Category Archives: entertainment

From Print to Podcasts and Back: Kathy Doyle of MacMillian



Kathy Doyle embodies the early bird that catches the worm. Early into her freshman year of college she aimed to give the commencement speech for her class in four years’ time. She got the honor — and forty-eight hours later was offered her first job in media. Then, as you’ll hear her describe in this episode, Doyle was part of the earliest team building out The Wall Street Journal Online (yes, I sing the dial up tones for her). Then, being an early riser, she started to listen to podcasts well before Serial was even a thing. And guess what? She was an early-stage employee on the podcast team of Macmillan Publishing.

The Macmillan division of morphed out of a prescient move to team up with Grammar Girl podcast phenom Mignon Fogarty – and quickly evolved into the Quick and Dirty Tips Network of short form helpful content. (Perhaps it’s fitting that Doyle’s career was launched with a speech.) Now, with the addition of a narrative network, their podcasts garner millions of monthly listens – and recently also scored an inaugural Ambie Award for their stunning show, Driving The Green Book.

Macmillan is the only one of the “big five” publishers with its own podcast network. As Doyle says, “It’s been our vision to serve our authors the best way possible. And audio emerging the way that it did certainly created an opportunity for us to use podcasting as best advantage whether that’s through an audio book excerpt or interviews or guest series…” In a media world where everyone is aiming to flow content cross platform it’s a surprising exclusive advantage. (As a matter of fact, we discuss the conference I’m producing for NATPE about the proliferation of TV brands leveraging podcasting, as well. Please register free to attend ContentCast on July 14th!)

While she provided many serious business takeaways, we also learned how one phone call, and frequent dog walking, helped lead to Doyle’s career success, and of the drama of “dial-up days” during early-stage internet jobs.

And you won’t believe what’s got Doyle’s gobsmacked about podcasting these days (yes, I checked the spelling, Grammar Girl fans out there): the evolution of the host read ad. I know, I wasn’t expecting that answer either. But you’ll appreciate how she illustrates the issue with an example from a men’s underwear advertiser.

In all seriousness, host read ads are a major topic in the business of podcasting as we balance the goal for perceived alignment with an influential personality with personalization enabled by companies like A Million Ads or Frequency. (Note: I’ll discuss the power of influencers in the upcoming Epi 32 with Danielle Wiley of Sway.)

For Doyle, the learning was about balance: how to deliver a strong response while preserving the integrity of hosts and authors. But another balancing act is tied to revenue and the competition for ears and ad dollars.

Another business consideration is discoverability. That’s where Doyle and team did a wide scale collaboration with Apple for the notable Driving the Green Book. Hear how they did, in fact, leverage cross-platform promotion in innovative ways – from reading lists to playlists. (Note: Hear show producer Juleyka Lantigua Williams on this from Episode 12 of Insider Interviews.)

“I think it keeps a lot of us in this industry up at night. We talk about revenue diversification a lot. In fact, I just did a panel for Digital Hollywood on revenue diversification. …You can’t just rely on the ad model anymore. You have to find new ways — like exploiting a podcast into a book or a film and TV. I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how podcasters leverage new tools that are available now through Spotify and apple, which have been available through Stitcher and Luminary, to be strategic about your content and then finding ways to expand and enhance that through a premium subscription. I think three or four years ago, I would’ve said absolutely not, but now I think there’s probably opportunity for that.”

“As people expand their listening and really become hooked on some shows that have that have a big ad load then spending a few bucks for a premium subscription to eliminate that might be very attractive.”

(This was where I noted that you can support THIS podcast and just “buy me a coffee”. Just sayin’ …. )

But don’t worry; there was more: Doyle also prognosticated on the future of consolidation in podcasting…and shared some of her favorite shows these days. So, make like that early bird, and catch all of Doyle’s words. You’ll be ahead of the curve.

