I’m a Producer. I may now run a production department that includes six other Producers, but it’s my skills as a Producer that I always fall back on. It’s my trade and of course, I love it.
I love being in the driving seat, steering a project from start to finish. I’ll help flesh out a brief and might even come up with the solution. I’ll work out what a project needs, how to deliver it, who to put on it, when to do it, and what to do if it all goes wrong. I’ll also have a say in the creative itself, to ensure the visual wizardry achieves what it had set out to.
In my books, the Producer is a big player in the production process.
But the Producers I see coming out of bigger agencies are rarely that. The rigid structure of these agencies, strong delineation of roles and over-protectiveness of their creative teams turn Producers into mere Co-ordinators.
Not that all these Producers are complaining. Indeed, many like having the comprehensive support around them. Someone else to brief it in, figure out the ad specs, feed back on the design, QA the build, run the results. They just have to make sure it happens, preferably on time.
But a capable Producer can do so much more. And produce a better result in the end, for you. Expect more from your Producer and empower them to be that bigger player.
1. Position the Producer within the creative team
The Producer should be part of the creative team tasked with planning and delivering great creative work. Capable Producers will contribute to the creative process every step of the way and the team would encourage this as another valid voice in the creative mix. They must still be an extension of the Client team but are first and foremost, part of Creative.
2. Charge the Producer with all aspects of scoping
Scoping goes beyond merely costs and timings. There could be sitemaps, wireframes, content plans, tech specs and much more. Bigger projects obviously need specialists to perform these tasks, but the Producer should be comfortable enough to produce all these for smaller projects. This experience also helps them manage the bigger ones, better.
3. Give the Producer direct access to the client
Direct access gives Producers the responsibility to get it right, first time. Ownership is tremendously motivating and reduces double-handing of communications – also good for your timesheets.
4. Encourage active problem-solving
Producers should be confident problem solvers and not merely co-ordinate others to do so. They’d work with the Technical Director to solve a technical problem and have enough insight to offer solutions and elegant workarounds that comes from understanding the project inside-out.
5. Make reporting and learnings an important function of their role
Who better to extract and judge the results of a piece of creative than the Producer? After all, they will have the greatest overarching view of the work, technically and experientially. And as the person in the driving seat they won’t let the same mistakes happen again.
But if this doesn’t suit you and the way your agency prefers to work, then call them Project Managers and don’t get the two mixed up.