state to consider the matter, per the Boston Globe, in 2012. Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, several bills have been proposed around the country but, aside from the ones listed above (except for Massachusetts, which was pending as of the writing of this blog post, all of the above were enacted in 2014), only the following states have laws on the books prohibiting employers from gaining access to employees’ social media account passwords and are listed by the year the protection was enacted:

  • 2012 – California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey
  • 2013 – Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont (provides for a study only) and Washington

The country still has a long way to go in terms of guaranteeing privacy for employees in their social media accounts.

Facebooker, beware.

My leap into a Social Media career

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