MANAGING MEDIA PRODUCTION: It's What's Up Front That Counts

Many creative organizations lose money and clients because they don't understand how to manage the foundation of the production process. This condensed description of the first three steps of Dynamic Media Solution's ten stage process applies equally well to all types of media production. It has been developed over 25 years, by DMS founder Kelley Lott, and will ensure that the final product(s) meet or exceed the agreed upon goals for the project.

Concept Paper

One of the biggest challenges in any media production project is agreeing on what to leave in, and what to leave out. Invariably, there is a mountain of information that relates to the content area of the final product(s), and managing this content inclusion/rejection process will become the foundation for all that follows. If this foundation is not built properly, the entire project may collapse prior to completion. The most troublesome and expensive changes are not design-based; they are content oriented. Killer complaints made during final stages of completion include "We need to say something about this" or "We shouldn't be saying this about that". Creative conceptualization may determine who gets the job, but content is the foundation upon which any media campaign should be built. Here's how to make it happen:

After a preliminary discussion with the client project representative, the producer should develop and submit a Concept Paper that defines the specific objectives that will need to be met if the project is to be successful. Of equal importance, this Concept Paper must indicate what the project will not attempt to accomplish. These objectives need to be established clearly so proposed content can be evaluated to determine what is relevant to this project, and what is related, but that does not address the project goals.

Definition of the target audience for the campaign must also be addressed and agreed upon during review of this Concept Paper. Age, educational levels, gender, and ethnicity all need to be agreed upon prior to conceptualizing a creative treatment. Hopefully, this has already been addressed in the proposal/agreement stages, but it needs to be finalized in writing at this point. Media design should vary dramatically, depending on the personality profile of the target audience.

This Concept Paper will also address the proposed creative treatment for the project. There are a myriad of potential approaches to any production, and the creative framework should be identified and agreed upon at this stage.

IMPORTANT: The Concept Paper should be revised after discussions with the client representatives, and resubmitted for final approval prior to the next meeting. DO NOT proceed with the project without written approval of the Concept Paper. This is the most critical approval throughout the entire production process.

List of Key Points

The next step is development of a Preliminary List of Key Points, which is a detailed outline of the information that needs to be covered. While a cumbersome and mundane exercise, this is a critically important step in completing the foundation upon which your media project will be built. All key points considered should be evaluated against the agreed-upon Concept Paper to ensure that each point really does help reinforce the goals for the project. While this highly structured exercise may seem like the antithesis of creativity, it is essential to ensure that your creativity is on target, and that the final products will meet the objectives that led to project funding.

IMPORTANT: Again, there must be a written sign-off on the final list of key points before proceeding with creative development of the actual media products. This doesn't have to be a physical document with an ink signature, but make sure that the client representative at least sends an email to the producer that provides clear and unequivocal final approval of the content before proceeding.

Get Creative

Using the Concept Paper and Final Key Points as a guide, unleash those creative juices and devise how to communicate that content in an interesting and motivational way. But, don't build something that doesn't fit on the agreed-upon foundation. This process not only protects all concerned from expensive/contentious changes, it protects the producer from spinning off in a creative direction that may be very, very cool but also wholly inappropriate for the target audience and content of this project.

And that is how to build a foundation for a project that results in an enjoyable journey for both production company and client.

Dynamic Media Solutions harnesses the power of dynamic media to help organizations grow and prosper by communicating more effectively. If you are interested in how DMS manages the remainder of the production process, or would like to discuss specific communications challenges that you are facing, please contact us by phone, email (, or snail mail.