Announcing Three 32nd Annual Telly Award Wins

STUDIO CITY, CA — PatrickOrtman, Inc., an award-winning digital agency located in Los Angeles, California, today announced that it has been awarded three bronze Telly Awards for its local and regional television commercial and web video work.

The awards were given for the tv commercials “You Know Us” and “King of the Road”, directed and produced by Patrick Ortman for E.J. Leizerman & Associates, a law firm with offices in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Tennesee, and Florida.

A bronze Telly was also awarded for the web series “Couch Cases”, directed by Patrick Ortman and produced by Kathi Funston.

Patrick Ortman, CEO of PatrickOrtman, Inc., said, “We’re proud that the Telly Awards have given us this honor for the tv commercial and web video work we’ve done. It’s great to be recognized for creating work that helps our clients succeed, and we are honored to be a part of the now 32 year Telly tradition of excellence.”

The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web.

PatrickOrtman, Inc. is the digital agency founded by Internet/digital marketing pioneer Patrick Ortman. He brings over 17 years of experience creating some of the best online and digital marketing projects around, including the first major rock concert on the Internet, successful large-scale website design projects,  genre-defining mobile and web series productions, and promotional and commercial tv and online videos. His work has been featured in USA Today, The Toronto Star, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal, The St. Petersburg Times, Japan’s NHK network, and many others. He has worked with 8 Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of smaller businesses and organizations.

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New Website Launch

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We’re proud to announce the official launch of the rebranded truckaccidents.com website. The website follows web standards, uses an open source content management system, and positions our client as the industry leader for trucking law issues that he, in fact, is.

More information is available here.

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How To Win Awards

This year we’ve won three Telly Awards for our video production work, including two tv commercials and a web series. We’ve also won two Interactive Media Awards in 2011 so far, for our website design work.

Last week, a client asked me to explain the secret to why we’re winning so many awards. Thing is, it’s no secret. I’d like to say it’s because our work is generally awesome (hey, you have to blow your own horn a bit, right?), but a lot of why we tend to win awards is because we know how to work with our clients to tell their stories effectively, whether their project is a tv commercial, website, or whatever.

I don’t like to skimp on the storytelling aspect of creating effective digital marketing projects. It seems to me that everything emanates from the spine of your story, and if you keep your client’s story and audiences in mind as you create their digital marketing, you instantly up your chances of creating work that resonates. If you do it wrong, or don’t do it at all, your clients risk alienating their audiences or falling into the terrible position of being seen as a commodity product or service. Nobody wants that, not even commodities (witness the recent “California Cheese” campaigns, for example).

We always work the storytelling process in with our clients during the preproduction phase of the project. Sometimes it’s overt, and sometimes it’s less so. We ask a lot of questions, and we do a lot of listening. I believe that every client is unique, and I believe that every business or organization has something that sets them apart from the competition. It’s our job, as their digital agency, to identify that special something and use it to elevate our clients above the noise.

The thing about storytelling is, the best of it is based on truth. It’s not something made up out of whole cloth. It’s not some artifice that one wraps around an inferior product or dysfunctional organization. At least, it shouldn’t be. Made up stories don’t hold up, and the end result is embarrassment for all parties. No, the best stories are truthful stories, and truthful stories begin with an honest evaluation of a client’s organization and what it stands for.

Sure, the storytelling side of things is something that a lot of digital and marketing agencies have hitched their wagons to in the last few months, but it’s something I’ve worked into client projects from the beginning. As humans, we are natural storytellers. We love to be entertained and enlightened. We love learning new things. And we absolutely enjoy a good story, well told.

Done right, storytelling is pure gold. Which, sometimes, comes back in the form of pretty statuettes for your wall, too.

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When It Is Time To Say Goodbye

We tend to keep our clients for a very long time. Our record tenure with a client was 10+ years. But every relationship ends at some point, and I think one of the marks of a successful digital agency is learning how to gracefully say goodbye to a client.

One of the most common reasons we’ve let clients go is that they’re just no longer a good fit for our agency. We’re looking for a specific mix of clientele, and we try to stick to that mix because we like working with the type of clients who can best utilize our expertise. We’re also mainly interested in client situations where we can nurture an ongoing relationship, instead of a “one-off” situation.

Of course, other common reasons you’ll need to say goodbye to a client during the lifespan of your agency include events such as your client  being acquired by another organization, your key contacts moving on to other jobs, or a realignment of priorities at the client’s company. Sometimes all these things happen at once.

When a client is no longer a good fit for us, for whatever reason, we make a point to work with the client on a transition plan if they’re interested. Of course, this is assuming that the client’s account is in order, but that’s a post for another day.

We hand over video masters and all logins and password information. We assist in the transfer of the website to another hosting provider, and we work with the client’s new digital marketing team to make the transition as smooth as possible. If the client doesn’t have a new digital marketing team, we make recommendations when possible.

