To kick off this year, we at Technically Philly ran a weekly Tuesday feature interviewing a technology community member and/or entrepreneur who left Philadelphia. It is called Exit Interview and the weekly portion of the series is winding down, with perhaps one more to run next week.
The three of us who founded TP love Philadelphia, in particular its creative and entrepreneur communities. Journalism aside, we tend to think those whom we cover are going to be a big part of improving Philadelphia, its perception, its government, its taxes and its reputation.
Journalism should uncover truths and push forward dialogue. That can come with important public affairs coverage and institutional oversight, but it can also by highlighting key issues among its audience.
So I felt strongly that to further the conversation among these communities, it was our role to face directly concerns holding it back. To do so, I led the move to bring together nearly a dozen interviews and will now roll back out Exit Interview when new perception comes forward.
Today, on the Technically Media blog, I shared six lessons I took from running the series.
To get a quick sense, here are three example headlines from the series:
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Photo by John Mertens.
The first concerted effort to seek what types of city government data and information Philadelphians want was kicked off last night with an event I helped organize on behalf of Technically Philly with Young Involved Philadelphia.
Partnered with the Code for America fellowship program, I moderated a panel meant to illustrate concrete and simple definitions and needs for city data that was then followed by a half dozen breakout sessions in which moderators had their dozen group members answer two questions:
- What city information would you actually use?
- How would you want to access that information?
Read my coverage of the event here, including reference to this Google Doc, in which I tallied the suggestions. This event is one of four big lessons we’re learning while leading this grant project.
More details and video below.
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Over at TechnicallyMedia.com, we’re feeling out the editorial strategy of our editorial strategy company’s website.
For now, it’ll have about a post a week, usually focusing on lessons in growing audience and sharing content online, in addition to specific case studies from our work and now, whenever we have the chance to grab someone smart who pops into our new office to talk about journalism, the future of news and the like, we’ll share a new episode in our Whiskey Chats podcast.
We launched the first episode this week when former TBD.com General Manager and WashingtonPost.com executive editor Jim Brady stopped by.
Thanks to Sean Blanda for editing and naming the product.
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Yes, that is George Michael. There are three clear steps to increase the number of news sources to the level that, say, surrounded Singer George Michael in May 1985 when this photo was taken by Ann Clifford for Life magazine.
To increase the number of news sources in a community one needs to do two things: (1) grow audience and/or (2) grow revenue.
In a followup to a prompt that ushered in a post last month, Spot.Us founder David Cohn again opens the Carnival of Journalism, in which a handful of media makers and molders opine a subject of his choosing. This session, the question focuses on the role that we all play in increasing the number of news creators.
As organizers put it:
What can you, as an individual or employee, do to increase the number of news sources. Everyone has a different set of circumstances. Some work at universities (which we found out last month) others work for public media, for independent media or for-profit media entities large and small. Take a moment to reflect on your unique skills and circumstances. Then answer: What specific things can you do to increase the number of news sources for a local community.
We can figure that out by doing building audiences and revenue.
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I received an email a couple weeks ago from an entrepreneur who formerly worked for a startup in Philly. He’s with a new startup in another region but asked for quick advice on reaching out to bloggers and other journalists for coverage.
I shot back three quick thoughts:
- First, prove you’re a human being and not a robot. Anyone who receives press interest will at first assume any email is a mass email. Prove it’s not. Say, ‘yo, I saw you wrote about this, so I thought you might be interested in this thing I do.’ And say ‘I think it’s relevant because you seem to write a lot about this.’ Basically, the five minutes of scanning a site will bring you much stronger results, and so the success is worth the extra effort.
- Secondly, just make it really freakin’ easy. (a) Don’t get caught up in every nuance of what you think your business is about, give the name and the 5-10 word summation and share a few links. Then, maybe include a bit deeper graf, but not much more. (b) Offer to talk on the phone — they probably won’t want to but it again shows you’re a real person — or answer any questions via email. (c) If there is interest, provide compelling images or photos or video to make publishing online more compelling without any extra effort from the writer. (d) Help promote the thing. If you want it, push the coverage for your own benefit and for the goodwill from the publication you’re pushing.
- Thirdly, do do a second follow up about a week later. If no response from there, forget about it.
A small item on a niche blog or an industry site can have great power and be a start, so, in general, do not underestimate the important and influence of smaller, more focused publications online or otherwise.
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Four years later, I’m finishing this piece of archiving business.
A couple months ago, I announced I had moved my honors thesis to a subdomain of this site for the sake of organization and archiving. Following up on that resolution to make more tidy a rambling online portfolio, I have brought another dated, collection of work of which I am proud under this house.
I spent the better chunk of 2006 in Tokyo video podcasting, writing, traveling and learning on behalf of NBC Universal Digital Studios. Now all of that work can be found at japan.christopherwink.com.
See all the Episodes here and all the Archives here. Go and explore.
A few things interested me from my work in 2006:
- Short, bad titles — The post headlines were all short and sometimes not even descriptive. I didn’t recognize then the importance.
- I wrote a lot — I far outpaced all of my fellow castmembers in output, which is great, but I could have made much of the content terser and more straightforward.
- I actually had comments — On many posts, I had a handful of comments. I haven’t transferred them… yet.
- I never linked – I didn’t have a single link to a past post.
- Photo albums, not in posts – Photos and the video episodes were never embedded. This is the one major change I’ve made, by incorporating them.
- Yes, I called posts ‘blogs’ — But that was 2006. What’s the excuse today?
- I learned and experienced so damn much — I interacted with an audience and explored and created multimedia, but ultimately, I was just a young kid learning. ..And what a clear stepping stone toward the WDSTL podcast I did while in Western Europe.
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I’m always interested in workflow management. How can I, and the people around me, become more efficient, to get more and better work done in more condensed periods of time.
Real work flow is developed over time and with people whose work ethic you respect. But there are concepts to be had about getting that to work from the start. After moving into office space with Technically Media and working alongside my two colleagues so closely more often than ever before, I have been hunting for new ideas to bring to the process.
I came across a great TED talk from Jason Fried, one of the founders of web development firm 37signals, who was responsible for a great book with simple take aways on best business practices.
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The best way to get things done is to rule authoritatively. Demand and conquer.
The best way to save money is to cut back, cut back, cut back. Always do more with less.
You can create a trim, powerful, successful, lean and mean and impactful organization.
But what happens when no one wants to work there anymore?
After writing this, I came across a somewhat similar post from Seth Godin, in which he calls for leaders to ask for ‘better’ not for ‘more.’
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I have a flask (and a typewriter) on my desk . That desk is in new office space, as announced today.
In conjunction with the Technically Philly open data grant project, our Technically Media Inc. parent company has moved into a working office space at Temple University Center City at 1515 Market Street in Philadelphia.
It’s important to note that this office space is specifically for the six-month Technically Philly grant project, and so the office is used for those purposes and is only leased for that time.
It’s also important to note that we at TP take great interest in respecting, honoring and, in some ways, continuing the traditions of the past.
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