Participating in the Process: Seeking Balance, Finding Reward
Feb 9, 2016
While the client-vendor relationship is always a game of give and take, it’s also a game of trust and reward. Content Marketers who want to produce top-performing results tend to shy away from just filling out a brief and hoping for the best when the first draft arrives.
When it comes to video production, I have always found it’s better to be on set as a proactive participant than merely wait to be a passive reviewer sharing thoughts reactively. But, once again, this is a game of give and take. There are boundaries to respect, a process to adhere to and a culture that is very likely different from what you’re used to in a corporate environment. In short, when you step into the agency’s world, it helps to play by their rules.
Ok, so what does that mean? I’ll explain with a story because that’s what content marketers do.
I had recently contracted with Centerline to produce a video for a complex analytics solution built for the media and entertainment industry. Once we nailed down the creative concept, hammered out the details and set a date to shoot, I asked permission – the key here is ASKING – to be on site at the shoot as a participant and not as a second director.
I wanted to make it clear from the get-go that I wanted to be there for a few reasons:
- Continue to educate myself and my team about how video shoots work, how long they take, determine what is and is not possible, etc. so we could ensure we’re budgeting correctly, accurately communicating the process to colleagues and building a strong working relationship with the agency.
- My father used to tell me to “use a test to take a test.” In this case, I wanted to “use a shoot to think about more shoots.” Nothing helps an artist create quite like a chance to watch the masters’ work. I also wanted to feed off the inspiration of the creative process to brainstorm ideas and topics for future shoots. After all, I wasn’t there to create one video. I was there to think about 10 more videos.
- I wanted an opportunity share my thoughts with my project manager and, when appropriate, share my ideas with the director, talk to the talent, see the locations and have a clear picture of what was being created AS it was being created. The goal is to get to the final product faster than it normally takes a disconnected participant in the process. Also, it’s easier to get what you want in one shoot than then taking the time and expense to “put the band back together” just because you didn’t get what you wanted.
- Finally, I thought it would be fun to document the process and share it socially using photos, thoughts, “thank you” or “shout out” messages and funny “behind the scenes” clips. This, too, was done with the director and agency’s permission. Personally, I think showing the process is as important to marketing as the final product is to the campaign. It’s like a preview of what’s coming and kicks off a “stay tuned” mentality with the audience.
Plus, and let’s be honest here, it can only help the career of a content marketer to show that you know how content gets created and you like to get your hands dirty (or in my case, get my tie wrinkled).
Please note that I listed my actual participation in the process as #3. That’s a deliberate ranking and even when I arrived on set, I made it clear to the director and the crew that I was not there to meddle or change what it was they had set out to create. I trust them. I have faith in them. And, as such, I was there to observe, assist and participate when and where they wanted me to do so. Sure, I made a suggestion here and there but I did it as a partner to the process and never, ever as a controlling client trying to undermine the director. I asked permission. I stayed out of the way. I watched, listened and learned. It was fantastic.
And, my god, those people know how to order a delicious lunch. But, I digress.
Over the course of my time as a content marketer, I have learned, time and time again, that when you have a positive, proactive relationship rooted in placing faith in your agency, with a healthy willingness to share your thoughts when the time is right, creates a “balance in the force” that leads to stellar results. All in all, I took about 130 photos that day and I think only one was a selfie. The rest show the crew – the artists – at work, the talent being talented and a team coming together (all for one, one for all) to create something beautiful.
I tweeted them out.
I shared them with Centerline.
I sent them around to my internal teams and I even showed my Mom (she loved them, BTW, but thinks I shouldn’t have been wearing jeans).
The reaction I got all around was nothing short of enthusiastic.
To that I say: mission accomplished!
I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity I am given to learn from the team, share my thoughts and give out plenty of high fives for a job well done.
About Graeme: J. Graeme Noseworthy is a Senior Manager of Content Marketing in the Communications Sector with IBM Analytics. Graeme’s focus is to develop and deliver creative content that demonstrates the value IBM’s products and services bring to companies and end-users around the world. Before re-joining IBM in 2015, Graeme was Senior Marketing Director at a mid-stage analytics startup in Cambridge, MA. Prior to that, Graeme spent several years at IBM in various big data and analytics roles supporting the adtech, marketing, media and entertainment industries. Follow him on Twitter @graemeknows and LinkedIn.