Let me get straight to the punch line…
the last year or so has been rough for our media department concerning series branding.
There are a number of reasons for the struggles and we have begun to correct those with greater focus/vision and hard work, but for now I will share just two with you.
Quality + Stimuli
The level of quality our series bumpers/title packages has dropped below our standards of excellence as a department. And when I say our department I am referring to the six staff members charged with branding our series and no one else. I am not speaking for anyone else on our staff, yet we have heard the quiet conversations happening from longtime artist and some attenders at our church.
“Remember that ______ video they made? I miss videos like that.”
And the funny thing is… we have started saying the same thing about our own pieces of work.
Example #1: Below is a video from a series titled “Just Read” that I feel is one of our best from idea to execution. This bumper still to this day helps me focus in on my quiet time.
Example #2: Below is a video from a series titled “HotHeads” that we lost track of time creating. Multiple ideas fell through and we ended up filming something quick a few days before the series began. The branding itself I honestly love and the music track for the actual bump below was great. The problem was as a team we know we could have done much better with the concept.
So the questions are:
- How did we get here?
- Where did we go wrong?
- Are we just not getting any better at what we do?
I would answer the last question by saying no because we are better telling stories now than we have ever been. We have better gear than in the past. We also have grown in our technical skills. Where I believe we have failed is summed up by Todd Henry in his book “Accidental Creative”.
“Creative work requires that we stay ahead of our work. Tomorrow’s ideas are the result of today’s intentions. When you rely on a “just-in-time” workflow, you will quickly find it difficult to do quality work—and you’ll also find yourself lacking the drive to do anything about it.”
Excerpt From: Henry, Todd. “The Accidental Creative.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/lsZSy.l
What we have done over the last 18 months is to begin working in the “just-in-time” workflow and it has sucked out what feels like every ounce of original creativity as well passion for what we do. We know we have stuff left in the tank and love what we are apart of at PC3, but if we don’t correct the current problem the tank will dry up.
So we are now in the very beginning stages of refueling our creative tanks and re-focusing on the vision of our department. And since we are just beginning this refueling period I will not have a real tangible group of takeaways here today. Today I wanted to share honestly where we are at as a department in a relatively large and what I believe creative church. You see every church/organization/creative department can hit a dip in their lifespan. And it’s how you respond in those dips that you get to show your true chops.
So if you have the same feeling regarding your own teaching series branding or maybe your stuck on that second worship album. Maybe your small group structure was alive and well for the first five years of your church’s life, but now you are completely lost in the why. I must say to you, do not give up.
Every organization can choose their way of getting out of the dip, but here is what we are beginning with.
- Stimuli & Planning – the Todd Henry quote above speaks of working in the “just-in-time” workflow. We have begun restructuring everything we can to begin stimulating our creative brains daily around the office. Inspiration ideas walls are going up. Basecamp mood boards have been created. Tactical meetings have been placed on the calendar weekly. We have begun to set into place ways to stimulate our minds before they are called on.
- Quality – simply putting more time, energy, and a critical eye into our work before we ship it. Quality is another way we refer to as excellence around the office and excellence is different for every organization and person. For us excellence has begun to be defined as “doing your very best with what you have been given”. Below is another quote from Todd Henry that I have printed out and framed in my office.
“There is much advice on how to organize your time to conquer your tasks, but it is mostly predicated on the assumption that your goal is simply to get through the work, with little regard to the quality of that work. But this is simply not the case. As a creative, you are held to account for the quality of your work, not just the quantity.”
Excerpt From: Henry, Todd. “The Accidental Creative.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/lsZSy.
That turned out to be much longer than I expected and I only touched the tip of the iceberg. I am stoked about the next year at PC3 and the media department. I see some incredible content coming down the pipe and into the public eye. But that feeling was not there for a while until the team got very honest with each other and we regained our focus.
Are there any times you guys have lost focus in what you were doing as a church/organization? How did you overcome it and gain that passion and drive back?
Every week I check out Stephen Brewster’s weekly Monday // Graphics Design Inspiration blog posts and it inspired me to begin sharing some of the items I save in Evernote and Pocket myself. So today I start the week of sharing some short videos that have inspired me over the last week or so. And this was not on purpose, but all three videos deal with sports this week.
Dick’s Sporting Goods – “Sports Matter” Baseball
This video reminds me of how much sports meant to me as a child. Love the rawness here as the director decided to not use any professional actors.
Jordan | #RiseToTheMoment | A Decade of Moments: Melo’s Jordan Family Dinner | Feature
I love this video for a few reasons. The tracks by Beautiful Eulogy alone makes the video hot. Yet the stories being shared around the table about disappearing in your art form are great to hear. I did not see watching a group of men talking over dinner to be so good.
Everyone has most likely seen this video already, but I wanted to share just in case you missed it.
A few months back Chris Sasser and I started a little side project at PC3 called “Inside PC3 Podcast“. We are taking about twenty minutes or so and interviewing different staff members with the purpose of giving our church body an inside look at what goes on at PC3. So far it’s been a learning process that I would love to write about and share once we figure out where this thing is going, but until then I wanted to share the latest episode here with you guys.
