Ann Peavey

Ann Peavey is the Senior Manager of Visitor and Concierge Services for Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Ann Peavey

To what lengths do you go to maintain a firm eagle eye on all of the happenings in Seattle?

The hospitality world in Seattle is huge – as is the need to keep on top of everything here. From local hotel packages, to wine dinners throughout town, to what’s playing at local theatres and tucked-away spots, it’s critical for me, along with our entire Visit Seattle hospitality, to know what’s happening in and around our city. Our Cultural Tourism Director works with a collective of local arts organizations in the area to send out a monthly electronic ‘Hot Sheet’ to the concierge community highlighting the major events of the month, and those upcoming within the year. This is just one of the tools I use to help find events to share with followers. I love to dine out and thoroughly enjoy exploring the city in my free time – both of which help me in picking up tips and information along the way. Twitter-stream searches are always a rich source of information (with fact-checking, of course), and a great way to share other’s experiences on what’s available to see and do here. And of course, along with always having my ear to the ground, I’m a master of Google!

In what ways did Twitter transform the nature of your job?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that Twitter transformed my job, but instead has enhanced it. Twitter is a great vehicle for our @VisitSeattle message, but has also been an essential tie-in to our local audience. Through Twitter contacts, we have become more visible within the local community, and we find more locals are becoming our tourism ambassadors in spreading our message further. Twitter allows us to tap into a segment of our leisure travel audience that isn’t necessarily interested in having guides or maps sent out to them. Through extensive scanning of search streams on Twitter, we can find these travelers and begin assisting them while still in the infancy of their travel planning.

When assisting visitors to Seattle, what type of information do you find yourself having to provide most often?

Along with local events and attractions, many followers are asking for more specific information on “hidden gems” around the area. My @SeattleMaven account has been a great way to showcase what it’s like to live, work and play in the city. This can be a fun way to pique the interest of someone looking for a slightly different spin than the norm. I see that the savvy Twitter follower connecting with the local tweeps can more easily find the insider’s perspective that they’re after.

How often do you find yourself learning new things about the city yourself?

Most of what I learn that’s new I bump into without intention. When I first found the little tugboat plying the waters of Lake Union giving tours of the lake with root beer floats, it was by happenstance as I was riding my bike around the lake. Likewise, walking my dogs through different city streets always ends up bringing a trove of information. With that said, I’m on a plethora of email lists and always seem to have an early in to many new restaurants and attractions coming to the city.

What’s on the horizon for the Convention and Visitors Bureau?

We began our official tourism channel on Twitter just a few short months ago: @VisitSeattle! Now keeping lower-key with my @SeattleMaven persona, I’m leading our SCVB team of tweeters in bringing multiple voices (i.e. multiple tweeters) to our channel. Although @SeattleMaven will always be around, we recognize the need to heighten awareness of our Visit Seattle brand, as well as reap the rewards that comes with having a more well-rounded posse to sing our tourism message.

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Isaac Marion

Isaac Marion is the author of Warm Bodies, which has been adapted into a feature film that will be released on February 1.

Photo Credit: Andy Roulston

What was the process behind expanding your short story “I Am A Zombie Filled With Love” into a full-length novel?

The short story was very short, just a few pages, more of a quick vignette , a “slice of death,” if you will. So really all there was to expand was the basic premise — a look at life through the eyes of a walking corpse. Beyond that, it was a new story for me.

Many people have tried to tie Warm Bodies to a particular genre or descriptor (such as “zombie  romance”), but it always seems to be slightly missing the mark. Nowadays, how do you personally pitch the novel to those who are still unfamiliar with it?

I’ve always struggled to describe it. It walks a fence between so many different genres, styles, and audiences, it’s hard to sum it up concisely. As soon as I say the word “zombie,” people label it a horror story or a spoof comedy, and it has a little of both of those in it, but it’s really more of a literary novel in tone and intent. It has a lot of black humor, but it’s also pretty earnest. How I describe it to people usually depends on how much time I have. If it’s a quick question in a noisy bar, I just say “It’s about a zombie who wants to be alive.”

To what degree were you consulted on the creative direction of the film adaptation?

