The Quality Boom

Strong professional writers, photographers and videographers should be thrilled. Content and social network noise increasingly impact online success, making quality an increasingly necessary component to succeed. That means experienced professional producers will be in demand.

Consider the rise of new markets for quality stories. Cont3nt.com has built a place for content creators to submit their stories. Note the word stories. While photos are the baseline, journalists are looking for the comprehensive package of photo/video AND story.

The demand for better photos is a direct result of mobile snapshots (and the smartphones that people view them on), but the zeitgeist is creating a market for higher quality images. Anyone (including Chicago Sun-Times journalists) can shoot a photo on an iPhone, but most smartphone photos look flat at best.

The same could be said for video. Vine may be the home of six second shorts shot on your phone, but high quality pieces win the day.

One complaint I hear frequently when talking to my more senior colleagues is that many young communications professionals display poor writing skills. Finding quality writers to succeed in the content marketing era is difficult.

The demand for quality writing is one of the primary reasons Erin Feldman became my first hire at Tenacity5. I learned to value quality writing from team members at Livingston Communications and Zoetica. People who work well on a timely basis are more important than yet another account executive.

I believe that demand for quality content will make hiring writers and designers a higher priority than account staff for agencies and consultancies. Regardless of story type — video, photo, written or a combination — we will live and die by quality.

Hybrid Weavers

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Notice the focus on complete stories at Cont3nt.com. I don’t think companies, journalists or content creators are looking for brilliant work in a singular tactic anymore.

Sure you can create the epic photo that is shared across the world, but invariably a story accompanies the image. You can write the most beautiful prose and publish it, but if there are no visuals or video the story will have a limited audience.

Even video requires a story, a screenplay. That usually requires the videographer to write a basic story before shooting.

Content publishers — media companies and corporations alike — realize the need to produce complete stories with multiple types of media assets. Agencies and consultants that can’t provide comprehensive storytelling will need to build networks and teams of diverse producers to fulfill client needs. The same can be said for media companies.

Hybrid content needs drove me to sign up for not one, but three professional photography training classes via National Geographic and Nikon. While most folks are nice to me and compliment my photography, I need the basic fundamentals to transcend from the periodic brilliant shot to consistantly decent photography. I can use these photos in my own work (as I frequently do with blog posts)

It’s all part of providing comprehensive content. Online communities prefer quality hybrid content.

How are you serving this need?

Photos taken last night in Alexandria, VA.

You Spoke, I Listened

I posted a logo contest on Facebook this past Friday for Lady Soleil. Almost half of the feedback was negative.

In total, 80 plus comments were delivered, some friends just giving love, many friends criticizing the logos. Here are the critiques:

  • Lady Soleil is a bad name
  • Sun logos are obvious and cheesy
  • The combinations make you look like a) a feminine hygeine company, b) a Myrtle beach (or some other beach) type of company c) a tanning salon
  • It isn’t clear what you do

At first I defended the name, as the company is named after my daughter, and it has been for the past two years. Plus the initial comments seemed like graphic designers fighting the religious war against crowdsourcing (which in turn made me regret posting the contest in the first place).

This is not to get into the whole crowdsourcing creative services debate, which is significant in its own right. As a writer who competes in a market where my creativity is often demanded for free (like blogs, white papers, etc.), I certainly empathize with my creative brethren, but have surrendered to market realities.

Yet as the comments continued, I realized the comments had more substance. Those who commented were sincere in trying to prevent me from making a possible mistake. The feedback was valuable and useful.

I should be grateful that enough people cared about my business to voice their opinion in the first place. Because so many did, I listened.

As a result, I am considering several paths.

It’s too costly to change the company name. Instead, I am having a conversation with my lawyer this week about the possibility of picking up a trade name for Lady Soleil, Inc. This is legally known as “doing business as” (DBA), and would represent a trademark. A lot depends on cost and complexity in the commonwealth of Virginia, but it is a possible route to explore. And I do have an awesome name up my sleeve.

In addition, I am still working on a possible Lady Soleil logo (see above), albeit one without the sun. It also includes a small tag that describes what I offer (marketing services).

Regardless, the feedback clearly made an impact and was useful.

Thank you.