Find Practical Advice for Digital Imaging Workflows at dpBestflow.org

PHOTOGRAPHERS. If your digital imaging workflow involves more work than flow, check out the dpbestflow.org website produced by the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).  The term dpBestflow is shorthand for Digital Photography Best Practices and Workflow.

The site features dozens of practical ideas for developing a workflow that can make your work more efficient, effective, and profitable. The dpBestflow site recommends best practices for cameras, computers, color management, image editing, metadata, file management, data validation, file delivery, and copyright registration.

A lot of the advice will be useful to any creative professional who wants to streamline and improve the processing, production, and preservation of digital artwork.

For example, if you don’t understand why investing in a good monitor matters, read some of the detailed information in the site’s section on Monitor Calibration and Profiling. Not only does Project Director Richard Anderson clarify the difference between calibration and profiling, but he also explains different types of monitors, including spec-sheet terms such as illumination type, DDC-enabled, bit depth, pixel-response time, and gamut.

At last year’s WPPI Conference, I saw two experts involved in the dpBestflow project give a two-hour presentation entitled “I Need a Workflow that Works for Me.” The presenters, Judy Hermann and Jay Kinghorn, reminded newcomers to professional photography that their profitability and future business growth can depend on the type of workflow practices they establish now. Essentially, they said the less time you waste tracking down the files you need, the more time you can devote to learning new skills or pursuing new business.  Plus, some of the images you shoot and save today might have historical value later in your career.

In the presentation, Hermann and Klinghorn highlighted “good, better, and best” practices at all stages of a workflow including:

  • capture and ingestion:
  • image editing and organization;
  • image correction, printing, or output;
  • file delivery;
  • archiving and storage; and
  • finding archived images.

 To scan the type of practical advice on the site, download the dpBestflow Quick Reference sheet.  This two-page PDF condenses a lot of the best advice presented in more detail elsewhere throughout the site.

At the dpBestflow.org site, you can also download the handouts from the two-hour and four-hour presentations that resprentatives from the dpBestflow project presented.  

If you find digital-imaging and archiving terminology and acronyms confusing, check out the excellent glossary in the Resources section of the dpBestflow site.

Personally, I really admire this website because I know just how much work can be involved in condensing complex subjects into concise, easy-to-comprehend explanations—particularly in fields in which the technology is continuing to evolve.

Another thing I like about this site is that it includes links to several longer white papers that can provide greater insight and context than the get-straight-to-the-point content we’ve grown accustomed to.

For example, you can link to white papers that discuss raw file processing and print rendering, non-destructive image editing, preparing files for delivery, and using a digital camera as a film scanner.

Part of the funding for the dpBestflow project came from the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress wants to ensure that many of the images being digitally captured today will be properly preserved for future generations and historical records.

Senior Project Manager Peter Krogh explains that, “dpBestflow helps translate the intricacies of preserving digital images into useful information that can be incorporated into everyday working habits.”

Links:

dpBestflow Quick Reference
American Society of Media Photographers
www.dpBestflow.org

Conferences Examine Future of Graphic Communications and Cross-Media Publishing

DESIGNERS. In the 2008 book “Get a Design Job,” RitaSue Siegel suggests that you “Think about developing your skills in areas of practice that didn’t exist before, as they tend to attract the highest salaries until everyone catches up.”

One way to better understand future design opportunities is to go to the same conferences that potential employers attend. For example, two upcoming conferences in the fields of graphic communications and on-demand printing will examine what types of skills and workflows will be required to more easily and efficiently move content between print, online, and interactive projects.

While both conferences include some design-oriented sessions, that’s not the only way you can give your career a boost. The more you learn about your customers’ business goals and technical challenges, the more prepared you will be to position yourself as the type of problem-solver they need to hire.   

Graphics of the Americas (GOA)
Feb. 24-26, 2011
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
www.goa2011.com

Companies that once specialized exclusively in printing now must offer a wider range of graphic-communications services that can help their customers deliver marketing messages across a broad mix of print and digital formats. To serve this new graphics-communication industry, the GOA conference features educational sessions that appeal to printing company executives, designers, and creative professionals.

For example, during the cre8 conference held in conjunction with the GOA conference, you can attend sessions that will help you update or expand your skills. You can learn how to:  

  • create interactive Flash and PDF documents with Adobe InDesign;
  • simplify the transition of print content to the web;
  • preflight all components of a mixed-media project to ensure that corporate branding is maintained in print, on the web, and in mobile messaging
  • use XML publishing with InDesign to create documents to be shared for print layouts, online, mobile devices, and e-readers
  • ensure your user-interface elements are attractive and easy to use.

