The library will be open for regular hours on Saturday, April 3rd, and Monday, April 5th. The digital library is always open for ebooks, magazines, streaming video, and much, much more. Happy Easter to those who celebrate!
Mary Ellen Slayter, Rep Cap
301 N. Main St., Suite 2291, Baton Rouge, LA 70825
Phone: (225) 224-6708
Mary Ellen Slayter started her content marketing firm, Rep Cap, during a period of upheaval in her life. She was going through a divorce, and on her daughter’s fifth birthday, she was laid off from her job. Luckily, she had a friend who called her and asked her about her business.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, lady, I just laid off my job!’” Slayter told me in our interview. “She said, ‘No, not that job. You’ve been telling me for the last two years you wanted to start an agency that specialized in content for business. They gave you severance right? So tell me about your business.’” That conversation helped Slayter realize that she was in a great position to make a new start, so she started Rep Cap. She was hired by her first client three weeks after she started, another a few weeks after that, and around Mardi Gras season in 2014, she signed on job board company Monster as a client, at which point, she says, “I realized I had a business.”
Rep Cap is a content marketing firm that specializes in business-to-business, or B2B, marketing – a fairly lucrative market now, but when Rep Cap started in 2013, it was untapped. Rep Cap was able to quickly make a lot of contacts, says Slayter: “when people found out what kind of work we do – when they find out that we already know their industry inside and out – they were just thrilled because they didn’t have to explain it to us.” Even now, that specialization in B2B marketing, focusing on HR and technology, is Rep Cap’s main differentiator.
Technology differentiates Slayter’s business in more ways than one: Rep Cap has always been a remote-only company, with employees everywhere from here in Baton Rouge, to New York, to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They use Basecamp to coordinate and communicate, a service called Calendly to set appointments, and one called Dialpad to automatically record and transcribe meetings (which made my job for this interview much easier, thanks Mary Ellen!). She says the Internet “is where my company lives. We’re very much positioned on the tech side of marketing, that leading edge.”
Having an online-first office makes it a little harder for Rep Cap to be a part of the team’s various local communities. Slayter says they work around that limitation by encouraging team members “to do what they think is meaningful in their own communities.” Slayter, for example, has been instrumental in the formation of MidCity Gras and its krewe here in Baton Rouge, which has been committed to dismantling racist Mardi Gras traditions and replacing them with fully integrated ones since its beginning. Other team members around the country have done work in their communities too, because, as Slayter says, “entrepreneurs have an obligation to give back to their communities in that way, not as a form of marketing or advertising but because that’s the morally correct thing to do.”
As of this writing, March 2021, COVID-19 has been in the United States for a year. As I asked Slayter how the pandemic had impacted her business, I expected that, given the online-first nature of Rep Cap, she hadn’t been hit quite so hard as, say, the restaurants in White Star Market had. But what she said surprised me: “I would say last year was, by far, the most volatile year I’ve ever had. When I look at monthly sales, my new business book included both the best and the worst months in the history of my business.” Through that volatility, Rep Cap started diversifying its offerings a bit more. They’ve been putting more focus into Managing Editor, a brand magazine, for example, as well as launched a podcast and organized an event titled Managing Editor Live in the fall for fundraising. While the magazine was around before the pandemic, COVID has shown the importance of online community-building and teaching, so Slayter and her team have focused more on those things during the upheaval.
When I asked her what’s next for Rep Cap, she said, “While the agency is the core business, I would say the fastest growing parts, where we’re really investing our energy, is the community side of it – like, we’ve been doing online courses and we’re planning to roll out more; we’ve just released our second annual compensation survey for content marketers; and we’re doing another Managing Editor Live this fall.” The core business is still going to be there, she says, but she’s excited to expand her agency’s reach to help more in the industry.
Mary Ellen Slayter had three main pieces of advice for the up-and-coming entrepreneur. “One, have a one-page business plan that answers basic questions like, What am I selling? Who am I selling it to? How am I going to sell it? How will it be delivered? Two, get close to the customer, find out what they actually need and where you can provide value. And three, don’t rest until you get the customer.” Those last two points are related, and Slayter says they’re the hardest ones.
Budding entrepreneurs, she says, “spend a lot of time in their head,” and they imagine what a customer wants – but a business shouldn’t be built around what an imaginary customer wants, but a real one. She says, “I think people have dreamed about starting a business, and it’s a lot more comfortable sometimes to sit in that dream and never have it tested – because testing it can lead to rejection and failure. And most people have a fear of failure.” But failure is part of the job – as Slayter says, “I get told no every day. Every day I go to work and I’m told, No, that’s not quite right, can we try this? And if you bristle at that, you fail – you have to embrace it, and build on it, collaborating with the client. That’s what makes people feel attached to the brand.”
Interview by Case Duckworth
Black Life in America—a unique digital archive of news media—presents the broad sweep of African American history in ways no other online resource can match. By offering balanced coverage from diverse sources published across four centuries, this extraordinary product provides critical perspectives on the experiences of being Black in America.
From Black-owned newspapers to mainstream publications, this primary source collection offers an expansive window into centuries of African American history, culture and daily life—as well as the ways the dominant culture has portrayed and perceived people of African descent. Packed with information unavailable elsewhere, Black Life in America is sourced from more than 19,000 American and global news sources, including over 400 African American publications. Provides full-text searching as well as access to content by Topic, Event, and Eras in African American History. Updated daily.
