What I Learned From the Students At My Video Workshop

I love teaching people about video, pretty sure this hasn't been a secret at all. And just when I think I'm getting to the top of my game, the industry shifts - and their are new tools, tricks, tips, and gear to learn about. But, that's one of the reasons I love much change! 

As a public speaker in Minnesota, I tend to rely on a few "tried and true" speech decks that have been met with positive reactions from crowds. One of these, is my smartphone video workshop - that, in 2017 I expanded and turned into a 4 hour "bootcamp". Because, wow - your brain does get a workout trying to ingest all things video for that long. 

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The feedback from attendees, overall has been positive - and seeing lightbulb moments as they go from frustration, to excitement - is one of the most fulfilling feelings in the world. But, when I started these bootcamps, one thing I didn't expect...was to learn FROM my audience. Here are a few things these extremely smart people have taught me. 

     I've realized that I'm so afraid of not covering something that people want to learn, that I was filling absolutely every single minute of time. New skills take time to process, and feeling overwhelmed without a brain break - hasn't ever helped anyone. 

    After the bootcamp, I stuck around for about an hour and a half having conversations with students and answering questions specific to their organization. One of the consistent questions people kept asking was, "I can never get people to open up on camera. How do I do that?" The funny thing is, is that when it comes to video in the professional realm, technology hasn't really been my strength - I leave that up to my director of photography, most of the time. So, my actual strength IS interviewing people, and a few different crews in town have told me as much. I realized, my deck had a lot about storytelling in it, but not a lot about how to conduct the proper interview. (hits self on forehead...duh, girl!) So, what's in the works for 2018? A special breakout bootcamp with hands on interview techniques. As well as a bootcamp about using live video platforms, and a potential "shoot and share" hands on only bootcamp. 

    I brought a few pieces of equipment with me to the bootcamp, so we could pass them around the room, touch things and get an idea for how easy it would be to use. This included my Joby Gorillapod Pro as well as my brand new, bright blue yeti usb microphone (I'll be using it for voiceover vids and podcasts mostly!) 

At the end of the session, Tom came up and said, "Man, I'm so glad I got to handle that tripod, because it's so much more sturdy than the one I have that I thought was the same thing." This has also inspired the idea of a "show and tell" workshop - with way more hands on opportunities. 

    Of course, it's about the students. But, the control freak in me started to panic when questions were flying and we were getting too behind to finish all the content. In the end, I had to let go - and realize this audience wanted to learn more about legal scenarios, than editing in premiere - and just roll with it. This also has me convinced I should probably break the bootcamp into a class format at some point, so the topics are hyper focused and we can deep dive with one thing at a time. 

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   The unexpected side effect of both of these events this year has been this: by keeping the class at 25 people or less, people are more likely to ask questions....both of me, and of their neighbors. There is a certain level of solidarity that comes with being thrown in a room together and learning at the same pace. I feel comfortable knowing that if I'm not around, they'll reach out to their classmates if they troubles. And, the coolest part? A few of them have projects lined up to do together in 2018. We also have an hour long strategy session at the beginning of the class, and since most weren't in competing industries - they felt comfortable sharing some of their wins, strategy goals, and tips. Collaboration is so great, especially for a lot of these folks - who are often times "one man bands" in their content departments. 

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Overall, I have been sooooo impressed by the people who've attended the events I've hosted. It makes me sad that I haven't made the time to create a private facebook or linkedin group for them, or offered to host a Puke Rainbows Bootcamp alumni event, haha. My hope is to do this in the future. Who knows? Maybe they'll all come armed with their smartphones, and livestream it so you can be there, too ;-) 

It's so nice to learn, when you expect to teach. A huge thanks to everyone who has attended a bootcamp or class of mine in 2017, you are the true teachers...and I'm honored to learn from you. 

Thanks for reading! 

Oh, and yes, Puke Rainbows is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.  (buuuuut, I don't recommend anything I don't stand behind - these were all on my list, and happen to be sold on Amazon - if you can find them somewhere else, go for it -I don't blame ya!) Stay awesome. 



Top Tools I'm Loving for DIY Video Production

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Let's be honest...the reason why a lot of folks avoid smartphone video, or video in general is because all of the technology seems SOOOOOO complicated. I'm with ya there. I love seeing technology in action on my client shoots, but when it comes to getting it up and running, I usually stick with the simple stuff. 

So, here are my recommendations for things to use when you're getting started. 

1. A tripod: 
Your tripod size will vary depending on your setup. If you're using a smartphone, my #1 recommendation (and cheap!) is always a gorillapod. I love these things. Small. Easy to use, and the coolest thing? You can wrap it around anything to create a stable surface. The legs are bendable, and yeah...I might mess with it like a toy from time to time. 

Now, if you're looking for something a little more heavy duty for a DSLR - we all have our favorites. There are Joby tripods hefty enough to hold a DSLR like this one: 

But, if you for some reason don't like a tripod that feels like a kickass toy of the future (whatever, you're no fun...ha!) - then, I always recommend manfrotto tripods. And, in all honesty - it's just because I don't have a ton of experience with other ones - so, you use what you know, ya know? 
This is the one currently in my bag-o-tricks (and you're gonna drop a lot more money this way, just to warn you): 

2. Lighting
When it comes to doing lighting on the cheap...nothing beats natural light from a window. Remember to look at the window, and not have it to your back! But, if it's too harsh and you feel really squinty, just invest in a sheet to tack up. Any flat, cheap sheet in white like this one will do: 

But, for some - a window won't always do the trick, especially here in Minnesota - with these short days! If you're looking for a fill light to clip on to your smartphone, I just saw a review that might help you out....I haven't used it myself (yet!) but I've heard great things about the FlII light! It just clips right on, and boom! Plus, it'll only set ya back around 10 bucks. Which is great, right? Oh, and bonus - you can keep it on your phone and it's great for selfies. 


If you're looking to take things to the next level - you can purchase a bigger ring light, or...for a nice soft look, purchase a softbox lighting kit with LED lights (they don't get hot, are lighter, and this particular set you can adjust to two different color temps!). 

3. Sound/Audio
Now, this admittedly is where folks usually get squeamish. I'm the same way. Running audio is my least favorite thing on set...even though (ironically) I started out as a radio/audio major in college. Weird. I've heard absolutely AMAZING things about the rode smartlav+ mic - but, keep in mind you mind need to get the extension cord they sell with it. 

But, what if you don't have a spot to plug in the mic to your iphone (those fancy new gadgets!)? Hmmmmm....well, if you're using any kind of USB microphone that you might already have for podcasting - then, it's simple. You just need a USB to lightning cable like this: 

Buuuuuut, what if you don't already have a USB mic, and want to get some sound into a phone without a headphone jack? Then you're gonna want to try one of these little headphone jack to lightning adapters: 

4. Fun extras! 
Ok,'ve got some basics down. Now, what about the fun extras? Well, those all depend on your budget. I've actually had a few shoots recently where my director of photography has brought along a little Osmo handhead camera. Those run you about $400+ bucks, though. But, have gorgeous output! 

Can't swing that much money? Then, for around 100 bucks, check out this non DJI gimbal that you can simply hook your smarphone into, for cool shots with movement, etc...

5. Boring but necessary
As always, when you're shooting - BACK UP YOUR STUFF. My choice lately for an external hard drive is this little cutie: 

For your lighting, in order to stay're gonna need sandbags.  I swear, being on set with video production in Minnesota - there are never enough of these bad boys (insert some lame joke about sand being used on the snowy roads, right? lol) The reason you need sandbags is because cheap (ish) lighting stands don't have a lot of weight to them, and tip over very easily. If you're blogging at home with kids, or around busy adults - tossing a sandbag on each leg of your light is a great idea. Don't want to have any lawsuits, right? Eeeeeek. 

So, there ya have it. A little wishlist for your small biz, office, or personal blog if you're just getting started with video - whether it's with a smartphone or DSLR camera. Above all, remember that research is key. There are tons of reviews out on youtube, and plenty of information out there.  I can't wait to see the videos everyone starts to make! Take care, and keep puking rainbows! 


Can't find exactly what you need, at the right budget? Use my link to find what you're looking for: 


Oh, and yes, Puke Rainbows is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.  (buuuuut, I don't recommend anything I don't stand behind - these were all on my list, and happen to be sold on Amazon - if you can find them somewhere else, go for it -I don't blame ya!) Stay awesome. 



December Smartphone Video Bootcamp

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Since we had such a blast this spring  in Minnesota with our smartphone video bootcamp - we're bringing it back, just in time to wrap up 2017!

By the end of this year, online video will account for 74% of web traffic! But, how do you get started...without breaking the bank for your organization? Smartphones have come a long way since the Zach Morris days, and they hold the answers for many businesses on a budget. Jumping in feet first can be daunting, so this bootcamp is designed to keep things simple for beginners. 

