Social media producer for CNN Africa and 1/4th of The Receipts Podcast, Phoebe Parke is absolutely a women we’re watching and have been watching for a minute. Passionate about telling stories in new and exciting ways, we’re inspired by the way she puts her work into the world, while championing the work of others. One of our faves from across the pond, get into Phoebe’s interview below. Follow her on Twitter @PhoebeParke and check out The Receipts Podcast to keep up with a woman for whom we can’t wait to see what’s next.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Who are you and where are you headed?
I’m Phoebe Parke, a London-based journalist, social media manager and podcaster. I’m mixed race, specifically Jamaican and English, a Christian, and have lived in London my whole life, except for a sneaky 9 months in Berlin to learn German. I’m passionate about telling untold stories in new ways, and using social media to amplify those stories.
How did you get your start in media (journalism, podcasting, and social media management)? Who or what inspired you?
I decided I wanted to be a journalist while studying for an undergraduate degree in English and German Literature at the University of Warwick, so I did a Masters degree after that in Journalism at Brunel University. The course covered everything – TV, Magazines, Shorthand, Media Law, Radio – and so now I’m using those handy audio editing skills for podcasting. After the course I interned at CNN – I applied through a charity called Creative Access which aims to get more people of colour into creative industries, and then I was offered a more permanent position.
1/4th of The Receipts Podcast, which everyone loves because of how open and unfiltered the conversation is, talk to me about the decision to move from print to podcast and the birth of The Receipts?
Thank you! I’m overwhelmed by the responses to the podcast every single week – people don’t just listen, they tweet, leave reviews, email us, and come out to our live shows! The podcast was born when Tazer Black (of 3 Shots of Tequila) and Tolly had an exchange on Twitter about forming an all-female podcast, Tazer tagged some girls who he thought would be a good mix, and some of us got on an email chain, into a whatsapp group, met up for drinks, recorded a pilot, and here we are today. Podcasting has allowed us to be very free in what we say, and we rarely have the same opinion on a topic – it’s this diversity of opinions that people say keeps them coming back.
Globalization + social media have made the world more interconnected than ever. In what ways can you see US and UK culture influencing each other? Where is the space for WOC across the pond to come together and share culture or collaborate?
One of the things I love about social media is that you can make connections around the world in an instant. You can hear the US influence on UK music every time you turn on the radio, but what’s interesting to me is that you can see it in podcasting too – US shows like The Read with Kid Fury and Crissle West are the model for some UK podcasts, they mirror the format, topics and tone.
Of course it’s normal to look up to, and learn from, these podcasting greats, but I’d say that US listeners also tune in to UK podcasts to hear a slice of life from this side of the pond – not our take on US celebrities and the same topics every other podcast is covering. As more people start podcasting it’s important to have a unique perspective in order to stand out, and I think the UK scene has a lot to offer the US, and countries around the world too. I love seeing collaborations between US and UK women of colour – guest posting on each other’s blogs, being interviewed by each other, sharing podcasting tips via DM or just retweeting each other’s posts.
What opportunities do you see for women/women of color/girls like you in journalism and podcasting? How do you intend to positively influence the space?
Journalism is crying out for diversity, and now is the perfect time to get your voice heard as a woman of colour. Big media organisations are always looking for new stories, new perspectives and new mediums to try out – you just have to know how to package and market yourself and perfect your pitching skills.
Having a personal blog or solid online portfolio of work is essential in my opinion, and I intend to champion women of colour who have a spirit of excellence and a passion for telling stories wherever I go.
I’m always available to offer advice, and have a blog full of articles to help people trying to get into the media industry, some examples: 11 things to do before launching your first podcast, How to start a blog you’re not embarrassed to show off, How to network on Twitter without being creepy, and my personal favourite: How to effectively market your work without DMing anyone.
What message would you give millennial WOC who are trying to break into journalism or get their podcast on the map? How should someone go about deciding which form of media will work best for their brand/voice?
Reputation is everything so make sure you send every email, write every article and conduct every interview with excellence; “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” – Colossians 3:23
Interning, having a personal blog or working on a small local publication is a great way to break into journalism, you don’t have to have a professional qualification for every job, but in my experience, it really helps set you apart – it’s a very competitive industry.
People think podcasting is easy because the barrier to entry is low – you can record on a laptop and edit using free software. But the best podcasts have a clear mission, a unique take on things and bags of personality. Listen to podcasts in the area you want to start podcasting in, scroll through the top charts and see where your podcast would fit, and when you’ve started your podcast use your social media channels to push push push – schedule your posts, have a unique hashtag, get the best visuals you can, send it to friends and family and shout about it.
My advice is start telling your story in the medium you are most comfortable in; I started in print media, then online journalism, then radio, now podcasting and who knows what God has in store next. Make sure you spend time honing your craft in each medium, and your work will speak for itself.
What can we expect from you moving forward? How can we best be of support?
I’m absolutely obsessed with podcasting at the moment, as you can probably tell from my Twitter feed, and social media management is still so exciting for me – I get to share excellent journalism and fresh stories with a massive audience and experiment with social to find out what works for different audiences.
I love the support I get on social when I bring out something new, and the more I support women of colour online, the more it comes back to me, so I’m grateful.
Oh and if you know of any podcasts I should be listening to – tweet me the link and tell me why you love it.
In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy do you want to leave behind?
Just for kicks:
ASATT or Lemonade?
Has to be A Seat at the Table for me – it’s my go-to relaxation album.
Instagram or Twitter?
Twitter! I’ve made so many connections there (including The Receipts Podcast ladies).
A night out or in with the girls?
Definitely in with the girls…(and some good food like roasted duck, mac and cheese or fried plantain)