Tools For Media Experiences
by Joreth Innkeeper © copyright 2009
There are a few tools to help make your Media Experience more convenient.
The first thing you should have is a computer with internet, which, if you are reading this article, you probably already have. But on your computer, you should have a folder with files that you can easily find and access at any time. This folder should include things like:
your headshot, in several file sizes, all small enough to email with one in good enough resolution to print.
a picture (or several) of you with your partners. Although pictures of you individually with each of your partners might be handy to have here too, pictures with several of you together as a group are really what the media is looking for.
A chart of some sort with your group or network. Even if it's a closed triad, having a graphical representation is a very helpful visual aid.
A list of poly resources that assist in your message - things like local poly discussion groups, or online forums, or dating websites, or your favorite poly books or movies.
Your bio - a short paragraph or two that very simply sums up who you are and what role polyamory plays in your life that can be cut and pasted whenever anyone asks for a bio.
If you really want to build a media presence, you should consider investing in a website. If you do not have website designing skills, it is strongly recommended that you find someone who does to help you. It is not necessary to pay for a web designer, unless you do not know anyone at all who can help and you asked for assistance online and no one offered. But you do want to avoid making a "personal homepage" the likes of which first made the rounds in the Geocities days. Avoid flashing text or animated gifs or music that plays in the background. Build something simple and easy to navigate. And then, somewhere on your website that is easy to find, make a Media page. This page should have a picture of you and your bio, along with how to contact you, and nothing else - no FAQs, no list of terms, no details on exactly how you do polyamory - just a short blurb about you and how to reach you.
If your website is made specifically for polyamory and building a media presence, then it should only have a few pages, and one of the more prominent pages should be your Media page. If you want your website to also be a teaching tool all about polyamory for netizens, again, make your Media page easy to find and separate from whatever else you want to say about polyamory. If your website covers more about who you are and what you do in general, make sure that the poly pages are easy to find. The media is often on a deadline, and they won't spend a lot of time going through a website full of stuff that they will probably ask you about during the interview anyway (or stuff they don't care about and is not relevant to their story), so make sure they have a quick and easy way to find you without requiring them to wade through pictures of your cats or your lecture on the perils of Unicorn Hunting.
A cell phone with a good minutes plan & decent battery/charging system. In the days of landlines, you didn't need to worry about phone charges because you could expect a reporter to call you and charge it as a business expense. But now, it almost doesn't matter who calls whom, it will still count towards your minutes, depending on your plan. So make sure your phone can handle a lengthy conversation.
To that end, you might also want to consider a cell-phone hands-free headset.
A box or bag of any visual aids you might want to bring to a media event. You might not take everything with you each time, but you'll want to keep these items in an easily-accessible location. This might include books to reference, printed pictures (possibly the same ones in your digital folder discussed above), gifts and/or jewelry that symbolize or represent your poly relationships, your family calendar, etc. Some of these items might, by necessity, be located elsewhere, such as on display in another room or case, drawer, or closet because they're regularly worn. In that event, you might instead (or in addition) include a checklist of things to bring with you that you can then use to go around the house and find all those items when needed.
An email account with a large storage and file transfer capacity for sending those pictures and corresponding with reporters. Make sure your email account is organized so that you will not lose track of your correspondence. You should be able to know quickly that you have email waiting for you, you should be able to save and file your correspondence to keep track of the conversation, and you should not have any problems with accidentally deleting email because you thought it was spam or your email program filtered it out thinking it was spam, or just not seeing it on time because your inbox is so full of stuff that you just plain missed it or because you don't check your email regularly.
Get Skype for internet calls. Technically, this counts as an "instant messenging program", but it far exceeds the usability for video chat and it covers internet phone calls. Skype allows you to use the internet to make a "phone call". Computer to computer calls are totally free and are roughly the equivalent to talking on your cell phone. But what really makes Skype the efficient tool that it is, is the video chat capabilities. Skype sets up easily, can talk to any other computer that has Skype without modem or firewall manipulation, and has the ability to record both audio and video calls through a third party recording service. This program is the preferred program among the media who utilize internet calls, whether audio or video, so it would be beneficial to have an account already set up and ready to go when a reporter asks ... or you can offer to use Skype yourself when negotiating how your media experience will go.
This is an especially useful tool for media events that include being interviewed for non-local publications. I once introduced my new partner to my existing long-distance partner using Skype video while a reporter interviewed all three of us, focusing on the "new partner meets existing partner" angle. Another time, a reporter in Los Angeles interviewed me and my partner while we were in Atlanta. And yet another time, my V was asked to make a video of ourselves chatting about poly issues and answering some questions that were sent to us by email, but one of my partners was in another state, so we recorded a Skype video chat with one person in one state and two people in another state using the same computer.
If you are going to be available for video and/or audio media events, then a good headset, or a set of earbuds and a decent USB microphone (The Blue Snowflake is a good quality microphone on the low-end of the price scale), and a good USB video camera if your laptop doesn't come with one, are recommended. Most laptops nowadays come with built-in microphones and even video cameras, but they are usually low quality, so external USB equipment is recommended if you intend to do a significant amount of internet video or audio calling or participation on podcasts.
So there are just a few tools to make participating in media events a little more convenient. When you are organized and prepared for your media event, it will go much more smoothly, and with less stress, thereby assisting you in presenting yourself as calm and confident and minimizing any errors or accidents due to stress or nervousness.
© PMA 2008