Don Hewitt and the New Producers

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This summer Don Hewitt, creator and producer of 60 minutes died.

For those of us in the communications business — most of us — there is a lot to learn from this man.

Despite working with text from our youth, most of us don’t write very well. When it comes to graphics, animation, audio and video we truly have a long way to go. But these are the new tools for communication in our age, and we are the “new producers”.

As business communicators, we must learn from “publishers” how to create quality content, quickly and affordably. Digital media and the web have raised the bar making us not just publishers, but broadcasters. Don Hewitt was the master of the broadcast world.

I’d like to call your attention to this interview, and to several statements in particular that relate to web-based communication. A shorter segment is below.


Conversations at KCTS 9: Don Hewitt, December 1, 2008 – 28:00

This legendary TV producer began his career working with Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly and went on to create and produce CBS News and 60 Minutes.

Listen to this shorter excerpt and his message about Audio and Competition.

Audio: it’s not about pictures, it’s about the copy that goes along with the pictures. Simple, profound.

Competition: your competition for your online messages and content — your web site, webinars, e-learning, podcasts, blogs and videos — is the mouse. The computer equivalent of the television clicker. Hewitt compares the clicker to a gun and it’s ability to shoot you instantly the minute interest lags.

Whether we’re in sales, marketing, training, or the executive suite, what are our primary communication challenges?

  • Attention: to capture it
  • Convenience: make it easy to receive messages
  • Compelling & Relevant: content
  • Internalize: help people internalize messages
  • Motivate: audiences to make changes and take action
  • Availability: have appropriate content available to be delivered the moment it’s needed
  • Constraints: resolve practical production challenges of technical and creative expertise, time, desire and above all, cost

Multimedia offers a compelling remendy for these challenges. But to meet the practical constraints of quality, time, budget and volume requires a new paradigm. The traditional production paradigm based upon production professionals defining a fixed deliverable and working through a traditional process of scripting, storyboarding, producing content and assembling a final “production” product doesn’t meet the needs of the web-enabled digital world.

Business communicators know their audiences. They know their communication objectives for engaging those audiences. With this they also know the right messages, timing, and preferred consumption methods of their audiences.

The relationship business communicators have with their audience is essential to capturing attention so messages are consumed. To do this, they must make the final determination of content, delivery method and timing. They must become the New Producers.

Google or YouTube his name and select from a number of excellent video clips.

Resolving the number one unconsidered cause of low B2B sales and marketing performance, and revenue growth …
… the inability to deliver effective knowledge, conversations, and situation-specific information (content), in context, at scale
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