I had a few conversations with the director as he was writing the script; he would call me occasionally to ask how I saw certain details or what my intent was with this or that. I read two drafts of the script and gave notes, which I think were well-received, and I gave some further suggestions on the rough cut of the film, which is all I’ve seen so far, so I don’t know if they were implemented. In the end, it’s their film, and they’ve certainly put their own spin on it, but they’ve been really respectful and inclusive with me throughout the process.

Has seeing your novel on the big screen influenced the way you’re writing the sequel?

It’s a little bit tricky to keep the original version of the characters in my head while the movie’s version of them is saturating my daily life, but it’s important to do so because there are significant differences. I’m enforcing a strict separation between the movie and the book while I work on the sequel. Although it may be hard to resist allowing a thin layer of meta humor to slip in somewhere…

What are some other types of stories you’d like to write somewhere down the line?

Most of the stuff I write is not as pop-culture-friendly as Warm Bodies, so expect it to get a lot weirder from here. I have a lot of ideas lined up. For my next book, I’ll have to choose between the one about a guy exchanging psychic correspondence with his girlfriend while sailing to Antarctica as a form of extended suicide, the one about an immortal and indestructible man living out his mundane life through the centuries, the one about two post office workers who get caught in a potentially apocalyptic hostage situation with a seemingly omnipotent customer named Dan, or the one about some college kids who discover that their house is built on top of an endless stack of older houses descending into a subterranean nightmare realm. I hope I live long enough to write all of them.

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Matthew Ashworth

Matthew Ashworth runs the technology PR practice for the Seattle office of Porter Novelli. He is also a co-founder of the online volunteer music magazine NadaMucho.

What are the day-to-day responsibilities of your job?

I am in charge of Porter Novelli Seattle’s technology practice. We work with clients to change public perception about their company and products. My daily responsibilities include writing, editing, developing PR plans, managing employees and keeping clients happy. I also keep an eye on what’s going on in tech in this market and try to grow the practice to take on new customers.

How does the job of a PR professional working within the world of consumer technology differ from those specializing in other types of consumer brands?

A lot of what we do is take technical jargon and put it into terms that my mom or my grandma can understand. Tech companies always want to talk about the size, the speed and the other specifications of their product, but media and consumers mostly just want to know what it is and how it can make their lives better.

It’s easy for consumers to have access to information and products nowadays. How has the difficulty of promoting tech brands changed in the past decade?

A decade ago – and certainly two decades ago – if you wanted to reach people through mass media, buying a broadcast ad on the major networks would hit a large cross-section of the population. That percentage is shrinking because there are so many more places to get information. You have to do your homework and really understand who you are trying to influence and pick the best ways to reach them.

The other big change is the advent of social media and the role it plays in PR and consumer marketing. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing because it forces companies to listen and to facilitate discussion – you can’t just hammer away at your audience with your marketing messages anymore.

How do you go about managing and balancing your work flow at Porter Novelli with your side-project at NadaMucho.com?

I’ve done NadaMucho.com as a hobby for 15 years, but it always comes secondary to my day job and my family. Luckily, I really like my job and I don’t require as much sleep as most people. I actually kept my career and NadaMucho.com fairly separate until I came to Porter Novelli a couple years ago. But the two are really working together well for the first time in my life. We have lots of young professionals here who need writing experience, and I’m always looking for people to cover shows or review albums for NadaMucho.com. And at Porter Novelli, we look at the intersection of technology and music and are interested in working with some companies in that space, so my experience as a music zine publisher, booker and promoter is coming in handy.

In the midst of numerous online outlets about music, where do you see a site like NadaMucho fitting into the grand scheme of things?

There are a lot of other great music sites in town that are comprehensive and cover everything, like a true news outlet. We’re not that. We want to have more personality and opinion and encourage wacky discussion. And we want people to interact with our content and tell us when they think we are wrong.

We’re going to re-launch this year in more of a blog format, and we’re going to continue sharing our thoughts and opinions of music and culture, but we’re also going to go back and tell the story of our 15-year history, which I think is ideal for a blog format.

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Josh LaBelle

Josh LaBelle is the executive director of Seattle Theatre Group.

How did you become the executive director of STG?

I started in the programming department, and I was afforded the opportunity to go up. That’s just the simple and straightforward answer. There was no special sauce there. I just worked in programming and helped develop and grow the business and was eventually asked the run the place.

What are some of the unique aspects of the way STG goes about operations?

