At the beginning and end of every year, do you feel the urge to summate your year of lessons learned like a Spotify Wrapped visual story? Same!
In 2022, we spoke to over 45 brand experts who work tirelessly to develop, produce, and share their brand’s story using impressive, impactful visual storytelling strategies and tactics.
Below, we’ve compiled 12 timeless insights from them on building a purposeful career, the value and impact of developing an innovative and collaborative visual storytelling strategy, and how to work smarter, not harder by investing in tools and creating best practices that make workflows just f-l-o-w.
On Building A Purposeful Career
- For Women’s History Month, we hosted a panel discussion between three women leading photographic direction for Sports Illustrated, The Dallas Cowboys, and Boston University. During ‘Women in Focus‘, each woman shared their career origins, how their support systems help them stay motivated, who their female photography and art idols are, and how they navigate being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
Callena Williams, Dallas Cowboys Team Photographer expressed what it feels like to be one of the first Black woman photographers leading photographic direction for a major league sports team, and one of the only women on the field documenting the games. Plus, she shared how she quells the anxiety that comes with the pressure of the role and gave advice for hobbyist photographers who might be hesitant to take the chance on a full-time photography career:
Replay the full Women in Focus panel to hear the honest experiences of women leading photographic direction across a variety of industries.
- As media day sponsoring partners for the 2022 Hashtag Sports’ Creators of Color Award Conference, we got to meet, network, and witness the second cohort of talented sports media creatives receiving their honors. Travis Ellison, a Professional Sports Photographer with over 10 years of working experience, was a 2021 Creators of Color award winner and because his work was so notable, Hashtag Sports asked him back to document the 2022 cohort conference.
After meeting and connecting with him during the conference, we asked him to our virtual stage to share a bit about his motivations for investing in photography, how he’s continued to build a supportive network within the cutthroat sports industry, and his experience being in Hashtag Sports’ Creators of Color community.
Watch our sponsored Hashtag Sports webinar session entitled ‘All Eyes on Us’ to hear more about the Creators of Color experience.
- Ben Green, Pegula Sports and Entertainment’s Photographer has been documenting the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, and Buffalo Bandits since September 2021. For our last webinar of 2022, Ben broke down The Creative Strategy Behind The Buffalo Bills and Sabres’ Game Day Marketing Workflow, but he prefaced the team strategy by sharing his intentional and strategic career journey.
“Intention, service, and creativity—these are the three things that drive my every action every day both as a human being and in the corporate environment. Being as intentional as you can be when you’re taking photos as you are with the way that you’re storing them is one of the most important things when it comes to photography. If I’m going to spend 8 hours on a Saturday laying on the frozen turf to take photos and make art, then I should put the same level of care and time devoting all of that to the way those images are being stored, how people are searching for them, and how they’re getting used. We need to put that same level of energy into every step of our creative process.”Ben Green, Pegula Sports and Entertainment Photographer
Watch the rest of the hour-long session to learn more about how Ben has shaped creative processes, policies, and creative strategies for the Pegula Sports and Entertainment team.
The Value of Visual Storytelling for Brands
4. In February, we put the spotlight on Amanda Cain, Team Photographer for the San Jose Sharks and the NHL’s first, Black female photographer. She discussed how she developed and continues to develop her career and network, what it’s like working for the Sharks and the SAP center, and how she not only stays motivated, but how and why she puts her all into everything she does.
“Just because a season may not be going the way that it should, doesn’t mean you should ever stop working hard.”Amanda Cain, San Jose Sharks Photographer
- In 2018, Discover Puerto Rico was founded as Puerto Rico’s official destination marketing organization (DMO) lead by a team of one, Jean-Paul Polo. Now, Jean-Paul Polo is the Director of Creative Strategy, leading a core media team and a roster of freelancers with a collective mission to strategically scale the innovative, impactful, and unique ways they showcase Puerto Rico’s dynamic landscape, culture, and people through visual stories.
Listen to the clip below to hear Darlien Morales, Discover Puerto’s Associate Content Producer talk through the development and production of a few 2022 content campaigns that highlighted the island’s citizens and natural beauty:
Click here to read more about the Discover PR team’s impressive media strategy they follow to share multifaceted stories about the territory.
- Did you know that most of America’s higher education institutions were founded before 1900? Thus, the conclusion would be that historical reputation alone is enough to sway prospective students to enroll, right? Well, not always.
