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VoiceTAP Careers and Colleges Series – Advertising as a career

By on May 22, 2009 in On A Whim | 10 comments

VoiceTAP‘s call on Advertising as a career was held yesterday, 20th May 2009. Unfortunately I was not able to make a post on this sooner because I kept getting disconnected from the call multiple times yesterday. Before I begin, there’s a quick poll that VoiceTAP is conducting on what kind of sessions you’d want, so if you can leave your response below that would be nice. Listen to VoiceTAP Advertising as a career call by clicking here Advertising as a career in a nutshell The expert on call was V Subramaniam, who has worked in a senior position with advertising major Ogilvy & Mather. A lot of the advice given in the Event Management as a career call is equally valid for the realm of advertising too, so I would suggest you read up that first. While there are courses for advertising, most of these are postgraduate specializations. Just like in event management, the academic background that you’re coming from is not a roadblock to a career in advertising. Instead, it is your creativity and passion for the field that counts. Within the specific field of creatives, you have two different specializations – namely, copywriting and artwork. For specializing in artwork, design courses from National Institute of Design is a reputed institute which accepts students at the undergraduate level too. With the advent of online advertising and use of computer-aided graphics design, doing a course in this area may be beneficial too. Wigan & Leigh College and Amity School of Communication offer programmes in this field. Most of the courses specializing in advertising however are mostly at the postgraduate level. Thus, if you want to join a course at the undergraduate level then you can join mass communication, journalism, or English (Hons) courses. Ideally this sets you up for the copywriting line but then you can always cross over to something else. Getting into advertising has become more competitive – regardless of whether you’re doing a course in the field, or a course in an unrelated field. It is vitally important that you start building a portfolio – which will help you intern at companies and give you some hands-on experience. One way of going about this to, say, make an ad poster or video or something along the same lines for your favorite products. If you’re good at photography, then upload your pictures to Flickr – it has a really vibrant community, and you are sure to get feedback from others on how your photos are. Check what the pros do by browsing through Flickr Explore images. Make sure to be an active participant by commenting on others pictures. Flickr is good for those who’re more interested in photography-type artwork for advertising, but if you’re more into graphic design work, then deviantART is the place to be in. deviantART is a website dedicated to sharing and discovering artwork and this will be of immense help to those who want to go into artwork specializations. You will eventually need to edit even photographs, so this is something you should check out even if you’re more interested in photography. Image editing is done either in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator – knowledge of both will be necessary. The best place for Photoshop tutorials is Psdtuts+ (Psdtuts+ even has a video channel for demonstrations). If you don’t want to spend money yet on these commercial software, try out The Gimp (raster editor like Photoshop; basic tutorials are available here, and books – some of them free – are available here) and Inkscape (vector editor like Illustrator). The second specialization is copywriting. Taking up a course in English or mass communication helps create a base for you, but it is strictly not necessary if your writing is good. One way of improving your writing and getting feedback is to start blogging. You no longer have to write on sheets of paper and keep thinking on whether your creative writing is good or not when you can put it up online and get genuine feedback from people – this could be constructive criticism or encouragement, both of which can be useful to you. Setting up a blog is free and the best place to do that is WordPress.com. (The other major alternative is Blogger.com, but it often doesn’t function properly these days.) On the technical side, you’ll probably need knowledge of Adobe InDesign (free alternative is Scribus). Adobe PageMaker is an older (now deprecated) but still widely used software. Further Reading The amount of content that you’ll find online What an Advertise-Meant?: Blog doing in-depth analysis of prominent ads in the Indian media space. You’ll find details of how the ad was shot, the creative process behind it, and ratings of the ads on various parameters. This is blog is such a pleasure to read! Copyblogger: If you plan to go into copywriting, then this extremely popular blog is a must-read. It focuses more on digital media, but copywriting tips given are equally valid for ‘traditional’ media. Campaign India: Campaign India provides comprehensive news of developments in Indian advertising. It features interviews with prominent Indian advertising personalities; an added bonus is the job listings section. They also have a video channel. exchange4media: exchange4media runs two popular magazines dedicated to the Indian ad space – one is a monthly magazine called Pitch, and the other is a weekly called Impact. You can read Pitch...

