Creating Dynamic Showreels

In this guide, we'll highlight how creative agencies and the production world can each optimize their reels to get the attention they deserve and win more business.

For creative professionals, showreels are a resume, portfolio and calling card all rolled into one. Whether you work at an agency, production company or any of the dozens of other businesses where creativity is at a premium, showing your work in the best possible light can mean the difference between getting the gig and being forgotten. 

Creative and marketing agencies of all types use reels for pitching agency services, demonstrating category experience, illustrating case studies and differentiating their creative thinking processes from those of competitors. Meanwhile, companies that represent production, post-production and supporting talent use their reels to show off the past work of their talented creatives, highlight specific skills or technical capabilities, and draw attention to the specific voices of their artisans. 

While those two categories of businesses often have very different goals when showing reels, they have even more in common. All of them ultimately are accessing the power of sight, sound and motion to present the best of their creative output. 

In this guide, we’ll highlight how creative agencies and the production world can each optimize their reels to get the attention they deserve and win more business. Then we’ll review the most critical considerations in setting up an in-house system for building great reels

building pitch reels wiredrive

Pain-Free Pitching For Ad Agencies 

The traditional agency pitch is a drawn-out, sprawling, cumbersome process that has now spread throughout the creative industry. From pitching on a client’s entire creative business to bidding on a specific project or campaign, creative agencies in advertising, marketing, experiential, PR and digital all dutifully invest time, creative energy and resources into frustratingly rigid dog-and-pony shows. 

“We’re meant to be in the business of creativity, but the focus has shifted…The average agency now spends around 2,000 hours a year working on pitches, time that’s often tacked on to the end of the working day.” 

Lucy Taylor, MullenLowe Group UK 

So how can you shift the odds in your favor when preparing for the dreaded pitch? Consider the basic criteria clients use to determine the fit of any agency: 

The most important thing to remember is that the best reels reflect the specific client watching it and demonstrate what you can do for their exact needs. Of course, every client is different, meaning the best reel you can use is customized particularly for them. If you’re going to engage with multiple prospects, it makes sense to scale up your reel-building capabilities internally. Doing this will allow you to conduct business development proactively, respond more swiftly to requests, reduce the expense of customizing your reels and, most importantly, increase the “at bats” your agency gets by pitching as many clients as possible. 

A Digital Foot In The Door — Reel Building For Prodcos And Post Vendors

When you first approach an agency or client, you often don’t even get the chance to talk to anyone. It’s only after you’ve sent a reel and they like it that you get to have an actual conversation about the talent you represent. Whether you’re an independent rep hoping to get your future star on an agency’s radar or an executive producer with a director or editor who’s ready to tear up the awards circuit, the first step is getting agency producers or creatives to take notice. And that means you need a showreel. But how do you make your showreels work harder and cut through the clutter amidst so much competition? Our guide will help you make the most of your work by making the most of your reels.

Use advertising tactics to cut through the clutter. 

You want a combination of reach and frequency, so use a platform that allows you to track viewership metrics and follow-up. You want to keep in touch and maintain an ongoing relationship to ensure viewers engage. 

Choose work that demonstrates you’ll take their project to the next level. You want to show them how good their work could be if they hire you. 

Specialize your reel for their project. 

If you’re really strong in multiple genres or styles, there’s nothing wrong with creating separate reels for each of them, but it’s often a good idea to refrain from putting it all on one showreel (unless specifically requested). 

Leave them wanting more. 

Especially with new and developing talent, having a short reel is fine, and far preferable to a reel of mixed quality with some flawed pieces that aren’t up to standard. As a guideline, people will assume you’re as good as the worst work they’ve seen from you. 

Look the part. 

Include company graphics or animation at the head and tail, and make the hosting page or presentation look flawless. If possible, you may even want to include their logo or customize the reel with a mention of the project.

Building a great showreel can be a bit like building a great meal. You want enough courses to make everyone satisfied, but you don’t want to overwhelm with volume. 

In the end, what you choose to put on the reel is about reassuring a prospective client that you have the knowledge and skills to make their project great, even if you haven’t done that exact thing before. That connection between your work and the client’s needs is what gives a reel the best chance of getting you in the door. So the more customized you can make the reel, the better your chances of winning the job. 

What Matters When You’re Building Reels In-House 

So you’ve decided to set up an in-house system for making your reels. There are a few basic parameters to keep in mind when you’re setting up your reel-building system: 

Organization: Every additional step it takes to get your work samples onto your finished reel is another obstacle between you and your potential new work. You want to have anything that you might ever use on a reel in one place so that no one has to go hunting for an asset or version. And you want all the pieces well organized and in compatible formats, ensuring your presentations are consistent and reliable. 

Simplicity, Speed, and Efficiency: Your system should be straightforward and non-technical enough that anyone on your staff can create a great reel in a pinch, even if you’re out of the office. And it should be efficient enough that it can be done on short notice. Your responsiveness alone—along with your ability to turn around a beautiful presentation quickly—will make a strong impression from the start and potentially get you the chance to compete for projects you might have missed out on otherwise. 

Customization: You should be able to make customized reels for any client or project and be able to adjust the look and presentation so that each client feels like it was made just for them. Find a solution with premade templates, customizable design themes and drag-and drop presentation-building features to ensure consistency and deliver presentations quickly. 

Security: Unlike showcase websites and traditional asset storage solutions, modern asset management and reel-building systems can also offer higher-tech security features, like watermarking and personal access codes. Some platforms offer more advanced multi-factor security and even integrate it with their analytics so you can keep track of who is seeing your work in real-time. You need to keep your materials safe and ensure that only the right eyes see them. This also shows prospective clients that you understand their security needs and how to keep your future work for them secure. 

Analytics: You want to be able to harvest a robust set of data from the reels you send out. Being able to tell who has looked at a reel, which parts they watched, and for how long can be critical in pursuing new business and following up with the presentations you’ve already sent out. Finding this type of solution can help you make better, more profitable new business decisions. 

Make Your Next Pitch A Fast One 

The arduous process of building reels isn’t going away any time soon. But with tools that let you quickly present the beautiful work you’ve already created, you can get on the shortlist and possibly even short-circuit the process of winning more work.

Wiredrive by EditShare can help you share winning work with the world. Contact us to get started with a demo of the industry gold standard for building and presenting winning showreels.