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July 2008

June 2008

Uncovering history in Central Georgia

Every few months we're fortunate enough to receive a call from the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta to update progress at an archaeological site near Jacksonville, GA and along the banks of the Ocmulgee River. The goal is to find the remains of a Spanish Mission believed to have been built in the area.

For the past two years, Dennis Blanton and his team of both professionals and volunteers have been excavating sites on both the north and south side of the river.

One of the many enlightening aspects of my job is the opportunity to learn about our clients and their work. In this case, the work of the archaeologists from Fernbank are helping to paint a more complete picture of early Georgia. We're proud to help document their discoveries.

Planning for your video production

For most of the videos we produce, there are three phases of the work flow: pre-production, production and post-production. If there’s one area I had to say was the most important – it’s the pre-production phase. It’s also the phase that is the least expensive to the client.

It’s most important because everything that happens during shooting (or the production phase) and editing (post-production) should be determined in advance. Proper planning saves time and money, something most clients value highly.

Pre-production includes the initial meetings, script and shot list development, scheduling and every other aspect of project management. It’s the opportunity to develop a solid script and know exactly what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen and why it’s going to happen. The more prepared we are prior to shooting, the less likely the client will incur additional costs during the shoot or edit phase.

But it’s probably little surprise that we occasionally have a client that simply doesn’t devote the time to answer our questions, secure the location or any on-camera personnel from their company, or any other number of details that need to be addressed. When time is saved in preparation, it often comes back to haunt them later.

For those of us in the business, we often refer to this as ‘fixing the problems in post.’ Honestly, that’s not the best way to solve problems. My goal is to bring projects in on time and especially on budget.

I recently had a conversation with a client about three business days prior to our day of shooting as they hadn’t secured a location or finalized the script. I was concerned that time would be wasted on the day of shooting and that we couldn’t even determine that one day would be sufficient without an approval of our script. Since there was no location, we couldn’t scout in advance to look for potential pitfalls.

Fortunately, they realized it was in their best interest to postpone shooting for a week. In that time, we finalized the script, visited the approved location and developed a detailed shot list. The likelihood of this production going over budget decreased tremendously.

Taking the time to properly plan your video production saves money, stress, disappointment and ultimately results in a better video.

Tim Russert - Journalist and Gentleman

N_russert_specialreport2_080613_vsm There are not many journalists today that you could say I truly admire, but Tim Russert was one that I did. He was a powerhouse journalist, but never forgot his roots. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influencial people in the world, he was a Vice President at NBC News, moderator of 'Meet the Press,' and NBC Washington Bureau Chief. But he was also a father who loved his family and that, perhaps was even more important than his profession. He will be missed by many. Go get 'em, buddy.

Exceeding Expectations

One of the fun things I get to do is to provide internships for students going to college for media-related degrees. The 10-week internship gives the interns a view into the inner workings of a production company – and how we move projects through the production process.

A side benefit of this is that they get to see not only the technical side of things – but the personal side. We’re all individuals brought together by a common interest, producing videos, but that is only one element of the equation. Don’t get me wrong. In the end, that’s what our clients want – a quality video that delivers content in a way that engages and motivates the viewer. But it’s really only one element.

The equally and sometimes more important element is the relationship with the client. When a client chooses us, they are counting on our technical savvy, but what I really want to impress them with is our responsiveness. Responsiveness ties with our mission statement of providing outstanding, professional service.

If you aren’t responsive to your clients, you aren’t providing good service. I can’t tell you how many times we receive calls from a prospective client that says ‘you’re the first company that answered the phone’ or ‘you’re the first to call me back.’ I’m always astounded by that comment. How can a company stay in business if it doesn’t answer the phone? If you’re not giving good service when they first call – what can the expectation be a month later when they’re waiting on the delivery of their DVD for a make-or-break meeting or trade show?

Customer service – responsiveness – is tied intricately to how the company does business. In a recent article in ‘Management Today’, Keith Sharp of Tata Consultancy Services writes “
that our prospects and customers want to be dealing with, and seen to be dealing with, a company that is trustworthy, reliable, ethical and honest.”

Yet companies (including video production companies) that aren’t trustworthy, reliable, ethical or honest are in business. They may not be in business very long, but unfortunately some customers find out too late. We recently had a client (a Fortune 1000 firm) bring us a project that was about 90% complete. The company they hired to produce the video was less than reliable. They were probably also less than honest when they said they could complete the project as required. It only took us a couple of days to get the video finished and delivered.

My family has a history of being entrepreneurs, starting with my Great-Grandfather. To succeed, people must feel they are being dealt with honestly by someone they can trust. My Grandfather once told me ‘nothing is more important than your name.’ He started his business in 1918, and 90 years later, it’s still thriving. You don’t achieve that through treating your customers badly. Forrester Media is now in it's 18th year and every day we work diligently to continue earning the trust and confidence of our clients. I hope my Grandfather would be proud.