VoiceTAP BITSAT call; online test series for entrance exams

By on May 4, 2009 in Reviews | 6 comments

VoiceTAP (see review here for more details about the service) conducted a call for BITSAT tips on 3rd May 2009. From now onwards if you’re participating in the live call then you don’t need to dial out to VoiceTAP’s number. Instead, they will dial out to your registered number at the time of the call. Thus, you don’t have spend anything for getting information from experts; of course, this is valid only for the live call and not if you want to listen in to a recording of the sessions – you’ll have to dial in yourself for that. Details are available on VoiceTAP website in case you’re interested in listening in to the recorded conversation of the BITSAT call. One query which cropped up multiple times during the call was whether an online resource is available for practicing BITSAT. The experts on call mentioned a few books – ones from Arihant and MTG Learning Media – but were not personally aware of online resources. Getting yourself acquainted with attempting a paper online is important because the experience is significantly different from giving an exam which is printed on paper. BITSAT is an exam where speed and accuracy counts, so it’s best not to lose precious time on the day of the exam making yourself comfortable. Here’s a listing of the e-learning resources you have at your disposal to prepare yourself for BITSAT. (Note: I personally tried out and / or used some of these mock BITSAT online tests last year.) Most of these resources are paid. If you want quality BITSAT papers, then you won’t find them for free. Official BITSAT Sample Paper: BITSAT itself releases a sample paper, but it’s small – contains just a handful of questions. This won’t give you much practice but it will give you an idea what the interface looks like. Made by Eduquity Technologies, the company which handles the BITSAT exam. (Noida centre of BITSAT exam is at Eduquity Technologies office.) MTG Learning Media / Arihant: BITSAT books from these two companies come bundled with ‘computer-based’ tests – normal question paper present in the book displayed on screen. These Flash-based versions will give you a feel of what the test interface is like but have one major drawback – they give you the score but do not display any kind of analysis. You need to manually check up solutions. In my opinion, when you’re paying for such a thing – that too computer based – then analysis is a must. Brilliant Tutorials: Made by Vriti Infocom, the company behind GoIIT. Brilliant tutorials provides the question bank, Vriti handles all the IT aspects. You can check out the online courses offered by Brilliant Tutorials for BITSAT here. Level questions closely mirrored the actual test. Occassionally, you might find errors in their system – not in the questions themselves, but in the form of incorrectly entered answer (same answer in some choice, etc); probably because of data entry errors at Vriti’s end. After a test you get detailed analysis of your performance too. In case you’re interested, Brilliant Tutorials also offers online test series for DCE. You don’t need to stay online the whole time – at the beginning of the test it downloads all the questions to your browser. When you’re done, you can reconnect and submit everything. Career Launcher: CL didn’t offer online tests when I studied there (we always got online reports for the exams we gave on paper though), but I’ve heard that now they do offer online BITSAT mock tests for their own students. Career Launcher has always been at the forefront of IT usage in education so I’d expect their testing system to be good. Their analysis reports for exams were very comprehensive in nature – a handy tool when you’re trying to eliminate weak points in the final days in run up to BITSAT. I suggest you get in touch with your nearest Career Launcher centre to find out more details. BITSAT Race: I’ve spoken (in not so flattering terms) about this service earlier. Questions in its database weren’t like the actual BITSAT. They might have improved over the last year though. You can check it out, but I advise against going for this one. English and logical reasoning section in its papers are especially bad. StudyPlaces.com: Never tried them. Free papers. I know the guys behind this venture from elsewhere – and their other offerings are pretty good – so you should give this a try. Time Institute: Famous for being the ones who are first to release solutions for any exam. Haven’t tried their course (it wasn’t around in my time). That’s about it. Leave a comment below if you are aware of any other online testing services which have used and / or think is good. Use these mock BITSATs to acquaint yourself with the format and keep BITSAT cutoff scores in mind when analysing your performance reports in these...

