Q It Up: What path does your production order travel?

Q-It-Up-Logo-sep95This month’s Q It Up subject matter is related to this month’s interview. We thought it would be interesting to hear how other stations handle the production order. For some reason, we only received four responses, but they were good ones.

Q It Up: What path does your station(s) production order travel? Who originates it, where does it go, and where does it wind up? Describe the paper trail, or the “paperless” trail if your system is on computer. Tell us about any aspects of your system that you think are particularly helpful for your situation.

Jason Ryll [jason[at]cffmthemax.com], CFFM The Max, Quesnel, BC, Canada: Our production direction is fairly simple, yet ever evolving (seems like that for a lot of people though). It starts with the Copy Department, then winds up on my desk, gets voiced and produced and then imported to our MediaTouch system. However, all our production is stored on our Production hard-drive and categorized as far as when it was produced, by year, month and client, and all our sessions are saved too for ease of editing should a client want to run the same idea or campaign a year later. We can just pull up that session and edit only a couple of lines or redo the whole thing if needed.

Of course, not ALL sessions get saved, like stuff that is updated daily or weekly, but 90% of it is stored away for a rainy day. Other times ideas come from all over or start in my studio and then the rest of the staff get notified of it. Usually promos. Those are an entity unto themselves and follow no specific path of how it goes through the line to end up on air.

Ian Fish [Ian.Fish[at]chrysalis.com], 100.7 Heart FM: Two answers to this — one for the Sponsorship & Promotions led items, and one for the station imaging bits.

First, the S&P from Sales. It goes like this…

a) The “blue sheet” (a simplified version of the order with an outline of mechanic and prize) arrives on my desk, usually with about 2 or 3 days until it’s on air!

b) I read the blue sheet and notice the note from the exec on the last page that says something along the lines of “the client is very fussy and will take ages to clear the script; so I need a script within an hour to get the ball rolling.”

c) I push aside the mountain of work and rush a script containing all the elements required by the blue sheet to the exec.

d) The exec sends it to the client, who re-writes the whole thing (because he writes his own press ads) and sends it back. The exec says no problem, thanks!

e) I get the revised script and have to figure out how to get a 200 word piece of newspaper copy into a 30" radio spot.

f) I re-write, send it off, it comes back, I re-write, send it off, it comes back (repeat until deadline is only 30 minutes away).

g) I have words with the exec and asked if, when they sold the promotion, they told the client that they get 2 credits and a strapline in the 30" — the rest is for prize description, when to listen, and who knows, maybe even something creative? The sales exec says “No, of course not. They would never have signed.”

h) Under pressure from the Sales Director I make something about 40" long that sounds like a really bad commercial, with a brief mention of the jock who is giving away the prize buried right in the middle, where few people will notice it.

i) Repeat the next day.

Secondly, the station imaging goes like this...

a) PD briefs me, or I come up with something cool.

b) I get the idea in my head an fax a script to our voice guy.

c) I make it,

d) schedule it with the head of music,

e) sign the voice talent’s invoice.

f) the end.

Craig Allen [craig.allen[at]citcomm .com], Citadel Broadcasting Co./Saginaw, MI: The Account Executives fill out the prod orders and turn them in to Traffic, who enters them into CBSI. Traffic then turns it in to Production (me). I enter relevant information into an Excel spreadsheet (date received, client, spot title/code number, AE, source of commercial, run dates, station(s), and who it’s assigned to). I then assign it, and when it’s done, the prod talent files the paperwork. I use the spreadsheet to look up old spots. We use a triplicate prod order (1 copy each to AE, Traffic, and Production), and one needs to be filled out for each of our 4 stations. As you can see, we kill a medium-sized forest every month with our paperwork. To combat the mountain of old prod orders, we pitch anything that’s older than one year. I’m working on a system of scanning prod orders, instructions, and handwritten notes, and then saving them as a GIF file on a hard drive, and then long-term on data CDs. While this won’t cut down on the amount of paper generated, it should cut down on the amount stored. It should also provide us quick recall when the AE comes to me and asks “What did we run for this client last week/month/year?”

Jeff Wine [jwine[at]damebroad casting.net], Dame Broadcasting, Chambersburg, PA: At our cluster of 5 stations, the prod order begins with the salesperson. Recently, we started an “online” prod order, where the salesperson can fill it out in Microsoft Word and e-mail it to me. This was started as a convenience to both of us — to save them time and to assist me so I didn’t have to waste time trying to decipher their writing. However, only one (out of 7) of our salespeople uses it. Three of our salespeople work out of another building and have to fax all their prod orders to me, so I thought the online prod order would be ideal for them, but they don’t use it. Go figure.

Anyway, the prod order ends up in my “In” tray. If copy needs written, I do that. If script approval is needed, I either e-mail the finished script back to the salesperson or put it (along with the prod order) in their mailbox (whatever they request). If it’s e-mailed, the prod order and script go into a separate “Waiting for script approval” tray on my desk. After we get script approval, I then assign the production and put it in the jock’s mailbox. When it’s finished, it winds up in the production room basket. From there, it either goes onto the salesperson’s desk if they need to play the spot for the client (after which, they’ll put it in the production room basket), or it winds up on top of my filing cabinet and gets filed at the end of the day. Here’s a hint for those who hate filing: You can save some filing time if you put all production in alphabetical order as you’re finishing it — whether you’re producing it yourself, checking finished production to make sure it’s OK, or dubbing an agency spot. Then when you go to file at the end of the day, it’s all in order and you don’t have to jump back and forth from drawer to drawer.

For all agency spots, we used to have one salesperson that handled the national accounts, so I would get a prod order from her with the dub attached. But times have changed, so now I just wait for the traffic instructions from the agency and receive the spot electronically. Speaking of which, is it just me or are more and more agencies taking over small market commercial production?

One thing will never change though; with a prod order passing through so many hands, it’s always guaranteed that I will have at least one prod order a week decorated with coffee stains.

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