Save Your Pennies, Then Hire Professionals

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. He’s a photographer, and I’m a video editor, so we kind of do the same thing, but not really.

He was talking about how, as technology increases, more and more people are calling themselves photographers because they own cameras.

Yes.. People have been owning cameras since cameras were invented, however, none of these people promoted themselves as professionals. They were hobbyists, at best. Mostly, they were civilians that happened to have spent some of their money on a camera.

At this point, people own cameras that take pictures on a level of quality that can be used in actors’ portfolios, wedding albums, or even as stills in television productions.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them are GOOD at what they do. Continue reading “Save Your Pennies, Then Hire Professionals”

What Do You See As The Future For Major Media Companies?

I was fortunate enough to attend a New Media Dinner last night which was hosted by Mr. Strauss Zelnick and featured a discussion moderated by Mr. David Remnick.

One section of the discussion focused on the print media and their online properties vs random bloggers….. (Like MEEEEE!!! *waves* :D). David asked the group [paraphrasing] “What do you see as the future for major media companies?”. I elected not to say anything, because as y’all know who read my material, I don’t like to throw in two cents and leave it at that. I wouldn’t have been content with throwing my idea out there and having the conversation just move on, so I saved it for this morning.

Basically, the point was that there have been major publications like the New York Times (NYT) and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and television networks like ABC, CBS & NBC that have had the media industry ON SMASH for, like, forever. That’s all going away now, because everybody has phones that either have still photo or video capability and everybody AT LEAST has a blog, and at most is hooked up to some sort of live-streaming site like Qik. All bets are OFF when Ustream releases their iPhone app. It’s going to be live video straight to people’s phones… crazy! πŸ˜€

Anyway, the question was basically how people saw these Mainstream Media (MSM) groups evolving to keep up with and remain viable in these changing times. My prediction will be based on several things that guests brought up during that discusssion.

Fact vs. Opinion

In any situation, there are at least two elements. There are “The Facts”, and then there are people’s OPINIONS ABOUT “The Facts”. Continue reading “What Do You See As The Future For Major Media Companies?”

Personal Branding?

“Personal Branding” has been hotly debated recently in my circles. “Do I have a personal brand?” “Does personal branding exist?” “Am I a brand or a person?”

Part of the reason this is discussed so often is that people tend to define a personal brand in terms that don’t mean anything. By using terms for PEOPLE that are used to categorize COMPANIES, people are turned off to the concept or fail to understand the true meaning of the term.

Does personal branding exist? Yes. Do *YOU* have one? Maybe.

Basically, a “personal brand” is what people EXPECT when you come to mind. Period. Some people have this and some people don’t.

A personal brand is achieved through ACTIONS which people come to associate with your name or face. If you never DO anything that people perceive, you do not have a personal brand, IMO. This is because your name doesn’t “ring bells” and doesn’t alter anyone’s perception of a situation when they find out that you’re involved. This does NOT mean that you aren’t important… It merely means people don’t KNOW who you are and/or what you do.

For instance, if you google Emmy Award Editor I’m #1. Actually, I’m #1 AND #2, because the youtube version of the collab I did with Indy Mogul is in the second slot, with 11,240 views. People hit my resume page or my “about” page every single day, so lots of people have associated the name Bill Cammack with quality videotape editorial. This is what they EXPECT when they find out I worked on a project… Quality.

So what about Ian Jenkins?

“Who?” πŸ˜€

Ian Jenkins is a friend of mine who edits and works A HELL OF A LOT HARDER than I do. πŸ™‚ Ian edits a show for Next New Networks called “Fast Lane Daily”, which just won a 2008 Webby Award.

J-Rad, Ian Jenkins & Alan Kaufman

That’s Ian in the white FLD shirt and headphones. Also pictured are a couple of other NNN friends of mine, J-Rad & Alan Kaufman.

Now… If I had a project I wanted to get done, Ian Jenkins would be one of the top guys I’d want working with me. That’s because I happen to know his work ethic and the skill and dedication he brings to the table. I know this because I’ve spoken to him, I’ve seen his work and I know people that work WITH him. Does he broadcast this himself? No. Not that I know of. Is he crafting a personal brand? Not that I know of. He’s doing what he does. IS “Ian Jenkins” a brand? HELL YES! πŸ˜€ That’s because when *I* hear his name, I EXPECT certain things from a project Ian worked on.

So who’s the better editor? Bill Cammack or Ian Jenkins?…. Unfortunately, editing is highly subjective. The only thing that matters is whether the job gets done WELL and ON TIME. So I say NEITHER of us is better as a editor. My personal brand is more recognized, because I spend hours every day working on it and Ian doesn’t give a damn. πŸ™‚ Ian meets deadlines every. single. day. while I play SOCOM. I’m freelance, so I’ve worked for a ton of shows, companies and people for advertising, corporate and broadcast productions. Ian’s a staffer, so he works on one show, and it runs on the internet, but he probably produces 15 videos for every one that I output. Ian shoots video as well. So do I, but I’d rather edit, and Ian’s probably better at shooting, because he does it infinitely more than I do.

