Editor’s note: I am sorry that this is so long. I was struggling on how to make this shorter. Hopefully when you read this it will spark you to have some great ideas for your clients. That was my goal.
My clients are hitting the same wall I was hitting back when digital photography finally became affordable for everyone.
I had cut my teeth in professional photography shooting sports for newspapers, magazines, for colleges and for professional sports teams.
The cameras had gotten so good that it was feasible to go to a camera store and buy your gear and show up on Friday Night or Saturday to a football game and get reasonably good photos. The exposures would be OK and the focus would be OK. If it were not just right you could look at the LCD and make changes to the camera settings on the spot. In the past you wouldn’t know if you were exposing correctly or in focus until you looked at the film.
Working at Georgia Tech I saw this happening faster than other places because the alumni of the school were more prone to enjoy the technology of photography. Soon we had the sidelines filled with photographers shooting for free just to have access to the games.
While I still get called to shoot sports and paid the field is so over saturated that few people are able to make a living shooting sports as compared to prior to the digital revolution that too place in 2002 to 2007.
One of the ways I stayed competitive was through my skills with lighting.
However the year that was the most pivotal in our society impacting my profession the most was 2007.
Three things happened that year that would impact photography like nothing had for many years before that moment.
Nikon introduced the D3 camera. This camera almost retired my lighting kit all together. This was the most revolutionary camera that Nikon had made in my career as compared to those before it.
Steve Jobs announces the iPhone. While it wasn’t the first smartphone, it leapfrogged far beyond the competition and launched the mobile revolution. Few industries or societies have been left unchanged. The iPhone transformed photography from a hobby to a part of everyday life.
Mark Zuckerberg opened up Facebook to everyone and not just college students the end of 2006. By 2007 with the iPhone it was exploding. I joined in 2007.
Facebook Changed the Way We Consume Content
While Facebook isn’t the only place we consume content it is 3rd only to Google and Youtube. Roughly 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds credit the Internet as their main news source.
Traditional media was loosing their audience while the internet and things like Facebook News Feed, a never-ending stream of content from the people and companies that you’ve connected with on the platform. News Feed never ends; in theory, users could scroll on forever, a feature that was unheard of when News Feed debuted in 2006.
Now that anyone can create content and reach the world using the internet and most likely do this all from their iPhone the audience is now oversaturated.
Some forms of media have seen a resurgence. I have enjoyed my daughter’s theater performances. Just a couple of years ago Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical broke new ground. It was different. When the musical came out they were thinking of retiring Hamilton off the ten dollar bill, but that musical gave life to Hamilton.
Today it is so difficult to get someone’s attention for more than a brief second. Many covering stories around the world for NGOs are having to rely on one photo and just a small caption to “entertain” the audience with an “experience” rather than having their attention enough to truly inform.
This is why FAKE NEWS has taken place. If the audience wants something for an “experience” because spending more time they do not have, then it is easier for those who want to create propaganda to succeed today.
How do communications offices, public relations, and marketing get their audiences attention?
Today I am seeing a lot of mediocre communications. The reason it is working has more to do with it being “different” than better.
A few years ago one of the most powerful things I heard that changed my approach to working was professional photographer Dave Black saying that to be successful your photos don’t always have to be better–they have to be DIFFERENT.
Just look how we do this with text. We can bold, italicize or even change the color of the type to highlight something. This draws attention because it is different from the rest of the text.
Professional communicators are not sure what works a great deal of time today. They go to Instagram and look for those people with the greatest number of followers and assume that hiring them will translate into more followers for them.
Little do they know that many of those people with a lot of followers bought them through a service and even when they post only a small percentage actually see a post.
Your client is struggling to sleep these days as much as you are struggling. The difference is in understanding who you are serving.
When your bills are mounting up and you find yourself in a panic as I often find myself, you need to take deep breaths and calm yourself down. [I am not good at this either, so just know I might not be the best person offering this advice, but I think I need to hear it myself]
What you will soon discover is that when you concentrate on meeting your needs is that you will go without work. It is when you concentrate of how to meet the needs of others that your bills get paid. You are helping someone who needs your help and will compensate you for it.
My sister in-law Pam Goldsmith for most of her career has played as part of the orchestra for many movies, cartoons and major records. That group is so good that most all the music for movies has only been played one time when it is recorded. They don’t practice. The music was never played before they did so the first time, but they are that good of studio musicians.
I mention this because we should be perfecting our craft so that when we are aware of a way to help our clients with their problems using our skills that our skills are so good that it lifts up the content we produce for the client.
If you are really thinking of ways to help your client then you need to really understand your client’s problems they are facing.
I have a client that their audience is saying stop sending me more stuff already. Just stop it with all your communications. Send us just those things that are going to help them do a better job running their business.
Too often I have proposed interesting feature ideas to my clients. While they may be interested in maybe 1 of every 1000 ideas I pitch to them. They are more likely to be interested in 1 of every 100 or even 10 ideas I have that will help their audience run their business better tomorrow.
Now take a moment and think about your client. If they are Amazon, Apple, or Google do they need to be more successful? Sometimes the companies we are trying to help are having capacity issues. They are so successful that their new problems are not how to make more money, but how to handle the work they have and still enjoy doing it every day.
Our job is to help our customers to see a brighter future. We are to be serving their best interests. If you look at some of the big companies, they may look like they have it all together, but you talk to them internally, and you see that they don’t.
If you are a photographer, videographer, writer or a producer don’t think of what you do as producing content only. You need to be the one coming up with good content ideas that your clients need to reach their audience.