Escobar is a practitioner of Anusara Yoga, which translates to "flowing with grace." The art basically involves moving one's body into optimal positions.
"It showed me I have strength in ways I didn't know," she says. Subsequently, she's been able to help relieve pain in her students, and help them "feel more comfortable in their bodies."
Escobar was concerned about yoga's limited accessibility. She acknowledges that a typical yoga class is expensive -- often $15 per session. "I think there's something in our consciousness that makes yoga seems like a luxury or for rich people," Escobar says. "It might be a little bit daunting."
When Escobar was introduced to the concept of podcasting -- distributing sound files via the Internet -- she saw it as an opportunity to expand her reach. She established "Elsie's Yoga Class: Live & Unplugged," a podcast that sees downloads of more than 40,000 per month.
She has more than 70 classes archived, and the barrier to entry is virtually nil: the podcasts are free. Even her iPhone app, from Wizzard Media, costs just approximately $4. It not only allows access to her entire archive, but has value-added content as well, like PDF files documenting poses and bonus videos.
"I'd like to be able to offer content that will help people -- that's the main reason I do it," Escobar says. "But if they want to dig deeper, and pay for some extra content, they'll have the option."
Escobar's online approach doesn't differ much from her in-person classes, because they're the same sessions. She records her live classes, and only turns the audio-friendly ones into podcasts.
"The class is live and unplugged, complete with laughter, instructions, private conversations, etc.," she says. "It makes listeners very much part of the class."
While the Internet has afforded entrepreneurs like Escobar the opportunity to expand their reach, companies like Disney already have an immensely wide audience.
Laura Sandoval, Global Brand Manager, Interactive Media Group at The Walt Disney Co., explains, though, that the level of engagement aff orded by new media is extremely coveted nonetheless.
She's in charge of enriching the experience of interacting with many of Disney's best-known brands, mostly franchises related to the Disney Channel, and ensuring that the entertainment giant is reaching kids and teens through their preferred methods of communication.
"It's 'new media' to us, but to kids, it's what they know," Sandoval explains. "They are there in the virtual worlds, the YouTubes and media networks. In order to reach them you have to be in all of these places."
Sandoval has led the company's efforts in creating engaging new media experiences to complement some of Disney's most notable recent successes, like new media tie-ins with Hannah Montana and the High School Musical franchise.
But do powerhouse brands like these, supported by movies and/ or television shows on dedicated channels, find much value in new media tie-ins? Sandoval emphatically says yes.
"Traditional media is still core to branding and marketing most consumer products," she elaborates. "One of the biggest differences is that new media is more important for my market, the 'tween market. The masses still see TV and print, but you must have presence in social networks and video-based sites."
Presence, though, isn't enough. Much like Del Conte's tech savvy fans can see right through a charlatan, 'tweens and teens demand a quality product, something that goes beyond just slapping a Disney product name on it.
"Fandom is so strong that kids are looking for more experiences, interaction, and engagement with the brands. We define success by extending the brands in the right places. So the TV show-based projects create, we believe, much stronger experiences that are personalized, customized, and offer unique engagement."
Eyes On The Future
New media isn't going away, but, by its nature, will constantly be redefined.
Sandoval's job, so focused on future generations, offers some additional insight into the future of new media. "A lot of what we call 'new media' is pop culture today," she surmises.
"To have a handle on pop culture and youth trends can serve as an indicator of where things are going."
And, for people interested in entering her field, Sandoval's advice is simple: when it comes to entertainment and new media "hands-on experience is key."
For now, shows like Del Conte's "Loaded" can be a great crash course, both in terms of digesting its tech-centric content, and in terms of becoming familiar with how it's consumed.
Escobar may be a perfect bellwether: a curious mind drove her to use new media to expand her true passion.
Unafraid of trying something new, using herself as a brand, or risking untested business models, she's taking a leap of faith that she can mine some of that untapped
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