Things have been quiet on the Veria website for the past six weeks. Part of this was (gasp) summer vacation, but another part was that I have been exploring an exciting new opportunity that I can finally share with everyone today. As announced in the mainstream media, Veria Search Media Marketing has formed a strategic alliance with two traditional media companies: Partners in Motion (with offices in Regina, Saskatchewan and Langley, British Columbia) and Original Pictures (with offices in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Toronto, Ontario) to form the Shift Media Group. There is an official press release which you can read here, but I want to provide some context for why a digital marketing company like mine would be interested in this kind of association and why I think it may be a potential blueprint for other screen media companies in the future.
WHO are these new partners?
There are a lot of great people involved under the umbrella of all these companies, many of whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting face to face. Partners in Motion and Original Pictures are both award winning media companies, the former specializing in factual television and the latter in dramatic productions in both film and TV. I have a personal connection to Ron Goetz at Partners as we worked together on the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association (SMPIA) board of directors during the recent and ongoing film tax credit crisis. I also met Nicholas Hirst at Original when I was part of teaching a three day workshop on business strategies for independent production companies. There is much mutual respect among the principals at all three companies which will provide us with a strong foundation for growth and success.
WHAT will we be doing?
This, of course, is still in the works. At Veria, things will continue along our current path as teaching and consulting with other production companies and government organizations continues to be a major passion and priority for me. Sometimes this will happen independently of Shift and sometimes under its umbrella.
Ultimately, this association will provide significantly more opportunities for us all. Together Veria, Partners and Original cover a wide spectrum of services and expertise which we can share with each other, our clients and partners, as needed. We also instantly will have a presence in most of the major centres of production in the country, giving us a national platform and access to a wide variety of financing and programming options.
WHY is this a good idea?
As we join forces, Veria, Partners and Original become greater together than the sum of our individual parts. There are four key reasons why this arrangement is a good idea:
- Stability – Not only will we collectively be less at the mercy of dramatic changes in a single region (such as we have seen recently in Saskatchewan in the film and television industry) but the larger companies will also be able to provide more stability for the smaller companies like mine. Although my size allows me to be agile and responsive it also often makes me more vulnerable. More stability = less vulnerability = more opportunities for growth.
- Flexibility – More moving parts may provide extra logistical challenges, but the flexibility of being a cross country organization will allow us to take advantage of more opportunities wherever and however they arise across the country. I am excited to think I will have access to offices in five different cities in Canada from which to work if I need to.
- Education – We have a lot in common but we also bring significantly different skillsets and experience to the table. By being open to what we have to teach each other we all are poised to gain and expand our capabilities. Mutual education will be a key component to growth as we move forward and I, the eternal student and teacher, am looking forward to where that learning will take us.
- Support – As bigger companies, Partners and Original Pictures already have support systems and infrastructure in place that I do not. Their willingness to share that with me was a big part of the appeal and definitely is key to creating the stability we will build together. I will also have resources like never before to bring projects (both digital and conventional) from idea into reality.
HOW is this the future?
Media companies are embracing the nimble digital future (they need to to trigger government funding in Canada). Transmedia, social TV and webseries are just some of the hot topics that need to be well understood and factored into repertoires. Old business models are increasingly being challenged by the new demands of technology and the audiences themselves who are expecting more content, more access and more engagement. Digital companies, however, also need to be grounded in and respectful of the conventional media past to be able to be effective in the new online world order. Companies with a lot of history and success in the old model (and some forays into the new) contain a wealth of business experience, connections to the establishment, and mad storytelling skills that are just as necessary to future success.
We can each try to re-invent the wheel on our own, but think about how much faster we can figure this out if we are able to work together and support each other. In many ways, Shift Media Group will be a microcosm example in what needs to happen in the convergent space – digital meets traditional in mutual respect to create opportunity, tell great stories AND find a sustainable business model.
The Shift is coming and we are taking the collective plunge. I invite you all to join us.
What Do You Think?
Do you have questions or feedback about this new strategic alliance for Veria? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
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