More about Macmillan Podcasts: https://linktr.ee/macmillanpodcasts
Kathy Doyle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kdoyle2/
If you found this helpful, or liked any of my Insider Interviews episodes, please add a review on apple, share this episode, and of course, “buy me a coffee!”: https://buymeacoffee.com/mossappeal
If I can help you connect YOUR podcast/tv/content dots, or just get started, please reach out to me at podcasts@mossappeal.com

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JibJab’s CEO on Strong Brands and Floppy Jaws



For Episode 21 I spoke with someone who’s been an animated head more times than he can probably count: Paul Hanges is CEO of JibJab, which is famous for its personalized e-cards and satire animations that lets your head be the star! If you haven’t heard of JibJab you may have had YOUR head in the sand; they’re the OG of digital branded content. It was born in 1999 to brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, perhaps best recalled from their 2004 glory days of being featured on everything from The Tonight Show to ABC News for then viral political satire, “This Land.”

Hanges, who was promoted from COO 18 months ago, says they’re proud of being dubbed the “original online cockroach” for their longevity and survival of dot-com and economy busts. In our conversation he explains why JibJab is still hot more than 20 years since its inception. They’re even having something of a renaissance with the resurrection of their trademark Year in Review video after a six-year pause. (But how could you NOT do a recap of a year like 2020? For Chief Creative Officer Mauro Gatti and lyricist Scott Emmons it probably almost wrote itself! And I’m proud to offer my big head/floppy jaw cut here for your amusement by way of example!)

Hanges also explains the appeal of low-tech animation and their trademark “big heads and floppy jaws,” how they survive as a subscription model and why they walk away from brand dollars if not aligned with their mission – “to make billions of people happy by allowing them to be funny, wherever they’re having that conversation.”

Here are the highlights – but do hear all Hanges has to say in this very “animated” conversation:
  • How it all started – yes in the proverbial garage
  • Why, in a world of “deep fakes and augmentation” the appeal of JibJab is the personalization and NOT to replace reality. “We want to provide utility to help people say happy birthday or anniversary or other big moments.”
  • How personal micro networks add up to eyeballs at scale – and 1.3 million paying subscribers;
  • How they’ll leverage the rights to hits like “Old Town” or Mamma Mia the musical, but why they’ll walk away from 95% ofbranded opportunities;
  • Why politics and JibJab do not always make good bedfellows, but why they participated in the Facebook ad boycott in July to stand up to divisiveness;
  • How (self-plug here) they balance “brand+demand,” — as we promote in The Continuum;
  • The big data opportunity they’re sitting on to be a personalized service for people and how they’ve had to be nimble and “pivot” in their production and platform access.

And of course, for the last episode of 2020 we have to offer Hanges’ words of wisdom from the past full year as CEO to other new CEOs…and how to embrace your strengths and those of others as well. “I take a step back and look and say, ‘we have a very strong operating team that’s working towards a goal of making billions of people happy.’ …And I’ve been really proud to say I can lead this company with that mission.”

Personally, I could not have wrapped up my first year of Insider Interviews podcasts (AND my “It’s Quite a Living” personal podcast) with a better message than to “head” into 2021 with the inspiration of a JibJab to find the humor and spread the joy throughout this holiday season and into 2021.
 Thank you all for listening and hopefully sharing this podcast. I value your feedback and support. And if I can help you create content that spreads joy or opens revenue doors please visit Moss Appeal or write to me at podcasts@mossappeal.com.

Happy New Year!


Marketing NPR – The Insider Scoop from CMO Michael Smith



Michael Smith joined National Public Radio as chief marketing officer at a time when the nation — and the world — had just entered crisis mode. In addition to adapting to his new job he’s needed to shift the company’s marketing message, outreach and the very stance the brand has taken over the past years. Part of that shift was motivated by more digital audio listening given more at-home workers during our pandemic. The parallel motivation was to amplify more multicultural voices and drive greater diversity within the halls of the company itself. 

In Episode 15, Michael shares his observations, his approach and some insider scoop from his winged-back chair in New Jersey. For example, he explains how different audiences respond to NPR’s content. Michael tells us that “among regular users when we look at people of color versus white listeners, their satisfaction levels are actually higher. So it’s an exciting thing in the sense that if we can get more people to know that we’re there and to get us into their consideration set, when they come, I think they’re going to love it.” 

