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DIY Video vs Hiring a Professional (Updated January '18)


Here is a video update with where I stand on DIY vs hiring a professional crew. Not a lot of changes, but - I do have a suggestion for figuring out if it's worth it for your org! 


(original post from Feb, 2015 is as follows)

In January I had the privilege to sit on a panel with some amazing video experts in the Twin Cities, at Social Media Breakfast. We gave DIY tips, tricks, and resources to check out. We talked about the evil thing that is autoplay (in my opinion), and which brands we think are doing a great job when it comes to video content. But, we ran out of time before getting to one question.

"When should you hire a professional? When should you just do it yourself?"

Great question. Of course, being a professional that would like to work with you (hint hint, I like your new outfit...you look great!), of course I lean towards the "You should always hire a professional," camp. But, with the technology and creative spirit that is out there, I don't think you should go without video content...just because your budget doesn't allow for a professional. So, here are a few scenarios where...if playing the part of content strategist, I'd make the decision to hire versus doing it in house.
 

First, what videos are best done in house?

1. Behind the scenes videos: anything meant for social media/candid content.Are you reacting to a current event? What about office games, singing happy birthday, off the cuff reviews of a product? Why? These videos are meant to show the current personality of your team. They show how real you are. Spontaneous. Back during my days at BringMeTheNews.com we took a video of our newsroom when our website was down. We were playing paddleball, reading, dancing, juggling...of course it was staged, but it was fun content to throw on social media, to curb the complainers while our IT folks worked their magic to get us up and running again.

2. 7-15 second vine/instagram style posts. Again, this will be very "inside baseball" content of your team. Of course, if you want these to appear polished and if they have any type of comedic timing whatsoever...I'd say hire a pro to shoot a bunch of them at once to maximize the time you're paying for.

3. Challenges. Think: ice bucket challenge, the lutefisk challenge. These are easy to do with your smart phone (Just remember to turn it sideways! Vertical video is evil! Do you suffer from vertical video syndrome?)

4. Media moments. Is your boss being interviewed? Take a quick video before, during or after the interview, to post to your website and/or social media accounts to get some extra PR out of the deal. Build buzz.

When should you hire a professional?

1. For everything else. (ok, just kidding...)

2. Videos starring people who have never been on camera before. Seasoned directors know what it takes to get new talent to feel at ease, and deliver in an authentic/non-salesy manner.

3. Content with staying power. Do you have a great video idea that will resonate with your audience and share for a long time due to the timeless content? Or, something that will live on your website/be sent to potential clients or partners, for a good chunk of time? Remember, if people are seeing something from your brand for the first time, you want that initial impression to be a good one.

4. B2B Content. Research shows that 65% of executives will visit the website of a vendor, after viewing a video from them. Boom.

5. When your other content is no longer helping you achieve the goals you set out to tackle. Are things stagnant? Nobody watching? A professional can step in with an objective/honest opinion. Some are only comfortable on the production end of things, but folks like Puke Rainbows (shameless plug, yes!) also handle strategy, and look at market research to help figure out where things could be goin' South.

6. When you want to take a creative risk. Video professionals live for this stuff. We want to help you stand out, and push our creative chops as well. With so much content out there, taking a risk...really isn't as risky as it once was. Want to cut through the clutter? Ask a professional for help.

7. Training videos. If you are going to make staff sit through these things...the worst thing is watching something that has horrible audio, or questionable craftsmanship. In fact, it detracts from the idea of training the employee.

8. When the expense makes sense. Many companies think that DIY video in house "saves money"...this is not always the truth. Just like any profession, video professionals are much more efficient at what they do, than the average bear. This is the same reason why I hire an accountant to do my taxes. Because it's just not worth it for me to try to do it...it takes me days, it takes him 45 minutes. Back in my TV days I'd write/shoot/edit more than six videos per day. I've held the hands of teams of 3-4 inexperienced folks attempting DIY video, and it takes them 2 full weeks, 80 hours/per person to put together a 2 minute video. That's more than $6,000 for employees making $25/hour. I'm willing to bet, their time would have been more valuable to said company, spent actually putting together a distribution/PR plan for the video, instead of producing/shooting/editing it. Weigh the cost of your employee's time, before you scoff at giving them a budget for video.

I know these are just a few examples, but it's a good start! Let me know if you have any questions or comments. This is just a simple conversation starter. :) Keep puking rainbows, my friends...and thanks for reading!

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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! 

Erica




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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

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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 it...it'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

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

"Nobody talks about you...as 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 ahead...call 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, 
Erica
 

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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:

SESSION 1: 
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!

SESSION 2:
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.

SESSION 3: 
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. 

westwerk.jpg

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

SESSION 4: 
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

clockwork.jpg

The rest of the afternoon flew by!

SESSION 5: 
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.

SESSION 6: 
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!

moderntribe.jpg

SESSION 7:
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 
 

drearmeda.jpg

---- DAY 2 ----

SESSION 1: 
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. 
 

photo: https://twitter.com/TheArtofMx

photo: https://twitter.com/TheArtofMx

SESSION 2: 
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: 

godaddy.jpg

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. 

SESSION 3: 
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.  
 

ericjohnson.jpg

SESSION 4: 
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. 

jason.jpg

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!

