Managing revision requests
Every media production project includes some degree of revisions. Some projects are simple and only require one or two rounds of review and revision in order to reach its final state. Other projects must go through numerous layers of client review and approval, or the project may be so large that approvals can only be issued for one section at a time.
If you are working with a team of people on the client side, you may find that each of them has their own opinion about how the product can be improved. Ordinarily, this would seem like an excellent situation: everyone contributing to make a product as good as it can possibly be. But this is not necessarily so.
There are some instances where members of the client team may have a personal interest in the product turning out a particular way. They may approach you with the number of suggestions and feedback. Are you obligated to respond to every person’s suggestions, a select few people, or one specific person? How do you respond to this?
The chain of command
If you are working with a client where there is a team of people involved in producing the final product, you will need to establish a protocol with your primary point of contact about who has the authority to communicate with you about feedback and revision requests. At face value, it would seem that the main reason for this protocol has to do with respecting organizational accountability structures, but there is a more important reason for this.
When an estimate is presented to a client and negotiated to an agreed upon contract, all parties are obliged to abide by that agreement unless there has been an exception made at some point along the way. This is why it is important to control the channel of communication between the client and the media producer.
For example, if the media producer responded to every revision request from every member of the client team, it is possible that some of the requests would exceed what was agreed to in the original contract, or the revisions might take the project into an unauthorized creative direction that is “off strategy.” Some requests might require recording additional voiceover or video coverage, extra rendering time that uses up your budgeted labor, or licensing costs for a copyrighted element.
These potential budget overages must be controlled by a single point of contact on the client side. It is your responsibility, as the leader of the media production project, to ask the question, “Who has the authority to provide me with feedback and revisions as we refine the work-in-progress to completion?”
Client Relations Scenario
In this scenario, the name of the contact for whom you are responsible is named Mary. Mary is the one who approved the estimate for the job and she is the one who reports on the work-in-progress to her department team and supervisor.
Another member of the team, Joe (a writer), is inspired to create an alternate version of the video you are producing with a slightly different script and edit. In listening to Joe’s idea, you think that Joe’s idea is very clever. You would love produce the alternate version too, but it is clearly beyond the scope of what was estimated and it seems as though Joe’s idea was not run by Mary before contacting you.
What do you say to Joe that respects his creative energy and initiative without appearing to throw cold water on a good idea?
How do you approach communicating to Mary about this situation without getting Joe into trouble?