Michael had primarily been focused on network video, developing strategies to reach younger and more diverse audiences on streaming platforms for Cooking Channel, and Food Network — where he and I worked together during the last big crisis for the country, 9/11! He has quickly learned to apply his know-how to linear radio and on demand audio.

“When they start to know some of these shows where there are young, diverse hosts, a Sam Sanders or [they get to know the] hosts of Pop Culture Happy Hour, that creates so much more engagement than when they just see the three block letters, NPR.”

The fast 35-minute discussion includes suggestions all brands can appreciate from a world-class marketer like Michael Smith. We talked about:
  • The challenges most media companies are facing right now
  • How to move from linear to on demand streaming digital platforms
  • Balancing linear, podcasting and the NPR One app
  • How has Coronavirus Daily evolved as a show…and the ongoing need for that content?
  • How NPR itself has evolved since its origins in the 60s, and why its signature audio style is intentionally like a mental “exhale”
  • Working with the sponsorship team, NPM
  • Michael’s optimism — and any pessimism — for the future.

Follow Michael on LinkedIn. Follow NPR on Twitter.

Follow Insider Interviews on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And reach out to be considered for an episode or for your own bespoke podcast series produced and/or hosted by E.B. Moss. 

Michael’s “studio” chair

Lantigua-Williams with the Scoop on Launching a Podcast Company



Get the “insider scoop” on how to dive in to creating a place in the podcasting world. The talented Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, Founder/CEO of Lantigua Williams & Co., an award-winning and Peabody-nominated digital media studio, walked us through her anxiety through her achievements. While she’s humble enough to just describe herself as someone who builds teams that create podcasts, those teams have turned out hit after hit in three short years. But Lantigua-Williams has the chops, from 20 years of experience as a writer, reporter, editor, syndicated columnist, book editor/scout, lecturer, and audio producer!
The differentiator for this company? Its mission to support and amplify the creators and stories “from the margins” – which often means by and about women of color. These shows include Latina to Latina, which just passed 100 episodes, 70 Million, and Feeling My Flo. But Lantigua-Williams also does consulting and white-label production services for clients like Macmillan Podcasts (Driving the Green Book), the Phi Beta Kappa Society, WHYY, KQED, and Civil Beat.
Another secret weapon for success is Juleyka’s authenticity and generosity. She’s set a tone of sharing — which you’ll hear candidly in this conversation and can read in her posts on the company site and elsewhere, like this very guide to “centering marginalized people in your podcast.”
Listen and learn the ins and outs of producing a show and starting a company as Juleyka shares her knowledge and expertise including:
    • How Juleyka embraces her BFF, named “Insomnia”, and sidekick, Perfectionism
    • The path from intern to producer to company founder – as a “hyphenated American”
    • The first step to starting any company
    • Staying true to Juleyka’s vision for her company
    • How some shows came about (umm, conversations around astronauts menstruating in space?) and upcoming projects
    • Supporting women of color
    • Getting to “scale” and getting revenue
Follow on Social Media

 

Resources mentioned:

Lantigua Williams & Co

Podcasting Seriously

Truth be Told by Tanya Moseley

 


New Schedule for Insider Interviews Podcast!



Normally I come out with a new episode of “Insider Interviews” every Thursday, but did you know that I also have another podcast? It’s sort of my personal passion project and it’s called “It’s Quite a Living“, and it’s with “my friends in high places”. They’re really casual conversations about some high profile people who happen to be my friends. Now, that one comes out every other Tuesday.

So I’ve decided to make “Insider Interviews” — the B2B one speaking with those in media marketing and advertising — come out every other Thursday…at least through the summer.

Of course, if an eager sponsor* wants me to produce more frequently bring it on! Otherwise, you’ll hear Episode 11 NEXT Thursday.