Topics will include:

- How to shoot and frame video
- Easy lighting tips and tricks on the go
- Simple ways to get better audio
- Tips on how to make the most of out of a shoot day
- Questions to ask when you are interviewing someone to get the most moving response
- How to prioritize the steps in your video strategy plan (where the heck do we start, right?)
- Editing basics, and programs/apps to help you
- Maximizing your video once it's done: tips for uploading
- The differences in shooting for videos meant to be viewed on mobile vs desktop

Eventbrite - December Smartphone Video Bootcamp

Early bird tickets are on sale now, and the discounted price is available until November 17th - spots are limited, so buying a ticket sooner rather than later is recommended. I can't wait to see all of you there! Celarity is our host/sponsor, and they will be providing a light breakfast, coffee, and snacks. 



Maximizing Video Content

When it comes to putting content online, there are a few key things you can do to maximize your effort. Here is a tactical list of my favorites, and a few examples of people doing things right!

1. Respect: your platform, audience, and moment.

One of the biggest mistakes we make, is in thinking the video content, or any content…is about US and what WE want. Are we the target audience? Most times, no. The University of Minnesota Rochester does a great job of recognizing their audience on the respective social platforms. They engage with user generated content, memes, and hashtags that are relevant to their students.  We took this same messaging into play when we sat down to talk about what kind of admissions videos we wanted to create. The result? Relatable content. We took a complicated idea/majors, and made them as conversational as possible. We also made it possible to break up each of these long videos, into smaller – micro content. We did this because that respects the audience for different social media platforms like instagram, where content is much shorter – so in addition to the 4 long videos we did together, we also gave them many short, raw clips of video to use elsewhere. 

2. Content Empathy
One of the most common questions I get from people is, “WHEN should I post my video?”
The answer?
When is YOUR audience most likely to interact with it? We need to put ourselves in their shoes. Celarity does a great job doing this, because as recruiters – they know a lot of people are searching for jobs outside of normal 9-5 business hours, so they’ll post content before 9a and after 5p. The result was a big increase in their content interaction, and conversions.  So, remember…as you’re putting together your video, take a minute to scroll through your feed on your phone, and keep in mind what the video will look like when it intersects with the content of others. Putting yourself in the shoes of the viewer, gives you a sense of empathy while creating your content.  We also took into consideration, for celarity – their brand. “Relatable, real” were terms we heard a lot in our discussions with them, and that their process and benefits were you unique - so it was important to point that out visually. So, we put together a look that was transparent, by showing production elements, and even showing that their employees were nervous talking on camera. It helped keep their relatable brand, human. 

3. Reciprocation
Often times, when we get to the video distribution process…we throw it out there, and expect a firestorm of conversation. But, we forget…WE need to be a part of the conversation.  Especially if we are dealing with influencer marketing. So, make sure – if someone is re-posting your content, asking a question about it, etc…that you’re following up with them to answer the question or say “thank you” for the compliment. Manners don’t fly out the window, just because you’re online. The more the fans/friends/consumers feel loved, the more likely it will be for them to engage with your content in the future. Here is an example of a quick video @productpoet did as an influencer, for Enterprise rent-a-car, after they tweeted him poetry in order to get his business. Considering he has more than 140,000 followers on twitter – this extended their brand reach substantially! So, for them…responding to a tweet amounted in hundreds of dollars of direct sales revenue, and a huge brand reach boost. It wasn't fancy, but was exposure for both Enterprise and Dodge. 

4. Have a Soul
A lot of video content is being consumed on mobile devices these days. Now, let’s take a step back for a second and think: what do people use their phones for? Well, avoiding calls from loved ones…(hehe, kidding), texting, uploading photos, etc…right? Very PERSONAL things. So, whatever you’re putting out there, is going to need to be either useful or compelling enough to convince them it’s important enough to give time to. This means, having a soul when you’re creating things. What moves the audience? In the case of the Science Museum of Minnesota, our audience was children. So, Science Museum sourced kid generated questions, which we asked an actual NASA astronaut. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to talk about farts? It showed that the brand didn’t take themselves too seriously, and that they understood their audience. They knew it was something they'd want to show their kids. 

As far as non-profits go, charity: water is the king of having a soul! Here is another example of using meaningful content, in a simple way – to tell a story. Keep in mind, they shot a lot of these storytelling pieces at events they held with supporters. This is a GREAT way to capture your biggest fans on camera, all in one place!

5. Trending Data
If we’re looking at what’s hip and new right now, the mannequin challenge is right up there. The Texas A & M gymnastics team nailed it, and a Minneapolis, Minnesota rapper took it to another level at a live show – very cool. 

Last fall, we embarked on a quest to capitalize on trending data with WINGS Financial Credit Union. We did this by creating a “pumpkin spice checking” video. So fun! Their organic video views increased by 35%, and they spent 75% less on this project, than they have on videos in the past. Less spend, with a better result? Sounds good to most of us, right? 

6. Pro Wish List
Lastly, I wanted to touch on what to have ready – if you’re going to be working with a professional. Because this, is going to maximize not just your video…but, your budget – since the professional won’t be figuring these things out with you.

A. Know your goal: conversion, reach, brand awareness, event promotion?
B. Know your audience: who are you trying to reach? Narrow it down.
C. Know your distribution platform: we’ll shoot things differently if we know they’ll be shown in certain spots (i.e. mobile only, a movie theater, etc…)
D. Know your budget range. Going to a professional without an idea, is like asking a realtor to find you a house, without boundaries. As a rule of thumb, many professionals tend to work in the 3k-100k realm. With standard internet content on the lower end of that. Often times, if clients as about this – I’ll provide examples of what different types of videos look like in different ranges, as a guide. J

Best of luck using inbound marketing to maximize your video content! As always, sign up for e.mail updates, or pop me a line if you have any questions. Keep puking rainbows, and making the most of whatever budget you have! 





This weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at the Minnesota Bloggers Conference for the 4th time. After speaking with the organizers, Jen Jamar and Mykl Roventine about past sessions and what I've already covered, I was asked to cover the new-ish topic of live video platforms. Immediately I was stoked, not just because I'm a periscope addict, and facebook live fan - but, because I've reaped some awesome benefits myself from these cool platforms. New friends, press opportunities, and worldwide perspective to name a few. It's REALLY fun to talk about something that you're genuinely happy to help others see the value in. 

Obviously since the presentation was an hour long, condensing it into a short blog is a bit challenging - but, after a quick scan on the twitter seems like these were the points that resonated the most with people who attended my session: 


photo by: Laura @1Girl2Cities 

photo by: Laura @1Girl2Cities 



If you're able to have a conversation with someone, believe're able to use live video. The more you do it, the better you'll get, really - it's not like you expected to be a proficient conversationalist when you were a, cut yourself some slack when it comes to perfectionism of live video. Start by talking about something you absolutely know like the back of your hand. 


This was a biggie. There was no shortage of comments/questions about being afraid. What if nobody watches? What if too many people watch? What if I'm trolled? What if I stutter? What if I'm boring? Know this: you aren't alone. Everyone is terrified the first time they do something. 


Now, I'm not talking about writing down your entire thought process/idea/pitch, but...if you know you have three main points you want to make - write them down in a big bold font and tape the printed sign to your wall so you can just glimpse at it and have a rock solid idea of where you're going next. 


We had a great brainstorming session with my attendees. Some of the ideas for using facebook live and other video platforms were:  behind-the-scenes tours, demo-ing a product, explaining a process, answering the FAQ's on your website, and interviewing someone your followers are interested in. We talk about repurposing existing content in video for a LOT in my other workshops, because it's ready made content - but, people learn/consume content differently than they did just a few years ago. Why not adapt to the audience? 


The point of live to talk back to people and have a conversation. All too often people get on, and treat live video, exactly like produced video - a pitch, talking straight at camera. Not cool. Ask your viewers who is in the room, and what they want to learn. If your audience is global, make sure to ask where people are from, to gain insightful context behind their questions. 


Maximize that content, folks. Write a blog post about it! You can save your facebook live video, then upload it elsewhere - creating new content. Or, if you did have your topics broken down, feel free to edit each topic separately and upload mini videos as micro content. Ask collaborators to share it, if their audience is interested in the topic, and offer to go live on facebook or another platform with other folks to help extend audience and get the word out, about whatever you're passionate about. 


Do you think chewbacca mom thought she'd make almost a half of a million dollars, after putting on a chewbacca mask on facebook live? Whatever you love, someone else also loves it. Give it a try, go live, answer questions, and start creating! 

chewbacca mom wins! 

chewbacca mom wins! 

Obviously I covered a lot more tactical things over the course of an hour such as using natural light, the concept of having weekly office hours, analytics, etc... but the points above are the biggies people were tweeting about. Sam gave a review here as well! 

