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Podcasting: the pleasures and… the pains?

So you wanna start a podcast? I mean, who doesn’t have one these days!?

As the podcast-obsessed geek that I am, I wanted to satisfy my curiosity and try some IRL training before jumping into the fray. Because let’s face it: just Googling around wasn’t giving me the real deal on what it takes to do podcasts well. I’ve been listening to podcasts since 2011 (aka, on the hipster timeline). So nearly a decade later, I decided to see for myself how the secret sauce was made.

TL;DR – The good news is there are endless opportunities opening up in the podcasting field, a lower barrier to entry with more affordable (and high quality) equipment, and an infinite number of great stories to tell.

The less-good news is that very few podcasts ever make it to the level of Serial, Fresh Air, or WTF. How few? According to Kerri Hoffman at PRX: only 1% of the estimated 600,000 podcasts have more than 50,000 downloads. (And that’s the magic number of downloads it takes to feasibly monetize.)

Gulp. Good to know what we’re getting into , right?

My intention with this post is neither to dissuade or hype up aspiring podcasters. Like every emerging art form, it requires a leap of faith with a dose of reality. So the tips and lessons I’ll share below come from a place of cautious optimism.

I also tip my hat to the staff and speakers I met at a USC Annenberg podcast training in February 2018. Their podcastastic wisdom and the resources they shared are infused throughout this post!

Ready to dive in?
Read on… and they as they say, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Podcasting resources/links

Recording resources

Folks suggested the Tascam DR-100MKII for field recording with RE-50 omni and Rhode NTG-2 shotgun microphones.

Other options (about $280) include: the Zoom H5 or the Marantz Professional PMD-661 MKIII. If you are doing field recordings (outside a studio), it would be best to get something with XLR inputs so you can plug in your external mics.

In a pinch, of course, you could record lower-quality audio on a cell phone. But beware: in some states (like in California where I am) there are two-party consent laws. So don’t forget to get permission to record the call first! There are many apps out there, such as Tape A Call and Ringr. Other podcasters suggested Blue mics and accessories.

Editing resources

Pro tip: Fire up YouTube to get video tutorials on any of the editing software listed below. Come up for air once in a while though, because there are A LOT of videos out there.

  • Audacity seems the most universally beloved (yours truly included) because it is free and good. Free + good = thumbs up!
  • GarageBand comes with all Macs and does a fine job
  • Reaper can be licensed monthly for $60
  • Adobe Audition is fully featured at $20.99 a month (but if you already have Adobe Creative Cloud, you can get it as part of a package)
Boards and cords at the podcast training

Transcription programs

Again, you’ll be spoilt for choice at varying costs. A few that seem to be favorites:

More useful info and gear!

As for hosting, folks really like LibSyn. LibSyn’s been there since I can remember, and is the industry standard. They have good help files, knowledge base tips, and a robust community, too.

Tons of new services are out there emerging in what folks are calling, “the third wave of podcasting”. Even Spotify is getting in on the podcast action by buying up startups like like Anchor.

Some good gear to consider:

Acoustical foam cube – apparently, it helps filter out background noises. Suggestion: Pyle’s Sound Recording Booth Box Studio Soundproofing Foam Shield Isolation Filter Cube (say that three times fast). It looks pretty cool though!

Sony MDRZX110/BLK ZX are a must for headphones. Earbuds will not cut it for the right audio quality you need. At only about $15, these are a steal. It made me feel like a pro to wear ’em.

You might need a USB Audio Interface like the Scarlett 2i2 to use two mics at the same time. I saw these up close, and it’s pretty dang cute!

And lastly, a few other nuggets of podcast wisdom:

  • Making podcasts as a hobby is different from trying to monetize/make a living off them (see the 1% stat in the beginning of this post)
  • Local podcasts (about a small geographic location) are more difficult to make successful. Consider expanding your scope to the state or national audiences.
  • Take a digital marketing class to get the basics down
  • Frequency is important. One-off podcasts aren’t successful. Most folks can aim for about 20-24 episodes per year. Or you can have multiple “seasons” a year, with say, 5-6 episodes per season.
  • It is super important to invest in good, high quality designs for your podcast episode art (and also your podcast icon/logo). Get creative and colorful.
  • Also super important is how you title your episodes. Use descriptive language (the themes or topic, or the names of the guests). Don’t use random numbers or dates. Also, don’t use colons in the title (I forget why, but it’s a technical thing that messes things up).
  • Make sure you realistically take into account how much time it takes to produce one episode (plan, script, record, edit, create the art for the website, upload, promote on social media, etc). It adds up quick, and was a lot more work than I thought. I suggest you literally count up the hours it would take to do these tasks, and plan (your life) accordingly.