How do modern-day American universities and colleges vie for the attention of prospective students and parents? Eric DeSalvo, Associate Director of Content for the University of Central Florida’s Athletic Department explained that the content team’s main goal is to Educate and Entertain. For a university that’s only 59 years old and whose average alumnus age is 41, adapting to communicating and marketing to different generations has been a fun challenge.
Here’s how they tackled it, improved upon a proven innovative strategy using QR codes on jerseys, and won:
Watch this full Inside Look session to learn more about how UCF’s innovative content strategies and viral marketing tactics win them instant organic media coverage.
- Angel City Football Club is the new (as of 2022) National Women’s Soccer League’s Los Angeles-based team everyone is rooting for! Beyond the superstar support—celebs like Natalie Portman, Alexis Ohanian, and Serena Williams are stakeholders and fans—what makes this brand so special? The triple threat combination of superior athletic talent, an engaged local fanbase, and the power of intentional visual storytelling.
Listen to Team Photographer, Will Navarro explain how the team developed an ethos around Angel City FC’s visual storytelling strategy and all the ways they use images to market the team far and wide:
Watch the Angel City FC Inside Look session on-demand now to learn how the team is building its legacy one match at a time!
- Last year, The Bowery Mission, New York’s most reliable faith-based nonprofit celebrated 150 years of providing compassionate, transformative care to the homeless.
One month after their historic, celebratory campaign kicked off, we connected with Brian Ourien, The Bowery Mission’s Director of Brand Marketing and Communications to learn how the organization’s team of visual content creators, communications experts, brand managers, key partners, and a production agency all worked together to develop the innovative, multidimensional brand campaign.
The multilayered 150th celebration they conceptualized and brought to life was a nod to the stories that ignited The Bowery Mission’s founders (The McAuley’s) to establish the organization in the first place.
Watch the clip below to hear Brian share how The Bowery Mission team transformed 150 years of impactful work into transformative storytelling-driven marketing tactics that continue to generate sustainable support for the communities they serve:
“All in all, right now, what The Bowery Mission does–our mission is to connect people in need to resources, and part of that involves storytelling. For 150 years up until today, every single story that goes through The Bowery Mission represents an individual with a lot of promise, whose life has potential for transformation, and so we take those stories and we share those stories with one another, we share those stories with the public, we share those stories with people who might be thinking themselves: I’m in need of help, where can I get help? We at The Bowery Mission say, ‘You can come to The Bowery Mission. Look at Darrell whose life was transformed. How about you? Step into this possibility of transformation. We have the resources to walk alongside.’ We don’t transform people’s lives, but we walk alongside them in their journey of transformation. So, as we write The Bowery Mission Story, as we write the story of homelessness in New York, this story involves thousands of people, thousands of stories that come together to tell our corporate story of The Bowery Mission and indeed, the story of homeless in New York.”Brian Ourien, The Bowery Mission’s Director of Brand Marketing and Communications
Watch the full session on-demand now or read the webinar recap to learn more about The Bowery Mission’s transformative work and how PhotoShelter helped them build a Library with over 60,000 assets.
Practical Marketing Workflow Operations Tips
- At the top of the year, we connected with Jamie Brett, Creative Projects Manager for the UK-based Museum Of Youth Culture to learn more about how they revolutionized the museum experience and utilized PhotoShelter for Brands to do it! They used our FTP capabilities to power an international user-generated content (UGC) campaign, which led to the publishing of a limited edition ‘Grown Up in Britain’ coffee table book, pop-up exhibits, and an artist-designed annual calendar.
FTP to PhotoShelter Process
For a lean team with thousands of public submissions to process, the FTP-upload workflow just made sense. Jamie explained, “The challenge was, ‘How do we manage this because we’ve got these forms coming in thick and fast—and where do these images go when they come in?’” The real-time workflow which allows site submissions to be simultaneously uploaded to the media library and published live on the site instantly goes something like this:
Jamie says, “The most important part is in the top right— it’s the FTP. PhotoShelter has this incredible ability to create specific FTP addresses, so essentially an address that you can send images or files of any format to, and it will specifically put them in a gallery. Instead of dumping it into a main drive or something like that, it actually puts it in a gallery. Our [file naming] system that we’ve made that’s worked really well so far is to have this rudimentary format where it automatically uploads with just the person’s name and then a number next to it.”