The keynote address “Inspiring Digital Innovation” will be presented by John S. Bracken, director of digital media and director of the Knight News Challenge at the Knight Foundation. Bracken will share his views on the future of media and its role in society. Other sessions will discuss “The Digital Landscape for 2011 and Beyond” and “New Media Revenue Streams.”

On the trade-show floor, you can see various digital-printing technologies in action. You might even run into some forward-thinking graphics-business owners who can tell you more about the type of design skills they need most.

 

Publishing Xchange Conference
March 22-24
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
www.publishingxchange.com

The great “e-blending” of digital content delivery through social media, ebooks, digital publications, media tablets, and new forms of printing is opening many exciting possibilities for traditional publishers, as well as corporate marketing groups that have begun acting like publishers. But this “cross-media” revolution is also creating noise and confusion.

Co-located with the Info 360 Conference and On-Demand Expo, the new Publishing Xchange Conference will strive to help publishers, marketing-communications content providers, ad agencies, commercial and in-plant printers, and graphic designers build a stronger roadmap to success. Seminar tracks include topics such as the state and future of publishing, cross-media marketing, and e-media technologies.   

One keynoter will be Rob Covey, senior vice president of content and design for the National Geographic Digital Media Group.  He will talk about how National Geographic has evolved to market exciting and engaging content across all media channels and share some of the challenges and opportunities associated with today’s new era of publishing.

In another keynote session, Charlie Corr of Mimeo will talk about The New Era of Printing and Publishing on Demand and some of the threats and opportunities that will impact everyone from publishers to printers to end users.   

Other workshops will talk about digital typography, how designing e-books and digital publications differs from designing for print, and digital advertising challenges such as wrangling pixels from print to mobile to billboards.

Editorial Excellence Can Help Marketers Escape Content Chaos

Content Rules Book CoverWRITERS. A new book entitled “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business” could ultimately open up some fresh opportunities for freelance writers and other creative professionals.

The book was written by two experts in content marketing:  Ann Handley, chief content officer of marketingprofs.com and C.C. Handley, founder of digitaldads.com.

The basic premise of “Content Rules” is that publishing useful content is a good way for companies to build relationships with their customers.  As the book’s promo copy explains, “Today, you have an unprecedented opportunity to create a treasury of free, easy-to-use, almost infinitely customizable content that tells the story of your product and your business, and positions you as an expert people will want to do business with.”

However, because so many companies are jumping on the content-publishing bandwagon, content is rapidly becoming a commodity.

As consumers, we can all see some of the “content chaos” arising from the wider adoption of content marketing. Sure, some of this content can be very helpful. But so much of it seems semi-coherent, superficial, and self-serving. Few companies seem to take the time to consider what type of content their customers would find most enlightening.

In a webinar introducing their book, Handley and Chapman describe the phenomenon this way: “Content marketing is like sex in high school: Everyone claims they are doing it, but few are doing it well.”

They believe content marketing is worth the commitment, noting that “Killer content can earn attention, create trust, establish credibility and authority, and convert visitors and browsers into buyers.”

The book reinforces a fact that many stressed-out, overworked marketing pros have just begun to fully recognize:  Producing a steady stream of consistently good content can be more difficult and time-consuming than it looks.

According to a recent survey cited by Handley and Chapman in Content Rules, the biggest content marketing challenges are:

  • Producing engaging content (36%)
  • Producing enough content (21%)
  • Budget to produce content (20%)
  • Lack of C-level buy-in (11%)
  • Producing a variety of content (9%)

Thus, experienced writers and other creative professionals can offer to alleviate some of the burden. But this tactic will only work if you can suggest how you can help advance the most commonly identified organizational goals for content marketing:

  • Brand awareness (78%)
  • Consumer retention/awareness (69%)
  • Lead generation (63%)
  • Website traffic (55%)
  • Thought leadership (52%)
  • Sales (51%)
  • Lead nurturing (37%)

You might want to read the book, so you can see the type of advice Handley and Chapman are giving to marketing pros.  For example, they discuss the art of storytelling and science to journalism to develop content that people will care about. They also talk about the need to find an authentic voice and create the type of bold content that prospects and customers will want to share with others.   Readers of Content Rules can learn how to:

  • Define content-strategy goals.
  • Get to the meat of the message by using practical, common-sense language.
  • Integrate searchable words without sounding contrived.
  • Create a publishing schedule for creating different kinds and types of content at once.

To see content-marketing at its best, check out marketingprofs.com and subscribe to their Marketing Profs Today daily newletters. Even if you’re not a marketing pro yourself, you can get some practical tips that can either help you market yourself as a creative pro, or better understand what marketing professionals are trying to accomplish with various forms of communications.

