Producers, are you being told to be nimble? Scrappy? Are you trying to figure out what the hell is going on? Do account people think your project estimates are too high? Relax. It's going to be ok. We're all in this together. Our agency recently hosted a "roundtable" talk with production leads from different shops in San Francisco, and it's unanimous: The answer is within.
A recent Ad Age article about the evolving agency production model noted a shift from "tentpoles" to "tadpoles." This shift is referring to the increase in continuous video content for social media, far simpler and cheaper than the big anthemic broadcast spots of the past, and the trend to expand production capabilities to keep up with the demand for large quantities of content.
Great. Let's start making stuff. We like it. However, as my fellow production directors and I agreed, most agencies -- except perhaps for the large New York shops cited in the article -- can't support large in-house production groups, nor are client budgets at the level necessary to sustain this model. Those of us in San Francisco who met to discuss the issue are used to running a bit more lean and mean. Blame it on the startup mentality in these parts.
Regardless of where your agency is located, you already have the tools to successfully crank out content. The trick is to change the team and the process. Here are some ideas:
Encourage multi-hat talent
A creative mind is a creative mind. Most candidates you meet can do more than you think and can work independently. That account person can also produce. That art director can also edit. That social media strategist can also manage the client. Tap into that to save retainer hours overload.
Tighten the team
Form the right group of players for each project at the start. Assemble a core team of two or three people to manage small video projects. The sheer number of people in meetings these days astounds me. A committee can often clog the production artery.
Like the first point, encourage an attitude that accountability to make things happen lies with everyone, so roll up your sleeves to get the something made.
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Creative teams like the challenge. Give them the guard rails they need to succeed. Have a common goal and know the client voice. Producers, give these teams the means to make things and then send 'em on their way. Equally as important, creative directors -- learn to let go. Too much oversight can lead to too many rounds of redos. Many of these videos are not current for long (the shelf life on most social media content is about 3 hours). Some rough edges are ok.
Smaller budgets often mean shorter timeframes. Put your phones and laptops away. Walk around and talk to your colleagues. Talk to your client. Nod along. Make sure all stakeholders pay attention along the way, so no resets occur.
Prepare Your client
All of your efforts to change your process won't work if the client doesn't change with you. Talk about your new ways and the implications on their process. Faster feedback means faster approval.
And most of all, try.
There are tons of conversations around preparing for the new era. Like I said before, there's no one answer. Every agency will succeed differently, because they try new things. You might not find it right away, but it's time to stop talking and start making.