So Much Work for Just 60 Seconds

When you watch commercials, music videos, TV programs, or films, do you ever wonder who it is that handles the job of getting them on camera and how they’re put together? That’s the work of a video production company. There are really two kinds of companies that create video content. A technical production company may target details that the client isn’t interested in doing. They may do the things that come after the video is shot, the editing and the post-production. Or they may simply take the finished video and post it online. That’s one thing that a video production company may do.

Other companies are full-service. That means they do it all from start to finish, and post-production as well. A full-service company will do the creative development, then write the script. They’ll be responsible for locations and casting. They’ll produce, edit, and deliver the final product for posting. A company like this is totally hands-on; the client states what they want and the video professionals do the rest.

A commercial production company, as you may expect, has a specific focus. It creates short videos, 30 to 60 seconds, that are oriented toward commercial branding. They are all about promoting a product, a company, or a service; or getting a company’s name, brand, and message out in front of the public as widely as possible. A commercial production company creates videos to grab the public’s attention and interest, and to create excitement-“buzz,” as it’s often called. The company creates what are effectively “teasers” to bring in potential customers.

Commercial producers and their creative teams have to get excited about a client’s product, brand, or message. In this way they develop ideas that connect with the audience. Their process includes personally experiencing what the client is selling to create an understanding of the market and the customer.

The video producer’s job looks creative and exciting, and it can be. It is also a highly demanding and responsible job that calls for not only creativity but people and business skills. The producer might be thought of as a “creative problem-solver.” He or she is the leader of the process from pre-production through actual production to post-production. The producer is responsible for the planning, scheduling, and final editing of the project, and hiring the talent and the staff. He takes part in selecting graphics and audio and may actually write the script. He is the point of contact between the company and the client, facilitating all communications to make sure the project is delivered according to the client’s specifications. And of course, it’s the producer’s job to make sure everything is done on time and on budget.

It is very exacting work that a video production company does. You might not believe the amount of work that goes into a 60-second spot and the number of people it takes to pull it off. But these production companies know how to do it with the greatest effect.

Harvest Is Over – Better Get the Ladder

When business is good and customers are eager to buy, it sure is a great time. Business seems bountiful and everlasting. You’re hot. The phone is ringing, orders come through a cornucopia of the internet, customers stand in line… easy pickings… like harvest time in an orchard and all you have to do is just walk over to a tree and pluck another apple… one customer after another… you feel that you are a business genius. Here’s some advice from someone who has been there: better enjoy it while it lasts.

Because, after a while, the orchard is picked over. Sometimes there is a drought. Insects or disease or a frost attacks the crop. Customers now are standing in line somewhere else for the next shiny thing. The market swings in other directions away from you. The easy pickings are long gone. Customers have dwindled. You are no longer a genius, what oh what to do? Wringing your hands doesn’t help.

In the orchard, some starve because they can’t get to the harder-to-reach fruit, even standing on your tippy-toes, sigh, and give up; survivors build ladders to climb higher. In business, some give up and close shop. Those who have the resources and the gumption to survive evolve by changing product, marketing harder and smarter, perhaps even changing their business model. They change their offerings and bring out new, improved colors or sizes or capacities or groupings. They take groups of products or services into and put them into different combinations or bundles with new pricing.

Survivors have a way of going after an increasingly more elusive harvest. They have larger crops in good times when the picking is easy and can sustain themselves when there is a drought or other calamities. Whether the tool of survival is a ladder, a marketing plan, a customer retention plan, customer service training, sowing, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, and harvesting… it all needs to get done year after year.

Increase your reach now, plan your evolution when business is good, before the drought, before customers defect for the latest fashion, before the next shiny thing comes and replaces you in the marketplace, before something else gains favor. Always be aware of events that arise and affect your market and circumstances beyond your control. Keep your eyes and ears tuned to the changes happening around you and your business. Do that and you will survive and prosper in good times and bad.

Keeping Costumes Clean and Beautiful

Costumes are a big investment whether they are store-bought, custom-made or handmade by you. Keeping your costume looking and smelling wonderful will enhance your confidence and stage presence. In particular, costumes embellished with beads or other decorations need to be handled with care to preserve their beauty. Precautions to prevent damage and prompt stain removal will give your costumes a long and beautiful life.

Preventing damage

Perspiration is acidic and will damage and stain fabrics. Using dress shields or promptly removing stains prevents acidic damage. It helps to use deodorants or anti-antiperspirants that dry clear; some products leave white residue that transfers unsightly debris to fabrics.