Frankly, it’s been a LOT to create, host and post two podcasts a week, even though I love it — especially during our current times, and especially since I seem to be developing a reputation for singing to my guests. Listeners understand that…. But do stay subscribed because you won’t want to miss the CEO of Quigley Simpson, Carl Fremont, who will be my very interesting next guest!

And now you have some time in between to catch up on the past 10 episodes with amazing folks like Minjae Ormes of Visible, Claude Silver of Vayner Media, Sree Sreenivasan (don’t miss his #NYTimesReadalong on Sundays!), Rachael Henke of Dell Technologies, and guests from NYI, Tidal Wave Productions, Krantz Media and more!
I’m very, very proud of what we’ve been able to do together to bring you great content about the industry. And I really appreciate all of the great ratings you’ve given me and the subscribing and sharing. You can listen just about anywhere you like (although Pandora is still a hold out, I’m just sayin’.) Thank you for telling everyone in the industry. It means a lot to me.

*And, if you want to sponsor an episode of EITHER podcast, or suggest a guest for “Insider Interviews”, please reach out at podcasts@mossappeal.com. I’m “hear” for you!

E.B.


The Scoop on the Reality of Comic Books – with Darren G. Davis



The world of comic books and graphic novels is serious fun. Meaning, both serious and fun. From a serious shift in the revenue model as paper product has gone digital and the edutainment factor of non-fiction hand-drawn histories, to the wildly wicked fantasies spawned by Barbarella type heroines to fictionalized lives of heroes among us.  Darren G. Davis, president of one of the leading producers of both the serious and the fun books, TidalWave Productions, made a spontaneous appearance for Episode 8 of Insider Interviews with E.B. Moss – who was actually his former boss at the start of his career in entertainment, and now counts herself as a friend to the seriously funny founder!

In an office surrounded by framed super heroes, acquired during his days at DC Comics, and signed comic book covers from his biographical spins on everyone from Hillary Clinton to Barbara Walters, Davis both reminisced about our days at E! and his path forward from there, dished the dirt, and shared breaking news of stranger than fiction comics to come. Hint: Thought you’d heard the last of Stormy Daniels?….

Davis described the evolution of some of the iconic titles he’s created or developed over the past 20 years, including the top-selling “10th Muse” for Image Comics, and the niche he carved out in the fiction world via successful collaborations with iconic larger than life real characters ranging from William Shatner (Star Trek) and Adam West (Batman), to Vincent Price, William Nolan (Logan’s Run), Roger Corman, and now even the infamous Tiger King!

Listen for some of these moments, but it’s a breezy 35-minutes and you’ll want to hear all the fairly unfiltered anecdotes of this side of the content business:

  • 03:45 Leveraging an E! internship to a network ad sales career to marketing “B” movies (including his first encounter with Leprechaun the movie, which made its way years later into a comic book) to repping artists — and how it all came together to create a new career;
  • 08:00: From the muse of Olivia Newton John to learning to love the WWF
  • 09:30: The difference between a comic book and a graphic novel
  • :11:40: Phone messages from Batman and making misadventures for Adam West
  • 13:00: How Julie Newmar ended up back in time as Catwoman meets super-secret spy
  • 15:25: How to wear multiple hats and learn to pivot as a manager
  • 17:10: How to calm the tempest of Stormy Daniels’ angry manager (or lawyer) and wind up as friends – and business partners
  • 20:25: Turing women ranging from Condoleezza, and Sarah to Hillary and Stormy into a female force series (Hint: listen here for the breaking news!) to showcase the positivity in what they’ve accomplished – and the inspiration for it from the master, Stan Lee;
  • 23:15: The origins and value of comic books as educational – and taking a non-partisan stance, even when drawing on Obama to Bush;
  • 27:25: How Nook and Google and other platforms fill in the pages of lost print ads
  • 29:00: A not so serious discussion of fantasy super powers
  • 30:20 A serious discussion of celebrations and creations during COVID times
  • 33:00: The evolution of a “best worst idea”… twice

And…best ending ever? Davis pays tribute to Moss as SuperMentor.

PS: You heard this here first, too: He promises to put me in a comic some day!