In the online Marketing Profs University, you can listen to the free webinar that Handley and Chapman presented on Dec. 3, 2010.

Content Rules: How to Create the Right Kind of Content

You can replay the broadcast, listen to a podcast, or download the webinar slides and a list of answers to questions raised after the webinar.

The book is available for $11.99 as a Google eBook. Or, you can order a 242-page hardcopy version from Wiley.com, Amazon.com, or BarnesandNoble.com

Links:

“Content Rules”: Google e-book format

Hardcopy book

Wiley.com

Amazon.com

BarnesandNoble.com

Sales and Marketing Execs Are From Mars; Creative Pros Are From Venus

By Eileen Fritsch

Book Cover The Creative ProfessionalFive years ago, Emmis Books sent me a review copy of “The Creative Professional: A Survival Guide for the Business World” by Howard J. Blumenthal. It was billed as “a book to help right-brained people survive in left-brained world.” The press release noted the same personality traits that give certain people a creative edge can also cause turbulence in a corporate atmosphere.

That statement grabbed my attention because the editors, writers, art directors, and photographers I worked with on magazines seemed increasingly at odds with the publishers, sales reps, and bean counters who set our budgets and marketing strategies.

In 2005, the painful, disruptive transition from print to online media was just beginning to ramp up. Our editorial staffs were already lean. It didn’t help that our art and editorial budgets were slashed even further as print-advertising buyers began diverting big chunks of budgets to developing websites, internal databases for email marketing, and emerging forms of online media.

We stopped hiring photographers, illustrators, and freelance writers. We started using cheap stock photography and more advertorial-like feature stories freely supplied by PR agencies. To make matters worse, every staff writer and designer was expected to produce more content—including websites, books, conference workbooks, and promotional materials.

As the quality of our work began to suffer, the creative pros started complaining. Some of us passionately believed that short-sighted business decisions were undermining the overall quality and value of our editorial products. And we predicted it wouldn’t take long for readers (and potential future advertisers) to notice.

Blumenthal’s book helped me understand why it was perfectly natural for the creative pros on the staff to feel so argumentative. The book also explains why business people consider creative pros difficult to manage.  While our innate ability to think and see things differently can be a great asset to businesses seeking innovative solutions to new problems, business-focused people don’t always see it the same way.

For example, traditional business people see their mission as generating profits. They consider sales as the most important aspect of any business.

Conversely, creative professionals generate value (which is far more difficult to quantify than quarterly profits). Creative pros see business as a holistic system and believe sales will succeed if the entire system works properly.

Blumenthal admits that working with creative professionals “is no picnic.” Many managers don’t understand our nonlinear thought processes and what motivates us. Whereas many employees like the security of a paycheck, benefits, and sense of community, creative pros are typically driven by three other needs: 

  • the need to know, understand, and explore;
  • the need to constantly learn and improve our techniques and skills; and
  • the need to derive part of our self-image from our work.

So why do some creative people do well in a corporate environment while others struggle? Blumenthal says it’s not simply a matter of skill. He contends that “A creative professional who takes the time to understand the company’s operations and manages projects accordingly will be far more likely to win the business game than a creative who simple writes with talent and skill.”

In the book, Blumenthal lists seven key attributes as crucial to success:

  • a keen understanding of the marketplace
  • abundant self knowledge
  • the ability to engage others in your creative work
  • the right combination of integrity and cooperation
  • the willingness of others to work with you (based on track record, industry reputation, personality, and quality of the opportunity)
  • your ability to raise necessary resources and/or support

As Blumenthal puts it: “The creative process does not exist in a vacuum. Instead, you are part of a community. The way you behave as a member of that community will affect your success more profoundly than your ability to dance, juggle, sculpt, arrange the horn section, or any other skill-based endeavor.”

Much has changed since Blumenthal’s book was released.

Media channels and platforms for online marketing have multiplied. Print publications that failed to develop effective online strategies are being forced out of business. Corporate marketing managers are under tremendous pressure to do more with less, while producing measurable returns on every expenditure.  New forms of analytics have made it increasingly easy to pinpoint exactly which forms of communications are generating the most bang for the buck.   

Blumenthal’s book primarily focused on helping creative professionals succeed as full-time employees in a corporate environment. But he points out two other ways creative professionals can earn a living:

  • working for multiple clients; or
  • selling work to the public, either directly or through a publisher or distributor.

Happily, the transformation from print publishing to online publishing and communications has made it far easier for creative professionals to develop a broader base of clients and/or sell more of their work directly to the public.

However, if creative pros want to work with a broader base of clients or sell directly to the public, there is one big drawback. We must develop some of the sales and marketing skills and financial discipline that seem to come so naturally to the profit-minded left-brained business people.