It is KEY to ask yourself some hard questions about your goals for making a podcast. Be as clear as possible before you invest hundreds of $$$ in equipment.

Good questions to ask when planning your podcast:

  • What’s the 1-2 sentence description of your show? (aka elevator pitch) If you can’t describe it succinctly, rethink!
  • Does this podcast meed an unmet need? Are there similar podcasts? If yes, how will yours be different?
  • What do you want people to get from listening to it?
  • Who are your target audiences? And no, “the general public” is not a singular audience. Get super specific.
  • What format are you using? Interviews, storytelling, fiction, commentary, panel discussions, etc.
  • How long is each episode? Folks suggest 20-30 minutes is a good place to start.
  • How often will you post episodes? Whatever you chose, be super consistent. Weekly, monthly, or bi-weekly are standard.
  • Do you need other people to help? Producers, reporters, hosts, researchers, talent bookers, editors, audio engineers, etc.

Thanks for reading along this far. Whew, we made it!

I’m sure there are many more things I wasn’t able to fully cover, but this is hopefully a good start. Feel free to post some questions or tips of your own in the comments below!

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Resources on racial equity and racial justice

In my social impact/nonprofit communications circles, I’m often asked for links and resources to racial justice tools and articles. This post is an attempt to compile a list of resources that I’ve either personally used or have been recommended to me by trusted allies (much gratitude, friends!).

Check back often as I plan to update this list regularly. And please drop me a line if you’d like to suggest a link or resource!


“The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

blacklivesmatter.com

………………………..

“Race Forward’s Building Racial Equity series is a collection of interactive training for those who wish to sharpen their skills and strategies to address structural racism and advance racial equity. Unlike “diversity trainings” which primarily focus on interpersonal relations and understanding, the Building Racial Equity trainings emphasize how to challenge and change institutional racial inequities.”

raceforward.org/trainings

………………………..

“These guides and workshops can provide structure for having a dialogue on issues of race, activities focused on helping achieve racial equity and trainings designed to raise awareness and inspire action. Using the filters below, you can view the guides and workshops based on areas of focus, related issues and/or types.”

http://www.racialequityresourceguide.org/guides/guides-and-workshops

………………………..

“Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. This site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large.”

racialequitytools.org

In particular, I have found these sections of the Racial Equity Tools site useful: 

Core Concepts
Racial Equity
Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity
Racism
Structural Racism
Whiteness and White Privilege
Internalized Racism
Theory
History of Racism and Movements
Overview and Timeline
Diaspora and Colonialization
Laws and Policies
Resistance and Movements
Global History of Racism
Data
Resource Lists
Change Process
Individual Transformation
Leadership
Organizational Change Process
Community Change Process
Accountability
Movement Building
Communicating
Communicating for Racial Justice
Implicit Bias
Framing and Messaging
Working with the Media
Using Social Media
Sustaining
Community of Practice
Organizational Capacity Building
Resistance and Retrenchment
Resource Building
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

More Articles, Resources, and Organizations

Visions, Values and Voice: A Social Justice Communications Toolkit by The Opportunity Agenda

White Anti-Racist Culture Building Toolkit by AWARE-LA

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Project created by the Nonprofit Quarterly to spotlight millennials’ voices and thoughts on diversity and justice

Center for Political Education

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB)

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Interaction Institute for Social Change


Header photo credit: The All Nite Images, Creative Commons 

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Posts, Projects, & Portfolio

My clients and collaborators come from across sectors: social justice nonprofits, progressive philanthropy, government agencies, community-based/grassroots organizations, arts & cultural groups, educators, and socially responsible businesses.

In this section, you’ll find all my recent posts (musings), past projects, and work portfolio.

Note:
Some pages of this site are password protected for intellectual property or client privacy purposes.

Potential clients/recruiters can gain full access to site contents (including my resume, testimonials, and more!), please fill out this short contact request form and a password will be sent to you shortly.

