Building A Better Post Office

I recently participated in a LinkedIn discussion and I wanted to open it up to the world (or anyone who wanted to read or contribute to it).  It is partially edited so it reads better in a blog format.  I thought what John Clarkson commented back was brilliant.  What do you think?  Any brave souls out there?

What’s the “State of the Industry” for corporate video and creative services?

As the recession lingers on I believe that most companies are continuing the trend of downsizing their corporate video and creative services departments. Those areas are always considered dispensable by corporations when the economy goes sour and the last to recover. What do you think? Are companies hiring? If so, what types of positions?

Social media’s value is that it is created and communicated by the people for the people. If you look at newspapers, broadcast television, and FM/AM radio, it is now well understood they worked well if you wanted to hear one point of view. It was also great if you didn’t want to provide your viewpoint or ask your questions back to the communicator. Let’s face it; it was great because it was all we had. Now communicators all over the world have extremely powerful communication tools to have a conversation with practically anyone of their choosing for next to no cost. Companies are likely downsizing the creative services departments because they aren’t seeing a direct ROI. Why aren’t they seeing an ROI? I’m not sure this works in all cases of course but maybe where we get ourselves in trouble is I don’t personally think a creative services department should always be a 100% dedicated “support organization” to others.

The reason I say that is people will come to you with what they want to throw your way but if what they throw your way isn’t valued by those consuming the content, you won’t have long term value, or a long term career. Instead, I’d be interested in hearing if anyone has focused a portion of their team on finding a problem and using their creative organization to pitch solving a real world business problem so you not only solve problems given to you, but you also help identify and offer a solution to those problems you have helped identify or address from people “in the field”. High profile projects are nice because they get you exposure to those who may promote you or sign your paycheck. However, if those giving you projects provide you a subject matter that content consumers don’t want or need, your services are wasted and you are looked at as a department that can be eliminated when things get tight. By the way, shouldn’t businesses always make smart decisions regardless of whether times or tight or not?

Social media can also provide its own problems when communicators create or produce content that doesn’t solve or help a real world need. Social media is full of babies and animals doing cute or funny things, people tweeting about what they are having for dinner, and professionally produced content is full of dry and boring content (let’s face it these tend to be the stereotypes). Whether it is professionally created or not, I think if your creative department solves a real business problem, makes it engaging, makes it usable, measurable, and informative, you have a winning combination of long term employment and success.

Has anyone stopped being a service organization that provides what the customer wants 100% of the time, and started being a partner with the business to solve real world business problems? If so, I’d love to hear more and any lessons learned.

John Clarkson • Amen to that! Could we say: What’s Expired is being a “mailman” (the commodity provider, delivering other people’s messages for them without regard to value to the enterprise), What’s Tired is being a “letter-writer” (the artisan, trying to pretty-up up other people’s messages, then delivering them, in hopes they will have some value for the enterprise), What’s Wired is “building the new post office” (the entrepreneur, innovating apps, data bases and information fields to solve problems, and demonstrating value to the enterprise)?