How does one marketing team go from spending almost 25 hours per week sharing photos, down to less than 5? This is the question we were hoping to answer with Naomi Pelkey, the Digital Media Producer for the University of Windsor.
As the creator of all kinds of content at the University of Windsor, Naomi is all too familiar with the bottlenecks that are caused when employees can’t access the photos they need. After almost 5 years with the university, she decided to lead the charge to find a new solution. This interview shares her story.
To start us off, can you let us know a bit about the University of Windsor?
“The University of Windsor is a comprehensive, student-focused university. We have just over 16,000 students, including undergrad and graduate students, and offer over 200 programs covering a broad range of specializations. We also offer Professional Studies and course-based masters programs and we pride ourselves on our strong faculty-student connection. We're located beside the busiest international border crossings and we have arguably one of the best views of Detroit!”
Tell us a little bit more about your background and your role at the University of Windsor.
“I've been at the University of Windsor for four years now as a Digital Media Producer. I started in the Student Recruitment department, where my role was initially created, and then moved into the Enrollment Management department, where I now work with the Marketing and Public Relations departments. In my role, I create a lot of creative content across a lot of different platforms. MediaValet has played a critical role in sharing those creative assets with a number of different departments, as well as individuals and from inside and outside our institution.”
Can you describe the team using MediaValet?
“Currently, there are around 30 to 40 people with access to our MediaValet library across the campus, as well as our marketing department, which is in Toronto. It’s primarily used by our Marketing and Public Relations departments, as well as our “Communications Officers” in each faculty department.
Once the fall starts up, we're looking at expanding to our everyday web users. We also have a brand relaunch in the works, so we're planning on using MediaValet to distribute packages of on-brand campaign assets to extended departments, like engineering.”
How did the team operate and communicate before using MediaValet? What were your major pain points?
“Before implementing MediaValet, I was basically the human DAM. I had a bunch of 5-10 terabyte hard drives, and I would need to remember exactly where each photo was located, what year it was taken and in what faculty. Then I would have to plug in the hard drive and send the photos to whoever needed it.
Most of the time, I couldn’t even send the images over email. I'd have to send them one-at-a-time using file transfers on Dropbox. On average, it would take about 20 minutes per photo, so it could take two or three hours out of my day, depending on how many assets I sent that day.
I remember one week, one of the designers and I recorded the amount of time that we spent sending each other things. It was a good story for why we needed a digital asset management system because we spent about three hours Monday, two hours another day, etc. - not to mention the time we'd spend time walking back and forth between desks and different departments.”
Do you still get a lot of asset requests or is everyone self-serve?
“I'd say around 10-20% of people will still ask me for assets - either because they're not comfortable with using MediaValet quite yet, or they're looking for my opinion. But overall, almost everyone is self-serve and love the platform. Before implementing MediaValet, I’d sometimes get bottled down for a whole week just dealing with photo requests. Now, at most, I’ll spend about five hours a week sharing photos, which was a huge change overnight!”
What have you been able to do with that extra time?
“Oh, so many more things! I've been able to work on new campaigns with the marketing agency and work on new documents and policies. I finally feel like I can take time to organize and figure out what the next season is going to look like. Being able to easily upload assets to MediaValet and share them has been like a dream come true.”
What initiated your search for a DAM?
“It started when I was setting up a new server for all my video content. I needed to find a solution that could house a self-serve photo gallery so that I wouldn’t get bottlenecked with asset requests and could focus my time on implementing the server.
The designers and I had a couple of conversations with our managers and explained the bottlenecks in our workflow and how they could be alleviated with a digital asset management system. After some back-and-forth, we were able to get it approved - provided it met specific criteria.
We built an exploration team and spent six months evaluating our options. In the end, we found that MediaValet was able to best meet our needs.”
What were some of the criteria that needed to be met?
“Our main priority was for the DAM to integrate well into our whole suite of existing technology. So, for example:
- We’re Microsoft Office 365 users, so we needed that, as well as Single Sign-On access;
- We wanted it to integrate with Photoshop, so the Adobe connector was a must-have; and
- We wanted to work with Hootsuite, so that integration was a fit, as well.
Those were the major technologies that were must-haves. While other vendors offered some of the technology we needed, MediaValet had the full suite and was hands-down the easiest to use.”
What made you select MediaValet over alternative vendor options?
“We evaluated a ton of other vendors and had three or four demos. A lot of the other vendors that we looked at didn’t have the same capabilities that MediaValet had. MediaValet was comprehensive and user-friendly and blew other vendors out of the water for permissions, user groups, training, accessibility, assets, categories and so forth. MediaValet’s unlimited categories, users and user groups also played a huge role in our decision making.
We did look at a larger DAM vendor, but while they were able to meet some of our needs, they didn't integrate with the technology we needed. As well, at a $170,000 price tag, it was a little excessive for our needs in higher education.
So, do you feel like within the first year the solution has paid off?
“Absolutely, hands down. MediaValet has more than paid for itself within the first year.”
Is there anything you’re able to do now that you couldn’t before?
“Sharing lightboxes has been a major addition – specifically, being able to create different lightboxes for each project. For example, we’re creating our 2020-2021 viewbook for the new recruits and sharing lightboxes is considerably easier than building and sharing a website.
MediaValet has been an amazing platform. I can't believe that it took me this long to find it. It’s just been the perfect solution for us - especially with working from home during COVID. We’ve been able to share files much more efficiently – even more so than when we were working in the same space.”
Has MediaValet helped to set the University of Windsor up for business continuity while working from home?
“100%! It’s been immensely helpful to be able to share creative content for the different campaigns that were going out right before COVID. It’s something that would have been impossible if I was still using the external hard drives. We’re also not supposed to go to campus, so I would have had to take all the hard drives with me and store them in my home.”
What feedback have you heard from others about MediaValet?
“Everyone loves it and uses it every day for things like email campaigns, web content we're creating, landing pages, PowerPoint presentations, webinars – you name it! They no longer ask me when something will need to be sent – it all just gets done seamlessly. It's been incredibly useful for the whole team to find the photos they need.”
What are the next steps for digital asset management at the University of Windsor?
“Our next step is to branch it out further to not only new user groups but most likely different departments – I'd eventually like MediaValet to be used by the entire campus. I'm not sure when we're going to do this, because we want to make sure that everyone is well-trained and comfortable with using the system, but so far, the platform has been a huge success! Everybody seems to really love and enjoy it.”
What do you think has contributed to the successful adoption of the platform?
“The unlimited training has been the best - hands down. It makes all our users truly understand the features and functionality available to them, rather than making them figure it out on their own. It’s ensured they've been able to adapt and feel confident in the system.”
Do you have any pieces of advice for others looking into DAM?
“I would spend a lot of time on understanding exactly how each individual is going to utilize the software and use that knowledge to build out your user groups and categories as much as possible. This helps give a full picture of what your library could look like. It’s so important to think about from the get-go.”
Now for a fun question - what's your favorite movie and why?
“It’s actually Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, which is a total cult classic. I honestly just found it one day and I wondered how I had never seen it before. She’s just this amazing feminist from the late 80s - when the movie came out. It's horrible, but it's also quite fantastic at the same time.”
MediaValet is a leader in cloud-based digital asset management that helps organizations manage, organize and share their digital assets, improving productivity and increasing ROI. With unlimited users, training and support, MediaValet helps universities and colleges extend their assets across campus.