Category Archives: News

Media and Cultural Work: A Resource for Better Working Life in the Arts and Media

This new website, Media and Cultural Work, is targeted at those working in the media and cultural industries, as practitioners, activists, policy makers, campaigners, students and academics.

Devised by David Hesmondhalgh and Kate Oakley, at the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, the aim of the website is to create an international forum to address a range of  issues in the sector, including inequalities (gender and ethnic) and the precarious nature of cultural work.

The appeal of working in the media and cultural industries has never been higher. Many young people want to enter these industries and many workers tolerate low pay and poor working conditions to stay within them. But better working conditions and an end to exploitative forms of unpaid work are vital if we want more open and diverse media and cultural industries.

The resource can be followed on Twitter: @mediaculturwork

Interviewing for a Blog: 1. How to Prepare

Be_Prepared_copyIncreasingly we are asking students to write blogs and interview professionals as part of their research. I have a series of notes which might be useful for any student either doing academic work or more general research for their blog.  I will post all the notes under the general heading of Interviewing for a Blog Post.

How to prepare: You can never be prepared enough for an interview. Professionalism and preparedness will be the least that your interviewee will expect.

Research, research research: The first thing to do is to research the person or people you are interviewing through their blog and other social media. Find out as much as you can. Research the company they run or work for. As a result of this research, you should get a good sense of their current status.

Prepare questions: Start to brainstorm some potential questions. You are unlikely to have a long time with them so you need some focus. Ask yourself: what do I want to find out? Is it about their management style? How they network? What aspect of their professional life am I interested in? How is the industry changing – their opinion on an industry sector and current trends or developments? You might want to go from general questions to more specific topics. This should result in a set of semi-structured questions to help you guide the interview but still allowing the process to feel like a conversation. Remember to ask open questions such as: How do you go about developing your networks? Not, do you network?

Time management: You need to think about practical things such as where you are meeting and how you will get there. Timing is very important – don’t be late! Check bus routes etc before the day of the interview.

Flexibility: Embrace the unexpected because real life does not always work out as you have planned it. For example, if you arrive all prepared and the person is running late, they might have a genuine reason and you should try to be understanding. However, don’t be shy about checking exactly when they will get there and asking to rearrange if you cannot wait.

Technology: Digital technology has developed in such a way that devices such as smartphones can act as video or audio recorders meaning that you may not need to invest in specialist equipment. However, if you have access to a good audio recorder or video camera then the quality will be of a higher quality. Whichever technology you use you should follow some simple rules about its use.

Be clear with your interviewee about whether you are recording to help you remember what was said, to support your writing, or you intend to publish the recordings themselves.

For audio recorders places the device as close to the person as possible. Even in a noisy environment your recording should be clear as long as the microphone is close to the person’s mouth.

A lot of video cameras have poor microphones so try to choose a quiet location as you want to avoid the camera being too close to the person therefore making them feel uncomfortable.

You might want to film a few general shots of the working environment of the interviewee. Do these afterwards. These shots can sometimes be useful when editing your video.

If you intend to publish your video interview then ask the person to look at you as they respond rather than the camera. Position yourself to one side of the camera and try to maintain eye contact with them. This can be tricky when using a hand-held camera so practice this before.

Be sure that your equipment works and that you have spare batteries (or your device is fully charged). As soon you can after the interview make a back-up of your recording to the hard-drive on your computer. Publish your audio/video material on hosting platforms such as Vimeo or Youtube (for video) or Soundcloud (for audio). You can then ‘embed’ the material easily in your blog post.

Check list to take to interviews:

Directions and/or a map

Contact details of your interview, address, phone number and email.

Some form of identification

Recording equipment

Notepad and pen

Relevant documents/literature/questions

The next set of notes will be about the interview itself.

Marina Offers Advice for Freelancers and Entrepreneurs.

Marina Ibrahim_CookingLikeCleopatraAfter graduating from the MA Media & Creative Enterprise course in 2008, Marina Ibrahim developed and launched bizz buzz in 2010. Marina explains her two businesses:

I am coach, trainer, and managing director of bizz buzz Ltd, a company for cross-cultural projects and for people development in cultural leadership and management.

