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A day in the life.

A DAY IN THE LIFE ... From Francesco Scavullo to employee amateurs, photographers shot thousands of rolls of film at hundreds of company locations to record a single, typical work day.

The "Day in the Life of Somewhere" concept is now so commercially successful and seems so natural that it's hard to believe two dozen publishers turned it down when its originator first proposed it.

Despite that cool reception, Rick Smolan organized a team of 100 photo-journalists, lined up financial backing and with a group of friends independently published "A Day in the Life of Australia" in 1981. It sold more than 200,000 copies and has been followed by five more best-selling Day books.

That success didn't go unnoticed by organizational communicators, who were quick to discover that the concept is also a natural for producing "a visual time capsule" of the people, places and things that make up an organization. Many have used the concept intact, with very good results. Others have modified it, with equally good results. As their stories show, this is apparently one visual communication idea that works for everyone. GETTING AN OUTSIDER'S PERSPECTIVE Levi Strauss & Company, the world's largest apparel manufacturer, added a couple of innovative twists to its Day in the Life(R) production, called "One Day at Levi Strauss & Company." (Note: "A Day in the Life(R)" is a registered trademark of Randd, Inc. Beware of using it as a title for your project.) In addition to using video instead of print, they invited six well-known, independent filmmakers and photographers to produce a three-minute segment each on one of the company's corporate goals or "aspirations," which include New Behaviors, Communication, Recognition and Ethical Management Practices.

In explaining why the company hired the filmmakers, Denis Chicola, manager of video communications for Levi's, said: "The purpose of the project was to interpret the culture of Levi's in a special way. Artists look at something that has become commonplace in a new and different light. By allowing outsiders to take a look at what we do, we're giving ourselves a unique perspective on how our actions and decisions affect our work. And we don't intend to `gloss over' anything, either."

Chicola and Levi's used the filmmakers' pieces exactly as they received them, even though they ran six to eight minutes instead of the agreed-upon three. To their credit, they also left intact a segment by Bob Primes (who is director of photography for the US TV program, "thirtysomething") on the firing of an employee for diverting products--a very touchy subject within the company.

Shot on September 1, 1988 by video crew at 58 Levi's locations in 20 countries, the video made its debut at the company's world headquarters in San Francisco on September 23--Levi's Employee Appreciation Day. "The film stimulated thought about what we were celebrating that day and why," said Chicola. "It was intended to open up dialogue about where we stand now on our goals and how close we are to where we want to be."

Of the employees who have returned the cards Chicola sent out asking for feedback, more than 75 percent liked the video. Interestingly, the reasons given for liking it were the same as those given for not liking it: its honesty and its approach of simply presenting images and dialogue without imposing the views of a narrator or company management on what viewers were seeing and hearing.

Chicola says that despite hiring top commercial filmakers, the video cost less to make than one of the company's 30-second commercials. That's partly because the filmmakers worked at a reduced rate, and several companies, such as Ampex, donated equipment and services.

Levi's is also making the most of the time and money spent on the production by using the film in several ways. Footage will be used to put together a core curriculum to teach managers about the company, its values and how it operates. Segments of tape will be shown to new employees as part of their orientation. And the corporate video department now possesses what Chicola describes as "an incredible stock footage library."

"The film helps people connect with each other," sums up Chicola. "We all connect with fellow employees at other sites via phone, computer or fax, but that's not as real as this. This film makes it real. A headquarters employee may know intellectually how much work one of his requests creates, but not in his heart. The film shows images of people in a laundry wearing gas masks, gloves and jumpsuits so they can remove acid-soaked rocks from a huge washing machine used to give jeans an acid- and stone-washed finish. When headquarters employees see that, they know a little better in their hearts how their decisions affect other people." A SNAPSHOT OF HEWLETT-PACKARD AT 50 Hewlett-Packard employees looking for a photograph of David Packard's legendary garage where the company was founded 50 years ago won't find it in the January 1989 issue of Measure magazine, a special 48-page issue of the company publication titled "One Day: 24 Hours in the Lives of Hewlett-Packard People."

"It's not in there because the theme of our 50-year celebration is 50 Years of Looking to the Future," says Jay Coleman, editor of Measure. "The focus of the Day in the Life project and the whole celebration is on the future, not on the past."

Hewlett-Packard chose to illustrate that theme by sending 17 photographers from seven countries to company locations on October 18, 1988 to record events in the lives of their employees on that day.

Rather than hire professional photographers, Coleman and the staff of Measure decided to use student photographers from universities in the US and elsewhere. Among the advantages of that arrangement are the lower cost of using students, the chance for the students to add color work to their portfolios and a means for Hewlett-Packard to strengthen its relationships with universities, where it competes with other companies for top engineering graduates.

Many of the photographers, all of whom are seniors or graduate students, have already served internships at such prestigious publications as National Geographic and Sports Illustrated. They returned more than 10,000 images for Coleman to review and cull down to the select few that will appear in the publication.

