As I stumble my way around the miasma that is the media industry, I have come across patches of light. One of these areas of illumination has been the 4 Talent scheme and Colin Campbell-Austin. I found Colin through Twitter, and if you have any interest in media or television, he is definitely a man you should follow. Channel 4 have a fantastic statement of intent: “Mission With Mischief” and they are outstanding at finding and supporting new talent at every level of the television industry. Part of this was the excellent events as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week; run and curated by Colin, his energy, enthusiasm and support for the participants was outstanding.
The week provided us with the unique chance to take part in workshops, “audiences with” and seminars relating to the media industry. With media being such a huge field, it was instructive to learn about the different sectors, job-roles and paths one can take in the industry. The “How To Get That First Break” session, with Producers and Production Managers from the independent sector was hugely illuminating – it made me realise just how hard it is to get a break in television, which had the added benefit of making me realise how well I’ve done to get meetings with Sam Anstiss at BBC. Stories of long, hard slogs and working your way up the ladder are par for the course, which is reassuring when you feel like you’ve been banging your head against a brick wall for months. It can feel incredibly lonely and disheartening sending emails to production companies, only to be knocked back time and again, so simply being able to meet others in the same position (or who once were), to reassure yourself that you’re not the only one suffering setbacks, is extremely reassuring.
The Audiences With Commissioners gave some great tips for getting your work noticed and credible: go to the right commissioner; work your idea through and consider why it should be commissioned; attach yourself to a production company to get through the door. Commissioners get hundreds of ideas pitched via email every day – they simply don’t have time to meet everyone, and if you haven’t even convinced a production company to like your idea, you’re not going to convince a commissioner. Finding out about Channel 4’s excellent multiplatform developments was exciting and inspiring. Kate Quilton really understands the way viewers use different media formats to consume and interact with content. The recent Hippo project was just brilliant, and Channel 4’s appetite for risk and pushing boundaries is driving the UK television industry in the right direction.
There was great general business advice: May Busch’s Concepts For Leaders seminar was about the skills of leadership and decision making. She learned them in the Investment industry, but they are applicable to every field. It’s important to remember that media is a business, not just about creativity, and skills of entrepreneurship are essential in a freelance industry where you are your own brand and business. Something that was mentioned time and again was the importance of good mentors – with very few staff jobs (and the development, training and mentorship that comes with them), it is essential to create and maintain your own support network, based on delivering excellent service and products every time you get the chance to work for someone. Your reputation is your brand and it is something you should take great pride in.
Reputation and branding were the focus in Darren Gordon’s workshop. The key was to think about your passion and feelings – what do you evoke in the people who work with you? Imagine you are a brand, so think about how you want to be perceived. Figure out what you are good at, what you enjoy, and stick to it. Place yourself around like-minded people, especially those who are successful at what they do. David McQueen expanded on some of those themes in Simple Rules of Communication: how do you get your message across when there’s so much competition and noise? It’s all about making sure your message is understood. Stories are the best way to get people to understand what you are about, so your brand is your story as much as anything else. I’ll talk more about his rules of communication in a later post.
Overall, it was an inspiring and educational week – I met some great people and felt much more galvanised about my new media career!
Check out the Channel 4 website.
For more on Darren Gordon’s work, go to DNA performance.
To learn about David McQueen’s excellent work on communication, go to his Magnificent Minds website.
Check out May Busch’s Leadership Education.