Project Management

How Wistia Made a Binge-Worthy Show with a Small Team

Laura LaPrad
July 20, 2020
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At TeamGantt, doing more with less is in our DNA. And we love learning how other small teams achieve big wins with their projects. 

That’s why we were stoked to hear how Wistia launched Brandwagon—a weekly show that became a binge-worthy hit—without a huge production crew.

We sat down with Wistia’s Head of Production Chris Lavigne and Strategic Partnerships Manager Kristen Bryant to get the inside scoop in What’s the Plan—a video series where we talk to leading brands and influencers about how they plan, build, and launch their best projects. 

Here are 3 lessons Wistia learned along the way.

Provide clear structure and roles for your team

When you’re not a big production company with loads of resources at the ready, you’ve got to be smart about staffing. So why not take a page from Hollywood’s script and scale it to the size of your crew?

That’s how Wistia built their production team. 

In movie or TV productions, lots of different specialists do the work, and everything rolls up to a director who’s in charge of the whole production. The result? “You have a bunch of people who care about what they’re doing because they’re literally being held accountable for it,” Chris explains. 

Just be sure you clearly define each role and give people ownership over their roles. This eliminates the confusion that slows projects down and makes it easier for your team to really shine in their roles. 

Here’s an example of what role clarity might look like for a video series you produce. In the free show planning template we created based on Wistia’s process, each task has already been assigned to a specific role. All you have to do is decide which team member will take on each role and assign work accordingly.

Keep the big picture in easy view

Lay a clear path to success with a visual plan that’s easy to understand, and keep everyone in sync with flexible workflows and team collaboration.

Create your free plan

Be willing and open to communicate

Like most small teams, Wistia didn’t have the luxury of wrapping up video production and sending the finished product off to a distribution company to handle promotion. They had to work with their in-house marketing team in real time to ensure everyone knew what was coming and what was running behind. 

Listing out the deliverables for each episode and tracking them on a project board gave everyone visibility into the timeline and made hand-offs easier in the process.

“We got into this rhythm of: Here’s what we know is going to be expected. If things come ahead of schedule, that’s fantastic. If things are behind, you know that they’re coming because we’ve been communicating that things are behind,” Kristen explains.

Of course, good communication goes beyond task progress. You also need to make sure your marketing team knows what the storyline and hook will be in advance. After all, they’ve got tons of promotional copy to create for blog posts, emails, and even ads. 

One way Wistia did this was by sharing a rough cut of each episode early on. If that makes you nervous, Chris says it’s okay to set parameters around what you expect. Let people know whether you’re looking for a certain kind of feedback or just sharing it as an FYI when you send it out.

“I just cannot stress enough how being open—open to feedback, open to communication, open to being really held accountable—was important for us in the production timeline.” - Kristen Bryant, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Wistia

Divide and conquer

If your timeline’s tight, you have to get creative about how you tackle tasks. And sometimes you discover shortcuts that end up making your process better the next time around. 

That was definitely the case for Brandwagon. 

Chris admits they were “very much building the plane while flying it.” While they had 6 out of 10 interviews in the can when the first episode dropped, all the post-production work happened weekly between releases. Various segments made up each Brandwagon episode, so there was a lot of slicing and splicing to be done.

“The thing that powered our post-production was Adobe Team Projects with Premiere. It was a game-changer,” he explains. “I could invite different editors to the same project, and in real time as somebody’s editing one thing, I could be editing another thing.”

This divide-and-conquer approach enabled Chris and one other editor to hit the weekly deadline faster, essentially cutting post-production time in half. 

“Had I known how effective this would be, I could have spun up a freelance editor as well,” Chris says. “As long as someone’s flight-controlling who’s responsible for what so you’re not doing double work in the project, it can be highly collaborative.”

Watch What’s the Plan? and get a free project template

Want to make your projects more memorable? Watch the first 3 episodes of What’s the Plan? to discover:

  • Why good project planning creates space for brainstorming, concept development, and even the occasional bad idea
  • How Wistia organized a crew for Brandwagon and why role clarity was key to managing workloads and inspiring better accountability
  • Why Wistia ditched the traditional SaaS marketing playbook and looked to media networks as inspiration to create an evergreen strategy for promoting Brandwagon

We’ll also show you how to apply the lessons we learned from Wistia to a real project plan and share a free template you can use to plan your own video projects.