Andy Baker, the Senior Vice President and Group Creative Director for National Geographic Channel answers some frequently asked questions about how production companies approach the network.
What’s the biggest mistakes new production companies make?
I think there are sort of two most common mistakes that production companies make when starting work with new clients. The first is not doing their homework. It’s really important for agencies to really understand their client, not only what drives their business, but also things like who their competition is. Fully understanding that can really set you up for success when working with a new client, because trust me – they’ll see it. Whether you demonstrate that understanding by knowing about Nat Geo content, or even something as simple as checking out previous promo work, it’s important to have a good understanding of what’s been done or aired before. It’s no different than any field, whether in TV or packaged goods: understand your client. They’ll appreciate it and it will save time along the way. The other mistake production companies can make is not really paying attention to parameters set out by the client. We had a situation once where we had given a company a budget for a project and asked for some concepts and ideas based on the assumption that any idea they pitched would fall within that budget. We loved the ideas, got approval from my clients at Nat Geo, greenlit the project, then got an estimate that was about 25% higher than the budget we’d given them – and when we pushed back, they sent revised concepts for that original budget that were not as strong. Of course there was the disappointment of not being able to execute the approved concept, but also I then had to go to MY clients (internal execs) and tell them that the idea they loved actually couldn’t happen. Not a good place to be, and we ended up having to start over with a different agency.