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How Do We Compare?
Our company like many others are adapting to a new world of technology enabled consumers who are doing more research and purchasing online than ever before. Those customers and our employees have grown accustomed to emailing photos and videos to communicate. We’ve seen some growth in user-generated content and are working with IT and external partners to build an infrastructure to address the related media technology needs of the organization, no matter what locale we are in. I created the media/communications benchmarking survey to see where other organizations are at in terms of size, structure, positions, and hopefully to get some indicator of what their future structures or growth areas might look like.
What I found is that we are all unique and difficult to compare to each other. There are so many variables to adequately compare “apples-to-apples” when looking at corporate/enterprise Media and Communications departments. Company size, company revenue, scope of operations, and products offered are all factors determining the scope and size of media/communications departments.
While conducting this survey, one of the participants shared another survey that I found valuable – 2013 In-house Creative Services Industry Report. I used it along with my survey to come up with some relevant findings. One thing I learned, and maybe it’s a good thing, is that nothing stood out as being radically different. My team is actively engaged in (as I’m guessing many of you are) figuring out how we will manage content going forward. Specifically, creating a strategy and consensus around the creation, storage, delivery, and archiving of enterprise media content.
With that in mind I was pleased to see that several departments have technology staff and list infrastructure, mobile app development, and augmented reality as growth areas. My follow-up discussions with a few companies indicate that creating and managing digital assets requires a specialized skillset they needed to add to their structure. When asked for names of units within the department, “Technology Solutions” ranked six out of nine, whereas video production ranked one as the most common unit within a department, and digital signage ranked nine as most common unit within a department (making it the least common). Now this only makes sense to the large departments with multiple units – but many of us have these functions lumped into their overall single department offerings. The fact that a “technology” unit appeared a few times was encouraging and will help support my creating a similar unit.
Department names also intrigued me. I am going through reorganization now and will consider renaming the department. I no longer want to be another “Media” department… I want to be a “Studio 51” or “Tag TV” or one of the many other branded department names. So what were the common names? Names with “Media” in them ranked one with about 35% of departments, branded names came in second followed by departments with “video” and “creative” in their names. Most departments report – to marketing with communications a close second. Many comments indicated that communications is within their marketing function. It stands to reason that these two would be the top clients as well, and they are, followed by education, sales, HR, and strangely enough IT.
As far as staffing, 51% said that 100% of their full-time team are FTEs. The key here is “full-time” as most departments spent $100k to a million on contract workers. My organization is no different with 11 FTEs (down from 20 five years ago) and roughly 40 regular project-based contractors. I was surprised to see that although 70% of respondents had company revenue of 10 to over 20 billion, 70% of department staff size was ten or less. The types of staff we employ (from most common to least common) are Producers, Videographers, Video Editors, Graphic Designers, Administrative Support, Technicians and Photographers . After some digging it seems that staff size and titles may be a scope issue where some departments do everything and others just offer a single service (like video) and have other corporate departments who offer design or photography, etc.
One area of interest to my technical staff is the codecs used by others. It wasn’t too surprising to see H.264 on top with almost everyone using it, then Windows Media, QuickTime, MPEG, AVI and last with 5%… Flash. High definition video is used by 92% with 4K on the rise with 4% of respondents.
So what did I get out of this survey? As diverse as our companies and institutions are, we are basically the same. Organizations like CMMA (Communications Media Management Association) help in that regard, providing a forum for us to network and compare operations in an effort to implement best practices. The survey was a good exercise that will provide me with enough information to propose some of the changes I feel are needed within my department – to do it all again in another 3-5 years!
Media Center Director
American Family Insurance Group
Steve Tingley is the Media Center Director at American Family Insurance Group in Madison, WI and Past President of Communications Media Management Association (CMMA). In my 40 years in corporate media the fastest and best change has been in the last ten years – at this pace, I can’t wait for the next ten!
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