Thanks for your interest and I look forward to connecting with you soon!

Explore the links below to past projects in that category:

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#RecommendedReading: MAG series on social justice ecosystems

What are the key elements of a social justice ecosystem?

What would it take to bring about “a shared vision of love, dignity, and justice”?

What’s important now, what’s changed/changing, and what is needed for the long haul?

If any of these questions resonated for you as they did for many of the changemakers in my networks, I suggest taking a deep dive into this five-part series by the great folks at the Management Assistance Group (MAG) featured the Nonprofit Quarterly. May they spark new inspirations, deepen ideas-in-progress, or simply encourage us to ask different questions.

Photo credit: Cristina Cerda 

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Recent Projects: Creative Direction, Art Direction, and Design Production

Design has been taking up more of my time this year, and I’m proud to share some great research reports we’ve been working on, including: linking innovation with inclusion for a more sustainable San Diego economy; the social impacts of DAPA on immigrant families’ well-being; strengthening leadership development programs for social movement building; and expanding employment opportunities for women in male-dominated industries.

 

My work on data and research-focused design has ramped up considerably this year.

In previous years, I’ve focused more deliberately on the digital, tech, and media side of strategic communications work: project managing, writing, PR/messaging, and advocacy.  So it was refreshing to jump back into the nitty-gritty of “pixel pushing” with my old friends  InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop!  I thoroughly enjoyed art directing and producing these reports (and also co-designing two of them with my design intern.)

Especially in today’s hyper-visual media landscape, my background in graphic design and digital production skills have always served me well.  In my media relations work, in strategic communications meetings, in managing projects — I still call upon my design skillsets daily.

So a big tip to all you aspiring  communications professionals (nonprofit or otherwise):
Take a class – or three!- focused on digital design of any kind.  It’s a fun way to exercise your creative muscles, and it will seriously pay off down the line in your career advancement.

If you’re a seasoned professional, it’s also worth your time to brush up on the latest tools and platforms, as upgrades and new products emerge yearly.

Hope you enjoyed this peek at my latest design geek-erations. And I encourage you to peruse the reports to learn about economic and gender equity, leadership in social justice,  immigrant integration, and more!

~ GM

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Storytelling: “L.A. in Motion” Series

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PROJECT

“L.A. In Motion” – Transportation Equity in Los Angeles County web series

ORGANIZATIONS

  • Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at USC
  • Community partners and guest writers
  • KCET Departures

MY ROLES

  • Content Development (copyediting, images, etc.)
  • Community Writer Outreach and Liasion
  • Coordination with KCET Editorial/Web Team;

This documentary-style blog series was co-produced by the renowned public media station, KCET – Departures,  PERE USC, and the community partners  PERE’s transportation equity research project in Los Angeles County.

Our goal was to lift up Angelenos stories of what transportation equity means for their families, their neighborhoods, and their organizations.  This included features on areas including  Little Tokyo, Chinatown, Pacoima, East L.A. and South L.A.

Learn more about the series and explore the engaging KCET Departures website >>

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Social Media Strategy: Bridging Tech, Networks, and Live Events

As the New Media Manager, I was part of the team that brought AAPIP’s social media and digital communications efforts up to the next level.  In 10 short months, we experimented with a new social media strategy that linked to a series of events throughout AAPIP’s 20th Anniversary year across the country.

Through a new blog embedded in the old static website, we increased traffic and user participation on the website four-fold.  Across other social media we saw double, triple, or quadruple growth of followers and interactivity.  I helped facilitate a major shift in the organization’s approach to communications and ushered in a new level of capacity and reach through strategic technology use.

Click the icons below to explore all of AAPIP’s social media venues.

facebook twitter you_tube flickr rss

MY ROLES

  • Coordinated all social media accounts
  • Produced content, images, text for publications across channels
  • Trained staff and members on social media, tech logistics, and livestreaming
  • Organized publication calendars and led cross-functional team to systematize communications
  • Developed and grew user generated content (invited guest bloggers, photos, tweets, etc)
  • Maintained all digital spaces including website, blogs, tracked metrics, and measured progress
Blog

 

RELATED PROJECTS:

Click here to learn about the 10-city livestream event that utilized all the social media channels to full effect!


