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Q&A with Kate Gardiner

Audience engagement consultant from NYC | DSTL agency

I'm Kate Gardiner, an audience engagement consultant working with media brands on their digital strategies, partnerships, syndication, publications and marketing efforts. I graduated Northwestern University in 2009 with a journalism master's degree and have been a freelance writer as well as a relatively serious photographer for most of my adult life. My agency is called DSTL and we serve media makers, foundations and other publishers all over the world. I'm also the events director for a women's empowerment platform called, started by Rachel Sklar. We do a ton of work to highlight women who are building and achieving things all over the world, in every industry. I'm a native Chicagoan, a huge fan of horse riding and a frustrated photojournalist. I read a lot.

How did you get into journalism and PR? What is your background?

When I graduated j-school, it was very difficult to find work - I had a $5k fellowship with Chicago Public Radio as a City Desk Fellow and a lot of freelance work but that role wasn't webby-enough and there was no money in freelance writing in Chicago.

I moved to Washington, D.C. to work with PBS NewsHour, then Al Jazeera, and eventually found myself consulting full time for similar brands in service journalism. That portfolio has expanded a lot over the years. I always wanted to be a reporter -- preferably on a city desk covering politics -- but when I got that job it turned out I wanted to do that, and so much more, especially in a journalism landscape that changed so much between my first article (2002) and my second graduation.

What are you working on now?

My agency is working with a number of clients across the spectrum of web publishing. My favorites are a couple of nonprofits (Waitt Institute, Hearts on Fire), a new platform for intellectual conversation, and a bigger organization that hired me under an NDA :) My all-time favorite client is still New York Public Radio, and that's not likely to change any time soon, no matter how cool my book is - they're just too well-intentioned and fun to work with.

What software do you use for your work?

I'm a Google loyalist so we're on Drive, as well as Dropbox. I'm also a rabid fan of Slack -- my friend circle uses it to chat all day, in addition to my team using it to correlate our projects and plan -- which is slightly twisted but we're nerds and, well. It's helpful :) I also use Delicious for a specific purpose (Twitter) and I'm lucky enough to use Socialflow for content sharing across most social media. I've also recently discovered Plex because I'm slow... but catchup has been fantastic. On my phone I have Path, Sunrise, This. to keep me organized, in addition to the app version of everything else I mentioned. I'm a compulsive Google Calendar user.

And what hardware?

Apple everything. It's an annual tithe at this point but I'm stuck - and very, very invested. I've been trying to talk myself into investing in better headphones but, well. I just blast the stereo all day, given the option.

What is your ideal work environment?

I like cafes. A lot. Also well-lit spaces. And the roof at Soho House NY in the summer and fall. I co-work from Civic Hall in Flatiron on occasion but lately I've had too many on-site client meetings to make it over. Hoping to fix that soon enough. I also work from my apartment a lot though as my team grows, we'll see if we don't need an office space of our very own.

Who are the creatives you admire most?

That really depends. I have two specific entities who I spend a lot of time chatting to when I need inspiration, this guy, and these two; she has marvelous thoughts regarding my industry; she has my favorite newsletter. This group, which doesn't ever tweet but exists IRL I promise, is integral to my day-to-day internet consumption. And yeah, I overindulge on Instagram for visuals.