I am also the owner of Cooking like Cleopatra – my latest cookery venture launched in 2012. With my ‘Tasting Culture Workshops’ I introduce Egyptian Mezze recipes to food lovers, recipe explorers and Egypt aficionados. I also offer Tasting Culture team-building workshops and activities for businesses.

So with two businesses to run, I asked Marina how she keeps herself motivated.

Trying new ideas, being creative when it comes to developing my business further. Talking to people, who like what I am doing, asking for encouragement, support and feedback. Learning and being aware about how to improve, helps you with keeping on track and reassure that you are on the right path. Celebrate achievement and success, enjoy the journey, take time out, relax and reflect. Have fun!

With a background in marketing, Marina is well placed to offer advice for anyone starting in business.

Get your first paid contract/Get your first paying client – it is the difference that makes the difference: You are in business! When you market yourself/your business and you talk about your client/contract it makes you authentic and real, gives you confidence. It helps you positioning yourself with your marketing message:

  • When doing your elevator pitch
  • When talking about client’s needs
  • How you helped your clients and
  • It evidences that your skills and your offer is relevant, it matters on the market.
  • It is also an ideal anchor for you to do more research about existing and profiling potential future clients: Asking for feedback, undertaking surveys, networking, peer-to-peer exchange, studying sector trends, etc.

Continuously reflecting and adapting your business offer accordingly is the process of niching and fine-tuning your niche. In my opinion self-awareness and knowing how to strike the balance between creativity and management are both the key factors for a successful career in the media/when starting a creative business.

Marina is very strategic and focused in her approach. She suggests that when it comes to running a business, especially as micro-entrepreneur, freelancer, you got to be focused because you are the epicenter of your business. You’ve got to focus on your target market, your target clients, trust and apply your core skills, talents and strengths. To be able to do this, it is crucial to develop a plan. This plan works like a roadmap that helps you identify gaps, milestones and filling stations all along your journey.

So what’s next for Marina?

Having my business feet in at least three camps: media, training and food & drink, I am keeping a close eye on all three sectors. There are overlaps as well as convergence opportunities which I will be exploiting for both my businesses, whether they still run parallel or merge into something different, I shall see. For ‘Cooking like Cleopatra’ I have created my marketing plan to stage the development of my business in three phases: the launching phase, the establishing phase and the growing phase: I will be using the next 6 months to build my brand and to develop my target audience by running cookery workshops and giving a series of “Tasting Egyptian Culture” presentations on food festivals throughout the season. This is to build my client base and target audience, using social media to build business presence and to build my brand. I am already in the process of writing a book and I have already got some fabulous ideas around leveraging my business by developing some products I will sell.  So, watch the space!

Indeed, and if you want more information about Marina and her various ventures, check her out on LinkedIn or twitter @bizzbuzz_coach and @Like_Cleopatra

Thanks for the insights and good luck Marina!

Alumni of the Year: Daniella Genas

Copngratulations to Daniella Genas who is to be honoured at the Birmingham City University awards ceremony today, as alumni of the year.

Daniella is a frequent guest speaker on the MA Media and Creative Enterprise and we will welcome her again in a few week’s time.

A year ago, I interviewed her for this blog. Daniella  talked about her enterprise, her motivation and her plans for the future.

 

Enterprise Education for the Creative Industries

There is relatively little written about enterprise education for the creative industries. Nascent Entrepreneurship and Learning by Karatas-Ozkan and Chell is a useful contribution although it does not aim to be specifically about the creative industries.

But what else is going on in terms of enterprise education for the creative industries? Continue reading Enterprise Education for the Creative Industries

Tips for working in the media: listen, look and learn!

Dominika Jankowska discusses her work and offers advice for anyone starting a career in the media.

After graduating from the MA Media & Creative Enterprise course Dominika has been working with digital marketing agencies and running her own marketing agency, Cinnamon Leaf. Her day-to-day activities range from copy writing web content, writing articles, SEO (both on and off-site), blogging, quality link-building, project management and managing social media campaigns.

 

One day I could be working on a small campaign for a local SME, another day I could be involved in a ‘giant’ project for a well-known corporation. Variety is the spice of life, as they say! Continue reading Tips for working in the media: listen, look and learn!