But the best of those that don't make the publication will still be seen by Hewlett-Packard employees, because they'll become part of a traveling exhibit that will tour lobbies of the company's facilities throughout the world in 1989.

Two other products of the Day in the Life project will be a short segment in the company's bimonthly video magazine showing the photographers at work, and a seven-minute video documentary to be given to universities where the student photographers study.

The schools, such as the University of Missouri, which supplied six students, will use the documentary to promote their photography programs and help recruit prospective students.

In addition to the garage photo, other photos will be missing from the special Day in the Life issue. "Our employees see plenty of pictures of computers and our manufacturing equipment," comments Coleman, "so we've steered clear of that for the most part. Instead, the photos show how we commute, how we have fun, how we participate in the community. It shows how our Muslim employees pray in Singapore. In short, they document our lives as whole people, not just as Hewlett-Packard employees." EMPLOYEES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE CAMERA "I debated about using professional photographers," recalls Jeanie Herbert, employee communications manager at Beckman Instruments, Inc., "But I finally decided nobody knows the company and would be able to capture it like our employees. That's why they're the photographers for our January 1989 special Day in the Life issue of Beckman Life."

Donning their special project T-shirts, employees at 39 locations around the world photographed their coworkers on September 8, 1988. In three mailings from Herbert, they'd received, along with the T-shirts and business cards to hand to subjects explaining the project, very specific instructions on who and what to photograph and how to do it.

"I sent them six rolls of film and told them when to use color and when to use black and white," says Herbert. "I sent them examples of the kinds of shots I wanted and recommended they use wide-angle and telephoto lenses. I even suggested they sit or lie down for certain shots."

Herbert knew she needed only one good photo from each location and felt her frequent and specific communication with the photographers would greatly increase the chances she'd get it.

"I ended up with over 6,000 images," she says, "and worked with members of our company photo club to do a first edit and throw out the overexposed, underexposed and hopeless. I ended up with at least one good shot from each location." AT&T CAPTURES AN ORDINARY, EXTRAORDINARY DAY "The reason I chose Tuesday, September 27, 1988 as the day we'd send crews to 34 locations worldwide to film our Day in the Life production," says AT&T's manager of corporate TV, Linda Evans, "is that it's as ordinary a day as possible. But the point is, I'm convinced an ordinary day at AT&T is actually extraordinary, because the work we do touches the lives of virtually everyone."

AT&T's 30-minute video made its debut at employee meetings on January 3, 1989--the fifth anniversary of the date AT&T divested itself, by US federal order, of the regional Bell System operating companies. One of the show's objectives is to commemorate that watershed event in the company's history and celebrate the progress the company has made since then.

A second key objective, says Evans, is to remind AT&T employees that the company is in the business of satisfying customers. "We've traditionally had a very strong service ethic and still do. But the goal since the divestiture has been to retain that ethic and become an aggressive sales company. It hasn't been easy to bring about that change in our corporate culture."

Evans says the film attempts to further that change by focusing on the concept of satisfying customers and by featuring interviews with employees who understand the concept and can clearly explain how it applies to their jobs. In that sense, she says, the film and the employees in it "model" the desired behavior.

Like all the other communicators doing Day in the Life productions, Evans has several uses planned for her finished product. In addition to internal screenings, the film will be shown at AT&T's annual shareholder meeting (held this year at Radio City Music Hall) and offered to shareholders through the annual report for approximately US $5. Evans can't predict the demand for the film, but even if only three percent of the 3.4 million people who receive the report order a copy, that's more than 100,000 copies.

The company also plans to distribute the tape to managers at all its locations, send it out as a special edition of its video magazine and offer it to a US cable television channel for public broadcast, where, says Evans, it can "serve to enhance the company's image with the public."

While the communication goals for the tape are ambitious, Evans is realistic about what it can be expected to accomplish. "We want to capture the level of pride within the company, show we've survived a very traumatic event (the divestiture), and say we've got good news. I know one videotape is not going to change the corporate culture of AT&T, but if we can entertain employees and do some subtle modeling of desired behaviors and attitudes, we'll consider this a very effective tape and a worthwhile project."

PHOTO : Francesco Scavullo directs photography shoot, San Francisco, Calif. Levi Strauss & Co.

PHOTO : facility.

PHOTO : Katherine Jones, a University of Missouri student, photographs at Lockheed Aeronautical

PHOTO : Systems in Atlanta, Ga. as Hewlett-Packard supervisor oversees testing of customer's

PHOTO : product.

PHOTO : Muslim women at H-P's manufacturing facility in Singapore don robes for prayers during

PHOTO : break periods.

PHOTO : Graveyard shift at Beckman central fabrication facility.

PHOTO : Camera crew captures loading of clothes for the homeless at one of AT&T's New Jersey

PHOTO : locations.
COPYRIGHT 1989 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:recording a single, typical work day
Author:Arndt, Eric
Publication:Communication World
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Previous Article:What are the issues of 1989?
Next Article:Day-in-the-life journalists shoot the works.

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