Perfume and many hairsprays contain alcohol, which damages sequins and fades the color of some fabrics. A towel or other cover over your costume will prevent damage from spills when dressing for a show.

Keeping costumes fresh and clean

One of the best ways to keep your costumes clean is to ensure that your body is clean when you get ready to wear it. If you sweat during the day and then put on your costume, you immediately transfer dirt and odor onto the costume. You can prevent this by taking a shower or using wipes on your body just before putting on your costume. Use hypoallergenic wipes for sensitive skin.

Some costumes are more sweat-proof than others. A thin cotton t-shirt or crop top worn under opaque, loose-fitting costumes will absorb perspiration, keeping acidic moisture away from the costume. Some long-sleeved folkloric costumes have cutouts in the armpit area, which prevents perspiration stains and odor on fabrics while allowing more freedom of movement for the arms. Dress shields are also a useful alternative for preventing fabric damage in the underarm area.

Washing and dry cleaning

Silks and some cotton fabrics are prone to fading when washed or dry-cleaned, losing their color vibrancy. If cleaning is necessary, test a fabric swatch or inconspicuous area of the garment. Dry cleaning is less dangerous to some fabrics than washing; however, dry cleaning results in loss of glued-on decorations, applies heat and fades silk.

If washing a costume in the washing machine is unavoidable, you can put it inside a pillowcase and tie the opening in a knot, using the delicate cycle and cold water to avoid damaging sewn-on beads, coins and other embellishments. A stain remover stick is helpful for removing stains. Be sure all the stain is gone before putting the item in the dryer, since heat will set some stains, making them harder to remove later. Delicate fabrics can be laid out to air dry, which is safer for them than using a dryer.

Storage

If your costume is not washable or dry-cleanable (as is the case of many beaded costumes) let the costume air dry after a performance in order to allow perspiration to completely evaporate. This is also very important for shoes and wigs.

Some performers lightly spray costume linings with a vodka and water mixture to minimize odors. If you do this, test an inconspicuous area or fabric swatch first to determine whether it is safe for your fabric. Always avoid spraying alcohol-based products on embellishments such as sequins, beads and plastic decorations. Alcohol fades some fabrics, so use with caution.

Costumes should never be stored until completely dry, because wet storage will result in mold, which could completely ruin the costume. Be especially careful not to store wet shoes in plastic. Store your costume away from direct sunlight and bright lights to avoid fading; this is vital for preserving delicate silks and antique fabrics.

Costumes with heavy beadwork, or made of net or stretchy fabrics should not be stored on hangers, since they may be permanently stretched. These costumes can be stored flat or rolled. Fasten hooks and eyes and close zippers when storing. In addition, avoid wood and plastic hangers, since they release acids, which cause fabric stains with long-term storage. Padded hangers are a safer choice.

Taking care of your costumes will ensure that they look and smell lovely for many performances.

What to Read and When

Either you need information or you desire entertainment. In either case, a young person’s time fills with activity. Yet, young people stumble and fumble through their early lives because they have not experienced the pitfalls and rabbit path trails of work, love, finances, and real estate. Young people should read voraciously to get an edge on what comes next in their lives. An older person might have more time in the day, but less time in life. Older people possess the wisdom to be selective in their reading. Rather than seeking an edge of knowledge, an older person might juice more sweetness from life by identifying with a fictional character who came out on top by living a moral life in spite of torment and misfortune.

Consider this: regardless of your age, the media bombards you with plenty of information on daily news that will enable you to converse socially. Are you an online social media aficionado? You know that it only takes a few glances and a tiny bit of reading to keep up with current events with your friends. In your profession, yes, you should read to advance your knowledge, but realize that by only reading yesterday’s technical guidance, you neither prepare well for today’s technical problem, nor do you advance technically for tomorrow. Besides that, the technical go-to-person in a company receives visits from people who have technical problems. Unless that person interacts socially with the managers and employees, he or she will not be remembered for promotion. However, the technically astute person who brings fun, happiness, charisma, and stands like a moral rock, might slice through company politics like a hot knife through butter, to advance beyond his or her peers. Read fiction to learn how to be that person.

