The review process is the soft underbelly of video marketing.
You work hard to produce a video or video campaign that you’re particularly proud of. Your customer is happy, and it’s all systems go, for tomorrow’s launch.
Then your customer calls you to tell you that her legal department has a major objection, and your entire project has to be either delayed, or completely scrapped.
Now, admittedly, that’s a worse case scenario. But, there are a dozen other scenarios that can easily play themselves out, if you don’t plan ahead for the review process.
What Can Go Wrong?
Pretty much everything.
Branding guidelines are violated. Messaging is misrepresented. Pricing is wrong. Product features didn’t make the last release. The list goes on and on.
Unless you’re dealing with a sole proprietor, your potential failure points are multiplied by the number of people involved in your project. In a typical corporate setting, those people include folks from marketing, sales, legal and product development, to name just a few.
So, it’s important to take a pro-active position on managing the review process.
Get a Handle on the Review Process from the Start
Before you even begin your video production work, you should know who will be involved in reviewing the final product.
If you’re working for an internal client, you’ll have to get agreement from everyone who needs to weigh in on the project. If you’re working for an external client, you should try to get them to agree to the scope of the review process, as part of your contract.
Be specific. Take note of who will see the project during its various stages, and who will have ultimate approval authority.
Whether your client is internal or external, have a detailed conversation with them to understand who will be involved in signing off on the final project. Push them to be as thorough as possible.
“Will your legal people have to see this? What about your CEO?”
It’s better to expand the list of reviewers now, rather than later, as your campaign is about to launch.
Once you have your list of required reviewers, resist the temptation to show the unfinished product to anyone else who can object. Encourage your client to do the same.
Many is the project that was needlessly delayed because an excited client, proud of the project’s progress, showed an unfinished video to someone not on the official approval list.
Managing the Video Review Process Under Normal Circumstances
Of course, every video production requires customer input along the way. Even under the best circumstances, this process should be carefully managed so as to avoid delays or other problems.
All video marketing projects are composed of different stages. (Here at Thoughtcast Media, we break projects into strategy, production, post-production, and promotion stages.)
Regardless of what your process looks like, the trick is to get approval at every stage prior to beginning work the next stage.
Fixing problems while working in the stage in which they occur, is much better than going back to fix things in earlier stages. For example, the time to discover that the script is missing something is during the table read, not during video capture.
Here are some ideas for ensuring that your normal review process goes as smoothly as possible:
Write Everything Down
Don’t depend on your client to remember everything you discussed during the strategy discussion. Write it down and submit it to your client for review. Using either signed copies, or email threads, keep approvals on hand for future reference.
Build Review Stages into the Process
As with the written strategy document mentioned above, build review points into your process. Here are some great review points you should consider:
- Script reviews
- Table reads
- Scheduling reviews
- Call sheets
- Shot lists
- Rough cuts
All of these are perfect opportunities for people to weigh in on the project, before you move to the next phase.
Invest in a Good Video Collaboration Platform
Trying to discuss video edits with people who are not physically present, is a very hard thing to do. You end up with voicemails that sound like this.
Hey, you know that part in the video where Bob points at the product and says something about the new analytics capabilities? I’d like to put that before the part where Mary says her stuff, and then delete that whole thing with Marty.
Do you know what any of that means? I certainly don’t.
But, that’s exactly the sort of direction you will have to contend with, if you try to manage video edits by phone or email.
At Thoughtcast Media, we use a video collaboration product call Frame.io. It has become such an important part of our process, we now mandate its use in all our contracts.
Frame allows multiple people to weigh in on a project asynchronously, across time and space.
All comments are tagged with the video’s time code, so it’s very easy to know what part of the video people are referring to.
People can make comments, comment on other people’s comments, annotate videos, and perform other tasks to help your editors understand what needs to be done. You can order and sort comments, and then check them off, as they are completed.
So, before I send this post off for review, remember to define your review process early, build review opportunities into your process, and keep records of all approvals along the way.
If not managed, the review process can add time, money and aggravation to your project. But, managed properly, the review process will speed your project along, avoid last-minute surprises, and improve the overall quality and success of your work.