It seems they are popping up everywhere, the TREO, Blackberry, Pocket PC – everywhere you look there is a new version of a personal data assistant. I recently took the plunge and bought the new Blackberry, and oh how my life changed.
No longer are we purchasing a cell phone or mobile calendar – this technology has evolved well past an entry level solution. Instead, what I hold in my hand is truly a personal communicator. With it, I browse the web, read and reply to all of my e-mail, I book my life on it, maintain my contact list – I’m even writing this article on it.
But that is what you would expect. Where the real change in thought happens is how this becomes a real time tool for media production.
It’s handy that many of my clients are on the same network so now ALL cell to cell calls are free — who needs radios? Armed with my blue-tooth headset, an array of numbers on speed dial, and a battery that I cannot kill, I am ready for production.
Now, with my full QWERTY keyboard (in other words a miniaturized full size keyboard) I am text messaging the front of house, studio, A2, media pastor, and anyone else I need to contact in real time. No distracting discussions, just a quick note fired off in a matter of seconds does the trick. “I need more piano in mix 2” and in real time it happens.
Service notes? No problem – pull up the person who needs the note and fire off an e-mail. Need product specs? Scroll over to the browser and it’s one Google step away.
The key to good production is good communication. Anything you can do to facilitate communication will put you ahead of the game.
The first step should be to standardize your cellular company and use a plan that gives you free “in-network” calling. With everyone on such a plan you will immediately save money with free network calling. This means you pay a set fee and all the calls you make to each other’s cell phones (or anyone else with the same service) are free.
Next, make sure you get unlimited data or at the very least a large number of allowable text messages. I have found the data part of my service even more valuable than the voice. With full use of the web, e-mail, and text messaging you can quickly exceed a minimal limit — with unlimited data you remove the fear of overage, and the one thing you want to encourage is full communication. Productions and services fail technically because of poor communication more than any other single cause. Free up your people to communicate whenever, however, for as long or short as they need. This will encourage communication and help create a smoother working environment.
Next, choose wisely the phones you purchase. Look for good features and excellent battery life. I find battery life to be one of the most crucial parts of the phone. Nothing is more frustrating than having this great tool in your hand, but not making it to noon before the battery is dead. Personally I prefer full QWERTY keyboards for typing ease, but it’s really up to individual preference. Some people prefer a stylus, and some are quite comfortable pounding away the same key multiple times to get the desired letter.
Finally, look into headsets — either hardwired or bluetooth. This will make communications much more discreet and allow for hands-free operation (especially useful when troubleshooting).
It’s time we start thinking smart about communicating and streamlining the tools available to us for ministry and production. Taking the leap to a unified cell phone provider with solid cell and data coverage in your area will help ease your production woes.
Spread the Word.