We caught up with Gear Patrol's Coordinating Producer, Nick Caruso, on what's ahead for video and podcasting at Gear Patrol this year. Read on to learn about Nick's industry experience, how he sees video and podcasting evolving at Gear Patrol, and his advice to any brands looking to start a video or podcasting program this year.

So tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you join the team, what roles have you held and what do you do at Gear Patrol?

I was lucky to be around in the *ahem* earlier days of GP as a part-time freelance writer–started at the end of 2012. As the site rapidly evolved, the newly formed Today In Gear column became my beat. I also did some automotive writing at that time.

After a couple-year hiatus, I returned in 2016 as Motoring Editor, and also oversaw Today In Gear, which by then was an absolute juggernaut in our daily content roster. I came back in the middle of production for GP Magazine Issue Two, which was spectacular and unlike anything I'd ever been part of. I also worked heavily on partnerships content and was involved in nascent video/social media stuff.

After staying in that Editor role for a few years, I made the shift to my current role, which hadn't really existed at GP previously. I'd worked in television production early in my career, so it was a question of combining all my skills and focusing on our new video strategy, which has been both very fun and very challenging (which is also fun). The team has evolved and shifted a lot since then, and now we're heading into Podcast territory – true to form, we haven't let much dust gather in the past couple years.

Screenshot of Nick Caruso speaking on camera

What is one of the most challenging or rewarding projects that you’ve worked on?

To say the pandemic has affected video production would be an understatement, but we figured it out. By last spring I was regularly hosting our This Week In Gear video series, normally shot in our amazing in-office studio with multiple cameras, a lighting grid, and a dedicated camera/sound operator. When the world changed in mid-March I didn't want to lose that momentum, partially to keep producing content for our equally displaced and disrupted viewers, and partially to keep myself on an even keel.

Within a couple weeks, I was up and running in my apartment as a one-person production team/circus: tripods on my bed, desk lamps for lighting, sound...issues. That process informed the next, much larger set of challenges: remote production involving the whole video team, other colleagues, and guest presenters.

We had several complex video projects to bring to life over the summer, so working remotely with everyone I essentially had to redesign our entire production process. In short, videos were produced in real-time via Google Hangouts and Slack. The whole crew–Video team folks, our Content team presenters, and beyond–really dove in to make it work, and to great success.

What’s a learning that you’ve taken with you from role to role?

Having exceptionally high standards isn't a bad thing. Treat those standards gently and with respect and you'll find creative and successful ways to achieve them. Be firm in your conviction but flexible in your approach.

We talk a lot about "quality" at Gear Patrol, and approach our ambition with a collaborative, joyful mindset and a willingness to compromise when appropriate. To achieve your best, there's no time to dwell; you've got to analyze what doesn't work and change those aspects moving forward. Be proud of your work, but not so precious you can't flex.

Of course, it also helps to surround yourself with incredibly talented people, and we're lucky at GP to have a uniquely capable and talented crew.

How do you see video evolving at Gear Patrol, and in the media industry? What’s next?

I feel like live streaming video still has huge potential for media brands in particular. It's been a popular medium for a long time, of course–Twitch, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Discord etc.–but I think the rising popularity of Clubhouse in particular is really fascinating.

What's essentially an archaic call-in radio show format has been formalized and digitized for our current era, and I think brands and media outlets need to think about concentrating heavily into that space–not only streaming audio, but video too. Clubhouse is basically an interactive podcast; the potential for a formalized, recurring, interactive video podcast is really enticing.

What advice would you give to any brands looking to kick off their own video or podcast strategy this year?

At the risk of sounding trite, start small and keep it simple. It's possible to organize and produce complex, fully developed, large-scale stuff from scratch, but the ROI on totally swinging for the fences with a complicated, mega-high production value initial project is likely quite low. Most of the time, it's better to trust your own authenticity. A genuine, simple product is always better than anything forced.

For example, our thing at GP is products, and we are made up of people who really, really know product culture. So, our forthcoming podcast will essentially be "our staff discussing product culture." That's not the sexiest description, but if you know GP, you know it's going to be really great. When we develop a large following, we'll start adding to the mix–there's no reason to pack it all in right away.

By no means am I discouraging innovation or experimentation with new mediums, topics, or strategies–if a brand or outlet is 100% delivering on its core mission/purpose, it has the "content capital" to experiment. And it's possible that experimentation may lead to absolute gold! There's just no way to totally predict what people will love until they already love it.

With our new normal, what have you been up to outside of work? Any fun hobbies or projects that you’ve been working on?

My stress outlet involves four wheels and sharp corners. Over the summer, I picked up a 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport–the XJ's last year. 150K miles, original owner, zero rust, no abuse. I've been working pretty steadily to restore it myself, and have done a ton of work. There's always more to do, and it's hard wrenching on a car in Brooklyn! But I'm proud of my 4x4 brick and I could (do) talk about it incessantly.

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