In our personal lives most of us learn that it’s always best to try to leave a relationship on as good of terms as possible. I’ve found that it’s even more important to apply those lessons when a business relationship’s time has passed.

Often, breaking up with your client is the best thing to do- not only for you, but for them. If you learn how to say goodbye as gracefully as possible, only good can come of it. I’ve had clients we’ve parted ways with who have referred us to plenty of new business over the years.

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We Won Two Telly Awards

More soon, but we just received notification that we have won two Telly awards for our TV commercials for E.J. Leizerman & Associates. Yay! More metal statues!

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The Website Design Process

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This is another in our series of posts meant to demystify the process of how we work with a client to design a successful client website. Really, though, a lot of these principles could easily be applied to other creative and marketing projects. In the end, it’s all about listening to the client, learning all we can, and involving the client as much as possible during the process.

The first thing we do after being awarded a web design project is intense research. When we work with a client, I want to know all I can about their business, their competition, and their industry. Every client is different, and by learning all we can about them we really up our chances of designing a successful website for them.

With the competitive research, we make it clear to the client that we’re not learning about the competition in order to copy what they’re doing. If you go that route, you’ll end up with a website that ends up one step behind the competition. We prefer that our clients blow the competition away.

Much of this preproduction phase of working with a new client involves listening and learning. Once we’ve digested things, we start to create mood boards, and we come up with initial information architecture thoughts. It’s important to spend time thinking about the organization of information on the site, how it goes together, and how to appeal to the client’s multiple audiences.

If a major content revision is part of the website redesign, we begin rewriting the content in cooperation with the client right about here.

After signoff on these things, we’re on to wireframes. Wireframes are simple gray box designs that give us a tool to use when meeting with the client to help both of us visualize the organization of information and the functionality of the website.

Finally, after wireframes, we begin to work on the website design as it’ll eventually be seen online. Like every other part of the process, this is a collaboration between us and the client. Often, perhaps due to the intense groundwork we’ve laid, we nail it on the first go around. Sometimes we need a few cycles of design work to get to signoff.

On submitting the design: we don’t blindly email clients the design, we tend towards multimedia presentations that explain the context of the design. This helps our contact at the client company to more easily explain and show off the design to other stakeholders, if needed.

Once the design is finalized, we move on to development. A clean, well-organized backend is as important as a great design. We’re really into clean, web standards code that’ll help a client’s website last a long time. By following web standards, we also get a website that displays on mobile devices and tablets- and a website that’ll do well with SEO.

Almost all websites come with a content management system these days. In the end, it’s important to not only have a great website design, but to have a web platform that makes it easy for the client to update and maintain the site as much as possible on their own. Any modern web design company will have embraced the idea of a CMS years ago, because like using web standards it’s the right way to build websites. We tend towards robust, open source content management systems (one of our current favorites is MODx), as a way to protect our clients’ investment while allowing them to get the most out of their new website.

Finally, we launch. And then we do a post launch wrap with the client. After launch, we’re available on either a retainer or as-needed basis to make any changes needed that can’t be done by the client.

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When A Bargain Is Not

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I love helping clients get the most out of their budgets, and we’re known for delivering high end work at a reasonable price for our website design, video, and interactive clients. That said, there’s smart ways and foolish ways to try to save money on a project. This post talks about the foolish side of things.

Foolish Mistake Number One: “I Don’t Need A Great Website”
Actually, you do. Here’s why- your online presence has long ago become the most frequent “first contact” your company has with a customer, client, or partner. Would you meet a new client wearing a crappy, ill-fitting suit that makes you look like a fool? No. You’d dress appropriately. Your website needs to be updated on a regular basis, and it needs to keep up with the times. It blows my mind that clients who spend huge amounts of money buying domain names, doing AdWords campaigns, and so forth happily fall down on this.

A corollary to this thought is your website really should stand out from the competition. By spending the time and money to make sure that it does, you instantly boost your credibility in the eyes of your audience. This part comes down to this: does your business compete solely on price? If so, go ahead and aspire to mediocrity. If not, spend some thought and money on your website.

Foolish Mistake Number Two: “I Don’t Need To Do Social Media”
Maybe it’s a simple campaign that consists of you updating your Facebook and Twitter accounts whenever your company does something cool. Maybe you need to have an involved campaign that really puts serious resources behind social media. But you need a social media plan, and it needs to be ongoing.

Foolish Mistake Number Three: “All I Need Is Facebook”
Businesses that put all their eggs in the Facebook basket will one day find that the policies of Facebook have changed and their hard work is gone. This has happened quite a lot, especially to bands and companies that have rivalries. All you have to do is get a copyright complaint against you, and you’re gone. Smart businesses use Facebook as one of the channels to get their message out and foster strong customer relations, not as their home base.

Foolish Mistake Number Four: “I Can Get A TV Commercial For $300”
And I can find you a website for $300, too. And a car for $300. Heck, if you want a free TV commercial call up your local cable company. If you advertise with them, they’ll make a commercial for you for free.

