Dragon Wranglers

by Kevin Gepford

The New York City MTA recently rolled out an innovative awareness campaign involving thousands of subway posters to enlighten straphangers on how to comport themselves when riding public transportation. Oh, it’s also posted in five languages, just to make sure the message gets through.

Courtesy counts. Don’t hog the pole. Don’t eat here. Don’t primp or clip your nails. Do give your seat to the elderly. No manspreading. No sneezing on other people. That sort of thing.

Courtesy counts

In the New York City subways, courtesy counts!

The campaign is bright and succinct, but what I like most about it is the shining headline: “Be Someone Who Makes it a Better Ride For Everyone.”

On the subway, anyone can make it a better ride. But in Creative Operations it takes a specialist — a Dragon Wrangler!

Dragon Wranglers run the business and operations side of the creative team — managing of all kinds of initiatives and details and daily tasks that keep the trains running on time, that embrace creativity and help it soar. We drive the organization towards better outcomes.

Creative Operation Dragon Wranglers are the systematic and efficient members of the team who lend stability by keeping projects moving, warning of potential hazards, and keeping ahead of deadlines. It ain’t easy, and sometimes it’s stressful. But it’s my chosen work, and I personally get a lot of satisfaction from making a difference for everyone. (Although, contrary to the MTA’s assertion, others might NOT thank you!)

9 common dragons we encounter:*

9 Dragons

Production Schedules:
Define deliverables requirements in terms of assets and deadlines, and reverse-engineer timelines and schedules that drive a linear creative and production process to improve the odds of a smooth landing.

Video and Photo Shoots:
Book photographers, caterers, studio space and locations. Keep creatives on schedule and ensure the shot list is achieved. Ensure videos and photos follow naming conventions and are correctly processed, housed, and approved and distributed.

Campaign/Project Management:
Manage kickoff, planning, and executing the many tasks and deliverables required by the team to achieve its goals and success criteria. Track creative production for multi-platform deliverables including web advertising, print advertising and video promos, managing appropriate schedules, production staffing, and creative and editorial review and approval, to deliver all campaign elements on time and on brand.

Forecast project-based creative and specialist production staffing needs and engage recruitment firms to source appropriate potential talent and schedule portfolio reviews and in-person interviews.

Budgets and Paying Bills:
Forecast annual expenditures, get vendors and freelancers paid, and monitor budget categories on periodic basis to keep everything on track. Anticipate special needs that require more money… and go find that money.

Media Management:
Manage all the living assets housed on servers to ensure people can find what they need. This includes adherence to folder structure, job- and file-naming conventions, and occasional housecleaning and purging to prevent the server from filling up with junk. Also acquire, develop or manage software systems to help manage projects, task assignment, review and approval, and multichannel distribution.

Deliverables Management:
Control the creative pipeline all the way out the door — ensuring that video spots, web ads, and materials for print- and out-of-home ads reach their destination on time and with the required documentation and proofs.

Digital Asset Management:
Deploy and maintain DAM systems for approved photography, video, logos, key art, and an easily-searched records of completed work.

Ensure completed projects are cleaned up and systematically archived to long-term storage adhering to industry standards and practices.

Bottom Line:
Creative Operations optimizes the process and infrastructure for great results. When well executed, nobody notices — and that’s as it should be. The rewards come from creating a platform that enables the whole creative team to score a home run, time after time. We are the Dragon Wranglers!

*It goes without saying that dragons can’t be slain; they always return to fight another day.