(warning: sales pitch, yo) As always, if you'd like to host a workshop for your staff, your clients, or a weekly "teach me" session with your employees - I really do love doing what I do, and making complicated things, seem simple. I 100% understand that not everyone has the budget to hire a 6 time Emmy winner to produce/direct their videos, but - I'm also available for consulting, and love to teach these skills...because price point should NOT be what gets in your way of using creativity to make something kickass. I feel lucky to love every moment of every day when I do this kind of work. Thanks for reading, and making it possible to continue to my dream job. Y'all are the best rainbow pukers out there.

Let me know if you have questions! Happy creating, everyone. 




4 Mistakes to Avoid While Shooting Smartphone Video

College of Saint Benedict and St. John's University participate in a Puke Rainbows DIY smartphone video workshop

College of Saint Benedict and St. John's University participate in a Puke Rainbows DIY smartphone video workshop

More and more content teams and small businesses are using smartphones to capture video content. And, why wouldn't you? It's inexpensive, and is great for certain platforms. While you're not going to become Martin Scorsese overnight, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid to get the most of your top tier smartphone video skills. 

  1. Shooting without a plan. 
    Video is so accessible to us on our phones, and in some ways that can make us lazy or frantic in our efforts. Instead of going to an event with a plan, we may simply shoot as MUCH footage as possible. But, this also means way more time sifting through it in post production (editing). Have a plan. Know what you need the video for, first. 
  2. Shooting vertically with your phone. 
    Chances are, you’ve never watched your TV vertically, right? When you shoot your video vertically, instead of shooting in landscape or horizontal mode, it makes it tougher to use across all platforms. Sure, spots like instagram crop it into a square, anyway - but, think about the fact that if the video is as good as you want it to be, you very well could be using it in an upcoming meeting, at a conference, or in a presentation - on an HD screen, and shooting in landscape mode will safe you from editing hassles of putting it on a background, etc...
  3. Forgetting about speed effects. 
    Hanging out at an event? Set up your smartphone and shoot a timelapse to show how many people are flowing in and out. Looking to show emotion? Get in close, and use the slow motion feature - smiles, laughs, tears in slow motion allow viewers to live in that beautiful moment, even longer.

     4. The “to catch a predator” interview technique.
         If you sit someone in FRONT of a window, and try to film them as they are backlit...chances are, they        will look like a silhouette. Instead, have them look AT the window. The light will be even on their face. 

Not sure if you should try the DIY route with a smartphone, or hire a video crew? Here is a handy post that may help you make that decision: DIY Video vs. Hiring a Professional

Best of luck with all of your video content missions, and as always - feel free to message me if you have any questions. I'm also offering internal Smartphone Video Workshops if you'd like to bring your team together for some fun training and Q & A to save time while you're learning this fun new world. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read the tips - stay in touch! 

Erica Hanna
Emmy Winning Video Producer/Director/Speaker



Expand Your Circle: The Comfortable Networking Trap

I'm a networker. A people person. I absolutely love meeting new humans, learning their stories, and figuring out how to create something with them. When I took the leap and went full-time with Puke Rainbows 1.5 years ago, I figured I'd have to network my butt off to get clients. So, I did. 

Every marketing event. I was there. 
I joined committees, a task force, wanted to do ALL THE THINGS! 

HI. I love people. 

HI. I love people. 

But, the strangest thing happened. 
I didn't get crap for business from those things. And it was a puzzling place I found myself in....networking, yet - my new clients would come from somewhere completely different. Places I didn't expect. Conversations in passing. A reference from an acquaintance. 

And that's when I realized, I was stuck in the comfortable networking trap: only attending events focused on my industry, with people I already knew. 

Derp. Erica, what in the world were you thinking? The first realization came when I attended Prestige Conference last spring. The crop of folks there were mainly entrepreneurs and developers. I WAS LOST AT FIRST.  I didn't understand half of their inside jokes. I felt out of place. Then, I heard them talk about content. My ears perked up. They were speaking about it with LOATHING. 

Whaaaa? There are people out there who DON'T like to produce content? I couldn't believe it. I was so used to going to events centered around content and marketing, that I was used to all of us fan girling all over each others content and how much we loved producing new, creative things...that, hearing someone bash what I did, was shocking.  Now, does this mean those events you attend with fellow experts in your field are worthless? No, quite the opposite. They are wonderful - when partnered with perspective. And the realization that how other parts of the team feel about projects are just as important as how your team feels about it, when it comes to communication. 

So, how do you find these other events? Ask a friend. Open your eyes. The internet is pretty damn cool. This month alone was filled with slightly "uncomfortable" networking on my end. Meaning, I was at an event where I wasn't the expert. Eeeeeeeek. For a perfectionist, type A person - this is a nightmare, I'm telling ya. But, it's humbling. Here is why it's great to network this way: 

1. It puts you in the position of student once again.
Asking questions is a very healthy thing. We don't ask as many questions, when we have already read every trade journal or study on the topic. 

Fun with my fellow speakers at BushCon. Their topics: Eliminating Food Waste, Transgender Education, and Empowering Muslim Women to Lead, and How to Give a Great Speech. Pictured: Alex Iantaffi, Nausheena Ali Hussain, Aly Walberg, Asya Mikhailenko. Very cool peeps. Learned a lot! 

Fun with my fellow speakers at BushCon. Their topics: Eliminating Food Waste, Transgender Education, and Empowering Muslim Women to Lead, and How to Give a Great Speech. Pictured: Alex Iantaffi, Nausheena Ali Hussain, Aly Walberg, Asya Mikhailenko. Very cool peeps. Learned a lot! 

2. You meet people who work in other industries.
his helps in a way that you can listen to their conversations, and figure out what it is they really need for their careers/businesses. Is there a way your skill set can help? Cool. Is there a way their skill set can help you be more efficient or creative? Definitely possible! When you network with people of all your same background, aren't you just competing for the same folks at those events? 

3. You just might learn something new. 
    This year, I was a speaker at Prestige - the conference that first sparked this idea of uncomfortable networking for me. It was amazing. And, I learned so much! About small business law, estimating, the accounts side of business. I left with not only new networking pals, but a bunch of new facebook friends as well. 

Davis Senseman of Davis Law, with her talk, "How to not fuck up your business." - Amazing stuff! 

Davis Senseman of Davis Law, with her talk, "How to not fuck up your business." - Amazing stuff! 

Jess Jurick schooling the crowd on proper estimating techniques and process. This is absolutely going to help me in the future with Puke Rainbows. After all, a positive estimate process helps keep communication open - and that's how first time clients become lifelong ones. 

Jess Jurick schooling the crowd on proper estimating techniques and process. This is absolutely going to help me in the future with Puke Rainbows. After all, a positive estimate process helps keep communication open - and that's how first time clients become lifelong ones. 

4. Outside perspective.
    I met with Don Shelby last week for lunch. He's an amazing dude, with more awards and accolades to list. But, we didn't talk about television (the industry we used to work in together). No, we talked about his love for theater. How much fun he's having. How much hard work it is. We talked about being public speakers, and balancing authenticity with expectation. And in the end, when I felt as if I'd contributed nearly nothing to the conversation...he told me, "I always feel inspired after meeting with you. You keep my brain from becoming arthritic. Wicked smart." Which, was pretty incredible - considering I thought I had simply rambled about what I love, but hadn't contributed much to our conversation. His perspective on passion, helped re-light my fire. 

Myself and Don Shelby after lunch 

Myself and Don Shelby after lunch 

5. You see more than what's on the surface for both positions, and people.
    This networking theory can also be applied to our personal lives. Or, conversations in our professional lives. The people who hold certain positions, or like certain things socially - may be completely different under the surface. Or, their MOTIVATION for doing the things they love, could be completely different than you imagined. 

On set with Jason Matheson

On set with Jason Matheson

For example: I had the privilege of working on a project with the lovely Jason Matheson. Jason is a talk show host, and a FORCE. Fierce and clever. I didn't know him well beforehand. But, after a few intimate interviews, I realized that he, too - was bullied as a child like I was. The confident, successful, on air personality became an insta-friend. Suddenly, when you listen to someone's story - your relationship with them changes. You understand each others strengths in a better way, making it easier to become an advocate for each other. 

This can also happen in your personal life. All too often, we gravitate towards people who are "like us." Why? Because it keeps things comfortable. Easy conversations. No stress. A lot of smiling/nodding.
I met a lovely human back in December, and was invited to his birthday party this month. To be honest? I was nervous. I'm used to going to parties with people I know. And, to up the anxiety - it was a costume party, in May. FUN, huh? I mean it. Great idea! But, there again - was another layer of fear: what if I was the only one who went all out with a costume? Would people think I'm stupid? What if they chose a board game I didn't understand? 
So, what happened? 

At lake superior with Eric

At lake superior with Eric

I had a blast at the party. Met new friends. Who look at things differently than most of my friends do. Refreshing. 