There are many partnerships, big and small. I think that’s one of the things that sets us apart and creates somewhat of a unique and rather dynamic environment. Instead of hiring a producer on our own, we prefer to work with a like-minded community non-profit and essentially share that responsibility and opportunity. On the larger scale, we have a partnership with Broadway Across America, out of New York City, which is the largest theater producer in our country. They take the lead in putting together our Broadway series every season, and that’s a partnership of some sort.

How do you measure that the values of the organization are being met?

We have something called key reliance that our management team set for us on a monthly basis. Those key reliances touch on a wide variety of issues, such as the values of our company. It may touch on financials, but also values how our partnerships are coming long, or how we’re taking care of our staff. So it all comes down to a monthly measurement in our key reliances. Some companies call them KPI’s, key performance indicators. The notion of our values in very present, and overall our values can usually be summed up in two words, which is “community-built.”

How do you go about coordinating performances in venues other than your own theaters?

We don’t operate theaters outside the Seattle area. We only operate Paramount, Moore and Neptune. We do some presenting in other cities, usually a few concerts at a time in the Portland area. Every now and then, we will present in other venues in Seattle, such as Alvin Ailey at the 5th Avenue Theatre. We presented Kanye West at Key Arena. Generally speaking, we step outside our venues when the right opportunity arises. We’re pretty committed to staying focused to these three historic theaters, but at the same time, if we’ve been working with an artist like Kanye West and he wants to play Key Arena and he wants STG to handle it, we will do our best to meet that request from the artist.

What is your all-time favorite live performance that you’ve attended?

On a personal basis, I saw Prince perform at Paramount Theatre, and I saw him cover Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” He turned it into an R&B ballad, and it pretty much floored me for a month. So that will always stick to my mind. I’d say it’s a toss-up between Prince and one time where we had the Bolshoi Ballet performing at the Paramount, and their prima ballerina, a woman named Nina Ananiashvili, was dancing the role of Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet,” and I could have sworn at the end of the performance when Juliet died, she literally looked like she melted. And I never really understood how she did that physically or lighting-wise how they pulled that off, but I will always remember Nina Ananiashvili melting in front of me in the role of Juliet at the Paramount.

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Andrew McMasters

Andrew McMasters is the artistic director and co-founder of Wing-It Productions, which includes the long-running Jet City Improv.

Andrew McMasters

What are the specifics of your job?

The job of artistic director entails making sure that shows stay at the highest artistic quality and setting a season of new ensemble shows for each calendar year. So it’s a bit of a two-fold – it’s creating new work, and then also making sure that our core products, which we do all year round, stay at the highest artistic level possible. Outside of that, there’s a lot of speaking about the organization and organizational work – motivating the staff, managing the company, keeping the wheels running.

When you founded Jet City Improv in 1992, what was the improve= scene in Seattle like at the time?

Very small. There was one other group in town, which was Seattle Theatresports. Other than them, there was no one else doing any regular shows. After around the year 2000, we really started to figure out how we could build the community and make a large improve community in the Pacific Northwest.

What is it about the show that has made it endure over the past two decades?

More than anything else, I think it’s the fun and family-friendly aspect. I think people like to go see any kind of show where people are having the best time of their lives onstage. So one of the things we try to stress to all the players is that your infectious fun that you’re having on stage gets across to the audience – they feel that. So you have to have a high sense of play and high sense of fun. And I think that’s what’s made it endure. Also, we’ve continued to evolve the show. The show we had 20 years ago is not the show we have today.

What kind of performance setting – whether it be improv, acting, etc. – do you personally enjoy the most?

I actually enjoy acting the most, and I think the creating of new work is the part that I really love. I’ve also been trained as an actor – I have a Master’s degree in theater. I’ve worked at a number of other theaters and done a lot of scripted work as well. I love the idea of creating your own work and creating instantaneous work, so that’s why I was drawn to this.

If someone were to ask you to give them a single piece of advice about breaking into improv, what would it be?

Practice. That’s pretty much it. It’s a learning skill. The more you do it, the better you get. So it really takes ongoing practice, ongoing dedication, ongoing training, and also ongoing performance in front of an audience. I believe you learn more from performing in front of an audience that you do in a month of rehearsals.

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Mónica Guzmán

Mónica Guzmán is a journalist and technology columnist for publications including GeekWire and The Seattle Times.

