What is a Studio Mandate? Behind the Curtains at Wistia Studios
October 16, 2020
We’ve been making shows in the form of video series and podcasts at Wistia for a few years now, and we’ve learned a ton of things along the way. When we first decided to go all-in on scaling our show production, we hired Sydney Rutman, an experienced Development Producer. She showed us the ropes and helped us create a studio mandate, which is something that’s used by many major television networks to develop concrete ideas for new shows.
With more and more brands investing in creating binge-worthy content, we felt it was time to pull back the curtains and share how we approach show creation here at Wistia.
To give you a better understanding of what a studio mandate is and how it can help your business create binge-worthy content, we chatted with Sydney to get a breakdown of what we include in the Wistia Studios mandate. Keep reading to dive into all the deets!
What is a studio mandate?
A studio mandate is a write-up given to outside creatives who work with you to produce new content. In a studio mandate, you’re providing other folks insight about how you see your brand and how shows you create work together to support your overarching brand.
Why should you have one?
For many businesses out there, working with external production companies might not be in your budget quite yet — and that’s okay! Creating a studio mandate is still helpful to use internally. A studio mandate will help your team brainstorm within defined guardrails.
What should you include in a mandate?
The most important things to clarify in your mandate are the types of content you’re looking for and the types of content you’re not looking for. Letting everyone know what you’re interested in exploring and pointing out the types of content you don’t want will help people brainstorm better ideas. When you have those two guardrails in place, people know exactly where they can and can’t go creatively.
“The most important things to clarify in your mandate are the types of content you’re looking for and the types of content you’re not looking for.”
In our mandate, we define buckets for shows to fall into. These buckets are essentially overarching themes with what an ideal show might accomplish to help support our brand. To further paint the picture of what goes into each bucket, we provide examples of shows we’ve already made that fit the bill.
You should also identify your core audience groups. We’ve laid out our audiences by creating personas, describing someone’s role in a company, and articulating what drives them.
Lastly, we mention our budget for people to wrap their heads around what we’re willing to spend.
What does a mandate define?
A good studio mandate should define your mission and project where you want to go. It doesn’t necessarily tell people where your brand is right now. Instead, it articulates what you envision your brand being with the help of shows. Here are some fill in the blanks to help you form a mission for your mandate:
“Wistia Studios is the destination for (fill in the blank). We aim to (fill in the blank).”
How does it help you craft new shows?
Your mandate is everything when it comes to crafting new shows, whether that’s a video series, podcast, documentary — you name it. When we’re developing ideas at Wistia Studios, we always look back at the mandate and ask ourselves, “Does this idea fit into any of these categories?”
An idea is good or bad based on many different factors, but you can use a mandate to point yourself in the direction of a show idea that would be a better fit for your brand. For example, let’s say you’re comparing show ideas. If one idea is far from center and not intended for your niche audience, will that idea help you accelerate your brand? After consulting your mandate, you might want to part ways with that concept. Let your mandate help set you on the right path!
“An idea is good or bad based on many different factors, but you can use a mandate to point yourself in the direction of a show idea that would be a better fit for your brand.”
Studio mandate template
Here’s a recommended template for creating your very own studio mandate. Feel free to customize and personalize this to your brand! This template is meant to be a starting point for great ideas.
State the mission of your show content. Why does your brand want to invest in shows? What is the purpose of show content, and how does it drive organizational goals? This can be very high-level but should articulate a specific purpose and vision.
Example: Jeff’s Lemonade Studios is the destination for inspiring content about homemade and handcrafted goods. We aim to inspire small business owners to take risks and build deeper connections with people in their local communities and beyond.
Define categories for your show or shows. This area can and should evolve over time. Don’t worry if you only have a single concept — this area should be conceptual and help drive new ideas. If you already have existing content, be sure to align examples within each category.
Here’s an example for Jeff’s Lemonade:
- Small businesses build loyal fans when they understand folks in their communities
- When you care about your community, as opposed to only marketing your products, you find an audience that engages more deeply with your brand.
- Shows that examine how to connect with people in your community who support your small business.
Show Example: Jeff’s Lemonade Stand, a talk show for small business owners that examines how they’ve built a loyal following in their community and beyond.
Define your core show audiences. These personas should naturally align with your show content buckets and drive the decision-making process about what you’re communicating and how.
Here’s an example for Jeff’s Lemonade:
- “The Small Business Owner”: Small business owners in metropolitan areas
- The small business owner is typically an entrepreneur who is trying to grow their business and build deeper connections with folks in their communities.
Outline your budget for show content. This area is flexible, but we recommend thinking about it on an annual basis and also breaking it down by content types, like podcasts and video series.