And this expanded knowledge base continued, as we spent more time together solo later in the month. Learning all about Ren Fest (I've gone twice, but - he's a performer), and the social importance of Dungeons and Dragons (which, I've never played - but now realize is a wonderful teaching tool for ethics and human interaction). These were topics I'm not used to speaking or learning about, but - more info about both helped me see things very differently, and appreciate the passion and love around these things. In turn, I nerded out about music, and raved about improv comedy, video, and a few of my other passions to him. 

In closing, it's important for us to look at our circles of friends, and the events we attend. Are you 100% comfortable while you're there? Then, you might want to add something else to your networking repertoire, or a few other folks with different backgrounds to your circle of friends.

Because the more we learn about others, their needs, their motivations, the more we learn about ourselves. 

Thanks for reading! 



Sticker Shock After an Estimate? Stop Taking it Personally.

The videos I create have a lot of moving parts. Pre-production, crew, post-production. And with so many businesses getting on board with video, it means a lot of "first timers" are coming to the space. Which, is awesome - right? More people experiencing the power of video marketing! It's so fun to hold their hand as they step into this new world. 

On a shoot for Mayo/University of MN - Rochester

On a shoot for Mayo/University of MN - Rochester

But, when it's your first time at anything, there are typically growing pains. And usually, that means a bit of sticker shock when they receive their first estimate. This used to bum me out, I took it personally, telling myself, "They don't think you're worth it. This sucks!" When, in reality - that has nothing to do with it.

Here is the thing: being offended gets you nowhere.

It simply means their budget is not allocated for that much money, and they're probably scrambling and not sure what to do - because nobody wants to tell their boss they need more money, right?

I instruct a lot of "how to" video workshops. And, recently, a fellow video producer said to me,

"It just drives me crazy when people like you talk about video for social media and digital marketing it's all "this is great" "you need to do this" and how to promote it. Yet, when I get clients who ask me for video, and I explain the workflow and prices involved they get sticker shock." 

Speaking at Social Media Breakfast - photo: Teresa Boardman

Speaking at Social Media Breakfast - photo: Teresa Boardman

On a "how to" video panel. Photo: Teresa Boardman

On a "how to" video panel. Photo: Teresa Boardman

Here is the thing...many of the workshops I give, are honestly a direct result OF sticker shock, and I'm completely OK with that. Sometimes it's because a client and I have really explored what goals they're looking to accomplish, and how often they should be producing videos - and we realize, they just don't have the budget capacity to keep up high/professional level of production all year. But, if they're looking to do simple things like video blog, or learn how to do a timelapse with their phone to capture and event...why wouldn't I just teach them how to do it? I'd rather lose a big video project, and gain the trust of a new collaborator via a workshop, then alienating them to the process overall because they didn't get results with their grand idea that was mis-targeted. Because, honestly - I LOVE video, and think it's a beautiful way to communicate with your target audience. I want you to love it. And if you don't love it, I at least want you to understand it. 

One of the biggest mistakes I see video producers making, is huffing and puffing about clients who don't understand budget. If they don't understand's actually your fault. My business advisor pointed this out to me, early on. He noticed that I was waiting until we were knee deep in creative, and 3 meetings in, before mentioning price at all. Therefore, I'd feel very sad about the fact that I was giving creative away "for free" only to not have a conversion. Now, I bring up a rough price range upon first meeting, every time. It saves a lot of headache. And, I also offer to sit down and itemize the quote with the clients, so they can understand why the price is higher than expected. 


Speaking at the American Marketing Association "MN Ad Bowl" about Superbowl ads. 

Speaking at the American Marketing Association "MN Ad Bowl" about Superbowl ads. 

Not all companies "need" pro level video.  Gasp. Yes, it's true. Depending on their industry, something along the amateur lines may even be more effective. It's up to me as a producer, to help them figure out how to best reach their audience. Example: a non-profit approached me last summer about doing a grand "about us" video. But, when we drilled down and looked at goals - we realized their biggest goal was to prove to donors on a monthly basis that their money was doing good. One video wouldn't have accomplished that goal. So, providing a workshop about how to capture events on a mobile phone was the best option. This way, they could interview people who are impacted by this service (in this case, a food shelf), and send out little clips via email - bringing donors monthly story snippets. Instead of giving them one amazing "We Are Awesome" video, that probably would have left donors wondering, "Did my money go towards making that video, instead of directly to the people who were hungry?" 

Often times when I sit down with a client to explain the process, they immediately get on board and realize professional grade production is a lot more time and work than an iphone and an actor. In fact, I had two clients last year that, after going through this process - came back to me, and offered to pay above the budget I had proposed, because they felt I was underbidding for what I'd be doing. 

On a shoot for Brenda Knowles Golbus.

On a shoot for Brenda Knowles Golbus.

So, to the bitter folks who rant and rave about clients not "getting it" I encourage you to look in the mirror. Because if they don't get it, chances are you might not be explaining it in a clear fashion. Or, there is the slim chance that they're just a d-bag...and in that case, aren't you lucky that you are missing that "opportunity" to work with someone who's close minded about your craft? ha! Taking it personally doesn't help anyone. You have a budget for your business, in the same way that they have a budget for theirs. Help them learn more about the process, and who knows - maybe next year they'll fight for a bigger bucket for video, and come back with a request for a really cool project. 

Clients refusing to pay a certain amount of MONEY...does in no way hurt or lower, your actual VALUE. 

Thanks for reading, 

Erica Hanna
6 time Emmy Winner
Video Director/Producer
Minneapolis, Minnesota



Why I Don't Mind Being Called a "Self Promoter"

"Nobody talks about much as you do." 

When someone said this to my face, it stopped me in my tracks. Suddenly, I was paranoid. My heart, racing. Panic attack, pending. All I could think of was, 

"Do people think I'm a bragging jerkface?" 

Our crew for Lizz Winstead's New Years Eve comedy special. L to R: Ian Schwartz - Engineer, Liz Zilka - hair/makeup, Nick Kesler - Dir of Photography, Lizz Winstead - Executive Producer/ass kicker/the star, Erica Hanna - Production Director, Maggie McPherson - Executive Producer

Our crew for Lizz Winstead's New Years Eve comedy special. L to R: Ian Schwartz - Engineer, Liz Zilka - hair/makeup, Nick Kesler - Dir of Photography, Lizz Winstead - Executive Producer/ass kicker/the star, Erica Hanna - Production Director, Maggie McPherson - Executive Producer

So, I sat back. Didn't talk about work, life, coffees with friends, etc...for awhile. And I felt, bummed. Not because I was looking for recognition, but mainly because when my clients ask me to help them make cool things, I only sign on if it's something that makes me EXCITED. And, when I'm excited about something - I love to shout it from the rooftops, because you never know who else will be excited, too.

It's part of the idea of creating a career that you never feel like you need a "vacation" from. I don't dread getting out of bed anymore (OK, some days when we have 6am call times for shoots, it's not alllll that glamorous, but still), and since I love my crew members like family - it's a treat to get to see them. 

Speaking at the "Lean In MSP" conference about confidence. 

Speaking at the "Lean In MSP" conference about confidence. 

The difference between now  and before - is that I  post a lot more on social about work than I used to. But, that's because work makes me HAPPY! I want to talk about it. I don't need to post photos of myself getting wasted in an attempt to escape my job...because my job, IS the fun part now. (But, hey...I'm not going to turn down a small sip of Glenlivet, if you're offering - wink wink)

Hanging with comedian/creator of the Daily Show Lizz Winstead, before our shoot.

Hanging with comedian/creator of the Daily Show Lizz Winstead, before our shoot.

What confuses me, is that I get crap for talking about what I love....yet, nobody bats an eye when people complain about what they hate. Politics. Work. Family. Healthcare. Some folks drone on and on (oh yes, I realize - I rant about politics a lot - guilty!), yet - they AREN'T classified as "SELF COMPLAINERS". Why? Because well, it's "normal" to whine. It's normal to bitch on social media, but not always normal to concentrate on what is good. 

I heard a great quote by Scott Stabile the other day,

Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit, talk about your joys.”
— Scott Stabile
Pictured: Nick Kesler. You know you've found the right Director of Photography, when you call to talk to each other about life for 2-3 hours at a time. 

Pictured: Nick Kesler. You know you've found the right Director of Photography, when you call to talk to each other about life for 2-3 hours at a time. 

So, go right me a self promoter. I call it living out loud, loving what you do, and who you do it with. And, if that makes you uncomfortable - I guess that's none of my business. 

Keep Puking Rainbows, 


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2015: A Year of Puking Rainbows, what a year. Where do I even begin?

After starting out slow, and questioning my decision to fly solo every single day for the first two months of the year, things really have ended with a bang!  Below is an infographic showing some of the rad highlights of the year. But, as far as putting words to them - there isn't much else to say except, "Thank you for growing with me." 

