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Be Prepared

Proper preparation is essential to most successful efforts.  Talk radio hosts and sports announcers go through hours of show prep to make everything seem effortless when the real thing starts; months of planning may go into a major event, or a new construction project.

Thus, under normal circumstances we have at least a minimal production meeting prior to agreeing to take on a project.  A discussion with a client, no matter how brief, will make sure that everyone understands the goals, the tools, the timeline, and the final disposition of the content. The written document that follows gets it all down on paper, and the signature and budget line from the client makes sure there are as few surprises as possible.

Needless to say a recent project had to skip the production meeting for various reasons.  On top of it all most of our discussions were held with the on-camera talent rather than the requestor.  Hence the following (highly condensed) email repartee between myself and the actual client:

ME: So, where are we actually putting this finished product?
CLIENT: On the website
ME: Which website? The main company site or your microsite?
CLIENT: Well, that would be OK, but I meant the blog
ME: Blog?

In the meantime, my boss has found out about the blogsite during his weekly status meeting with the other departments we’re aligned with, and comes back with this information.  And says “well, we’ll shoot the piece with the 10-15 slides they have and put it on YouTube if we have to.”

Slides?

All of this could have been avoided if we hadn’t skipped our normal procedures.  We had actually scheduled a production meeting, but it was with the talent rather than the client. We thought we had it clear, but a simple question about distribution brought a lot of other details to light. We’ll end up with a shortened production meeting, a day before the recording, and we’ll get it all worked out.

But it’s a reminder that process is there for a reason. Do things the right way and you won’t enter crisis mode, and you won’t be  scrambling to find answers from people who don’t have them.

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