Read this case study to learn more about how The Museum of Youth Culture celebrates 100 Years of UK Youth Culture.
- In May of 2022, The Colorado Rockies debuted a new team jersey in collaboration with Nike that was kept confidential, even internally, for two years.
One month later, we spoke to Team Photographer, Kyle Cooper and former Digital Communications Manager, Erin Hodges (who now leads social for The San Jose Sharks alongside Team Photographer, Amanda Cain,) to learn how they strategically pulled off releasing one of the most impressive MLB team collabs and co-branded campaigns of the year.
Having a tight, secure, DAM to power the delivery and distribution of content and a cohesive workflow help the creative teams focus on their creative work while providing internal and external partners autonomous access to content so they do their part.
Watch this 6-minute clip to see and hear what tools they use to collaborate, create content, and bring brand campaigns and game days to life:
Read the webinar recap to learn more about how The Rockies wove state pride through this campaign in effective and unique ways.
- We featured Eric Stark, co-founder of Slate, a digital custom content and social publishing platform that the PhotoShelter for Brands DAM now integrates with, a few times last year to show brands the value of owning their moments with timely, branded content.
As a former integrated digital and social media manager who worked in the professional sports industry, Eric understood the serious exponential need for fresh content and the problems that held teams back like the red tape of approvals, the inability to quickly access high-quality content, or the inability to brand custom-made content on the fly.
So, he created Slate as a solution, and now our platform integration allows PhotoShelter for Brands users to browse, search, and select content from their PhotoShelter Library directly from the Slate app or Web Creation Studio to share on social media in real-time. It’s as simple as that!
See how The Los Angeles Rams use the Slate and PhotoShelter for Brands integration below:
- Right as the fourth quarter of 2022 began, we touched base with Deandra Duggans, The Las Vegas Aces’ Vice President of Brand Marketing to learn more about how the reigning queens were publicly honoring and celebrating their first WNBA Championship win! She told us that although she and some other front office team members had joined the brand management and marketing teams that same year, they had come a long way in terms of developing operational processes, investing in tools, and getting creative with campaigns to help the team achieve their championship, game attendance, and viewership goals.
We asked Deandra what the top 3 marketing operations and workflow issues that needed to be addressed were in order for her to feel like she could successfully impact the team, and she said, “There were only two: 1) Marketing automation and 2) Digital asset management.”
How did she go about tackling those challenges and getting buy-in from the team she recently joined? Deandra said, “The evaluation happened over time, but upon my first couple of weeks I learned that these were issues that, if cleaned up, could help the marketing, tickets, and social teams move more efficiently. The marketing automation software was in the process of being integrated with our team so I came in during that process and had to learn the software and how to apply it to our needs. We use Marketo for our marketing automation and it has been critical in improving our email and campaign management and consumer engagement. We are able to set cadences and manage the frequency for how we communicate with our fans.”
She continued: “Another need we had was figuring out how to manage our digital assets. We were saving and hosting all of our images and video from our social team on hard drives, which everyone didn’t have access to. It put a strain on our Director of Social Media (Kris Lumage) to have to be the keeper of these assets, so I wanted to find a solution that would alleviate him from that task and also make the assets more available to others in the organization who would need them at any given point—like coworkers working in Partnerships, Marketing, freelance photographers, etc.
I was familiar with PhotoShelter because we used it at The Baltimore Ravens and it’s very user-friendly. I was sure that it would work for us and become a great tool over time. Communication to fans overall was important to really get right. The gameday experience starts way before a fan comes into the arena so we needed to make sure that we made their fan journey easier by communicating early and often, important details for their experience. That flowed into making gameday top-notch. We wanted to ensure that people felt like ‘This is Vegas!’ when they were at a game and Vegas is loud, exciting, energetic, and fun. Our fans responded well to that and so did every new visitor to the arena.”
Read more from our interview with Deandra Duggans last year.
Your turn: Tell us the most insightful lesson you learned in 2022!
We’re always looking to connect with brand creatives at any stage of their career journey, because inspiration, motivation, and mentors are everywhere.
If YOU have any of tips to share about crafting a career you love, creating content and brand stories that matter, or working efficiently and productively, please share and tag us on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn so we can learn from you!