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Behind the Scenes with the Sacramento Kings: All Your Visual Storytelling and Workflow Questions Answered

Creative directors, graphic designers and other creatives from a wide range of professional and college sports teams joined us for our latest visual storytelling webinar, Behind the Scenes with the Sacramento Kings: Tips and Tricks with the Most Innovative Company in Sports.

We asked our attendees to bring their questions, and they delivered.

Watch the on-demand webinar to listen to the full Q&A with Kings Creative Director Ryan Brijs, or scroll through his answers below.

Q&A with Kings Creative Director Ryan Brijs

How does your court side photographer Sara get her photos to you during the game?

“It’s a wireless transmitter directly from her camera transmitted to my machine where I then immediately edit.”

Bonus: Check out the Colorado Rockies’ real-time photo workflow.

Does Sara send every photo she takes? How many does she send?

“It might be as many as 50. She doesn’t send everything, and like there’s that challenge of, let’s get the really great photo that is different or artistic or emotional – and so she’s right there in the action, she knows what she shot, she double checks, ‘yeah, that one’s great,’ sends it over, and sometimes I’ll get one and then there won’t be any for ten, fifteen minutes and sometimes they’ll come in groups of three or six. And sometimes I’m choosey on my side, too… but again, I think we’re still in that space of providing more than our digital team even needs, which I think is a good thing so they can be a little bit choosey, and they know what works well on which channels.”

Any suggestions for wifi issues?

“Shooting tethered is a great solution. If your editor is in close proximity to the photographer, just right around the corner in the tunnel or up on the concourse at a desk somewhere, sometimes you just gotta get on the running shoes and run down there and pull the card as quickly as you can and being in close proximity helps. Unfortunately, that’s kind of a tough situation to deal with if you’re running back and forth to get the card. If you’re not tethered and if you don’t have good wifi, that’s you’re only solution if you want to get them quickly. We were in that same situation before our new arena and we would have to just pull cards or updating things after the game which in today’s scenario just didn’t seem right, so we’re really grateful that we have a good, fast solution now for that.”

How long does it take from the time a photo is shot to the time that it’s up on social media?

“It really depends, it can be a matter of two minutes. I can get it really quick, I’ve got my preset loaded, I run it, I save it out, and I literally transmit it to the guy that’s sitting right next to me who, depending on what else he’s doing during the game, can turn it around really quick.”

Once those photos get to you, how does your social media manager come up with a caption?

“They’re really talented and witty and they come up with some really great things just on the fly. They look at the photo and react and sometimes it’s even just an emoji response or it’s a funny hashtag or a great caption, so we’re really lucky to work with a couple really talented and creative, funny guys.”

Can you talk a bit about copyright and how you decide which images you can share?

“We have to be thoughtful about how and when we’re going to use things. And if there’s a little bit of gray area, we either don’t use it or we try to get permission.”

How have you communicated to your greater staff where to find photos to minimize the number of email requests to you and your team?

“On the asset management side, you can be as intuitive as you want with your file and folder structure, and we try to do that. Partnerships, for example, I’m not going to give them access to everything, I’m only going to give them access to one or two folders, and they’ll have access to download everything within that folder and so when they log in, they’ll only see those areas that I’ve given them access. For those that have a little bit more open access, they will be able to see, through our organization within the asset management software, that there is a category for their department, and then subcategories based on certain events and charitable things and that sort of thing. For gameday photography, we put it under “Games,” and then it’s “the Kings vs. the Cavs on such and such date,” and from there it tiers out to “National Anthem,” “Entertainment,” “Players,” and then from “Players” it’s specific players so you can go right in there and pull a photo of Willie Cauley-Stein, or if you’re looking for a multiple shot we also have a category for that, if you’re looking for a celebration or a photo that’s really great with multiple players.”

Does everyone in your department share the responsibility of managing your media library?

“All of my staff – I have three designers and an intern, and two of those designers are also photographers – and they have full editing rights to Libris by PhotoShelter so they can get in there and move things around and create folders and have the access they need to really create and to share. Those that take photos are obviously in there a lot more, they’re sorting, they’re creating galleries, and it’s really cool that you can do a thumbnail photo for each gallery so the photographer picks the best photo that she shot and puts that as the thumbnail so that’s a quick, easy visual reference to get back there.”

Read more in our case study, The ROI of the Sacramento Kings’ Cloud-Based Visual Media Library.

How strict are you with tagging your assets?

“We’re not super strict on tagging. There are certain things that we’re looking for that benefit us, and again – we’ve got the file structure and permissions set up, it’s really easy for other departments to be able to access what they need without a ton of searching.”

How many different tags do you add to your photos?

“You can be as crazy and as detailed as you want with tagging, or you can keep it simple. I feel like, there’s probably a handful that are really crucial and then it’s based on what your needs are. I certainly don’t want to spend too much time tagging photos all day so we’re really choosey about what we tag.”

For managing multiple sports at the collegiate level, what would you suggest from a workflow standpoint to get consistency across sports?

“I feel for my buddies in college sports – they have such a daunting task to manage all of the different sports, and hopefully you can be consistent in style of photography, whether you’re using one photographer or a couple, and getting those photographers on board with the style that you want to implement across the board. And then, I could only imagine the requests for those photos after they’re taken within the organization, so having a smart solution to share those photos and make sure that they’re able to access them so you can continue to design and those things is key.”

Regarding your creative strategy for the season, do you plan all of your campaigns ahead of time, or are you pretty reactive?

“Definitely for our season campaign we start months in advance. We actually started concepting before the draft and tried to come up with something that could sort of evolve and morph as events took place over the summer that kind of would shape what the season would look like so we’re still sort of in planning mode, but we’re moving forward with our concept. And yeah, there’s times when you need to pivot out of it, if it doesn’t work out and it’s the middle of the season and your star player goes down or they’re just not performing and you have a campaign that’s based on some kind of performance. Sometimes you do need to pivot out of it and come up with something that’s maybe more about the fans or you take a different angle. So you’ve got to be a little bit flexible, but definitely we know that things move really fast in sports so we try to plan that out as in advance as possible.”

Do you have a campaign that’s been the most impactful, or your favorite campaign to work on?

“As we were phasing out of our Sleep Train Arena, also belovedly known as ARCO, we created a campaign called Sacramento Proud and it was really this sort of anthem, this sort of love letter of the team to the city and the city to the team after the team had been saved and there was this new fresh start on the horizon. And this campaign really took off. It became more than a campaign. People were using the hashtag to show a really great photo of the tower bridge downtown or an awesome meal that they had and one guy even used it when his son was born, the night of opening night and he wasn’t able to attend the game because he was having a child and used #sacramentoproud and had the game on in the hospital room. We saw this real shift from it being a marketing campaign into something that really resonated with Sacramento and it became an anthem for all of Sacramento. Whether you’re a Kings fan or not, you’re proud of where you’re from and that’s really where it’s kind of taken off and it’s really become a part of our brand and everything that we do sort of falls under that umbrella. So it was one of my favorite campaigns, it was definitely one of the most meaningful that I’ve worked on in my career and it’s been so fun to sort of watch it evolve and take on new meaning, and encompass the real heart and passion that Sacramento has for their city.”

Watch the On-Demand Webinar to Get All of Ryan’s Tips and Tricks!

Cover photo courtesy of the Sacramento Kings.

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