I made a lot of mistakes my first year in business. And for the first time, this perfectionist is happy about that. I learned that delegating is the ultimate compliment you can give someone, and that you can actually hurt a project by taking on too much. I learned that stress can be disguised in the form of LOVE of what you do, and manifests in adrenaline....tricking your body into thinking it never needs to sleep. Nope, wrong - sleeping is what keeps your brain functional, out of the doctor's office (yeah, about that "acute exhaustion" diagnosis in July...oops, lesson learned). 

But the biggest takeaway from 2015? Trust. Trust the people around you who tell you to try something completely new, crazy, fun, and different. I've always wanted to push the envelope with creativity and video, and now - applying that philosophy to life, has been freakin' priceless. A few times being pushed past fear paid off this year: 
1. Acting as Production Director for Lizz Winstead's Comedy special (I cried in fear when I said "yes"...not lying)
2. Signing my first retainer contract with Emmy Winners Tonic Sol-Fa (working side by side with friends can be daunting, but so worth it)
3. Signing my second retainer contract with Steven C. Anderson, and helping him fill 2,500 seats at the Cathedral (yup, was terrified I would fail)
4. Saying "yes" to helping an old friend rescue a video project that another agency had dropped the ball on, and turning around a new product in just a few weeks
5. Helping the U of M Rochester Promote their new Health Sciences Programs in collaboration with Mayo Clinic (I honestly thought I'd never learn the terminology and I'd offend all the doctors).
6. Working with a NASA astronaut to deliver some fun social content for the Science Museum

All of these things....SOOOOOO SCARY at first. But, ended up being some of the biggest highlights of my career so far. Proving once again, that fear - sometimes doesn't know what the hell it's doing, and needs to quiet down. 

 So, thank you for holding my hand through the mistakes. For helping me put on my big girl pants, and grow up in the process. Because of those "failures"  and "fears" I feel more equipped than ever to handle anything life/work throws at me in 2016.
Happy New Year, rainbow pukers! 

Don't judge know I fudged the number of curse words. Blame the creative cloud. 

Don't judge know I fudged the number of curse words. Blame the creative cloud. 

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The Value of a Working Vacation

"Working vacation? You have to be kidding!" That was the reaction from most people when I used the term. I had planned a two night getaway to Duluth. Craving the sight of water, zen and a need to "buckle down" when it came to planning my future. I've heard from quite a few business owners who struggle with this: hammering so hard on the day-to-day operations/making rent, that thinking about the future seems like something always just barely out of reach. 


I had big plans for what I was going to accomplish. Tactical solutions for a hurdle I've been encountering, planning and process to make sure I don't drop the ball on projects, planning my 1-year Puke Rainbows Party (you're invited!), and a list of approximately 7-8 other things. 

It was ambitious.
It was aggressive. 
It was...not at all what I needed. 

You see, my job has been this HUGE source of joy for me this year. It's more than a job, actually - it's inspiration, daily - both from the clients I work with (yup, kissing ass here), and the other production folks I learn from (yup, another round of ass kissing). But, that joy has been laced with some anxiety. Always this little feeling in my stomach that I'm not doing "enough." That I could be refining a process. That I could be quicker with an invoice. That I could just be...better. 

But, as I sat down to write my business plan for year two, I thought about goals. "Just TYPE, Erica..." I told myself. Because writing is always something that simply flows. So, I did. And this, is what came out:

Then, I chuckled and stretched my hands above my head. Cheering to myself a bit. Laughing, knowing it wasn't that simple. But, nonetheless - it just felt....good, to see that statement in writing. 

Just a few moments after I posted the above photo, there was my buddy Blois Olson - on the phone. Offering great advice. What followed was a quick 15 minute conversation about where I'm at, what I enjoy, and where I want things to be. Really valuable stuff (Thanks, Blois). 

And as I hung up the phone, I felt a sense of calm and reassurance. I already KNEW what I wanted. But, hearing the words come out of my mouth - and tossing around ideas/thoughts with a colleague, was what I NEEDED. Not some fancy 10 step plan. Not a complex strategy. Just...articulation. 

I closed my laptop. 
And looked outside. 


The water was blue. Choppy. The perfect metaphor, honestly. Just like being a business owner.

Because when you're in the middle of things, there are times you quickly go from swimming and playing in the water, to a feeling of drowning. But really, all you need - is to step out of the water for a minute (or perhaps a day or two) to remind yourself you've really been swimming hard, and that it was worth it - because you made it to the other side of the shore. 

This is probably the part of the story where you expect me to say I kept my laptop closed for the remainder of the trip. 

I didn't. 

But, focus DID change. Instead, I spent a little bit more time looking back, than I had expected. Re-hashing the highlights of the year, crunching numbers, mapping out rough goals to keep in mind - and possible ways to accomplish them, instead of a rigid plan full of tools I don't understand quite yet. More focus on balance. 

One other thing also change. I turned on my TV.   Because, I never do that. Ever. In fact, I don't have a TV anymore - because, well...the internet. Tuning out - brought a sense of escape and balance to the process. Commercials would come, and I'd continue to hammer away at things in between before/afters on HGTV (don't you dare judge me!). Also, indulging in the guilty pleasure of an hour of reality TV (couldn't stomach more than that) brought perspective - because damn, I am SO GLAD I don't have the same life as a "Real Housewife" in New Jersey. ha! 

So, as I pack up my things and gear up to head home - I've learned a few valuable lessons: 

1. Sometimes you already know what you want to do, you just need to jump out of the water to see it. 
2. Don't let the lack of a 20 part plan stop you in your tracks. There is more than one RIGHT way to do something. If you know the goal, keep moving toward it - be agile, eyes open,  and allow things to have breathing room/flexibility. 
3. Talk it out. Bouncing ideas around with someone is a great way to get out of your head. 
4. Never underestimate the stress relieving power of driving for 2 hours with the radio on full blast.
5. A little reality TV never hurt anyone. And, it can make you feel way better about your life. ;-)

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Video Content: Simple is the Creative Goal

As I was sitting in a coffee shop, listening to two gentlemen attempt to "out buzzword" each other, it occurred to me that most things we do as marketers - end up overcomplicating everyday conversations we have. And, the same holds true for creative. Sure, it may be clever...but, if in the end your consumer/viewer doesn't understand the point - you've probably lost a client (or, at least you should). 

Listen, Minneapolis is full of amazingly talented and creative people - there is no doubt about that. But, the more I start to heed the advice of an old boss and think of creative as a vehicle to simplify a message - the better off the end product is. Here is the little coffee shop rant inspired post. 

Who do you see that does this well? I think the guys over at Sandwich video are killing it (yes, gasp! I'm promoting a competitor - and totally fine with that) And, the folks behind the Dollar Shave Club commercials are really doing a great job as well. Simple doesn't need to mean boring, remember. 

Thanks for stopping by, you guys - tell me what you think. And, as usual - keep puking rainbows! 



Prestige Conference: In Review

Inspiration. Process. And tactical takeaways. That's what I am emerging with, after attending Prestige Conference this past weekend in Minneapolis. 

When looking at the big name speakers on the list, I felt a wee bit out of my element. "Wordpress expert" was a common title, and frankly - I'm a novice at best, and not looking to get into it at all for my business. I thought, "Great. It's going to be a weekend of code talk, that ends in me crying in frustration over skills I don't have." 

Boy, was I wrong. This had something for EVERYONE. 

Yes, the speakers had a ton of accolades in the development world, but they weren't there to talk code. Common themes from these successful speakers were: culture, risk, and attitude. As someone who usually speaks at events, it was truly a much needed shot in the arm to get off my business butt and put some new processes into place. :) 

Don't have time to read the entire post? Here is a quick video wrap up about my 2 favorite speakers:

The day started off with Lea Newman with "The Whole Person Concept: Finding Balance In Our Work, Our Lives, and Our Successes." Some really great tips about changing your mindset or "state" as she put it, at work - and finding balance. She walked us through a great exercise regarding a "circle of life" to test whether or not we were actually in balance. Good stuff. Tons of energy, too!

Next up, was Tony Perez. And wow, did the room sit up and take notice.  Now we see why he was stretching, yes...stretching, on the ground - before his talk. 
He touched on building solutions that solve problems and the nitty-gritty of running a multi-million dollar business (gulp, no pressure, right?). It's pretty impressive that his security company is mitigating 350 million attacks/year! Here is one of Tony's most talked about slides: 

If you want more information on this amazing ball of energy, here is a great article.

Next up, the fearless dudes Nick and Travis from WestWerk (also hosts of our amazzzzzing after party, thanks guys) took the stage to talk about the value of having a business partner. One of the big takeaways (and hey, common sense that a lot of us may have overlooked) was to work with a potential partner first, before you decide to become business partners. Bring someone on in a working capacity, and see if you gel - because sometimes friends, aren't great business partners. 


OH hey, then lunch was upon us...carbs, sweets, and socializing...oh, my! 
But, enough about we're back for an amazing afternoon.