If you’re a small business owner, you know the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is the place to go. (Did you not know that? Ooh, awkward! Now you do!) But did you know that we now have video tutorials you can use to refresh your memory after your one-on-one consultation with one of our small business staff? The first two – a general overview of our digital platforms, and an in-depth look at Gale Business: Plan Builder – are available now!
These are great resources to help you keep momentum on developing your small business.
East Baton Rouge Parish Library is pleased to join in the announcement of a local author contest that will accept submissions of adult and young adult fiction, to be recognized as the top indie-published eBooks in Louisiana. The application will open on Thursday, April 1st.
Winners in each category will receive $500 as well as:
- Inclusion in Indie Louisiana, a digital collection of local authors on BiblioBoard Library
- Honors at the 2021 spring IAP Reception
- Opportunities to promote the winning title at Louisiana public libraries
- Inclusion in a full page spread in Library Journal, one of America’s oldest and most renowned trade publications for library news
- Opportunities to earn royalties through the IAP Select collection
For indie-published authors, the contest is a fantastic prospect to elevate their careers and expand their readership. Along with the accolade of the award and its perks, being recognized by librarians creates credibility and visibility in the growing marketplace of digital content and indie-published books. Winning authors will reach hundreds if not thousands of new readers via the library, and can also leverage being an award-winning indie author for additional marketing opportunities.
EBRPL is excited for this opportunity to connect with local indie authors and support them with digital resources on self-publishing, marketing, and more.
Each book that is submitted to the contest must be:
- In the category of adult or young adult fiction
- Written by a Louisiana resident
- Available in either PDF or ePUB format
The contest will accept submissions April 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020. Authors can submit at indieauthorproject.librariesshare.com/Louisiana.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting presents a virtual preview screening of Coded Bias on Monday, March 15 at 6PM. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Shalini Kantayya, Coded Bias, from Independent Lens PBS, follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini, along with data scientists, mathematicians and watchdog groups from different parts of the world, as they fight to expose the discrimination within the facial recognition algorithms now prevalent across all spheres of daily life. Buolamwini’s startling discovery that the algorithm for facial recognition technology could not detect dark-skinned faces or women with accuracy led to her realization that the very machines learning algorithms intended to avoid prejudice are only as unbiased as the humans and historical data programming them.
The film explores an increasingly data-driven, automated world, where the question of how to protect individuals’ civil liberties in the face of artificial intelligence looms larger by the day. Praised as “cleareyed” by The New York Times and “a chilling plunge into Orwellian reality” by The Hollywood Reporter, “Coded Bias illustrates the profound ways in which algorithms have come to shape people’s lives, with very little oversight from public and elected officials,” said Kantayya. “It’s my hope that the film pushes audiences toward a greater awareness about how these disruptive technologies impact issues of equality and equity and that it in turn encourages more people to speak up and hold the companies behind them accountable.”
Following LPB’s virtual preview screening of Coded Bias, hear from expert panelists who discuss the film and the implications of facial recognition technology. The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Robyn Merrick, Vice President of External Affairs for the Southern University System. Panelists for the virtual event include Angela A. Allen-Bell, Associate Professor, B. K. Agnihotri Endowed Professor, Southern University Law Center; Kelly G. Carmena, Criminal Clinic Supervising Attorney, Southern University Law Center; and Alanah Odoms, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana.
For details and to register for this free screening event, go to www.lpb.org/codedbias. The documentary will make its broadcast premier on LPB on March 22nd at 7pm.
Join us this spring as we celebrate The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom, a National Book Award-winning memoir named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times. For a complete season schedule, visit the InfoGuide at ReadOneBook.org. To register for any OBOC program, go to the Events Calendar at ebrpl.com. Check out what’s coming up:
■ Place: How Historic Resources Define Significance in Our Cultures
12 p.m. Thursday, March 11, Virtual
■ Introduction to Ancestry.com Library Edition
6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, Main Library at Goodwood & Virtual
■ Resources for African-American Genealogy
10 a.m. Saturday, March 27, Main Library at Goodwood & Virtual
■ From Home Maker to Culture Shaper: Black Women’s Creative Legacy with Dr. Sharbreon Plummer
2 p.m. Saturday, March 20, Main Library at Goodwood & Virtual
■ DIY Oral History Workshop
3 p.m. Sunday, April 11, Main Library at Goodwood
■ Certified Homebuyer Education Courses with the Louisiana Housing Corporation
March & April. Visit www.lhc.la.gov/events for more information.
■ Author Event with Sarah M. Broom & Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Time TBA Saturday, May 15, Main Library at Goodwood
■ Book Discussions of The Yellow House, unless otherwise noted:
• 1 p.m. Monday, March 15, Fairwood Branch, Virtual
• 11 a.m. Friday, March 19, Zachary Branch
• 3 p.m. Sunday, March 21, Main Library at Goodwood
• 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch, Virtual
• 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 29, Carver Branch, Virtual
• 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, Carver Branch (The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton)
• 12 p.m. Friday, April 16, with Dr. Robyn Merrick, Virtual
■ Grab & Geaux Craft Programs
• Yellow House Art Canvas Miniatures, all month long,
• Interactive Display, all month long, Scotlandville Branch
• Paper Rocket, Monday, March 1, Fairwood Branch
• Louisiana String Art, March 1,
Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch
• Family Map, March 8-14, Jones Creek Regional Branch
• Photo Coaster, 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10,
Eden Park Branch
• Fleur de Lis Art, Tuesday, March 16, Fairwood Branch
All branches of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library are closed tomorrow, February 16th, for Mardi Gras. We’ll open for regular hours on Wednesday. The Digital Library is always open for all your entertainment and education needs!