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July 01, 2010

I Will Survive: The "New Now" Of Television

Members discuss the "New Now" Of Television during a thought-provoking professional development seminar on growing their businesses in this transformative digital era.

By Libby Slate

In what way are you the best in your profession?

What have you done that no one else has ever done before?

What is remarkable about your project(s)?

What are you an expert on?

What publications or blogs would be interested in your expertise?

These were just some of the questions Academy members were asked to consider at a thought-provoking professional development seminar designed to encourage industry pros to grow their businesses in this transformative digital era.

Held June 17 at CBS Studio Center in Studio City, “The New Now of Television: Surviving the Changing Business of Television” was presented by Philip Hodgetts, an authority in the fields of digital media production, post-production and distribution who had previously shared his own forward-thinking expertise at such Academy events as the 2006 Next TV conference and a 2009 seminar on high definition cameras. President of the Open Television Network and Intelligent Assistance, Inc., he is the author of the book, The New Now.

As many attendees have discovered, the “New Now” is characterized, Hodgetts said, by such elements as reduced budgets, dwindling production revenues and increased Internet product distribution, all accelerated by the economic recession. To be successful, “You have to keep on top of the changes – what’s happening in your industry, and what will the opportunities be, two to three years from now,” he said.

Having distributed a seminar worksheet, Hodgetts gave participants sixty seconds to answer the first question: What business do you think you’re in? “When defining your business, be careful not to define it [too narrowly],” he advised. Those who worked in the train industry, for example, defined themselves as being in the railroad business, rather than the broader transportation business, and now represent only a fraction of the transportation market: “They didn’t see the opportunities. If you’re editing, don’t be defined by the tools you use.”

The correct answer to the question, by the way, isn’t what might be expected from this audience, such as “the entertainment business.” Instead, Hodgetts said, it’s “Making money for other people.” The more value we bring to others, the more we can charge for that value.

“What is your USP – your unique selling proposition?” he continued. After another one-minute pause for audience reflection, he described the USP as “your unique value, what makes you stand out from your equally competent peers. It has to be a simple message, because it will be the basis for everything else: your marketing, brand, everything you are and will deliver in business.”

Hodgetts defines a brand as “your public personality, the promise you make to the world. Coca-Cola only has value in its brand, what we associate with it, such as fun in the sun, smoking hot people; [otherwise, it’s just] over-syrupy, caffeinated water.” That promise should be that you are the best; define your world, as marketing guru Seth Godin has suggested, “so small that you can be the best, in whatever you’re offering in your USP. When you define yourself as the best, people want to work with you.”

Your brand is, additionally, your story, “the story you’ll be telling about your business. All marketing is good storytelling.” It’s essential to utilize social media to get your story out; in Hodgetts’ case, doing so via the early social media, such as online forums and user groups, enabled him to build his business enough to move to the United States from his native Australia and continue to thrive here. Current social media avenues include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging.

Decide how you are remarkable, and become an expert source; sign up to be available for quoting on Haro.com, an acronym for Help a Reporter Out. In all your communications, be relatable; don’t sound like a press release; use some humor. Find the online communities that would be interested in what you have to say and what your business offers. Send relevant and focused pitches to outlets; research which publications and blogs would be interested in your remarkable stories and/or expertise.

Write your own blog, to influence your community and build it up; be sure to regularly update your blog. “Remember,” Hodgetts said, “you’re an expert.” The types of blog posts that attract links include lists, glossaries, images and videos, how-to tutorials, metaphors (i.e., “The Jack Black guide to make-up”), humor and stories.

Choose an appropriate domain name for your website, and install Google Analytics for important information about your website traffic. Learn about search engine optimization and using keywords to maximize your Internet visibility. You can increase visibility by writing for others and contributing reviews to Amazon.com.

Away from the Internet, network in person by attending industry functions. And seek out income-generating opportunities by creating content to fill a particular market’s heretofore-unmet need, being sure to retain ownership of your content to keep producing income from it over the years. A man who provided aviation footage in the 1980s for ABC’s Wonderful World of Flying retained the rights to the videos, for instance, and two decades later is selling DVDs and downloads.

And while you may not wish to reveal all of your expertise or business practices, don’t be reluctant to offer information. “I’ve found,” Hodgetts said, “that sharing knowledge has always served me well.”

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