The Voice: Online Presence is “Incredibly Crucial” According to Alison Haislip

By Karen Moul

Alison HaislipBlind auditions and exceptionally talented contestants are not the only things that sets The Voice apart from other singing competitions. The show has aggressively embraced online media and even has its own "V Correspondent," Alison Haislip, who blogs, tweets, and posts to Facebook during the episodes.

She encourages the performers to do the same, saying it is "incredibly crucial" to interact with fans if they hope to advance in the competition.

"People can vote not just by telephone," Haislip explains, "but online at nbc.com and using the NBC Live app. [So] the more you can get yourself out there online the better chances you're going to have."

But Haislip also believes online interaction has benefits beyond The Voice.

"Something this show has become known for," she says, "is giving artists a second chance.

"And some of those artists...have said that the reason they didn't have their first chance is because labels or managers or whoever said that they just did not have a strong enough online presence, they did not have a big enough fan base online to get their news out there."

No matter who wins, says Haislip, exposure through social media benefits the artists. "Regardless of what happens to these artists, regardless of who wins the show, everyone has got a huge leap forward because of the social media aspect of it."

The most technology-savvy, she reveals, is 16-year-old Raquel Castro, "and that probably has to do with the fact that she's so young and things like social media and tech have been a part of her life since she was born. Because she's up there tweeting everybody, she follows everyone who asks her to follow them. You know, she's just on it."

On the other hand, some performers have a little bit more to learn. "I can definitely say that Jared [Blake] and Patrick [Thomas] might be in the least savvy category. I was sitting with them at the table and they were literally like 'I don't even know how to sign in to my Twitter account.' "

The Voice continues Tuesdays in its new time slot – 9 p.m. – on NBC.

NBC Universal
Conference call with Alison Haislip of The Voice

June 8, 2011
12:00 pm CT

Alison HaislipQUESTION: What was the tension level backstage last night?

ALISON HAISLIP: Woo hoo! Let me tell you, when I first walked into the V Room and all the artists were sitting there I was like "there are nerves in this place!" I think it was the first time that the artists realized how big the show was going to be that night and they all had their game faces on. Normally they're all like really happy and goofing around and like best buds and last night they were just like in the zone to perform.

QUESTION: Which contestants seemed the most nervous?

ALISON HAISLIP: You know, I'm going to go with Frenchie actually even though I think she's one of the most prolific artists we've had, like she's had the most success out of most of our artists.

You can tell that this means a lot to her and that she was - like, she wasn't messing around backstage.

QUESTION: Now that we've switched from taped shows to live shows, have you found that your role as the social commentator has changed?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh definitely. I mean, now we actually get the show to interact with the fans live. Before I was live tweeting during the show so there was a bit of fan interaction but now the fans get to see their stuff answered on the actual show, they get to feel like they're a part of the show.

And at least from what I could tell from online the excitement just grew because of that. People realized that they could actually get their questions answered by the artists on television. And I had so many people hitting me up with all sorts of questions from, you know, how did Lily feel about her performance to where did Raquel get her shoes. So we were trying to acknowledge as many of them as we could.

QUESTION: Who do you think was the most savvy in terms of online social networking? And who was the least savvy?

ALISON HAISLIP: I can definitely say that Jared and Patrick might be in the least savvy category. I was sitting with them at the table and they were literally like "I don't even know how to sign in to my Twitter account on this thing." So I was helping them out with that.

The most savvy - that probably goes to Raquel, honestly, and that probably has to do with the fact that she's so young and things like social media and tech have been a part of her life since she was born. Because she's up there tweeting everybody, she follows everyone who asks her to follow them. You know, she's just on it.

QUESTION: Do you remember what your first tweet was?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh I don't. It was PR- I could actually look it up right now probably but it was - I'm sure it was something like "hey, I'm on Twitter, be careful."

QUESTION: How crucial is it for the singers to interact with the fans in order to move forward, aside from the performance?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh I think it's incredibly crucial. I mean, the fact that people can vote not just by telephone but online at nbc.com and using the NBC Live app as well as downloading their songs, I mean, the more you can get yourself out there online the better chances you're going to have.

And something this show has become known for in a way is giving artists a second chance. And some of those artists who are being given a second chance on the show have said that the reason they didn't have their first chance is because labels or managers or whoever it was said that they just did not have a strong enough online presence, like they did not have a big enough fan base online to get their news out there.

So this is a show that's really embracing that and regardless of what happens to these artists, regardless of who wins the show, everyone who is on the show has got a huge leap forward because of the social media aspect of it.

QUESTION: Do you ever have the chance to watch many of the performances and are you allowed to vote?

ALISON HAISLIP: I do get to watch the performances. The V Room is set up directly behind the stage and we get the live feed in the V Room so I do get to watch them. I don't believe I get to vote. Honestly I've never asked that question but I would think that there's probably some, you know, conflict of interest issues there but who knows, maybe I'll give it a shot.

