Tag Archives: interview

Using voice memo to rescue an interview

Between Christmas and New Year I had the pleasure of chatting with physiotherapist Alastair Greetham about the potential impact of mobile phone use on our health, particularly in relation to my own personal case as a mobile journalist, someone with terrible posture and a recurring need to see an osteopath to offset my symptoms.

I chatted for over an hour with Alastair but only managed to record the first five minutes (damn you, mobile phone and lapel mic) and in an attempt to remember as much as possible about what he said, I recorded this voice memo during the drive home.

So this is a warts and all recording, attempting to recall the interview while driving and trying to remember the way home. No editing has been done – this is 100% authentic panic interview recall. This research forms part of my MA in Online Journalism and focus on mobile journalism, in particular.

You can read the full interview – undertaken as research as part of my MA in Online Journalism – soon, and I’ll also be recording a video session with Alistair to physically show some of the open/closed postural movements I talk about in this audio recording.

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‘Using Instagram to build my blog’

Chloe Burroughs, OU graduate and study skills trainer

Chloe Burroughs is an Open University (OU) graduate who’s since launched a new study skills training business to help other students achieve what they’re capable of. While working towards her degree (a first class business degree with honours, no less) Chloe developed a secondary set of skills – essay writing, assignment planning, motivational styles etc – which she has compiled into a series of strategies and tactics for not only helping others pass their assignments, but also to achieve higher grades. And remember, many OU students, just like Chloe, work full-time while studying so finding time, let alone the time to get great grades, is no mean feat.

I bumped into Chloe on the ‘Instagram circuit’ while running The Open University’s two-month pilot – we are both using and following the hashtag #openuniversity and commenting and liking the same content. One of the nice consequences of immersing yourself in an online community, is that you make friends. So I touched base with Chloe and asked her if she’d mind sharing some of her content on our page. I also asked Chloe a little about her business, her use of Instagram and what, as an OU graduate and potential postgraduate student (yes, she’s planning on coming back for more), she thinks of the OU account and how we could improve it.

Screen grab from Chloe Burroughs' Instagram pageWhen did you start using Instagram and what do you like about it?

I set up my account in February 2016 but started using it regularly in May 2016. I love the versatility of Instagram. I can share simple quote images which are great for motivation and add some colour to my profile. I can just share images or I can give value to my followers with longer captions. I try to give advice and tips in all my captions. I can also share behind-the-scenes images of my study space and of my personal life.

The portfolio style of Instagram allows me to build up a story of me. As I’m a personal brand rather than a company I think it’s important for me to share all sides of me, not just the study skills training aim of my business. So I try to add in personal images a few times a week not just those related to the business.

You’re working on building your own business – how is Instagram helping to develop that  and what other channels do you use? How do you find Instagram compares to them?

Instagram is the most successful tool I’m using to build my blog. The hashtag system allows me to find new followers a lot easier than on Facebook. Around 75% of my email subscribers have found me through Instagram, either by following me after I’ve commented on one of their posts, or by finding my posts by searching through related study hashtags such as #openuniversity.

I’ve started using Pinterest which, at first, seems similar to Instagram but is in fact quite different. I’m using Pinterest as more of a search engine, posting blog post images and images overlaid with advice to get traffic for my blog. I think visuals are a great way to build my brand and Pinterest gives my business a more professional side whereas Instagram allows me to build relationships.

I want to start using Twitter too once I have Pinterest figured out and running smoothly. I think that could be great to share snippets of advice and also build relationships with students and influencers. I haven’t tackled Facebook yet but that’s also on the plan as I want to create a free Facebook group to offer support to OU students who feel a bit lonely studying by themselves.

As an OU student and follower of us on Instagram, a) what have been your favourite posts so far, and b) what sorts of posts would you be interested in seeing going forwards?

I’ve enjoyed the posts about different OU graduates. I think that’s a great way to showcase the incredible mix of people studying with the OU. I also enjoyed the recent video (18th December) with a study tip from a recent graduate. Posts that involve other students are a great idea – like your ‘feeling festive’ quick video last week. It can feel lonely at times studying with the OU so future posts could include those that build community.

What do think the OU’s Instagram account is missing?

To build community, perhaps you could start themes for the account? Lots of Facebook groups I’m a member of have a theme for each day. Followers begin to learn the themes for each day and look forward to the posts. Possible categories could be:

  • Motivational quote
  • Quick feature of a current student
  • Study tips – from the OU or other students
  • Feature an OU employee or tutor – include a photo and a few sentences on what they do
  • Share an OU resource – such as the magazine or a study skills page. (You can create shortlinks with bit.ly that you could include)
  • Share your study space – using the #ouselfie tag or similar
  • Engagement day – where you ask questions or ask for a tag e.g. tag your study buddy, or tag someone you know is studying hard. This could grow the audience.

How important do you think branding is on Instagram?

I think branding is very important, I’m still working on mine. I don’t think branding is just about images and colour schemes – even though I’ve decided on these. I think it also relates to the voice of your brand. I don’t want my voice to be that of the expert telling students what to do. I want to share my experiences and give advice but explain ‘this is what worked for me’, you could try it too.