SUMMARY: 
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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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! 

 

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

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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 war...it'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! 

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Specialize, or Learn All The Things?

The dorky kid who liked school. That was, and has always been...me. When college came around, I still didn't "really" know what I wanted to do. A little radio here, video production there, directing, drinking, and dating. Tah-dah. My first job was at a tiny TV station in Iowa, where I quickly learned...I had to be as self reliant as possible. 

That? Sucked. 

But, the lessons were priceless. Did I become a pro at troubleshooting for computer problems, and beta tape issues? Not exactly, but the process forced me to be resourceful and to seek out hotlines for help (this is before you could find *everything* on the internet...yes, I'm that old). 

So, enter the move to the big city 9 years ago. It was the first time someone offered to cut video and audio for a promo for me. I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I felt...lazy. But, also free to do things I had a stronger skill set in, like writing headlines and positioning promos to entice viewers to watch. The nice thing was that the editors appreciated having someone who understood how long it took to cut video. The need to give them specific timecode. It created a bond over shared knowledge. 

Then, came a conversation I will never forget. Chatting with a buddy who was in advertising. I shared that my heart told me I would be a better fit in an agency, than at my current job in TV. I'll never forget his response, 

"I'm sorry, but...that just won't happen. You're not specialized enough. People in advertising won't know what to 'do' with you. Video, writing, producing, social...it's too much. Also, most advertising folks classify TV people as lacking in creativity. So yeah...good luck." 

I was, to put it lightly, absolutely heartbroken. Grieving the loss of a dream I had held onto for years. The tears flowed freely, and doubt settled in. But then, a big change. I became...pissed. 

Since when was it a bad thing, to understand how multiple jobs fit together? It didn't mean I wanted to "DO" all of the things. Just that knowing how the cogs, gears, and wheels fit together...made sense. Why not have respect for what the other person on your team does, by at least learning the general idea about what they look to accomplish? And creativity? Creativity, is about believing you can create. Knowing that you are an artist. Trusting your intuition, and backing it up with data and belief. 

"Screw this," I thought...it's time to BE creative, and to CREATE things for one reason only: 

Because I can't NOT create, any longer. 

Eyes open, I embarked on a lovely project that opened many doors. Directing a my first music video for a young lad named Dan Rodriguez. When Dan and I first met, his content was getting roughly 50 hits on youtube, with each post. His Red Flags video we made, has 188,000 views now. And, last month? An amazing song of his was featured in a Budweiser PSA that has now racked up almost 20 MILLION (yes, million!) hits. He is a star. Is it because of our video together? No. But, it was really fun to be a part of his growing career. I look back now at that video we made, and think: oh jeeeeesh, why didn't I do "this, this, this, and this" differently? But, that's the beauty of learning. Using old work as a benchmark for growth. If you can look back at something from 5 years ago and say, "Yup, that was the peak. I'm done." Then why continue to create? 

Anyway,  to the point. On Dan's shoot, we didn't "specialize." Carry gear? Yup. Pick up coffee? Yup. Direct, edit, produce? Sure, those are my favorite things! Lighting? Shooting? I observed. Because Joe Berglove was the pro. But, knowing ins and outs of what he was doing made it easy to help adjust a light, grab a battery, etc... knowing the basics, made it easier to not be an asshole to my hard-working crew. The rest of the team? Did the same, and more. Our director of photography took on prop/set building. Our graphic artist helped with concept. We had a blast. 

So, here I am today. Ready to make things. A lot of folks in production think it's weird that I spent a year at Director level jobs in the social media/content space. A lot of social media folks give me strange looks when I talk passionately about production. I think it's weird, to pretend to fully understand one thing without the other. When you're coming up with an idea, it's nice to understand who will be watching it, how it will be made, and how in the heck you'll be able to get it to people. Does that mean EVERYONE in the business should have a baseline knowledge for all of those things? No way. In the same way that I try to maintain a baseline level of knowledge when it comes to marketing/digital, production folks maintain the highest level of knowledge when it comes to their specialized skill. Lighting? Audio? I shouldn't touch it. But, I do need to know enough to be able to communicate what I'd like the end result to be, to make sure the creative vision a client signs off on, is fulfilled. 
 

Back to the question: specialize, or learn all the things? I guess it's not that cut and dry. Either way, just choose the side you feel most comfortable on, and hustle like crazy to be the best in that position. I love being a creative interpreter, of sorts. Others love being the top expert in one thing. Neither is right or wrong. But the beauty is seeing folks on both sides of the fence, attempt to step out of the box. I've had a few high level Directors of Photography ask about digital strategy lately. Why? Because they want people to see the beautiful things they make. Walking them through those things? So fun. In trade? They geek out with me over gear, offering a "cliff notes" version of what is up and coming, and how certain cameras will give my projects different looks. Man, those dudes are smart. 

So, keep learning. Whether it's specializing with awareness of what is around you...or, immersing yourself in all of the things, but taking time to drill down deep enough periodically, to know what will give you the best result. People fear things they don't understand, so let's reach out to each other to help bridge that gap, and make new things fun again. 

Thanks for reading, rainbow pukers. 

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