Bill Cammack

My point is… You can’t tell JACK from how well someone uses the internet to publicize themselves. I’m not going to tell you to google Video Editor Resume (I’m #3) to figure out who’s GOOD or who can make it happen. That’s just a list of people that know how to use tags, or even worse, actually PAID PEOPLE to get them better rankings on google. :/ Doesn’t mean they’re any good at what they do AT ALL. Doesn’t mean their name “rings bells” IRL. What matters is what people know or perceive about you, which IS your personal brand, whether you LIKE that or not and whether you EMBRACE that or not.

Regardless of whether you brand YOURSELF, people are going to brand YOU. I started telling people to Google “Bill” (I’m currently #9 of 541,000,000 pages for “Bill”) because I don’t carry business cards, and it’s really the easiest way for people to get in touch with me. Next thing I know, hahaha this is how I’m being introduced to people at parties. πŸ™‚ This wasn’t MY idea, but people get a kick out of that and it spreads from person to person.

Actually… And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this… πŸ˜€ Neither my professional accomplishments nor my stellar search engine rankings (e.g. women dating nyc #3) are what most people that I meet “know me for”. It’s always “….. YOU’RE that guy that’s in all those pictures with all those women! :D”.

Alana, Jill, Chrissie, Flo, Bill, Michelle & Whitney

Grace, Christine, Bill, Kathryn & Annie

Chrissie, Flo, Bill & Leora

Michelle, Marissa, Bill & Lindsey

So, BESIDES not overshadowing your BUSINESS brand with your SOCIAL brand, πŸ™‚ the moral of our story is… Do you have a personal brand? Maybe. It depends first of all on whether you actually DO ANYTHING, and second on whether you’re letting people KNOW that you do these things or whether other people are publicizing you. If people think differently of something because you’re involved with it, that’s your PERSONAL BRAND at work. This does NOT only have to do with business either. We’ll get into that another time. You might have a personal brand when it comes to dating. The fact that you can be trusted in general and your word actually MEANS SOMETHING is potentially part of your personal brand.

There’s also NEGATIVE personal branding, such as when a client refuses to pay you for several months for work you did for them and you’re getting ready to blast their name and company all over the WORLD WIDE WEB for not living up to their agreements EVERY SINGLE DAY until you get satisfaction, which would amount to receiving PAYMENT IN FULL for services rendered. But that’s a story for another day. πŸ˜€

So that’s what I think about personal branding. If you’re in the “public” eye (as ‘public’ as our small Echo Chamber gets) brand yourself or other people will do it for you. Whatever opinions come to mind when people hear your name or see your face, that’s YOUR brand. Even if NO opinions come to people’s minds or they’ve never heard of you, that doesn’t matter as long as YOU know what you’re bringing to the table. “The Fame Game” isn’t for everybody. Not everybody CAN do it, not everybody SHOULD do it and not everybody does it WELL.

So.. Does ‘Personal Branding’ exist, or am I talking about vaporware? πŸ˜€

What do you think?

~Bill

Why Professionals Avoid Web Video

In professional productions, broadcast or corporate, there is a deadline. If you miss that deadline, you lose. If you don’t want to miss that deadline, you have to hire someone competent and trusted. People competent and trusted have rates. If you don’t want to pay that rate, you can hire someone else.

Since you have an air-date, there isn’t an infinite amount of time that can be spent on your project. This is another reason to hire a competent editor. You can either have a REALLY GOOD video in 8 hours or an “ok” video in 8 hours. Actually, depending on how much you skimp, you might not have a video AT ALL in 8 hours and miss your deadline.

Quality’s important when you’re doing professional work. This is because the company that hires you cares about its image and its brand. The whole point is to get people to feel like trusting the company with their business based on how they present themselves through media. Because of this, companies tend to go with post houses or editors that they know can and will make them look good, and pay those people accordingly.

Elizabeth Hummer & Bill Cammack

Getting involved with video productions on the web is totally different. There’s no revenue stream coming from advertisers down to companies down to producers, shooters and editors. If a company’s going to make videos for the net, they have to be prepared to take a financial loss in return for increased brand recognition or social cred. They will NOT be making their money back via revenue-sharing. Unless they get tons of views, they will NOT be making their money back via sponsorships. They *have* to treat their videos as ADVERTISING and not some vehicle to make money with. They have to weigh their increase in social and business cred against the cost of their videos in order to justify a budget… ANY budget.

