Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Digital Media Marketing – an interview with Melissa Watson Coetzee

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Today’s post expands on the topic of Digital Media Marketing. Our guest is Melissa Watson Coetzee, an American woman who studied Communications Curation and Criticism of Art and Design at Central Saint Martins in London, where she lived for 5 years before moving back to America. Now she is the President of the West Coast Chapter of her Alumni Association in LA, works with a theater publishing company as their Digital Media Editor/Curator and organizes events, conferences and festivals.

Let’s start with the basics. How would you describe Digital Media Marketing to someone who just walked out of the woods and had no idea what it is?

If I had to describe Digital Media Marketing in its simplest form I would say it is marketing done in a digital format – which means the option to market your business and connect with your target demographic all without the use of print. It’s about saving the trees really. You can be cost effective and go green all at the same time.

How does DMM relate to blogging?  What’s the relationship between the two?

A blog represents different things to different people and organizations. For some people it’s their creative outlet, they have no intention in making money with it. They just use it as a form of expression. In some situations the blog is the hub of their online community. In this instance all of their social platforms will point back to their blog because that is their main platform. For some people a blog is incorporated as an element of a website as a way to increase SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and communicate with their audience. It all depends on how you want to approach it and what your desired outcome is. Everyone has different reasons for putting themselves out there.

Do you think artists need to promote themselves in addition to their work?

If in your practice, whatever that may be, you want to make money, then you need a business plan, and in that business plan there should be a strategic outreach and marketing plan. Part of that marketing plan should be social media promotion. With social media you really have the opportunity to show the “human” side of your business; to show the person behind the work, creating the opportunity for  people to feel they are supporting a person not just a business entity.

What do you think makes a good blog?

A good blog is one that has a purpose and commits to that purpose. It acknowledges its readership, is loyal to them, and updates consistently.

I like that you can learn about anything anytime online. If you have a topic in mind there is probably a blog about it. Now you have to take the information with a grain of salt because it is not vetted through an editor of fact checker (depending on the blog). The point being is that through digital media people who would not meet in their day to day lives are able to connect and communicate with other likeminded individuals. This has created opportunities for an open source platform where people connect from across the globe on a topic and all contribute their own ingenuity and perspective towards its development.

Have you ever blogged for others? If so, how was that experience different than blogging for yourself?

When you ghost blog you have to be very clear on the tone of the blog and who you are communicating to. Just like when writing for a newspaper or magazine there needs to be very clear style guidelines. My website (www.CreativelyInformed.com) has had many incarnations over the years but the name has always stayed the same. It is important when you are a freelancer to have a web presence. I might feel as though I didn’t quite exist or be taken seriously if I didn’t know how to manage a website. It would be like being an expert mechanic and not driving in your day to day life. You really have to know your craft if you want to be taken seriously, and demonstrate that you are on top of the ever evolving game.

What do you do now and how does DMM factor in?

When I moved to Los Angeles after college, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do but I knew I needed a job and quick. I had previous experience in web development and a background in marketing so I made a presentation of how social media can and does affect small businesses and started pitching to various companies. Eventually, I landed a job at FootLights Publishing Inc. and the rest, as they say, is history.

At the moment, I work with lamart.com and digital media is my preferred marketing platform. It’s more cost effective than print and in this economy trying to get money for marketing is like getting blood from a stone. People don’t have the money to spend they once did and so they have to be strategic about where they spend the little money they do have. With digital media marketing you get the instant gratification you are looking for, it is easy to monitor and track your ads, and you can build and audience quickly and relatively inexpensively.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I wish I had the answer to that — oh wait, no I don’t. I don’t think life is meant to be all planned out.  I am excited about the next step in my life, but life moves so fast I am doing my best to live in the moment. The next 5 -10 years will come quickly enough and take care of themselves. I do want to focus my professional development on community engagement digitally as well as in the “real” world. I am very interested in different cultures and how they interact, but in the end we are all very much the same.

This is why I created the Global Photo Project at www.creativelyinformed.com. This photo project tracks the festivals and community gatherings around the globe. It started as a one year project but has moved onto something I will do as an annual exhibition.

This project is not about photography but is more about documenting days in our lives that mean the most to us and it just happens that many of those days are the days in which we engage with our communities, whatever those may be. I would really like to see digital media tear down cultural and logistical barriers but that is in the grand scheme things. Social Media really leveled the playing field for people to be more independent and support their own independent businesses and reach their target audiences in a way they could not do before.

Where do you see DMM in the next 5-10 years?

That is up for the people to decide. It is here now, and is not going anywhere. Platforms will come and go but we all live online now so there is no avoiding it. My hope is that digital media functions as a platform for social consciousness, as a way for us to see the world as a whole and not be so separated. I love the concept of open source development and I hope through having the capacity to connect digitally that we can connect more openly and inter-culturally. It is fitting that this is posted today Dec 21 2012 because this really is the dawning of a new age.

You recently got married. Did you incorporate social media into your wedding?  

I actually did my best to keep my wedding off of social media. The only images of my wedding on Facebook were placed there by the photographer (who is a friend of mine). I in no way wanted my wedding to be added marketing/advertising for the vendors. Some things are private family affairs in my book. Other people feel differently and live their lives open on the web and I say more power to them, it just was not my path.

Last thoughts/advice for the readers?

There is still a thing such as privacy. If you don’t want anybody to know about it, then don’t put it online. Even if you think you have optimized your permissions, or have kept it anonymous. Your digital footprint lasts forever so make it a footprint you want everyone (even your mother) to see.

Thank you for being the first interview on Riding Bitch Blog.

Thank you for inviting me! I’m excited to see how your journey and blog develops.


If you have any questions for Melissa, feel free to leave them below.

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

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