Key Steps to a Successful Video Production
You need a video production company to shoot the gala video for this year's annual fundraising event. You've pared your vendors down to the top three and you don't know which company to choose. They all have great work, they seem like "really nice people," and their estimates are all pretty close. What to do, what to do. Well, before you decide who that company will be, take stock in your own personnel and figure out how your organization will interface with that video production house and its team. What many people don't realize is that video projects can begin to take on a life of their own. Quite frequently, at the outset, no one knows how to produce a video. Then, by the time your team sees the first edit of a video, everyone in your organization seems to have an idea how to produce a video! No doubt, collaboration can trigger great innovation and ideas. It can also bog down a project, push back deadlines and drive up cost. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind before you embark on this year's big gala video:
Trust Your Vendor
You've gone through painstaking measures to make sure you've hired a talented, bright and highly organized video production company or video producer. You've seen their work, you've talked to references and they really seem to "get" you. Next thing you need to do is trust that they are professionals and that they know what they're doing. Most experienced video producers have a system and process and it's important that you know their process. Don't put on blinders and say, "you're the producer." Get to know how they work, understand their vision for your project and ask questions if you're not clear.
Put together a committee
Gather 3-5 people in your organization to act as your "executive committee." Within this group, pick one person as the primary contact for your vendor. Use your committee at these times:
- Selecting your vendor
- Evaluating scripts
- Viewing the edits
- Final approval
Your committee won't want to be involved in every decision along the way, or need to, but these are a few items that they need to be a part of. Let your primary contact handle the day to day, or ongoing, activities and have your committee make critical decisions. It's important that your committee represents the proper levels of leadership that has the authority to make significant decisions. I urge you to not spread the decision beyond your committee, because as you invite more people to "weigh in" on the decision, the more opinions you will receive. This may not be all bad, but remember, if you ask 100 people their opinion, you may get 100 different opinions and that makes it difficult to make decisions.
Communicate your budget
It's easy to set a budget, but so much harder to stay within the boundaries of it, isn't it? So, my suggestion is that you figure out what you can afford and communicate that clearly to your vendor. Be sure you understand how their pricing works and ask for ongoing communication regarding the status of that budget. It's your vendor's responsibility to track their project time and then make you aware of the status. If you find that you're not getting the budget feedback that you need, be sure to ask. A lot of people have a hard time talking about money, but it's better to discuss money and budget in advance so you don't get stuck with an unexpectedly large invoice in the end.
Streamline communication with revisions
Often the revisions to your video can take longer than the initial post-production work. It's easy to pick away at a video and as more people are involved in the evaluation, the more opinions you'll gather. In the beginning no one was a producer, but now that there's something to edit and change, everyone becomes a producer! This is fine, but do your best to collect all of the opinions, evaluate their relevance to the project and make sure they are all consistent with the key messages you set out to communicate. So often, messaging goes astray when there are "too many cooks in the kitchen." Once your 3-5 person committee has figured out the necessary changes, relay those changes to your vendor so they can make revisions. Quite often there will be additional changes after this initial revision, but again, gather opinions and relay to your vendor in one comprehensive communication. This process will help you stick to your budget and timeline.
So, with all that said, it's critical that throughout the process you are as honest and upfront as you can be with your vendor. If there are things about the piece you do not like, or if you feel like they've completely missed the message, it's critical that you let them know. Remember, it's your gala video and it's your event and you will need to live with it for at least a year and sometimes longer. The last thing you want to do is to have that "one point in the video" that makes you bonkers because every time you see it, it will make you nuts and it may prevent you from leveraging that marketing/communications/development tool as well as you'd like.
Ed Heil is the owner and president of StoryTeller Media & Communications an inbound marketing and public relations agency and video production company based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Ed blogs on topics related to inbound marketing, social media, media relations, news media, video production and crisis communications.