You’re doing it wrong

Maybe a more appropriate title would have been, “How to spend days working with one person and creating promos that fit his parameters just to find out the rest of the committee thinks you’re both doing it wrong.”

That seemed a little too long.

Here’s the short story.

I worked with a volunteer extensively on a campaign. We painstakingly crafted a message we believed would resonate with the intended audience, and I spent a good amount of time designing the visual elements and planning the media blitz that would carry that message.

After he met with the full committee, I found out he’d essentially gone rogue. All the time and creativity we’d spent on the designs was time we were supposed to have spent following a very specific plan with a very specific set of existing messages.

There are four points to make here.

  1. I’m not mad. It happens.
  2. The existing messaging was badly designed, outdated, and too preachy even for a church.
  3. Blindly following the existing materials is both easier and incredibly painful to my ego.
  4. My ego is not important.

It reminded me of working in radio production when a client would insist on his or her toddler speaking on a spot, and we would give them forty-two peer-reviewed reasons why this was suicide. Yet, the client would find forty-three other commercials where a kid babbled incoherently in a commercial and say, “They did it. I think it’s adorable.”

In the end, you compromise and remember not every piece of work you do is going to be your magnum opus. Sometimes it’s just a means to an end, and instead of an addition to your portfolio, you get the distinction of being remembered as “easy to work with” and a “great team player.” These two things will lead to more opportunities than simply being “creative.” Strive, of course, for all of the above, but never discount the power of satisfying the client.

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