I think corporate accounts need the visual elements of branding as Instagram accounts with a clear style and theme are more appealing. But they also need a clear aim and voice. I can’t remember who said it but there’s a quote like, ‘branding is what other people say about your business when you’re not in the room’. I try and follow this advice and keep my style clear but my voice consistent.

What’s more important to you – showcasing great pictures and videos or great stories with less polished photographs and videos? Or striking a balance?

I think this depends on the audience. I don’t want to come across as too polished. I want to come across as relatable to my audience and as a friend of theirs. So my photographs show me as a normal person, trying to work on her laptop while eating some chocolate. Again, this depends on the brand. Casual may not work for brands that want to only convey professionalism and formality.

Social media can come across as too perfect and I think audiences are starting to wise up to this and crave something a bit more real. This doesn’t mean images or language has to be very informal, but behind-the-scenes photographs, personal stories and funny images could be interwoven with more formal content.

As an OU graduate what do you want most from your university’s Instagram account?

I would love to become more involved with the OU as a graduate but am not entirely sure of the opportunities. Perhaps these could be highlighted. It would also be great to hear more about people who’ve completed postgraduate study with the OU. I definitely want to further my studies next year sometime so would enjoy reading others’ stories.

What are your Instagram top tips?

  • I try and make best use of the hashtag limits by including between 20 and 30 with each post
  • I try to follow the formula give, give, give, take. I try to stick to the ratio of around three posts giving value or telling my story to every one post that asks my audience to do something e.g. click on a link, tag a friend, answer a question… etc
  • I use the one link IG allows us in our bios – I update this with each new blog post and try to send my followers there
  • I reply to every comment on my posts
  • I always engage with my followers by liking and commenting on their posts
  • I try to stick to my blog’s colour scheme for my tip/advice posts.

plannerFree resources and find out more

You can find out more about Chloe by checking out her blog.

Oh, and if you’re studying, take a look at Chloe’s free downloadable/printable study planner – its sure to set you off on the right foot as we enter 2017.

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Unexpected: MK is a photographic celebration of Milton Keynes at 50

Unexpected: MK bookNext year Milton Keynes turns 50. Local photographer (amongst other things), Gill Prince, is the woman behind the lens that captured… yes, you guessed it… 50 images of Milton Keynes, immortalised in a book to celebrate its half century. Keen to illustrate it’s more than roundabouts and concrete cows, Gill’s book is entitled Unexpected: MKa photographic celebration of Milton Keynes at 50.

I caught up with Gill over coffee to talk photography, social media and top tips…

Photography and social media – help or hindrance?

Gill’s a modern photographer: she embraces the benefits social media brings to her line of work but is mindful of the pitfalls too; it’s hard(er) to make money from photography in the social media age.

“Before I was on Twitter, there was a fire on my estate and I managed to find a back way in and get some shots that no one else had, and I emailed them to the editor of the local paper. But now, of course, the best way to get your photos seen is to post them up on social media. It has definitely ripped a hole in the news media market because it’s all done on social media now and no one expects to pay for it.

“Years ago you could sell high resolution pictures for hundreds of pounds; now there’s social media everyone can take a photo using their smartphone, there’s a lot out there.

“But there are up sides,” she said. While admitting that Twitter, at first, terrified her, she recognises the power it has to tap into harder-to-reach audiences and has proved a vital tool in raising the sponsorship and support needed to get Unexpected: MK into print. Crowdsourcing funds, raising awareness and making useful contacts are just some of the benefits Gill is enjoying courtesy of social media.

“I have an audience of people who are interested in what I’m doing and I don’t think I could have achieved that without social media. I think the positives outweigh the negatives, you just have to think carefully about how you can generate an income from it.”

‘The best camera is the one you have with you’

I asked this question of Giulio Saggin in my previous blog post, and I put it to Gill too: What’s the difference, these days, between ‘proper’ photographic kit and cameras, versus the smartphones we all carry around in our pockets?

“The best camera is the one you have with you!” she says. “It’s a brilliant phrase and absolutely true, if all you have with you is a smartphone then it’s absolutely the best thing to take a picture with because it’s that or nothing.

“Smartphones are brilliant as a photography tool, people have them with them all the time. One of the reasons photography has exploded is because we all have them in our pockets wherever we go. Generally, these days, whatever you’re doing, you have a phone on you, and there’s no conscious decision made to take it with you to capture photos.

“They’re a great tool and perfect for social media – most of the basics settings you get on a phone will take a great image. Where proper kit takes over if when you are trying to take pictures that an iPhone won’t be able to, perhaps where you need a tripod for long exposure, or special filters. For 80 per cent of what’s beneficial on social media you can do it with 20 per cent of the kit, and that 20 per cent is a smartphone.”

And Gill uses both her professional camera and her iPhone to capture beautiful scenes, but confesses to tagging images with #iPhoneography to distinguish between the two.

“The difference between a good phone shot and proper camera shot is becoming smaller – so that bit that takes you into the professional bracket is being constantly squeezed. You also have to lug larger kit around with you so I totally get why people choose phones.”

