Do your wits have an end?
I’ve come to the conclusion that my friend Kris was right “companies don’t always need video”. I get it now after 15 years. Slow learner. It’s not a must have because of the way they perceive it. They don’t always understand its capabilities to sell, brand, market or train. Sometimes It’s kind of a fun little extra project to show off the team or celebrate an anniversary. At least that’s been my experience lately.
I have a very successful business, I have a lot of folks I work with regularly and we do great work together. That is certainly gratifying. When you can help someone grow their business, become a better presenter and create memorable work, it’s a joy to be involved. They get it.
I worked with a CEO once that really knew the value. It saved him a lot of plane rides and he got quite good at connecting with his peeps. That was a pleasure. The rest, not so much.
But the phone keeps ringing and the expectations don’t always get much higher. “Just a quick”, “just a fun little,” “nothing fancy, and oh, inexpensive we hope”. That, is never the case.
This newest project has a serious drop dead date. When I get a drop dead date the only thing that’s gonna get close to dropping dead, is me. Clients only know what they don’t like when they see it. That’s usually all you get and that’s how you have to proceed. Last year I did a company overview for a company that had so many people adding input, I could hardly keep up. It clocked in at 4 minutes under “Gone With The Wind”.
They needed to create excitement about the future of the company and of their pipeline, with a minor catch: there was nothing in the pipeline. So this HR Director said “how about a box with a bunch of exploding question marks bursting out of it all sparkly and everything?” He must have skipped the drug test. Laughter from the rest of the group was stifled. It went on like that for hours.
When I got back to my studio, I vowed not to be discouraged or deterred and laid out what I thought would be a logical sequence with graphics, logos and what I thought might be an interesting and informative presentation based on most of the relevant input. I sent it to the VP of HR and she sent me back a note saying she appreciated my efforts but I had to take into account all of the input from all 15 members of the group. What do I look like, Gallup?
Needless to say, the drop dead date came and went and the project kept growing so much we had to add chapters. Talent came and went, died or retired and had to be shot over and over. This stretched out for 13 months. As they say in my business, videos are never completed, they just get stopped at some point and that’s how that monster got put out of its misery.
A few months ago, I got a call at 9:00 pm from a couple of marketing assistants that sounded like they were at a happy hour someplace and they had a couple of changes they thought would be cool. The final version of the video had already been approved and was set to play the next morning at 8:00 am. When clients use terms like, “how ’bout” or “maybe try” or “if it’s not a huge hassle,” you are screwed.
They sent me 9 e-mails with possible alternate text, graphics and iPhone footage to change it up a bit. They didn’t say where they should go. They were just “suggestions”.
The stress was getting almost unbearable. I said I would see what I could do, hung up the phone and just screamed as loud as I could. When you have to stay seated and you feel like your spine is going to blow right out of your back, it’s agonizing.
Ambush was the only word that could escape me. I worked most of the night only to find out later they ended up using my original version. They never mentioned the phone call. Maybe they didn’t remember.
I’m going on sabbatical by myself in a couple of weeks to Arizona to get my head together and figure out where I go from here. I have a book I’m working on and I’ll get plenty of sun and exercise but mostly some mental rehab time. Lately, I’ve had more bad experiences than good ones, I think I’m getting the hint.