Monica Guzman

Nowadays, what’s the longest you can go without using social media?

I’ve been able to go a full 9 days, during my honeymoon a couple years back. Last year I disconnected on a trip to Puerto Rico. For months I stuck to a routine of disconnecting – completely – every Sunday. That ended when I started my Seattle Times Sunday column in the spring. It is tough, let me tell you …

When you write about tech, who do you see as your intended audience?

It depends on whether I’m writing in The Seattle Times, on GeekWire, or on social media or my blog. It really varies. In The Seattle Times, I’m thinking of all the people whose lives and worlds have been impacted by these connected technologies, even if they don’t consider themselves geeks. On GeekWire, I think of the rich community of Seattle techies, whether they’re gadget gurus, work at a startup or just like to follow news about the big companies and big trends making news. On social media, I’m honestly just myself. I think of my friends and that works just fine.

Considering the overlap in your professional and personal passions, how do you go about maintaining a work-life balance?

My hours are super flexible right now, which is awesome, since I just had a little boy. I work mostly from home or from out in the world – coffee shops, techie spaces, conferences, wherever I can get some inspiration. The toughest thing is getting off the computer in the evening. Sometimes the day’s writing isn’t quite done and I’m tempted to stay online pretty much until it’s time to go to bed. Writing is a particularly tough craft to schedule; sometimes you’re on a roll and sometimes you’re just not. Overall, though, I feel like I’m balancing my work, my friends and my new little family pretty well.

What aspects of the journalism industry have you found to be unique to Seattle?

We are less competitive and more collaborative than many other places around the country. Get to know some of the people in newsrooms – particularly in technology and social media – and a lot of them not only know each other, but check in with each other on occasion to see how best to cover a broad story together. I love this about Seattle’s media space.

What are some current and up-and-coming trends in the industry that interest you?

This question always trips me up. Journalists are learning how to work with communities online to improve the overall sense of what’s happening in the world. I think that’s still happening and is still good, as long as we don’t get bogged down in Facebook likes and Twitter traffic. All of us – not just journalists – are learning pretty organically just from our activity online how to tell stories with multimedia and see that our content gets into the right ongoing conversations. As for technology, I’m excited about what we can learn about ourselves from apps that can track our activities over time and place, and how willing we are to have machines watch us so closely, even if the data stay private. Lots of cool things going on. That’s just getting us started…

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Tom Watson

Tom Watson manages King County’s EcoConsumer public outreach program. 

Tom Watson

Where did your interest in sustainability come from?

In the early 1980s, I was a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Wrangell, a small logging and fishing town in the rainforest of southeastern Alaska. I was struck by the awesomeness of the natural world there. Just taking a walk you might see bears or bald eagles or the Northern Lights. The best place to watch bears was at the town’s open garbage dump, which made me sad and helped generate my interest in recycling and reducing waste.

What are the origins of the EcoConsumer program?

It started out as a public education program to encourage people to reduce the waste they generate, not just by recycling but by actually creating less garbage. Then we realized that all environmental messages, from conserving energy to reducing toxics, are interrelated. Now we cover everything. We also wanted a lively, fun, accessible program where the public and media could get all their “green” questions answered, and that’s what we’re trying to deliver now.

How does your work vary from day to day?

Every day is different, filled with research, collaboration, writing, interviews, and presentations, all aimed at helping the public understand environmental issues and learning what they can do. One day I’m on TV with a live turkey, which I know seems redundant, and an hour later I’m using Twitter, linking to a fantastic article someone sent me about new ways to weatherize your home.

What has been your most successful platform for educating people about sustainability efforts?

We’re very fortunate to have several ongoing platforms right now, including my EcoConsumer column in the Seattle Times, segments on KOMO-TV’s 4 p.m. news, radio appearances on KOMO and KJR-FM, my EcoConsumer blog, and Twitter. They all seem like they are reaching people, so that makes them all equally successful to me.

What are some progressive consumption and conservation practices that all King County residents could easily adopt?

Drive less. Walk more. Grow food. Shop at farmers markets. Insulate your home better. Do what you can, but don’t waste your energy feeling guilty about what you don’t do. Support “product stewardship,” which means that companies take full responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products. Hold governments to high standards of environmental protection as well. It’s not just all on you. Let governments know how we can help you preserve our environment and make all of our households safer and healthier.

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