Blog: Iain Lanivich

Iain Lanivich is a Digital Creative Director for Campbell-Ewald, directing all phases of creative work from concept development through production. He has also played the Detroit hard rock scene for the last 10+ years as a singer.  Iain believes it's a small world so you better start networking. He'll be writing about finding and keeping talent in Detroit.

Post No. 4

Don’t be afraid to call in extra firepower

In my previous post, I wrote about the need to find experts in various skill sets. This is definitely a must.

However, companies are usually staffed by the amount of "committed" work for the year. Therefore, most of your staff is usually determined by the amount of day-to-day projects (which MUST remain intact), and there’s usually limited flexibility for new concepts and scope changes.

By, day-to-day, I mean: offers, promotions, brand initiatives, etc. (I’ll apologize now, since some of this will be very marketing/advertising oriented) This day-to-day work is usually the core of your workload. Although not always the most fun, it has a direct impact on sales – which is why the company hired you in the first place (to increase sales). 

Who’s going to do the work?

So, what happens when you pitch a new idea that wasn’t scoped for the year?

In an industry like advertising, especially the interactive side, there are new trends being defined everyday. More than ever, with the complex analytics the web provides, it’s easier to determine who is talking about your brand, what they are saying, and where they are located.

For example, there may be multiple community groups of brand advocates scattered across the Internet, and if you know where they are, then you can determine a plan to bring all the advocates together in an effort to put them in contact with potential consumers. 

Back to your staffing, if you see an opportunity to maximize on an existing trend, or start a new one – you can’t worry about "who’s going to do it." In reality, there’s not too much that can’t be done these days; for the most part, if you can think it, you can do it.

However, I always hear about companies that are afraid to let their clients know that they can’t complete the work in-house. I’ve even heard stories where vendors are brought in, and given company email addresses, business cards, id badges, etc. – just to make it look like they’re an actual employee. THIS IS HORRIBLE. 

In all actuality, your clients can’t expect you to be an expert at EVERY SINGLE SKILL SET out there. Even if you do have all the skills in-house to do the job, if it’s going to impact your day-to-day, you need a game plan. Your clients are paying you for your expert thinking, your ideas, your creative solutions to their business problems – so if you maintain that control, but you say you need to find someone to execute the plan, they should respect that. 

Internal relationships

At a large company like Campbell-Ewald, there are multiple departments that specialize in different activities (interactive, social media, experience planning, broadcast production, PR, analytics, events, etc.) If you are not aware of all these groups, and how they can help you, then you’re at a huge disadvantage. Even though you may figure it out on your own, and get the job done, odds are you will waste a lot of time and effort going through the same growing pains those groups have already learned from. 

So, it’s very important to learn about everything your company has to offer – introduce yourself, and build a relationship with the department leads. That way, when you come up with that brilliant idea, you know who can help you out internally before looking outside.  

External relationships

It’s also just as important to build relationships with local outfits. The Detroit area has a lot to offer the advertising and interactive communities. There are a number of different multi-media, video post-production, 3D modeling, and motion graphics outfits (as well as many others). Establishing a relationship with a local outfit can have tremendous help in times of need (time-crunch, low budget, unique skill sets, etc.) 

There are a variety of local companies I’m always using for various needs. If I have an idea, and I know it’s perfect for a vendor of mine – I’ll give them a call and discuss it with them first. Since we have a good relationship, they will be honest in letting me know if this is the right project for them. Nothing is worse than when you vend out a project to an unknown company, and you get crap in return. Now, you’re stuck polishing the crap.

The home run

Every so often, you have an idea, or are in a situation where you need to hit one out of the park. In this case, you need to find the best of the best (regardless of location and money). A great idea will never get the deserved credit, if executed improperly (and shame on you if it is).

There are many of ways to find out who’s the best of the best for a particular skill set. And if they can’t do it, then you need to ask them for a recommendation. The "best-of-the-best" is a rare breed – it’s a title that comes with tons of passion. If the idea is right, they will want to work with you (and you’d be surprised how much you may be able to bring the budget down, and still keep them involved). 

Everybody wants to work on passionate projects, because the day-to-day can get a bit boring (but never forget, it’s the reason for our day jobs).  

You don’t want to end up like this guy (make sure your boss isn’t over your shoulder when you watch this…well, unless your boss is me. You can say your researching flash video.) 

I’ve had a lot of fun writing to you all, so I appreciate the comments. Tomorrow will be my last entry.