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BRIDGE Organizational Assessment [online tool & microsite]

I served as the project manager for the transformation of a paper-based survey assessment into an easy to use online tool to help nonprofits build organizational staff capacity.  Over 100 grassroots leaders have benefitted from the online tool, and the response from 20+ organizations served through this process was overwhelmingly positive*.

An entity called “BRIDGE” (Building Responsive Infrastructure for Global Equity) developed a framework for a unique, evaluative, and data-heavy organizational assessment tool for social justice organizations as part of the National Gender & Equity Campaign. They wanted an easier way to conduct the assessments across the country  in an online format, as well as to provide useful data visualizations generated from users’ results.

I hired, managed, and partnered closely with contracted web developer teams at Quilted.coop to build a special log-in enabled “microsite” on a custom Drupal platform.  The tool was also built with a custom staff intranet on the administrative side to manage the users, the data, and the open-source visualization tools that calculated the results of the surveys automatically.

From the budgeting/contracting, to technical testing, to content development, to implementation and training, I managed multiple aspects of this tool through serveral iterations.

Sample result infographic visualization from online app
Sample result infographic visualization from B.O.A.T. online app

(*The image gallery above also includes slides from the user training webinars we conducted to ensure that users who were unfamiliar with the new technology could utilize the online portal easily, as well as learn new digital literacy skills at the same time.)

*Note: The onilne tool is no longer available to the public. This version was closed in 2010, but BRIDGE plans to redevelop and upgrade the tool for future use.  However, at the time of this writing, the site is currently still live at  http://boat.genderandequity.org.

Project highlights from 2016

2016 has been one of the most tumultuous years in my recent memory: geo-politically, socially, and even philosophically speaking.  Look, I’ve been doing social impact/progressive/justice & intersectionality-oriented communications work for nearly 15 years now. But this year’s election? Simply put, “unpresidented.” Now more than ever, in this so-called “post-truth” era of brazen falsehoods and dangerously willful ignorance, I know that facts still matter… truth-telling matters… and communicating those facts more effectively and strategically matters.

So I am proud to have thrown down this year on some impactful work with so many talented folksscholars, artists, leaders, communicators, and advocates alike.  Here are a few work projects from recent months that sustain my optimism for the long road ahead.

We’re coming for ya, 2017. And to paraphrase my boss, we’re coming ready for “the fight of our lives.”


 

Learn more about this project →

View the report (PDF) →
Watch the promo video ▶
Check out the social media & broadcast media coverage →


Learn more about the project →

Read the report (PDF) →
Explore the data website →


And reports on naturalized voters and promoting citizenship (in Los Angeles county and in the state of California)

Media Relations Work

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/14/Flickr_UF-Journalism_and_Communications.jpg/800px-Flickr_UF-Journalism_and_Communications.jpg

 

With ever increasing levels of complexity (and some might say, volatility) in our media landscape, it has become all the more crucial to build strong working relationships with journalists. Reporters, editors, and owners face serious challenges to their industry, to be sure, but there are also signs of hope.

While it is only one aspect of my communications work these days, media relations still remains one of my favorite, largely because of the journalists, writers, and producers I’ve been fortunate to work with.  Today, I just had to take a minute to  appreciate all the hard work of many colleagues — advocates, allies, and activists– all across the media landscape.

In the past couple of years, I’ve worked on placements in outlets such as (in no particular order):  San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press, San Diego Union Tribune, CNN, CNN en Español, NBC Los Angeles evening news, KPCC, NPR, Sacramento Bee, Huffington Post, and several stories in the Los Angeles Times. I’ve also worked with great folks through collaborative media partnerships and have coordinated content that has led to coverage in outlets including (in no particular order): New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post Wonkblog, Fusion, ABC 7 LA Eyewitness News, National Journal, CBS LA news , NBCnews.com, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera America, Telemundo, Univision, KCRW, APM Marketplace, Asian Journal, Mashable, Vibe, KCET Departures web series, Truthout, Think Progress, The Atlantic CityLab, The Grist, La Opinión, KPFA Pacifica Radio, San Francisco Business Times, Los Angeles Daily News, New American Media, Latina Magazine, The Orange County Register, The Root, the LAist, Inside Edition, and Independent UK.

Take heart. There are indeed great journalists out there still fighting the good fight. Whether in mainstream broadcast media, online magazines, independent presses, blogs, podcasts, and everything in between, they are integral allies in our movements and ecosystems for social change. Let’s applaud those who are committed to noble art of telling the stories that need to be told.