But it won’t help your business. It may even hurt your brand’s reputation. Why would you spend thousands of dollars airing a crummy tv commercial that makes you look like a fool? The best tv commercials created by the $300 guys are absolutely terrible, because they have to be: you’re part of an assembly line, and that means your video will look pretty much like everyone else’s.

The Bottom Line
No matter what marketing collateral you’re developing, the bottom line is quality still matters. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you so they can make a quick buck. By putting out crappy marketing, you’re attracting crappy clients and losing the opportunity to show off all the great reasons why people should do business with you. Mediocre, unimaginative marketing can make a great company fail. Great marketing can help a small organization compete and win against global behemoths.
(Awesome photo by Editor B)

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Corporate Video Thoughts

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine who is an executive at a large multinational company shared a video with me that their CEO had made, to announce a merger. The two companies in question have a net value in the billions, so it was a pretty big deal.

But the CEO’s marketing people made a huge mistake. Whether in an attempt to “humanize” the CEO and make him more relatable by the rank and file, or perhaps through pure laziness, they produced a video that looked absolutely terrible. The CEO had big sweaty shiny spots on his head that were blown out, the video was shaky, the colors were all wrong and made him look green, they video’d him against a plain white wall (except for a plant, which appeared to be growing out of his head), and the harsh, unprofessional light and lack of makeup made him look like the crypt keeper. What’s worse, they clearly did not spend much time directing and guiding the CEO’s performance. He was stiff, he stumbled on his words a lot, and there were a lot of “ummmm”s.

This abomination went on for 7 minutes. It was incredibly painful to watch.

My friend, who isn’t even in marketing, told me that the overall effect was incredibly demoralizing to the 6,000+ employees of this behemoth organization.

No matter what you do, quality matters. It shows respect. It shows that you’re professional. You wouldn’t go to work at this corporation wearing no pants and flip flops- it’s a suit and tie place. Their marketing should be similarly professional. Marketing people have the ability to make their organization look amazing, if they bring in the right teams to help them. They also have the ability to singlehandedly make a billion dollar corporation look like a joke.

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FAQ: Should I Go 100% Facebook?

A client asked me the other day if they should drop their website and go “100% Facebook”. I’ve had enough people asking about this that it’s really time to address it in a FAQ.

The short answer is, “no”.

No, you should not fully entrust your virtual presence to another organization. If they go out of business, so do you. If they change how their system works, it’s possible that your business will suddenly become invisible. Don’t think that can happen? Well, recently Facebook did just that by tinkering with users’ newsfeed display options.

More importantly, you should always have direct access to your customers and clients. Don’t get me wrong- I like Facebook, and it should be a part of many companies’ digital marketing plans. Yes, use Facebook as a way to meet and cultivate new clients and for turning fans into evangelists for your brand. But you should always have your own company website, blog, and so forth that are completely under your control.

As always, your website is your company’s most important digital marketing asset. Going 100% Facebook is lazy, shortsighted, and stupid.

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Interactive Media Award #2!

ANOTHER INTERACTIVE MEDIA AWARD FOR PATRICKORTMAN, INC.

STUDIO CITY, CA — PatrickOrtman, Inc., PatrickOrtman, Inc., an award-winning digital and interactive agency located in Los Angeles, California, today announced that it has been awarded Outstanding Achievement in Website Development by the Interactive Media Awards™ for its work on the PatrickOrtman, Inc. Website. The honor recognizes that the website surpasses the standards of excellence that comprise the web’s most professional work. The site was honored specifically for excellence in Professional Services.

The judging consisted of various criteria, including design, usability, innovation in technical features, standards compliance and content. In order to win this award level, the site had to meet strict guidelines in each area — an achievement only a fraction of sites in the IMA competition earn each quarter.

Patrick Ortman, CEO of PatrickOrtman, Inc., said, “It’s an honor to have our work recognized by the Interactive Media Awards. We feel strongly that our projects are world-class examples of how the Internet can be used to enhance a company’s message and branding. This accolade is further proof of this fact, and I’d like to single out and thank our design team, especially Ryan McMaster, for their efforts on this project.”

About PatrickOrtman, Inc.
PatrickOrtman, Inc. is the digital agency founded by Internet/digital marketing pioneer Patrick Ortman. He brings over 17 years of experience creating some of the best online and digital marketing projects around, including the first major rock concert on the Internet, successful large-scale website design projects,  genre-defining mobile and web series productions, and promotional and commercial TV and online videos. His work has been featured in USA Today, The Toronto Star, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal, The St. Petersburg Times, Japan’s NHK network, and many others. He has worked with 8 Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of smaller businesses and organizations.

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About PatrickOrtman, Inc.

PatrickOrtman, Inc. is one of the top-rated video production companies in Los Angeles and New York City. We make high-end corporate videos, and commercials for TV and digital for clients that include 11 Fortune 500s.