With everyone in a bit of a lunch coma, it was going to take a heavy-hitter to keep us all awake and ready to rock, and boy did Prestige deliver. Nancy Lyons had folks rolling with laughter, and saw the biggest flurry of quotes on our twitter stream. She spoke about "Technology's Dirty Little Secret" and schooled us in company culture. Her team is obviously doing something right, since they were recently featured on the national evening news for that very thing! Congrats, Clockwork


The rest of the afternoon flew by!

Next up was Vasken Hauri teaching the crowd about how to scale yourself. He also scored some bonus points with the X-Files fans in the audience. ;-) One of the quotes that stood out was, "Don't assume silence means people understand, when you are assigning work." Good call.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Shane from Modern Tribe at the speaker dinner the night before (I helped with social media this weekend while I was there), and boy does this guy have a way with words and storytelling. It carried into his presentation, for sure! Concentrating on how to land big clients, I know personally - this session was really helpful for me. I'm not necessarily trying to land more "big" clients, but...hearing his thoughts on when it's time to throw in the towel, and when to keep the relationship going, was really valuable. I also loved his response when asked about responding to RFP's. "I only respond if we know someone in the decision making process in that company." Amen, Shane...amen!


We ended the day with Prestige Co-founder Kiko Doran taking the stage with Dre Armeda of WebDev Studios.  The two walked through Dre's story, and even traded some Jiu Jitsu knowledge (we thought they were going to throw down on stage!).
"There is no 'losing.' There is just 'winning' and 'learning." -Dre 


---- DAY 2 ----

OK, this workshop with Jennifer Bourn on branding was spot freakin' on, people! Simple. Clear. Concise. And this, coming from someone who's been working in the branding space for 10 years. Having a key workshop takeaway was a huge hit, and I even decided to change a bit of my positioning with Puke Rainbows. Gotta love it! Our photographer Mike caught this great shot of Jennifer in action. 



Lisa Sabin Wilson was up next, and she gave us all the feels. It was so refreshing to see a conference encourage a titan in the industry to share her personal story of triumph over adversity, tragedy, and how to do it with grace. The folks at GoDaddy put it well: 


Hearing Lisa talk about working as a nurse full time, creating her company at night, and raising two kids, all while dealing with death, was amazing. Her big tip when transitioning careers? When she consistently made, in her side biz, what she made for a monthly salary in her 9-5 job, for 6 months straight - she made the jump. Very very smart. 

Ok, disclaimer here...I know this presenter, too! Eric Johnson and I used to work on the same floor back in my BringMeTheNews days. He is over at local innovator GoKart Labs. Touching on how to stay agile in process, and what to tell clients who are used to big agency approach, was really great to hear. He took us through building a product team, step by step. Uber valuable.  


After meeting Jason Cohen at the speaker dinner and Westwerk party, I knew we were in for a treat to finish out the day. True story: while I was asking folks in candid conversation the question, "If candy were currency, which type would you choose?" Most of us just chose our favorite flavor, Reese's, kit kat, etc.....but, Jason? A true businessman and strategist. He asked right back, "Well, which candy can provide something that is a system of value? We could make something out of runts." Lol. So practical and smart. Kudos. 


He walked us through where A/B testing fails, and what it actual "does"...which, I feel is something missing in our everyday conversations. Jason also wins the day for most jokes dealing with shooting or killing something. True talent. ;-) But, really...there were so many nuggets, I can't choose just a couple. Great job!

Overall, the weekend was awesome. I highly recommend this to anyone working on growing a small-medium sized business, and entrepreneurs of all sorts. You definitely did NOT have to have a wordpress background to attend. Also, I came away feeling like this community really took me in. So nice to an "outsider", and helpful in exchanging information. I really hope to run into many of the speakers, team, and attendees in the future! 

Sidenote: shout out to Jen Jamar for being my partner in crime all weekend, and to Kiko Doran for bringing me on board to help here and there with social. Jen handled most of it and was the strategy brains of the operation, but it was a blast to help tweet here and there. :) Thanks, guys! 


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Competitors? More like, collaborators.

This past week I had the honor of speaking at the first ever MINBOUND conference in Minnesota. It was an absolute blast. The thing I love about opportunities like this, is that not only did I have a chance to share, crack dumb jokes, and talk about some cool work done with my clients...but, I had the chance to learn, as well. 

Social Content: it's a two way street - was the title of my session. Here I touch on the importance of engaging influencers, not only at the beginning of the process, but as a brand - the value of continuing that relationship with them online. 

Social Content: it's a two way street - was the title of my session. Here I touch on the importance of engaging influencers, not only at the beginning of the process, but as a brand - the value of continuing that relationship with them online. 

Heading into the conference I noticed something. A former co-worker of mine, Gregg Litman was presenting a session just before lunch. "Cool!" I thought. (I knew he would absolutely nail it, because Gregg knows his stuff.)
But, a friend of mine brought up a different point, "Aren't you afraid that you'll be competing? I mean, you do similar jobs and probably are looking for the same type of clients."  
I sat there, thinking about it. And finally said, "You know what? I don't think we are competing. If anything, I think we have completely different skill sets that would suit two very different types of clients well. I'd gladly refer someone to Gregg, because I know they'd be well taken care of." 

Gregg demonstrating how video blogs out performed written blogs for a client. Great info, why not share it with everyone, right?!

Gregg demonstrating how video blogs out performed written blogs for a client. Great info, why not share it with everyone, right?!

But, to be honest -  for a minute I second guessed myself. Was a being naive? Everyone I speak to spends so much time worrying about their competition. So, I asked myself,

"Should I be worrying more about what the other guys are doing? Should I be "protecting" my business from competitors? Should I be afraid?" 

This, quite frankly...bummed me out, and left a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I truly believe that being aware of your competitors is smart, of course - but, I know way too many people who spend SO much time analyzing what others are doing, that when the time comes to innovate, they are sucked dry by fear of being bested by the competition. This type of fear in the creative process can be paralyzing. It creates roadblocks, and makes it impossible to try new things. And, in many cases...the approach that should have been used for a client, is pushed by the wayside - because of what the "other" guys are doing, and the desire to not rock the boat "too much." 

Collaboration With Competitors
I started thinking about other relationships I have in town with talented people. Like Elizabeth Giorgi, a fellow girl boss. We've had this conversation many times, that we "technically" should "hate" each other, and avoid trading industry secrets, if we knew what was good for us (haha). But, to be honest - I'd like nothing more than the chance to work with her on a project someday. The cool thing about our relationship, is that we can be honest with each other about things. I remember her saying to me, "Was I bummed when I saw you got to work with Science Museum? Of course. Was I happy that it was you? Of course. I also know that I'll end up getting projects you'll probably want to work on, and we'll go back and forth like this as long as we're in business. I know I've probably gotten projects you would have loved to be on as well." Truth, amen sista. And we've even tossed around the idea of collaborating on an upcoming project - that would be GREAT! The same holds true for dozens of production pals in town. I am part of a freelancing group, dubbed "The Clutch" by founding members Zach Peterson and Tom Forliti. Last year we all pooled resources and shot a project for fun, it was a blast. Yes, a lot of us are competitors. But, in the end, it didn't matter - because we were all learning something new we could take back to our own individual clients, anyway. Win win. 

At MINBOUND, I asked Gregg what he thought about people thinking we were competitors. He laughed, and said, "No way. We do two completely different things, different styles." I agreed and pointed out, "I think you're right! And, in the style doesn't work for everyone, and either does yours. I want to work with people who gravitate towards what I do so we speak the same language, and I'm sure you want the same." Gregg, "Exactly!" 

So, I'm going to continue to post content from my "competitors". Cool stats like this from Gregg's deck at MINBOUND15. 

A slide from Gregg's deck at #MINBOUND15

A slide from Gregg's deck at #MINBOUND15

Why? Because I'm not the only creative director or speaker in town, and because there IS more than one way of doing things. It would be a disservice to the folks I work with, if I DIDN'T bring them this info. 

Maybe, just maybe...if we spend less time "fearing" that our clients will find another provider, and MORE time trying to bring them value and perspective from ALL sources, the relationships will naturally fall where they make the most sense. 

For more information on anything in the article, feel free to e.mail me directly at: 

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Why Video?

I love to read. Really, I do. Clever copy on a website brings a smile to my eyes, and a brilliant billboard always makes me laugh. There are a ton of ways to get your message out, and a great written tag line can definitely gain attention. That's why I think a lot of folks are skeptical about video. It's a question I get on a weekly basis, 

"Why should someone do a video?" 

The truth is, maybe they shouldn't do a video. Because, video...emphasizes who you really are. And for some businesses? Yeah, that transparency probably isn't a good idea (we all know the unethical types). Video is great for people who have a story to tell. A real story. Not just a made up tale to sell stuff. Visuals are superb if you need to teach something, or make a point really easy to understand. But, above all - even though these things are's not "why" I love video so much. The number one reason is this: 

When people read a message, they assign the tone in their head.

When you deliver a message on camera, you are in charge of the tone and brand feeling. 

