Creative Services anyone? #heweb11

What is Creative Services?

It’s an in-house creative team that blends capabilities across mediums. Writer on team writes for all. Designers design for web, facebook, video banners. Its the blending the skills of people and looking across several mediums.

New trend of these services/unit on campus.

  1. What problem are you trying to solve
  2. Imagine a bright future
  3. Watch what you wish form, you might get it
  4. Take it from someone who knows.

Same story, different campus.

Many at the university were stuck in the old school ways (ie designers only for print, writers only for press releases, have to hire 3rd party for web development, or video production.)

How do you make this happen?

When combining several units on campus. You want to imagine the future, forget the past, and ignore the present.

They created a grass-roots type of committee, they ignored the reporting relationships and structures of various positions and units.

They conducted several focus groups on campus with the communications people from other departments to find out what they’re frustrated with/needs. This gives you the information to take to the Administration to say “here’s what people on campus want.”

Write up a report of findings, why a central communications unit is needed, and include budget savings by combining services. The report included direct information, but also a lot of emotional writing. Conveyed that everyone on campus was struggling with effective communication and everyone really liked the idea of a central unit.

Creative Services @William and Mary

At William and Mary, 7 people from IT combined with 6 from university publications.  “I didn’t feel like I belonged in IT anymore.” Seems to be a trend among universities of moving front-end web development from IT to Marketing/Communications.

There was a lot of hard work the first year. Everyone experienced an organizational crisis and they had to figure out how to explain themselves to the campus community. They needed to define what they do, and do not do, and how this will work.

They wrote an internal mission statement to help clearly define their role.

2010: the year of lessons learned

  1. Some people just want services. You’re offering creative services.
    “You want services, but we provide CREATIVE services. Concepts we know about our audiences, we know how to market to them. People would bring in things they created, would know exactly what they wanted. They put a stop to it. Because they didn’t want people to think Creative Services did it. We are not a fast-food service either. Not quick.
  2. Answer the phone. Customer service calls make you better.
    Take the call to learn from what people are frustrated by. You can also convey emotion (excitement) over the phone to convey to people what your team is doing.
  3. Quickly or Quality? Both!
    Some of our best work didn’t take a lot of time or planning. “In a Creative Services team, you don’t have to sacrifice quality. You can do great work fast. “ Pull the team together, get motivated ideas.
  4. Print is different. “Publish” really means something.
    They eliminated a lot of “Stupid print”, leaving things that really matters. High visibility pieces. (commencement programs, Foundation fundraising.)  Print has built in DONE point. No control over it after it prints.  Web is constant editing.
  5. Set people up to disappoint you and they well. Ping them but don’t start.
    Talk to people about what they’re needing.
  6. As soon as possible. Don’t work back from whenever.
    Force people to give a date. Talk with them on the process, printing, design, photography. Show them how much time is involved in the process.
  7. Campus evangelist here. The third time’s a charm.
    Someone on your team telling your administrators why campus communications is important on campus. Its important and here’s why.
  8. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Just ask Alice.
    If you know what you’re trying to accomplish, it’ll help you narrow down options to aid in decision making.
  9. Sometimes you have to say no. People will thank you for it.
    Talk people into why there’s a better way. (Choosing not to print a 26-page manual when the web would work better.)
  10. But don’t be afraid to say yes. It doesn’t always mean more work.

Other notes:

How it’s managed
Fogbugz – open source to help track projects.
For big projects, weekly intake meeting.They do not charge for services.
Budget cuts were tough when the unit formed and felt bad asking them for money for services they couldn’t afford. Wanted to stop crazy outsourcing going on.

When did you realize it was a success?
It took a year to figure out the merger was a success.

Merging staffs
During the integration, they found there were some employees with outdated skills in the publishing area. They did a lot of professional development and put people on a project to force/allow them to learn new skills. They built in time to learn the new skills during production process.