Tired of slow turnaround times and eye watering fees for simple amends? There is another way. Some brands are partnering with specialists to grow their own in-house AV production capability over time, and moving these activities away from their full-service agencies.
The advantages in terms of cost savings and newfound abilities to react quickly to changing needs are clear - but the path is littered with potential pitfalls for the unwary. Here's what not to do...
- Poorly defined brand guidelines for AV
With demand for AV production continually rising within most businesses, it’s unrealistic to think that your brand team is going to be able to oversee all outputs from your in-house team. What's more, assuming they naturally have the understanding or indeed the brain space to ensure brand consistency every time is a recipe for failure.
Take time to lay out some AV specific guidelines, stipulating how best practices differ across different channels and platforms. Encourage the team to consider the guidelines as a live document that they can contribute to as tech specs and functionality continues to evolve. Incentivise employees to become guardians of the brand in the process.
- Burning budget on the wrong jobs
“Can you cost this for us?”
“Yeah sure, what’s the budget?”
The age old conversation between agency and production company now exists internally for in-house AV production functions. The truth is, without the right guidance, most filmmakers will always push for the very best production value.
In one sense, a desire to represent the brand as best as possible seems right and proper. However, with so much advertising and content to create within an annual budget, it’s simply unrealistic. So brands need to invest in creating a set of criteria that can determine what budget a single project or indeed a long running video content strand actually deserves.
Ask the difficult questions: What is the expected ROI? (Or what’s the cost of us not doing this?) What is the primary device we’ll reach our audience on? Is this evergreen content or will it quickly be out of date? What moment in the customer journey does it function within, and what is the expectation of the audience in our sector here?
Building these questions and others into a scoring system within your briefing process not only ensures you don’t overspend on the wrong jobs, but also saves an enormous amount of time otherwise spent arguing over subjective production values. Take the scientific approach.
- Overburdening your in-house AV production team from the outset
Just because a team has successfully produced an internal comms piece, this doesn’t mean they are ready to take on social advertising or your most important video content strand. It’s often difficult to get senior management to understand this, as they assume AV production is a one-size-fits-all process.
“Great Instagram Story, you can do our TV ads now!”
Slow and steady wins the race, so define a scope that can grow as certain targets are hit, and ensure you take senior stakeholders through it so that their ambitions won’t break everyone. That way, you’ll build confidence in the team and have the time to assess and fix issues around quality and speed that will inevitably occur. Look at partnering with an external AV production agency that can fill the gaps as you steadily grow your capability so that you don’t drop the ball.
There is a natural tendency for brands to start out by recruiting inexpensive, enthusiastic media graduates on the assumption that they can do everything. There is no doubt that many can flex from creative concepts all the way through to post-production, but with that also comes drawbacks.
At The Gate, we have worked with numerous clients who, six months down the line from hire, have a frustrated, disengaged employee who misses the creative freedom and is tired of the administrative workload. They disappear and the client is back to square one.
Take the time to really define the AV projects your recruits will be expected to deliver, and outline the infrastructure they’ll be expected to work within. By doing so, you can hire someone with the right levels of skills and experience off-set as well as on-set.
- Workflow planning
Whatever your reason for investing in in-house creative and production capacity, a positive return on investment is predicated on how strong your workflow planning is from the outset. Everything can make perfect sense from a strategic perspective, but most brands fail when it comes to execution as they jump head first into production.
A starting point should be to audit existing skillsets, software and hardware to understand if they are fit for purpose to meet your ambitions. Having done that, you need to work with people across the business to stitch together a workflow that has everyone on the same page from brief all the way through to deployment and archive. Doing this allows you to identify where the bottlenecks might be ahead of time and to set internal KPIs to demonstrate progress.
Last but not least, ensure that you book in regular reviews with internal teams and partners. These are the hard yards that will be rewarded with increased budgets from management in coming years, so bring in someone external to help if needs be, but don’t skip it whatever you do.
The Gate works with brands to help them accelerate their in-house AV production capability. To find out more about The Gate’s forthcoming workshop / round table “AV Futures // The path to successful in-housing” please get in touch.