Mike Ryncheck - CEO, Spyder Trap  outtake from video shot for (client)

Mike Ryncheck - CEO, Spyder Trap 
outtake from video shot for (client)

Inflection. Sarcasm. Delivery. Empathy. These are all things up to the reader if we're talkin' text. But, a good director can help bring your brand to life in an authentic way on camera, that is unforgettable. are in control. 

I'm not saying that other ways of advertising are "bad." I use social media, and sponsorship for events for my own biz. They work great! But, when it comes to telling a story, and being sure that the right tone is getting to the humans you want to reach? I still think video is king. 



Helpful Tips for Journalists on Periscope

Periscope has been gaining popularity the past few weeks, and with all of the 'scopes coming out of Baltimore - the impact of live streaming apps is more apparent than ever. 

But, with new technology comes questions and learning curves. Obviously I'm still a newbie on periscope as well ( @meeterica is my handle) but, since I worked in a newsroom for 10 years I can feel the pain of journalists everywhere trying to learn how to work this in the most efficient way possible, quickly. 

photo: periscope via the stream of @paulLewis 

photo: periscope via the stream of @paulLewis 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when "scoping." 

Periscope Pointers:

1. People can hear you. All of the time.

Remember when you were taught that the mic is always on? Yes, remember that from J school!

Example: This seems like a no-brainer, but I saw a stream from a TV station the other day shooting a monitor with pool footage, and in the background the producer was asking questions about Antiques Roadshow. During the Baltimore protests. Ouch. Be careful.

2. Answer questions if possible. 

It's a social platform. If you don't answer questions, and ignore your viewers - people will get angry, quickly.

In a way it's like having a press conference, but standing at the podium in silence. If you are not allowed to answer questions, tell them, kindly.  Make sure they know you aren't ignoring them. Being polite goes a long way. 

3. Comments bothering you/obstructing your view during a stressful situation? Hide them.

Do this by swiping right, scrolling down, and hitting "hide chat."

Keep in mind though, that even though you can't see it, doesn't mean others can't. The chat is still there, but invisible to you. If you think the chat may be disturbing to others as well, clue them in on how to hide it - they may just tune in longer. 

4. Is someone harassing you? Block them.

Yes, you are a journalist and should listen, but I would argue that if you fear for your safety, and the person won't have a rational conversation and is distracting you from doing your job, they should be blocked.*

Etiquette: rule of thumb would be to warn them first, if you go by social media etiquette - simply saying, "NickelbackLover213, if you contribute in a rude or threatening manner, you'll be banned." I've actually had people apologize to me, and beg to be kept on the stream - mainly because sometimes sarcasm and intent doesn't translate well in comments, and they are simply joking. 

*Please note: blocking someone does not block them from the current broadcast that is open. They will still be able to participate, but you won't see it. The good news? They can't see any of your broadcasts after the current one is over. 

5. You can send your broadcast to limited/certain people.

Do you want only certain co-workers to see your broadcast? Perhaps your producer or reporter? Make it a private broadcast (the icon that looks like a padlock).

Select the people from your friends list, that you hope will see it. Send it to them. It will not be sent to the "watch now" tab. But, as with any new app, keep in mind...flubs can happen. Still keep the "mic is always on" demeanor, and if you see screen names you don't recognize entering the scope, you know something is up and it's accidentally been pushed out.

6. Watch out for yourself.

As Paul Lewis said on his stream tonight in Baltimore (to 2.3k viewers), "For every moment I am holding this camera, I am not looking out for my well-being. I need to log off. Thank you." 

7. You can save your broadcast!

Hit "save to camera roll." 

8. Your video doesn't immediately disappear from the stream. 

It should be available for reply up to 24 hours after you shoot it.

If you don't want people to be able to replay your video (for example: you were just shooting a test), simply open it, scroll to the bottom, and hit "Delete Replay." 

9. Show people love. Hearts are positive. 

People like what they see and/or want you to shoot more of it. Pretty simple. If you want to give someone a heart, just double tap the screen of their broadcast. But, please...don't beg for hearts. You look desperate. 

10. My scopes aren't pushing to twitter, even when I hit the tweet button?

I talk about this in my tutorial video (about 3 minutes in). More than likely it's in your device settings under twitter. 

11. Get quicker answers from followers. 

This is simple. Ask a multiple choice question, and ask them to choose 1 or 2 as their answer. Much quicker than making them retype. Example, "Should I buy a Creed record, or Nickelback you guys? 1 for Creed. 2 for Nickelback." (the answer should be no, to both, btw. ewwww.) 

Any other questions? Feel free to tweet me at @meeterica or email me at: 


I am a former Creative Producer/Director for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. Currently I own this lovely company (Puke Rainbows). It's a blast. Need a speaker? I like talking. And Nickelback jokes. I've graced the stages of: 

National Press Photographers Association Workshop, Best of the Midwest Journalism Convention, The Midwest Journalism Conference, Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Social Lights Bootcamp (keynote), AdFed 32 Under 32 (keynote), Social Media Breakfast, Minnesota Association of Government Communicators, and many private speaking events/workshops for companies/news orgs about video production, tease writing, social media, and
even online dating stories if you really want to be entertained. 




Periscope: a Tutorial for Beginners

Have you downloaded the new Periscope app? I'm totally in love. Live streaming video is now accessible to anyone (well, if you have an iphone anyway). Now, I may be a high end video nut - of course, it's what I do for a living. But, what you sacrifice in quality here, you gain in authenticity and pure awe. It's so great to be able to connect with people all around the world and learn about their cultures, without spending a dime! 

Now, let me be clear - yes, this could affect potential business-by encouraging people to handle live streaming on their own. But, honestly-the benefits of you learning about this, far outweigh my biz concerns (plus, this isn't an arena where I play often). 

Here is a quick tutorial about the app itself! I'd still suggest hiring a professional if you want to stream an event, mainly due to reliability of the stream, clarity of picture, and the fact that the app really encourages vertical video...which, is the only dumb functionality thing I don't agree with. haha! 

For those of you who are unable to watch the video...because, let's be honest - you're peeping this at work, and don't want your boss to see -  here are answers to a few questions I get frequently: 

q. what is periscope? 

a. an app that allows you to live stream straight from you mobile device. 

q. how do people use it? 

a. it depends - many people use it to talk to people. They answer questions about their occupations, country, etc... Other people become tour guides of sorts, and like to show what is happening around them - events, beautiful sights, etc...

q. what should a newbie know?

a. periscope, like most social platforms - thrives on conversation. If people ask you questions, answer them, and ask questions back. 

q. what about trolls? 

a. they are everywhere. Simply click on their photo, and hit "block." Problem solved. 

q. anything to beware of? 

a. the titles of broadcasts can be deceiving. If you are browsing with your children, it's a good idea to open the stream first, then show them after you make sure there is nothing dirty or scandalous happening ;-) Also, keep in mind that it makes it easy for people to know if you aren't at your house/are at your house. My rule of thumb is that I never show my house number, and keep my location vague when I talk about where I live. 

q. what is the coolest thing you've seen? 

a. i had a wonderful conversation with a journalist from Kuwait about women's rights the other day. Really eye-opening. MC Hammer (yes, that MC Hammer) has a great stream, and since there aren't a ton of users yet, he tends to remember repeat viewers/names of them. It's cool. Also, I'd recommend BradManTv -he is a lifecaster, which means he keeps his device on 24/7. 

q. any other cons?

a. it will suck your data plan dry, and your battery. So, it's best to use it if you're connected to wifi, with a full battery. 

q. what are the hearts on the screen for? 

a. it's basically a quick way to tell whomever is broadcasting, that you love what you see or what they've said. Simply double tap, and a heart will show up. 

Here are some photos/screenshots of cool things I've seen so far: 

Curling in Raleigh (by my pal @jfmecca) on periscope!

Curling in Raleigh (by my pal @jfmecca) on periscope!

Live music from Nashville, Tennessee on periscope!

Live music from Nashville, Tennessee on periscope!

Joshua Malina (one of my favorite actors from the TV show Scandal) talks to his fans and answers questions between takes. 

Joshua Malina (one of my favorite actors from the TV show Scandal) talks to his fans and answers questions between takes. 

A man feeds a hummingbird out of his hand on periscope!

A man feeds a hummingbird out of his hand on periscope!

I've already noticed a lot of people using this app around Minneapolis to shoot video and show our beautiful city to the world, and it makes me so happy! Hopefully you will be able to check it out soon, and travel the world without spending a dime (as long as you don't go over on data, haha). Enjoy, and happy scoping! 



Nobel Peace Prize Forum - How Do You Peace it Forward?


Nobel Peace Prize Forum - How Do You Peace it Forward?

In less than a week, world leaders, scholars, dignitaries, and even plain old Minnesotans like yours truly, will be attending the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. It is, honestly...a breathtaking event. I always ugly cry at least twice, and meet the most intelligent, amazing people. And, in times like these when it seems like we're surrounded by posts on social media about racism, sexism, human trafficking, terrorism, and's really tough to know where to start when it comes to seeking peace. 

