Archive for January, 2011
by Amani Channel
Even before it started coming down, people were preparing for the 2011 Atlanta snowpacalypse. I heard that the grocery stores were busy with people stocking up on water and supplies so I got on the bandwagon and headed to my local chain.
The scene reminded me of hurricane preps. Some people had gallons of water, the shelves were bare, and the lines were long.
Flakes started falling after dark, and I new that we weren’t going anywhere at least for Monday.
When I woke up, it was a white out. At least four inches fell in my neighborhood in NE Atlanta (I’m just outside the city near Smyrna).
What I thought was hail, was really freezing rain.
This morning I watched the local news coverage thinking about days passed. Though most of the stations are asking people to send in their photos and videos, very few are using very much UGC.
Twitter and Facebook is a bridge to a gold mine of content. Why not take advantage?
In a way, I miss not being out in the elements, but then again, I’m working from home today, looking at my neighborhood from the warmth of my home office.
How fast can a person go from zero to hero? In this digital age, it all depends. Some people work for years to develop a product, service, or their personal brand online. Others blow up overnight.
In 2011, we already have our first viral sensation. His name is Ted Williams. He spent his days panhandling along a Columbus Ohio intersection. At night he slept in a blue tent smaller than the average office cubicle. That was until a print news reporter with a video camera decided to dig a little deeper into Williams’ story. Once it was uploaded to YouTube, the video took on a life its own.
Video can be powerful when a good story accompanies it. I saw it on Facebook on Monday, and shared it immediately with my network. It starts out simple enough. The reporter drives to an intersection and starts talking to a guy who is down and out. Next thing you hear is his amazing voice. Williams explains that his radio career was sabotaged by drugs and alcohol, but says that he’s clean and sober now, and trying to bounce back.
It is almost impossible not to feel some form of compassion for the dude. It appears that millions of others felt the same way I did. On Tuesday, I saw that he had been offered a job, a home, and the media train was running at full speed. Williams was featured on CNN, and CBS. He even opened the Today Show.
This is a made for TV story. Just about every broadcaster can appreciate his talent, and we as humans are all about giving second chances. On Tuesday I got teary eyed as I watched Williams being interviewed about the instant turnaround.
As much as the media is enamored with covering the crime of the day, fires, and scandals. Stories of triumph are even more powerful. Watching the Williams’ story makes you feel good. It gives you hope in humanity. It makes you appreciate the little things in life that mean so much.
Williams’ sign said that he had a God given talent which was almost squandered by bad decisions. I wonder how many people drove by him at that intersection and never slowed down to speak?
Stories are everywhere, and all it takes is capturing the moment to make someone’s day, and possibly change their life.
I may know multimedia, but I’m in the novice category when it comes to WordPress design and site administration.
Sure I know some basic HTML, can install plugins and themes, but that’s where my expertise ends.
So imagine what I was feeling after I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress today, and low and behold all of my blog posts and the right side bar was gone.
This is what I saw instead: Fatal error: Call to undefined function recent_posts() in /home/myurban/public_html/wp-content/themes/urbanreport1/leftsidebar.php on line 162
What to do?
Not long after, help was on the way.
Brandon Sheats who I know personally (he does great work) offered to go into my blog’s back end and take a look at what was causing the problem.
Turns out that a plugin was creating the conflict, but I would have never figured it out.
How have you nurtured your network? Do you engage in conversations both on and offline? Do you offer sound advice? Are you trusted?
Don’t ever think that people aren’t listening or watching. They are, and if you’re doing something right, help will come when you call.
During my reporting days, there were times when getting an interview was like pulling teeth.
Sometimes it had to do with the nature of the story, or location. Some people are naturally averse to speaking out publicly, especially when a story involved crime, or controversy.
At other times, a person would be willing to speak on camera, but their sound sucked. There are various reasons: sometimes people would say what they thought I wanted to hear, others had nothing to say, and some people just weren’t natural on camera.
A recent post at ReelSEO made me reflect.
In this day and age, you never know when the camera may be put in your face. I’ve done more than my fair share of questioning, and I’ve been questioned.
The ReelSEO post features some great advice from Steve Garfield author of Get Seen.
I agree with most of the points, however for the sake of contributing to this conversation, I’m going to share some tips to help the interviewer make the subject feel more comfortable and natural.
Sometimes there’s no saving a bad interview, but there are things that the interviewer can do to ease ruffled nerves.
Conduct a pre-interview with the subject. Avoid asking the exact questions that you plan to ask during the interview. Instead ask questions about their background and expertise. You can throw in a question or two that is related to what you will ask on camera, but keep those to a minimum. If you ask the same questions in the pre-interview the person may come off as rehearsed when you are rolling.
Don’t make it obvious when you start recording. Since your subject will already be warmed up after the pre-interview, try to be subtle when you start recording. If you’re working with a cameraman you can use a signal to indicate when s/he should start rolling. Normally you’ll want to ask for the person’s first, last name and title and spelling before you start the interview, but if the person is calm and relaxed, just jump into the interview, and ask for that info at the end. If you’re shooting this yourself, it’s not as easy to “slip” into the interview but it can be done.
Conversely, I would sometimes tell a subject that the hardest question is the first one. Then I would proceed to ask them for their name and title. That would break the tension, and cause them to relax a bit.
Remind the subject that the interview is just a conversation. This works wonders. If a person is really uncomfortable with the camera, remind them to look at you (the interviewer) and ignore the camera. Again, remind them, “This is no big deal, it’s just a conversation.” If the subject can forget about the camera, there’s a greater chance that their nerves won’t sabotage their sound.
If the subject asks questions like, “What are you going to ask me?” that is a good sign that they are feeling apprehensive. As I mentioned, I normally don’t share my questions, but you can explain what the interview is about and why their response will help you give some context to your story.
Garfield suggests that you downsize cameras for those who are super anxious. In other words, use a less conspicuous camera like a Flip or Kodak pocket camera. While that may work in some situations, if you are working on a high-end video project you may have no choice but to shoot on a prosumer or broadcast camera. Lights and microphones will need to be used and there’s no way around it.
Interviewing is an art and a science. Often, the response you get is determined by your tone, and expression. The more relaxed you are, and if you do a good job of explaining the process, the more relaxed your subject will be. That will hopefully leave you with a few great sound bites to work with.
It’s a new year and decade and time to think about the lessons learned and what the new year will bring.
2010 was a blur. It seems like a moot point now that 2011 is officially here, but here are a few of my highlights:
Speaking at WordCamp Atlanta
Graduating from the University South Florida (Masters in Mass Communications)
Presenting my graduate research at AEJMC
Speaking at BlogWorld10
Devin turns 2
Starting a new job at KEF Media:
My thoughts on 2011:
I am planning to build on my experiences from 2010. One of my primary goals is to create some additional streams of income. I have been talking about this for a couple of years, but I want to develop a multi-media training program, and/or classes to help people improve their production skills. Video is big, and I should be sharing my knowledge to help others master its power. I also started writing a book about video production.
Though I’ve been vlogging here since 2006, I’m feeling that it’s time for me to launch amanichannel.com. MyUrbanReport has been a labor of love, but it’s time for me to grow my personal brand and services through my real identity.
I also plan to work on being a better husband and father. Marriage takes time, effort, love, and patience and I need to work on the foundation that has allowed me to remain married for almost 10 years (our anniversary is in May).
Financially, it’s time to get rid of the debt and start building wealth. I have to thank my social media/tech colleage Adria Richards for the timely business tips and advice.
We’re going to get it in 2011.
Thanks for riding on this journey with me. I’ve met so many people, and reconnected with so many friends through social media.
It’s going to be fun.