Communications resources for nonprofits

#ComNet14
#ComNet14 by The Communications Network, on Flickr

A recurring question that my networks and allies ask: Where can I find real ‘tools’ for communications planning?

This often happens after they’ve completed a few rounds of the process—i.e. strategic visioning, org-wide communications assessment, and budgeting—and are then ready to jump into the next phases of implementation.  Understandably, making the rubber-hit-the-road is daunting, but all it really means is getting down to the nitty-gritty work of communications.

Fear not.  If the bulk of the planning in those first rounds  is done with intention and clear action steps,  you’ll find that implementation will feel like the least dauncing part of the comms planning process. So here’s a short list of tools and resources that my clients and I have found useful:

For Nonprofits

Also check out

Hope these are a helpful start!

Let me know in the comments what you think of these tools and if you have  suggestions for resources I should include.

Livestreaming: A 10-City Virtual Conference

We created a “virtual summit” in lieu of a traditional conference to celebrate AAPIP’s 20th Anniversary.  In October 2010, AAPIP’s chapters organized “viewing parties” in 10 cities (NY, SF, LA, Houston, Philadelphia, DC, Silicon Valley, Boston, Chicago and Seattle) to watch a livestream of AAPIP speakers and celebrations broadcast online from our headquarters in SF and Atlantic Philanthropies in NYC. 

The event employed an integrated communications strategy, with complementary social media activities, a livestream vendor film crew, and educational technology trainings via webinar to prepare our 10 chapter city sites.  By using multiple social media venues in an interactive and intentional way, AAPIP united nearly 1000 viewers across a broad, national audience through 3 time zones.  This successful, experimental 10-month planning effort also helped improve our staff, national members’, and organizational capacity in online media production and social media engagement.

MY ROLE

  • New Media Manager
Livestream1
A view of the SF staff livestreaming from SF (on the stage), and the simultaneous stream of the staff in NYC (on the screen).
Nylivestream
The view of the national stream from the NYC audience at the Atlantic Philanthropies.
Livestreamviewingparty


Toolkit: “An Organization’s Guide to a Theory of Social Change”

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Chronicles of Change – An Organization’s Guide to a Theory of Social Change

This 75-page guide featured tools and resources to help grassroots nonprofits better align their mission, vision, and values to sustainable social change goals.  It contained facilitator’s guides, activities, handouts, and case studies that could easily be used in various community education settings.   The toolkit design featured a film-making metaphor to infuse the organizational transformation journey with a sense of creativity and fun.   Stylistically, all major elements of design were intentionally created in crisp, B&W/grayscale to enhance legibility and retain graphic sharpness during repeated, low-cost photocopying in community settings.

 

MY ROLES:

  • Layout designer
  • Concept and content development team member
  • Printing and distribution coordination

Click here to launch the full view version of the Theory of Social Change Guide pdf (via Issuu).

 

ORGANIZATION: National Gender and Equity Campaign

Credits: NGEC Staff, AAPIP,  & Karen Perkins (for color illustrations)

Storytelling: Gender & Social Justice Movements [video]

ORGANIZATION
National Gender & Equity Campaign‘s Organizational Fellowship Program 

MY ROLES

  • Editing, filming/interviewing;
  • Production team member (concept development, story-boarding, planning);
  • Training staff & grantees on digital storytelling, filming, and equipment use;

This storytelling video module was created for a gender equity training and project planning session with 12 AAPI grassroots organizations in California and Minnesota.  In the video, we featured one community leader from each group to share stories, questions, and ideas about how to collaborate further to build movements that support gender equity.  This film was screened at a national training and was followed by a facilitated breakout sessions with in-depth group discussions.

The goal was to give groups a visually compelling way to reflect on their journey in the capacity building program. Instead of writing reports or speaking on a panel, we decided to use these short vignettes and to employ a more creative approach through video.  Making the most of a limited equipment budget, we decided to have the footage filmed by our own staff members using convenient and affordable “Flip” cameras.

Another important goal of the project was to demonstrate to both our own staff and to the grantees that digital storytelling could be affordable and easy for “non-techie” people. Through this intentional approach, we made the production process both a “teachable moment”, and a useful media product.  As a result, many groups began using the same “Flip” cameras for their own video projects.