My #peaceitforward statement for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. - erica hanna 

My #peaceitforward statement for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. - erica hanna 

That's why I think it's so awesome that this year, the forum is the catalyst for the beginning of an amazing movement: the #PeaceitForward campaign. The concept is simple...think about what you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis that helps build peace. We all make a difference, seriously! Then, write it down on a sheet of paper - and take a photo of yourself holding it up with the hashtag #PeaceitForward :) Being part of a movement is an awesome thing, and your impact is NEVER too small. Think about it, what is the cheesy old saying...? Something like...a ripple becomes a wave? Truth. 

(click the above pic to see other examples of the #peaceitforward campaign)

So, you've decided to #PeaceitForward (hopefully), now what? Well, maybe you should come hang with me, @studioloraine, @lisadubbels, and @RoshiniR at the forum this weekend! (yup, tickets are still available for certain days) This is my 3rd year as a Social Media Delegate for this event, and it honestly blows my mind that more people don't know about it. Seeing folks like the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Yunis, Tawakkol Karman, and this year...President Jimmy Carter, it's just, I don't know...there are no words for how moving the entire weekend is, I tell ya. Each year I wait, fingers crossed - and hope I'll be able to attend/be a part of the team again. It's THAT amazing. 

(click the photos above to see more pics from years past at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum) 

I know I didn't provide a ton of info in this post, probably because I'm too busy gushing about how excited I am, eh? But, for more details go here: Nobel Peace Prize Forum or check out this recent article in the Star Tribune. A huge thanks to Stephanie Weiss for all of the hard work she's put in! 

Oh, and also...since I'm receiving tickets to the event as trade for being a Social Media Delegate, I'm required by law to tell you that I am not paying to attend (seriously, feeling way lucky here...but, the price is also worth it). Also, I haven't been paid in any other way, and every poorly written word in this post, has been on my own accord. Yay, FCC regulations! 



Does the Word "Client" Hinder Collaboration?

"I never want to work in sales, and I will never...ever be a client facing DIRECTOR/producer."

I said these words 5 years ago, to a co-worker of mine. And, they'll never let me forget it. haha. You see, the creative team at most larger market TV stations is typically split into two sides: client facing, and internal branding. I was always on the internal side. My job duties included: writing copy, directing, shooting, and editing promotional campaigns for the station. In a nutshell, KIMT, KSTP, WCCO, or wherever I was at, was my client. The co-workers who were commercial client facing would take on advertisers who needed video content for media ad buys during commercial breaks on our station. 

Throughout this time, I'd watch from the outside as different producers working on the sales side of things would take on new client after new client, juggling multiple projects, direction, and taxing rounds of revisions. My co-workers in the sales/marketing video area, were amazing! SO good at their jobs. And, after hearing frustrations over nightmare clients demanding 5-6 rounds of revisions on spots I swore I just didn't have the patience they did, to be able to handle being pulled in so many different directions with clients that, from my perspective (very young at the time), just didn't "get" creative, and were being difficult. I swore that I'd never find myself on that side of things. It seemed way too stressful.

So, naturally...what did I do?

Start my own business!!!

Working with clients.

100% of the time. Haha! 

As I was talking with a friend the other day they asked me about my current and potential clients and the pipeline I had in place. I just sat there. Thinking, "Yes, I do keep a running list of people I need to connect and follow up with, but there is something about calling it a "funnel" or "pipeline" that gives me the visual of people being herded and thought of, like cattle."  Gross. 

That got me thinking...what do I really do? Who do I work with? "Clients?" Ewww. No. In my mind, the word "client" reminds me of the nightmare gajillion revision/snotty disagreement scenarios. Although, technically the word client means someone who "pays another for services rendered." OK, OK....when you look at it that way, I guess it's accurate. But, here is the truth: 

I can't provide those services...without communicating and working WITH the person who is hiring me. They know their business, project, idea and goal. I don't. Not yet, anyway. They know what they want to accomplish. I don't. Not when they come to me. And, the same goes for most of the people I work with. They don't necessarily know anything about video. So, it's my job to not only work WITH them, but teach along the that each project is easier and easier, as far as workflow goes. Really, nobody is servicing anyone. It's collaboration. 

My project partner (client?) and friend, Shaun Johnson - of Tonic Sol-fa, and The Big Band Experience. 

My project partner (client?) and friend, Shaun Johnson - of Tonic Sol-fa, and The Big Band Experience. 

So, the term "client" does a disservice in my eyes. Sure, I'm technically being paid by this person. But, they are also being paid to work on the project, so...doesn't that make us partners? What is the disconnect here, in the collaboration world? Perhaps money? I hire subcontractors to be on my crews for a lot of shoots, does that make me their client? No way. We're a team.  It's no different than any other relationship with a human, really. The frustration comes when there is a break in communication. Breaks in communication happen because goals aren't set, a plan of action isn't clear, or...because we just don't listen. 

Listening. Eeeek. It can be a scary thing. What if your project partner doesn't like what you have to say? The direction you want to go?

As creative types, I think it's easy for us to get lost and forget...that if the beautiful idea doesn't align with the vision/goal of your partner, it doesn't matter how gorgeous it is. It will fail. Just like a relationship, or...dare I say, sex or foreplay, right? (Yup, threw this in here...because your eyes were starting to glaze over, I can tell!) For example: you could be really good at french kissing, but if your partner wants to cuddle - it really doesn't matter how good you are at tonsil hockey. They want none of it at the time. Communication is key. 

In all my years of TV news, the anchors were, in a clients. As were the producers. The general manager. The news director. Such a varying level of skill sets, and understanding for what we were trying to accomplish. But, what made it work? We never looked at a project as "servicing" someone. Or, trying to please someone. Instead, it was about the bigger picture. The collaboration. The partnership. The love of news. The love of creative. 

Do I push back when clients ask for certain things? Nope, not really. I'd rather just make a point of a possible different approach, and the reason why it might be more effective. It's not about me. It's not about my idea. It's about our idea. Our goals. Our project. And, since they are paying me...OUR company. 

Because when someone trusts you enough to hire you to contract for a job, that's what they are doing: welcoming you into their company family.

Partners. Collaborators. And eventually (I hope, anyway), friends. So, how about we stop talking about people as if they are simply cogs in a wheel? Whether it's the term client, or user, or service provider. We all have names. We're all human. We all care. 

And as the famed musician Vanilla Ice put it so perfectly, we need to, "Stop. Collaborate. And listen." 





Space: What All of Us Can Learn From a NASA Astronaut

It just hit me. Five days ago I had the privilege of directing one of the few people who have been in space. (More about the shoot was for Science Museum of Minnesota, and videos are on the way!)

Holy. Cow.

After my friend (and go-to audio dude) Tom Forliti took this photo of Commander Fossum and I, we were walking back to gather our gear and Tom turned to me and said, "That guy. Forget celebrities. He's a real hero." I stood there, letting it sink in. He was right. Wow. A real astronaut. Amazing. 

NASA Commander Mike Fossum

NASA Commander Mike Fossum

But, what left me in awe of Mike Fossum wasn't his witty intellect or patience on set. It was something I couldn't put my finger on until now. Something, that came from inside. 

L to R: Director/Producer: Erica Hanna, Director of Photography: Scott Hoffman, Commander Fossum, Actor: Jack S, Assistant Director: Sean Skinner, Audio: Tom Forliti

L to R: Director/Producer: Erica Hanna, Director of Photography: Scott Hoffman, Commander Fossum, Actor: Jack S, Assistant Director: Sean Skinner, Audio: Tom Forliti

You see, as we were running through scripts with him we explained that most of the people watching the videos would be a bit lost if he went into great detail about experiences, so we were going to try to keep things easy to understand. He simply smiled, and shortened up his answers. But, throughout the process one thing never changed. Whenever he talked about his experiences, the energy around him shifted and he got a distinct sparkle in his eye. Sure, all of this may sound cheesy...and honestly, I don't care-because it's true. 

We kept asking him questions about the "tough" parts about being in space. He talked about being required to learn Russian, and even fixing a toilet in orbit. But, no matter what he talked about...whenever he brought up his job, and any task that had to do with his job, he'd just smile with a calm, contagious grin. 

I left the shoot on a high, and to be honest...that's how I leave all shoots.

Excited. Grateful. And shaking my head in disbelief, realizing that this is my full-time JOB now.

Wow. Creating beautiful a JOB.

I really hope all of us can find that thing that makes us feel an inner glow and grateful grin, whether we're directing/being on a space walk...or, tearing down gear/fixing a toilet. Because I don't care what anyone says, the "worst" parts of your job can still bring a smile IF you're living your passion.

And as I think of the lights, cameras, creatives, collaboration, and the magic happening on set at each shoot I realize one thing: this...this is my "space."