VoiceTAP review

By on Apr 22, 2009 in Reviews, Tech Takes | 6 comments

A few days back I had done a post on VoiceTAP’s IIT JEE conference call. I’d promised a more complete review of VoiceTAP for later after attending their AIEEE conference (no, I’m not giving the exam) on 19th April…here it is. To recapitulate quickly VoiceTAP is a platform that allows knowledge-seekers in a particular field to interact with experienced knowledge-givers over a conference. The way this works is that a conference call is pre-scheduled, then the participants login to the VoiceTAP system by calling up a pre-defined number and entering their unique PIN. The AIEEE conference call was scheduled for 12 noon on 19th. I dialled in the VoiceTAP number and logged in to their system, got connected to conference call live. A session lasts around 30 minutes during which participants can put in their questions by pressing a sequence of numbers. A VoiceTAP representative then takes their question and a few selected ones are asked by the moderator to the experts who’re associated with the session. At the end of the session you can provide feedback by rating the session from a scale of 1-5. In a sense, this is quite like a radio talk show with the difference being in the medium used to deliver the content. The advantage that VoiceTAP has is that unlike radio which must cater to topics which have a wide audience, VoiceTAP can connect experts and ‘students’ from niche audiences too. (For those who will be giving AIEEE you can listen in to a recording of the session by registering for the session on the VoiceTAP website. You’ll get an email containing all necessary details – your PIN, phone number you need to call. You’ll get tips on differences between IIT JEE and AIEEE, things you need keep in mind when attempting AIEEE, what you need to do in the days leading up to AIEEE, et al. It’s not that costly to ‘attend’ a call either; depending on whether you call in from a landline or cellphone you pay phone charges only to a tune of Rs 8-30, an excellent price for getting advice from experts.) When you like a service you want the service to survive – and that means monetization. (I know startups want to focus on getting the product built well first and then monetize, but it’s something that needs to be kept in mind. And as a user I do need to think about it since without monetization the service dies out.) With that in mind I have a few suggestions for VoiceTAP: An obvious monetization strategy is advertising – through sponsorship in the way of ‘branded calls’ and in-conference ads. For instance, there’s a mid-session break during which questions asked by participants are compiled; that time can be used for airing relevant ads. Advertisers get good bang for buck as the participants are pro-active – they have dialled in to be a part of this and are not likely to hang up the phone. Probably more micro-breaks can be inserted. Podcasts / Downloads: Once advertising (as a business strategy) during the live call has been decided upon, I don’t see any reason why podcasts / downloads of conference calls can’t be made available. Ads already included in the ‘live’ version can be used, or ad slots can be sold to another set of advertisers. If people skipping ads in downloaded copies is an issue then maybe a streaming version of the recording can be made online. Later maybe paid downloads of recordings can also be considered. Anyway, at least in alpha / beta stage of VoiceTAP it would be a swell idea to provide downloads of recordings. Users are sceptical of ‘newfangled’ ideas and downloads would allow them to experience rich content without spending anything. Then, they may be enticed enough to attend a live version of future calls. Not a lot of expenditure is involved and it won’t make a significant dent because the ones using this would be tech-savvy users, who can evangelize and spread word-of-mouth publicity for VoiceTAP. (Like I am doing right now.) Premium-rated calls. After the conference call is done, participants who want to interact one-to-one with an expert can dial in on a premium number and have a word with them for a period of, say, up to one hour after the call (or however much the expert can devote). By ‘premium-rated call’ I mean those calls where you pay Rs 3-6 per minute. Of course, this is something VoiceTAP will only be able to negotiate with network service providers once they get volumes. I don’t think users would mind paying that price for interacting with an expert. Since the call is connected and moderated using VoiceTAP, privacy (phone number details) of the expert are also protected. By an extension, there could an SMS shortcode number to which participants can SMS queries to during and after session. VoiceTAP team and experts should go through some stock questions before going on air. By all means accept questions from participants, but be prepared with a few question-answer choices that are bound to come up. Do it over email, on phone before a conference, whatever. This helps in eliminating those ‘uhms’ and ‘ahs’ during a live call. I’m not saying current sessions are bad – the content is extremely good – but being prepared would help in smoother content delivery. Live polling. I’m not...

VoiceTap IIT JEE Conference

By on Apr 11, 2009 in On A Whim | 9 comments

A few hours left for the Indian entrance exams tamasha to begin, starting off with the IIT JEE tomorrow. Those who’re giving the exam must be pretty wired right now. I came across a new web startup recently – co-founded by one of my Twitter contacts – and I wanted to share it before the exam for those who may be interested. I’ll just give a bit of information right now; leaving a more complete review of the service for later. The startup I’m talking about is VoiceTap. The USP of VoiceTap is that it allows the common man to interact with experts in particular fields over a phone conversation. This is done by setting up a dial-in voice conferencing system where users call a phone number, login, and listen to what the experts have to say. You get ask questions to them, moderated by the VoiceTap team. All conferences are pre-scheduled. On 5th April 2009 VoiceTap held a conference on strategies for IIT JEE featuring Abhinav Garg and Archit Gupta (AIR JEE rankers 3 & 4). You can listen in to a record of the conference by going to VoiceTap and registering yourself for the session. You will get an email specifiying a phone number which you need to call. The automated IVRS system will ask you for your PIN (mentioned in the email). Once authenticated, you can listen to the approximately 30 minute long conference. I do suggest you try it out. The idea sounds really nice, but I didn’t get to participate in an actual live conference. There’s another one coming up on 19th April 2009 for AIEEE. I’ll participate as a user in that and then give a full review. I wish all the IIT JEE aspirants luck for their exam...