The Farmer and the Cowman Should be Friends

(In 2008 when I ran the National Education Association’s media production and advertising shop, I was asked by the IT director to talk about – and help shore up – the bridge between technology and creative operations, to give them a brief look into our evolving world, growing more in sync with theirs every year. The audience was 40-50 IT folk at their national conference. It wasn’t a lion’s den, not even a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical feud: I had worked with several of them and attended their gatherings to learn as we built NEA’s first online video channels and web advertising. But in a meeting primarily about technology and assorted products and challenges, let’s just say my assigned topic was fresh.)

Farmer-Cowman hoedown from “Oklahoma”

“I’ve been coming to the IT conference for several years now and I have always come to listen. This time, they asked me to describe our work in more detail, to share some of what I’ve been hearing from colleagues involved in multimedia and basically to make a pitch for wider collaboration. This is different than cooperation and support; we get that in spades from our IT colleagues.

First, a quick look at Advertising & Broadcast Services. We are a unit inside NEA Public Relations with six media professionals. We shoot in Betacam and mini-dv format; edit in both Avid and Final Cut. We have a small studio for multicamera live-to-tape, switched productions and a sound studio with Pro Tools. We can compress media to multiple formats. I have a lot more detail on any of this and invite you to talk to me today or anytime. Our charge is basically to say Yes to any request for this work from the states and then to figure out how to make it work. This is sometimes a budgetary issue, but mostly a matter of scheduling. We typically work in some fashion with 15-20 state affiliates a year.

Only a handful of people in NEA and affiliates are full time multimedia production; video, audio web and integrated. More and more every day, this work is web-based. And I can tell you that many of them have hit the wall or are about to in terms of their individual knowledge and their capacities. In our own case, there is one person in all of NEA that understands multimedia compression well enough to post video to our website and our internet channels. At the same time, multimedia is rapidly becoming democratized and personalized. We’ve all heard the basics – YouTube, blogs, podcasts, search engine marketing, social networking, consumer generated media, sms, mms, virtual reality. There is a clamor out there for us to understand these and other tools and put them to work in order to reach our audiences. Let’s take a quick look.

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