Adding audio, video or multimedia support to a communications project can mean the difference between “message received” and “message understood and acted upon.” But It’s it’s no secret that adding a media component can also add significantly to a project’s budget. Finding the best value in media production means finding the right media production firm, one with a commitment to be an extension of your staff.
Media production firms come in all shapes and sizes. Each segment of the professional media production industry has its pluses and minuses. What’s important is to choose the firm that’s the right fit for you and for the project at hand. Here are six tips for selecting a professional media production firm for your next project.
ASK A FRIEND
A great way to begin your list of media production firms is to ask someone you trust about whom they’ve used in the past. That may be someone in your own company, a colleague from your professional association, a close friend or even a relative. You’ll find out what which firms to avoid, which ones are familiar with media production for your particular application, and possibly even who has experience in your particular vertical industry.
Don’t ignore your mail. You probably receive promotional material from media production companies. Keep a folder of the information for future reference. How a company represents itself on paper may give you some idea of how it will represent you and your project on screen.
Use the Yellow Pages. The best media production firms aren’t always the ones with the largest ads. Ad size can be a better gauge of a firm’s marketing budget than it is of their talent or proficiency.
After you’ve developed your list, start interviewing. Media production can be a sizable expenditure so you’ll want to make a good choice. Finding the right media production firm has a lot in common with hiring a new staff member.
Media production companies use a variety of ways to showcase their capabilities. In days past, it may have included audio cassettes, videotapes, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, Web sites and even print material. Nowadays, it’s all on the web: video, audio, graphics and text. Some companies still may have brochures and other print materials, but the proof is in the pudding. A company’s “résumé” or demo materials may be simply a series of clips or program segments. In some cases the demo may be a complete short presentation.
Ask for demo reels (they should be able to send you a link) from three or four of the top firms on your list. A good time to do this is long before you have any need for media production services. This will guarantee that you won’t end up with a snap decision made in the crunch.
TAKE A MEETING
Most firms will ask to meet with you to present their demo reel. This is an excellent way to get to know the people you may be working with in the future. Be sure to meet not only a salesperson or account executive, but also the person who will be responsible for putting your program together, the producer or executive producer.
Watch out for the “neato” factor. Don’t be fooled by tours of facilities. People create media productions, not machines. The impressive looking equipment doesn’t make the media production — the people who operate it do. Think about looking at a beautiful garden and then asking to look at the tool shed. The tools won’t tell you much about how the beauty was created, you need to find out how it was done. Talk to the gardener.
Remember that media production is a collaborative effort — it takes the combined skills of a producer, a director, a writer, artists, technicians… and you, the client.
MAKE SOME POPCORN
After reviewing the demo materials and meeting the key people, you should have narrowed the field down to one or two prime candidates. When you’re ready, ask to see complete programs similar in style or content to what your project calls for. That kind of experience can be a good way to determine what media production firm would be best for a given project.
WHERE OTHERS HAVE GONE BEFORE…
Producing media production is not uncharted territory. The companies on your list of firms have done this before (hopefully), so talk to their previous clients. Don’t just look over a printed client list, start taking names…and numbers!
Call the firm’s previous clients and ask: “Did they keep you informed about the project’s status? Was it completed on schedule? Did it cost what it was supposed to? Was it a good working experience?”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Media production can be an important addition to a complete marketing, communications or training package. What’s the point if it’s not produced right? Selecting the right media production firm can mean the difference between a major headache and true success.
Take some time, do a little homework and you’re on your way to finding the media production firm that’s right for you.
© 2003 Emedia Communications