Internal versus external or some combination of both – no matter what your specialism, in the world of creative communications it’s the topic on everyone’s lips. Of course, this is a trend that’s been underway for some time now so what have we learned about what works best? And if we believe that a blend of both can mean the best quality and value for the client, what are the most important things we need to consider along the way?
Supported by contributions from some experts in the field, this blog highlights our three top tips for best practice when navigating the wonderful world of in-house v external resource, specifically around the specialism of video production.
Chris Conlan is a former agency director who now now consults with brands and agencies on maximising their marketing output so understands the dynamic and commercial pressures at play. As Chris points out:
“It’s not difficult to see the appeal of in-housing creative content generation. No more expensive agency fees, a team that understand your business more intimately and will give it their undivided attention and a saving on travel time for meetings. Add to this the ever-increasing demand for a brand’s assets and content across digital channels and the odds really do seem to be stacked in the favour of bringing everything in-house. And I’d agree that on many occasions it is the right thing to do. I would argue however that going ‘all in’ with internal teams does have its drawbacks.”
So, having that clarity of which are the right roles, projects and services to take in-house is key. Mission Mars are a multi-concept operator with amazing venues like Albert Schloss and Gorilla. Over the past year, Maker have worked with Mission Mars on a consultancy basis to help set up their own in-house video capabilities, having established together what was right to take in-house.
- CLARITY ON CAPABILITIES & CAPACITY
Charlotte Kemp, Head of People and Culture at Mission Mars, believes that “the need for video is undeniable but it’s not always possible budget wise to bring in the pros. Everybody has to be a bit clever now about being able to produce the more straightforward point-and-shoot video content, especially when we need it to be turned around so quickly.”
Charlotte adds; “our long-term relationship with Maker as production partners meant they were a natural fit to help as consultants and advise on what we could realistically look to take in-house, what was possible and what wasn’t. They advised on kit and software, let us try out the set-up before we invested ourselves and gave us the processes and skills we needed to produce our own content in-house. They also coached our video team and helped them to understand about making content multi-purpose and maximising every opportunity.”
As a result, they’ve been able to cover events and produce really valuable content that they wouldn’t previously been able to; creating 18 how-to’s for internal training and 3 marketing films in the last 6 months. We’ll continue to support the in-house team as they progress and consolidate some processes to make things work even better. Plus, they now have a good grasp on what is right for the in-house team and the volume of work they can carry out so they also know when they need to out-source. As Charlotte says;
“We’re really clear now on when it’s right for us to use our own team and when we need to go back to Maker. Some projects require extra creativity and skills we don’t have, or they are on a larger scale and revolve around a complicated idea or a concept that needs creative direction. We understand what value Maker bring and when we need to access that.”
- EXTERNAL SPECIALISTS
When you are partnering with in-house teams you need to be bold and focussed about what your specialism is so that all parties are clear on exactly what expertise you bring to the table.
Chris believes that “ultimately, the volume of imagery and video content brands need to output now means it just isn’t financially viable to outsource the whole lot – it would be way too expensive – but marketers should think carefully about the judicious use of external expertise to keep the finished product fresh, varied and to the highest production standards.”
Because Maker has a reputation for creating cinematic storytelling, brands know where to come when they need an emotive brand film. Another side to our specialism is based on our model which enables us to nail very niche briefs. Instead of the traditional director’s roster we provide a director-matching service, matching specialist briefs with directors with specific skillsets from a much wider tried and tested network. Even the most developed of in-house teams will struggle to have exactly what each brief requires every time so we help fill that gap.
When Havas Lynx came to us with a brief that required a technical director, experienced with shooting multi-screen projects, au fait with shooting in and around water and a master of storytelling, we put forward Carl Prechezer, resulting in an award-winning film that we go behind-the-scenes of here:
Havas Lynx, Cannes Healthcare Agency of the Year 2018, have built a 20 strong in-house team who we enjoy regularly collaborating with on productions to great effect. “Working in collaboration with Maker has always delivered exceptional results for Havas Lynx. Their team are friendly and have high standards in film making,” says Neil Williams, Head of Film, who has built up the in-house team over the last few years.
As Chris points out, “external providers can ensure you have the right mix of skills on your project. You don’t just get the skills that happen to be on the team, but you get a team assembled to deliver exactly what you need. They will deliver a higher quality and will get to the finished product more quickly.”
3. JOINT VENTURE
A really great way to make tighter budgets work and get the best of both worlds is a combination of your in-house team working alongside external partners on the same project, everyone working together towards the same goal as we did on this film.
With regards the above film made for AstraZeneca, Neil from Havas Lynx says “this for me was the perfect collaboration between the Havas Lynx Group and an external production company. Partnership is a key part of getting great work done and is based around a good relationship between the agency production team and the external production company. If they can pull together and split the workload you inevitably get the most value out of the budget. In the case of The Engine we worked in sync with the director and Maker throughout the pre-production and filming stages and then used the Havas Lynx Group’s internal resource for all post production elements. This maximised the client’s budget and gave the best touchpoints for the creative team and film director to collaborate during the edit stages”.
Splitting project requirements demands a truly collaborative mindset and a level of trust, transparency and flexibility that not every production partner can handle. Done well, projects also benefit from that injection of creativity and fresh perspective that working with external specialists should bring.
We agree with Chris when he states that “external teams can bring a lot to a client’s work from their own experience working across multiple clients and sectors, so can often get to the nub of a brief more quickly and do so without being blinkered by category conventions. They take inspiration from many different sources. The separation provided when an external team works on your project really adds an extra layer of quality.”
Combine that with the deep understanding of individual clients’ needs of the in-house team and you’ve got something really special.
Emma Sexton, Founder and CEO of MYWW, set up her agency based on the belief that blending in-house resource with external expertise is a great way to get the best out of both worlds. Emma adds; “We believe in a truly collaborative approach where we integrate with our clients to really feel like their very own in-house team. This means understanding how the project we are working on fits within their overall business strategy and providing the foundations for smart creative execution. We are able to immediately bolster any in-house creative capabilities our clients might already have. The reason we are able to do this so effectively is because our leadership team have all worked in-house as some point in their career so we provide a very different business understanding.”
It’s a unique business model that is proving to be a great success with clients and to help celebrate this, Emma runs the UK’s only in-house design awards.
So, armed with a genuinely collaborative mindset and a clear understanding of the strengths and skills of in-house and external teams, these are undoubtedly exciting times as working together well gives us the opportunity to do our best work.