This is what makes it tough for professionals to feel like getting involved with the internet video business. Everyone in the space is trying to “make it”. Everyone’s clawing for that next dollar and that next passionate viewer and that next page hit to the point where it’s like a high school play. “Oh… could you run the lights for me?” “Could you dress up like a tree and stand in the background here for an hour?” “Can you pull the string that opens the curtains?” It’s REALLY incredibly unprofessional, but like I said, it needs to be, because these aren’t video production companies… They’re companies that are attempting to UTILIZE video on the net to gain something else. The bottom line is to spend as little as you can to produce videos that get you as many views as you can get that you can turn around and sell to someone that wants to advertise something.

So what you end up with is individuals or groups whose budget is 1/3 of your day rate who want you to get on board with doing a project that you know is going to take you three days. This is where TIME comes back into play. The question you have to ask yourself as a freelancer is “What else could I be doing during the time that I’m spending on this person’s project?”. Let’s see… You could be:

  • Doing work at your actual day rate
  • Socializing and making new business connections
  • Learning new styles and concepts in editing
  • Learning about new sites and apps on the web
  • Reading what others have to say in their blogs about your chosen field
  • Doing Trial & Error testing of new tools and concepts you’ve recently acquired
  • Doing follow-up calls & emails on invoices people haven’t paid you for yet
  • Posting to your blog or video blog
  • Spending time with family & friends
  • Enjoying your hobbies & other entertainment
  • Living YOUR life

So, basically, the point of the budget is to get the producer, shooter or editor to focus on YOUR project instead of doing ANYTHING ELSE UNDER THE SUN that’s more beneficial or entertaining to him or her. Therefore, the lower your budget is, the less time that person’s willing to apply to your production.

Unfortunately, there’s a baseline to the amount of time that’s necessary for a project, so there’s a baseline to the budget. For instance… If someone gives me a tape that’s an hour long, off the bat, that’s an hour that has to be spent loading the tape onto the drive (less time if it’s coming from a digital source, like an SD card or P2 card). There are only two other ways around this expenditure of money/time. Pay someone else to be a loader and make sure they coordinate with the editor so they know how to load the tapes properly, or DO. IT. YOURSELF. Do it yourself and say to the editor, I have this drive with all the footage on it, and I need you to edit it. Saves you money right off the top.

There’s also a baseline in PLANNING that’s necessary for a video. If you give me a page with clearly marked ins and outs, video and dialogue cues, I can crunch that out in no time. If you give me NOTHING, then you have to pay for all the time it takes me to watch all your footage and make up an entire story in my head that makes you and your company look good. Even if the final product is 30 seconds long, if you gave me three hours of footage from which to select the best 30 seconds…….

Then you have to deal with changes. If the editor you hire isn’t also going to be the EP (Executive Producer), you’re going to have opinions about the video after it’s done. “Change my title”. “Move this part here”. “Take that part out”. “Change the volume”. “I don’t look good here”. This means that MORE time is taken listening to / reading your changes and more time is taken making them and then encoding the file and getting you a review copy. This is why a lot of work is done on a day rate basis instead of a package deal basis. Video is almost entirely SUBJECTIVE and people will tweak and tweak until they run out of time (air-time deadline) or money (budget / agreement). As long as they’re paying for the time they’re taking up (and to the degree that it makes it worthwile to the editor), more power to them.

Bill Cammack

This is why production companies are now swooping down into the space and creating all these web shows. Their editors are STAFFERS. They get paid REGARDLESS of how many people watch the videos, whether they go viral, whether there’s rev-share advertising on it, whether it has a shelf-life of more than three days. This works for the reasons I stated above. Production companies gain social & business cred from doing QUALITY WORK. Since they pay their editors to DO that work, their ROI is continued and increasing business from clients who want that same level of quality and consistency for their productions.

Is there a solution to this? I don’t think there will be. In fact, it’s not even actually a ‘problem’. Since most people are concerned with hits and viewership and membership, it’s not an issue for them to output GARBAGE and do that for as close to $0.00 as they can. Their reputation is based on how many eyeballs they can attract to sell to advertisers and NOT the quality of the video on their site(s). Nobody’s ever going to ask them to get their team to make a web video for them or a corporate video for them or something to go on broadcast television. Nobody’s going to ask them to work on a film… evAr. As long as the video is the means and not an end, it’s going to remain a high school production, and as long as that translates into hits, views and sales, these web companies are going to be happy.

The only decision here is whether to dress up like that tree and go stand in the background or only entertain video production proposals from individuals and groups with a focus on quality and an understanding of what it takes to make that happen.

~Bill Cammack

Twitter: BillCammack
Social Media Category: billcammack.com/category/social-media
Subscribe via RSS or Email