In the podcast I was able sit down as a guest and to take some time to discuss specifically how our media department plays a very important roll in our church’s mission strategy. It was very off the cuff and un-edited, but gives a raw look at some of what is going on behind the scenes at PC3.
If you have any topics you would like for us to cover by the way, post a tweet using #insidepc3. Also you can listen to Episodes 1-3 here.
Next week Kirsten and I will be debriefing each day of our recent mission trip to Guatemala. It has already been three weeks since we flew back from Guatemala and we miss is dearly and cannot wait to go back hopefully next year. If you gave financially to us or took time to pray specifically for our team/us we want to THANK YOU! We cannot wait to share everything God did through us because of your generosity next week. Until then here is a very brief photo recap from a good friend who took the trip down as well. Thank you JJ Clark for taking the time to share these with the team as well as buying that GoPro!
I started the year off slow with my reading goal, but in the last two months have covered some lost ground. Below are my top four that I’ve read so far in 2014.
by Todd Henry
Toddy Henry first wrote The Accidental Creative, which is one of my all time favorite books and has sense released his sophomore release Die Empty. I just finished Die Empty yesterday and am about to take my entire creative team through it together.
This book left me incredibly inspired along with tangible activities on finishing my day, weeks, and life with the tank on E. And not the *“how did I run out of gas”I E, but instead a very strategic path with purpose so I can end each day with confidence that the work I accomplish today was worth it!
Principle: Mediocrity doesn’t just happen suddenly; it develops slowly over time.
by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Ever since our team joined Basecamp for our project management and communication needs I started following Jason Fried (owner/founder of 37 Signals) on Twitter and reading their blog (singnalvnoise). Once they announced a book release I made sure to purchase it. And it did not disappoint.
In the real world, you can’t attract millions of customers without any salespeople or advertising. In the real world, you can’t reveal your formula for success to the rest of the world. But we’ve done all those things and prospered.
The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.
That quote sums up the gist of the entire book for me. It throws out the window the statement, “well this is how it has to be done to succeed”. Rework is my favorite book regarding breaking the mold of what the “real world” believes you must fit into.
Manage Your Day-To-Day
If you follow Behance Network, 99U, or have bought an Action Method Notebook you may already know about this book. No matter, this is a book composed of different articles and excerpts from a large number of incredible entrepreneurs, authors, CEO’s, designers, film makers, authors, and many more productive crazed individuals.
These new perspectives caught me off-guard— I realized that much of my most valuable energy had been unknowingly consumed by bad habits. My day-to-day practices had devolved to a point where I was at the mercy of everything around me— everything but my goals and true preferences.
If you read this book be prepared to gain extremely well written short doses of insights on productivity and how you are most likely missing it. This book opened my eyes to unproductive habits all around me that I had never seen before.
by Perry Noble
This is another book I finished this week and one that I felt was written more like a large collection of blog posts around the topic overwhelmed, which turned out to be a great way to read it. The book is a quick read and is packed full of incredible insights based around the book of Daniel, the story of Job, and Perry’s own personal struggles with depression and being overwhelmed.
Everything changed when I stopped praying, “Change my friends, change my circumstances, change my wife,” and I began to pray, “God, change me, change my heart. Something is wrong with me – please do a work in me.”
Perry does a great job here helping me laser in on Jesus, and how He and no one else or thing should hold my complete trust. This book hit home for me in regard to some of my personal circumstances in the last few years and was a breath of fresh air on trusting Jesus. Very thankful for this book and highly recommend it to anyone suffering with any form of depression and/or continual stress levels.
Lately I’ve caught myself in conversations telling others to listen, evaluate, and decide a lot. It may be coming across as advice to others because I have been trying to engage in feedback lately with those three words in mind.
Here is what I mean in short form:
Stop talking and just listen. If you are married you know what I mean here. It’s very hard to do this part, but it is the best thing you can do. So when someone approaches you with feedback you did not solicit go ahead and listen. Don’t justify your decisions. If you solicited the feedback once again don’t start defending your choices. Just listen.
You have now taken the time to actually listen to someone’s opinion. Other’s opinions are very important to improving your art/decisions/product. The thing to remember though is every opinion is just that… an opinion. So once you have taken the time to listen you must take the time to evaluate. You will base the evaluation on many factors that only you can decide on. The key here is to take the time and evaluate what you have heard from others.
Now that you have listened and evaluated you must decide. And this must be based around vision and values. If you begin making decisions based on wavering vision and values you will continue to make reactionary changes based solely on peoples opinions and not vision. This is extremely hard for church production environments. Lights, video and audio volume can be and should be decided based on vision/values and not just complaints/compliments. It’s difficult in the moments you must make a decision, but no matter what decision you make some peoples opinions will be opposite. And once again with vision you can make your way through those circumstances.
So this week as you create new art, scripts, music, policies, curriculum be sure to listen to others, evaluate what you have heard, and then decide based on your vision and values.