Why read a made up story? Most fiction writers create interesting stories based on what they know – things that have happened to them. The singer, Prince, famously said, “Before I dreamed it, I lived it.” He meant that he had a better story to tell through song because he sang about things that happened to him. You learn his story, appreciate his experience, and possibly get an edge for yourself while he entertains you with his song. You can get that by reading fictional stories too. Don’t limit yourself to stories that closely align with your life. It will do you little good to read what you have experienced. Instead, if a writer piques your interest in the first five pages of any genre: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, drama, history, or comedy, acquire and read that novel. Especially, if you feel a hook in your mouth that pulls you into wanting to read the rest of the story, do it. Don’t walk away with regret.

The time and setting do not matter. A 200-years-ago story on the planet Mars can be relevant to you today, as well as entertaining while you read it. You will perk up when you read about a character who faces a nasty experience similar to one that happened to you at work or at home, yet, he or she determined the effect wanted amid chaos, planned, then acted on a plan that switched them from victim to world-shaper. That information may be far more useful to you than today’s news story or your friend’s latest Facebook photo. Like Prince, you might live it, then dream it. Find a lifetime of free fiction novels online, but understand that inexperienced authors break into the writing business by giving their work away. Don’t deny yourself the better read by being stingy with vending machine snack money. #TAG1writer

Fixing Personal Branding Errors

When it comes to personal branding, there really is no right or wrong answer. So much of it is subjective. However, that doesn’t mean that you are incapable of making mistakes or of wishing that you could have done something better/differently. If you had the chance to do it over again, of course, you would probably do those things differently. Well, even if you did make mistakes, all hope is not lost. You can still fix what needs to be fixed and move on from there.

Make fixes in a sensible manner
When it comes to fixing the errors that you made in your personal branding, you will want to approach it sensibly and methodically. There are several aspects of your personal brand that you will want to examine and, hopefully, you will be able to identify whatever needs to be corrected.

You want to make sure that your reputation is intact: If you aren’t sure what other people are going to find when they search for you (personally), you should search for yourself. The top items on the search engine should be positive about you. Additionally, those items should have value and they should help to enhance your reputation and boost your credibility. If you see that it is not the case, go back to those items and enhance them until they show you in a more positive light.
Entertainment versus marketing value: It is very important that you understand the balance between good value and the ability to entertain with your personal brand. You don’t want to have more of one than the other. Of course, if you don’t have enough on the entertainment side, other people may not remain interested. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough on the value/marketing side, from a business perspective, people may be entertained/amused but they may walk away feeling that they don’t have much to show for it.
Don’t go overboard: There is definitely value in revisiting the content that is connected to your personal brand so that it reads better. However, overediting is definitely not a good idea in general. The last thing that you want to do is to edit so much that you lose yourself and what you stand for in the process. It is important to show your vulnerable/human side but, at the same time, to demonstrate how valuable you are professionally and how your expertise can help other people.
Marry your personal and professional brands: The truth is that there is a strong connection between your personal and professional brands. They are two parts of you and those parts should have at least a discreet connection for other people to embrace. If you are communicating messages from both brands, they should be synchronized. You really can’t separate the two anyway. The best that you can do is to make sure that they exist in harmony.
Make sure that your social media profiles are current: The profiles are extremely important to your personal brand. They must be kept current. That means that you update your status periodically (at reasonable intervals), change your photo if it isn’t appropriate or is not relatively new, etc. You will want to work on all of your social media profiles. People will definitely notice if you don’t keep them current.
Make sure that your photo is appropriate: First of all, make sure that you have a photo which people can identify with your personal brand. Second, it should be an appropriate photo. That means that it should be a professional headshot. It shouldn’t be you with your cat, your logo instead of your face, you drinking in a bar or at a party, etc. After all, even though you are working on your personal brand, you want people to remember you in the right way because there will definitely be crossover to your professional brand and persona.
Make sure that your bio is what it should be: Your bio should be substantial enough so that other people are able to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. On the other hand, you don’t want to go on and on to the point where the other person has no patience to keep reading. However, you should definitely highlight your accomplishments because not only are you proud of them but they add value to you and other people will have the understanding that you are someone with whom they should form a relationship and interact.
Always be yourself: Authenticity is an essential part of your personal brand. If you are not authentic, people will know it and they will not want to connect with you. You certainly don’t want that to happen. The reality is that you will not be able to have a successful relationship with everyone but you want your relationships with those people who want to be connected to you to be solid and enduring.

Conclusion
All of the elements listed above are important for your personal brand. Getting your personal brand in the shape that you want it to be will take time and work but it will be well worth it for you. You should keep in mind that your personal brand will take you very far in business. It is really important for you to understand your target audience and to do your best to give them what they want and need. If you give them your best, you will get it back in full.

Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.

His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.