Q & A with an Entrepreneur – Barry Pousman

Barry Pousman

For my Entrepreneurial Journalism class we have to interview a number of Entrepreneurs and ask them questions about how to do business. Barry Pousman for some tips about how to make Indefinite Transit the best it can be. As the Lead Video Editor for RocketBoom.com, Pousman  knows what does and doesn’t work on the web, specifically in terms of video. I met with him to discuss the trajectory, form, and style of Indefinite Transit the show, as well as to get an idea of what kind things I could do to most positively impact Indefinite Transit, the website & business: i.e. attracting traffic.This is his side of our conversation.

This is not very Q & A, because the conversation happened quite organically and was based on raw footage, which I screened for Pousman at the beginning of our conversation. I did not have prepared questions due to the nature of this meeting, which was more consulting based, therefore this interview will be organized by theme and I will be elaborating on the notes I took while Pousman talked.

Before filming an actual story, I wanted to consult with Pousman about how to go about it in terms of style, editing, quality, etc. Video forms understandably change, based on the medium in which they are being viewed. I want to produce “No Reservations” (Anthony Bourdain’s show on the travel channel) quality shows, but intend to display and market them on the web. What do I have to keep in mind? Where do I invest the most amount of my time: shooting and editing, or posting and getting it quick on the web? Where do I have to make compromises?

* [I.T. = Indefinite Transit]

Pousman’s advice:

1. Focus on the Internet factor of Indefinite Transit – S.E.O (Search Engine Optimization). Basically, think about how the Internet user wants to watch your clips and how he/she is going to find them. Think about how the Internet and search engines classify data. With any post, make sure to include all of the titles in the actual body of the post, because the more times that title is mentioned, the more a search engine will link to your website. Get people to attach you [I.T.] to certain content. You [I.T] want people to be able to attach themselves to different elements in your post.

Use tags, tag like crazy. This attracts different people and they will link back to your website, hopefully. The more links in your post, the more it will come up in a Google feed. Think of “Google-ability.”

People are not going to spread a video online that is longer than five minutes. Make that three minutes. Variability is key; therefore content has to be tailored to this format.

2. Build some hype to your “episodes.” Make a video post from your own bedroom amping up an event that you [I.T.] will then go and cover. You tease the audience with fluff and content, and these “trailer” videos can be an alternative to have a full post with new content. Then, there will be the follow-up, full video that has to be produced quickly to provide the reader with the content that you [I.T.] were teasing him/her about. In these trailers use jump cuts; make it short and sweet. Make the viewer want to come back to watch the full story, which can then in turn be longer. The trailer can maybe have a link embedded, which will then take you to the full story. Maybe you [I.T.] can have an upcoming events widget.

Make a schedule and pick a day to post. Having consistency will give viewers a reason to come back. It gives them a routine. This is important to keep a viewer base. Very important.

3. Think about the “click-abiltiy” of a name like Indefinite Transit. I don’t think the word “indefinite” is a positive one. It makes me think of things being unresolved. Maybe it is not the connotation you want your website to have. It is also not very “click-able.” It sounds great; it’s catchy; intellectual, but simple is sometimes best on the Internet. You [I.T.] might want to think about a different first word.

4. When it comes to editing your episodes. Use assets – “C Roll.” Using maps, a list of ingredients, and graphics, etc., are all ways to break up the pace of an episode, take the focus off you [Andrea (host)], and make the content more accessible. The viewer also gets much more context and allows you to give more information, without it having to come from a talking head.

5. Once on the website, don’t give away all the information immediately in every post. Always have more links in your posts because this makes them more “Google-able.” Create a “behind the scenes photo section” that will force people to navigate further in your website. Don’t make them click on links too much, because then they will get frustrated, but make them search a bit. This will also generate more traffic and will show how much time people are spending on a page.

Create this “behind the scenes” template page and use it for various different things. Make all the photos as high-resolution as possible.

6. Get on Foursquare. Every time that you [I.T.] meet with someone or reference a specific subject, give credit to where you got your information. This social media “citation” not only gets your [I.T.] name out there, but it connects you to other people and then you will be on their radar.

7. Make a shout-out to No Reservations on twitter. Tell Tony you love his show. You never know what that connection will bring you. Get involved. “@” A lot of people in every post, twitter, and FB update.

8. Have a fast turnover in content production. Shoot, edit, & post content the same night. The quality might not be as great, but it will keep your readers wanting more; that said, develop a schedule. Your reader wont get upset because you posted a follow-up article 2 days late, but you should give them a sense of when to expect new content.

9. Start your website and even though it will not be full of content. You can start in Beta, and it will be marked as such under your logo.

10. Make the website interactive. What succeeds online today is the world of social networking. What all these websites have in common is that they are not providing content, but a structure. That said, given the editorial nature of I.T. you can offer things like:

a. Rate this article

b. Polls

c. Fun facts rotating box- could become international content.

d. A “quiz” section (think of a better name than quiz)

e. In the video trailer you [I.T.] could say: “and if you’re even been to this place/ done this thing, etc…let me know your thoughts. FB me, Twitter me, lets start a conversation about what is cool to do in NYC. Etc.

Basically, you want to get people to interact – encourage that in the video. Say, “Give me feed back” and give prompts for deeper responses. Ask: have you done this? Eaten this? Etc.

f. Tell them to go to a specific address and see what happens. You [I.T.] should develop contacts and relationships at the places that you [I.T.] send them to and maybe leave them something like a prize, or maybe, Indefinite Transit readers get a discount. Something like that.

9. Make the Semantic Web factor the “academic factor” of your DURF grant proposal. Make an argument that you will be researching how video works on the web. Use the polls, ratings, clicks, traffic, etc, as tools that mark how successful certain videos are over than others. In this way you can show how content is consumed online, which can in the long run, make multi-media journalists approach this certain medium more differently. Spend time making the content sharable.

Say that this is uncharted territory, and make it an academic approach to the web. Use meters (the spreadability of your journalism content – how was this effort received, vs., that effort?)

10. Set up “Google Alerts” for I.T. and your name. This is very important so that you can track how the name is searched and what phrasing is usually used. This will also alert you as to when your name, or I.T. is being used or shared.

11. In your videos, avoid the “fluff.” Avoid opinions in the videos, concentrate on asking question after question, and then finish up with a philosophy – what is the story? The trailer would be a good place for opinions, but not the main videos. That is also how you can work hard on keeping it as journalistic as possible.

Use the trailer as a hypothesis; your opinions as a subject, then go explore X; set up feelings.

Each video should make a statement for where you: Andrea, are. Your voice needs to add to the mix. Stick to a tagline.

Finally, references: Check out Rocketboom.com. There are two shows, which you should watch and learn from, as well as differentiate yourself from. 1. “Rocketboom NYC.” Listen to the questions asked; study the montage, the places, the props, and the interiors. 2. “Know Your Meme.” It gives a statement of what is being covered and it comments on the cultural tid-bit that it is portraying in that particular episode.

Tips: shoot B-Roll that lends to narration. Think of making an intro/ out-tro for all of your posts.


Thanks Barry for the interview!






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