QUESTION: Can you take [us] through what goes on behind the scenes in the V Room between the performances? What are you doing?

ALISON HAISLIP: Sure. Well we're tweeting a lot. I'm sure everyone saw there were two women sitting at the kind of purple bar-looking thing behind me in the V Room. They're the women who actually run the @nbc, The Voice twitter account and the Facebook page so they're live updating while the show is going on. I'm doing the same. As soon as I'm not on camera I'm on my little tablet and tweeting everyone keeping people updated about what's happening backstage.

And the artists are doing exactly the same thing; they're sitting there at those tables actually tweeting their fans back. It's not like we stick them in there for camera and then pull them out once the camera is off. That's where they stay throughout the duration of the show.

QUESTION: There have been reports that there is a problem with none of the celebrity panelists willing to say anything critical. They are supposed to be their coaches, not their judges. What do you think about that issue?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well, they haven't been told that they can't say anything critical but I think it's part of the show, the fact that they are their coaches and they are mentoring these people, that they've come to care about these artists. And it's a different beast when you aren't put up there as their judge, jury, and executioner. When you're put up there because you're supposed to be coaching them you're obviously going to give them criticism in a different way.

And I believe that more of their critiques come during the rehearsal process, during those sort of behind-the-scenes moments that we get throughout the show as opposed to after the actual performance. Because once the performance is done, you know, it's in America's hands at that point.

QUESTION: Since the fans have six days to vote, are you going to be involved in any of the online voting campaigns for any of the artists whether you vote or not?

ALISON HAISLIP: In general, yes. Obviously I'm going to keep reminding people that they can vote and how they can vote. I'm not going to take sides with particular artists and that's not I haven't been told I can...

...but honestly because, you know, I've become friends with all these artists.

You know, I'm not going to sit there and be like so-and-so is awesome while so-and-so is horrible. I think they're all really fantastic. So it's not my place to get behind one artist and push for them.

QUESTION: Are the majority of the tweets that you read live from people tweeting directly to you or from any of the hash tags?

ALISON HAISLIP: I'm sorry, are the tweets directly to me like @ALISONhaislip or are they from The Voice hash tag, is that what you're asking?

They're both. Some of them are people who have tweeted me directly and then like I said, the two women who are sitting behind me in the V Room, they're actually going through and filtering out any tweets that have hash tag The Voice in it. That's why we ask people to put that in there. It makes it easier for us to find your tweets in the entire twitterverse and we can pull them out and use them for the show.

QUESTION: What has your interaction with the coaches has been like.

Alison HaislipALISON HAISLIP: It has been awesome, to be honest with you. You know, I'm set up backstage with those guys. My dressing room is with all four coaches and with Carson. Blake just always leaves his door open and is like kicking it with his buddies in there, and it almost feels like a summer barbeque where we're at. Carson's always blasting music. Everyone's just kind of friendly and out there and really excited to be doing what they're doing. It's kind of got this cool kind of summer camp feel to it.

QUESTION: How do you guys handle the tweeting in terms of East Coast and West Coast broadcasts? Is it the same on both coasts or do you go live for both?

ALISON HAISLIP: Well since the shows are now live we are technically only live on the East Coast so we do only handle the tweeting that comes from the East Coast. But apparently 70% of the viewership is the East Coast feed because there's plenty of people on the West Coast who get the East Coast feed so we're really gunning for the majority of the viewers anyway.

It is obviously unfortunate that people on the West Coast aren't getting the technically live feed so we can't interact with them directly. But unless we get the entire country to agree to go on one time zone that's just the way it's going to be.

QUESTION: Do you have any tips for people on Twitter, what can they do to try to get their tweet on air or what would you recommend they do?

ALISON HAISLIP: The more specific you are, the better. We get so many generalized tweets of just people saying "I love the show" or "I love Frenchie," things like that. But the tweets that we - at least the tweets that we used last night were the specific ones, the ones that were like "Lady Marmalade gave me chills" and those kind of things. Like the ones that just had a bit more to them that would lead to more excitement on the show.

QUESTION: You've actually been doing music yourself for a long time. What kind of song would you sing if you had a chance on The Voice?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh my gosh, first off I'd be terrified if I sang on the show. When I'm backstage seeing what the artists were doing, I was like "I could never do this." I would never in a million years be able to put myself up on that stage and sing the way these guys are doing.

But if I was to do that, honestly I'd probably do? something similar to what Dia did with her piano rendition of Kanye's "Heartless." That is something I do in my own free time. I like taking songs that you wouldn't normally hear on the piano or songs that you wouldn't normally hear as a ballad, and turning them into that. I play the piano, that's why I associate with that.

QUESTION: Any judge in particular you would want to duet with if you ever had the chance?

ALISON HAISLIP: Oh gosh, who I'd want to duet with? Honestly I think I would want to duet with Blake just because he and I have this fantastic kind of witty repertoire in person that I feel like that would translate into a song as well.

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