Hopping over to a new platform: meet Insta Bunny

instabunny

Gill confessed to being intimidated when first discovering Twitter but soon grew to enjoy it’s conversation and networking capabilities which have been instrumental in turning the concept of Unexpected: MK into a reality.

But what about Instagram? That’s supposed to be great for photographers, right?

“I wanted to investigate Instagram earlier in the year but didn’t want to stick my head above the parapet with my own business, because the unknown is scary. But I found it to be less scary than Twitter because it’s less interactive.”

Gill set up the InstaBunnyDiaries account on Instagram and tested the platform with the benefit of anonymity, using all the principles of photography she applies in her professional work, but with a stuffed bunny rabbit taking centre stage, quite often travelling or drinking prosecco.

Gill gained followers with little effort and it gave her the confidence to finally put her professional name to an Instagram account and post photos to help promote her book, and Milton Keynes as a place of interest – not just roundabouts, concrete cows and a large shopping centre.

But the jury’s still out for Gill. “I get about 20 likes for every one follower. I find it fascinating and a little odd and I’m not sure I get it or that it adds value to my business in the same way Twitter is. I’m selective with what I post on there and I also forget it’s there as I’m much more active on Twitter.”

Gill watermarks her photographs – for branding as much as security – and says Instagram’s option to post more than simply square photos has made life easier for her – the square setting meant cropping photos differently, potentially losing the watermark and having to re-add one: “If I have to crop something specifically for another channel I might not do it… it might crop the watermark out, for example, and it all becomes too much like hard work.”

‘You can become better known in your world if you make your world smaller’

Gill also teaches photography through one-to-one tuition and offers these as her top tips for anyone thinking of dipping their toe – or rather their lens – into the world of ‘serious’ photography:

“Think carefully, define your audience, and know how to target those people. You can then be a bigger fish in a small pond. There’s an American phrase, ‘you can’t boil the ocean’ – you can’t do everything all at once, so segment and go for a bigger impact. You can become better known in your world if you make your world smaller. And know your end game – do I want to make money or be known as a good local photographer? – the decisions you make along the way will be different depending on whether you want reputation versus profit.

“Make a plan to get you from A to B and use social media. Get a good website. Don’t mix personal and professional content, or be wary of doing that. And tracking links are great – to really know how many people are actually looking at your stuff is helpful.”

Unexpected: MK – go and buy a copy

I’m not a native but moved to Milton Keynes around a decade ago and love it. ‘Unexpected’ hits the nail on the head, there’s far more here than you’d ever realise and if you follow #LoveMK you’ll see I’m not alone. Gill and I are in good company and her photographic celebration of Milton Keynes is really lovely. So go and buy a copy. Now!

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A chat about mojo with Robb Montgomery

When I started this course in May I signed up for Robb Montgomery’s mojo masterclass. It’s awesome. So after some cyber stalking, I asked Robb if I chat to him in more detail about mobile journalism and draw on his experience of it as a profession and what it’s like to teach it to people like me.

So me and Robb Skyped, Blighty to Berlin, and I’ve finally gotten around to putting it together. And in the interests of being multimedia, I turned it into a podcast.

Robb is fascinating and very talented, you have to listen to him. Me, on the other hand? I may have a face for radio but I’m not even sure if I have the voice – I sound so monotone! Perhaps this listening to your own voice lark gets easier over time…

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Video chat: learning from others who are doing it well #MAent

The rain was pouring. In the space of an hour I’d driven around endlessly to find a parking space – the only one available was in a flooded patch of car park. I’d stepped in a muddy puddle in my nice, bright white Converse, I’d queued and paid for a train ticket I didn’t use (floods delayed or cancelled all trains to London Euston) and I’d lost my cars for 10 minutes in my own coat pocket. It hadn’t been the best start to the day. But it got better!

Thanks to the power of online, what was meant to be a cosy chat with Jennifer D Begg in the comfort of her Camden office space, turned into a Skype chat instead. I had a camera and online voice recorder set up, Jennifer was armed with a camera at her end too. And guess who’s footage came out best? Jennifer’s, of course, because she’s the expert. That’s right, she’s the co-founder of TeamTwoBees.com, a digital marketing and training consultancy – and the inspiration for ContentEdMK, the focus of my enterprise project.

Showing people how to do it for themselves

Jennifer came to my official place of work to talk about social media, creating super quick Instagram videos, and opening up access to her closed Facebook group offering a wealth of extra training materials and a place to continue our learning, ask questions and mingle with peers.

She inspired me with her informal approach, her enthusiasm and her passion for showing people how to do things online so they can go on and do it themselves. And she’s flying the flag for women in technology, selling to concept that tech doesn’t have to be intimidating and front-loaded with jargon. As she puts it, ‘education is a gift no one can take away from you’ and if Stephen Hawking can write a children’s book explaining complex scientific theories, then it should be pretty easy to teach people how to use technology.

Listen to Jennifer: she talks a lot of sense

Here are five super short videos (here’s the album on Vimeo) where Jennifer spills the beans on how she got started, biggest issues for small businesses, online training and fee structures.

 

 

 

 

 

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