Sunday, August 07, 2016

My Pioneers Project and the Parada Coca-Cola

It took me years to start saying I'm a "writer." At least that's what I sometimes say when people want to know what I do. More precise would be to say I'm a copywriter and copyeditor. That would tell people who understand the profession that I play with words (often other people's) to communicate messages (often not my own). It's easier to get a job that pays the bills doing that than being a poet or a novelist or an author of memoirs. I dare say it takes less talent and/or chutzpah. But I like it. I also like that most everything that gets past my own internal filters is published.

These days my words don't get out on paper, not often anyway. I mostly curate and work on content for electronic newsletters, websites, and social media.

My latest project is a bit different. It's concrete and three dimensional. It's going to have to be interactive and visual, using images and experiences to communicate instead of words, whenever possible. This is stretching me; I've been alternately inclined to procrastinate about the project, afraid to fail, and excited to try something unlike anything I've done before. This week I'm driving down to Orlando to spend a couple days working with a team there to see how much of the planning we can knock out and nail down. I've been working up possible copy on and off for weeks with little confidence that it's the kind of stuff that in the end we will want to use. Now I'll find out.

The commission is to build a museum-style display to explain what our organization is all about. It's going to take up a good chunk of the lobby of Pioneers' new building in Orlando. The audience? The many who come through as missionary candidates and appointees, Pioneers supporters, partner church leaders, allies and colleagues, and those who may just be passing through the lobby because they're part of a group that asks to meet in our space (theoretically possible given the new facility). We can also expect the occasional group of mission-agency-beat tourists, because believe it or not, that's a thing.

We don't expect to compete with the Wycliffe Discovery Center. They're the main mission agency attraction in Orlando. And the JESUS Film guys offer a well-crafted visitors experience as well, or so I hear. We aren't going to staff this, or charge a fee. But we wouldn't mind being another stop on the tour. In a town that's home to so many "world class attractions," it may take some doing. 

The whole exhibit may also play a part in pulling staff and friends of the ministry together around the mission we've been given. That would be good. But the brainstorming process made it clear people have rather different ideas of what should be included, and we can't do it all. We also  have to get the tone right; if not, there could be a lot of criticism. It should inspire and encourage, without being self-glorifying or manipulative. A tall order.

Even as the project is challenging and stretching me, I'm glad the leadership is not in my hands. I'm just an extra copywriter, on hand to put in the extra time the overextended Communications Team doesn't have to give. I don't have to deal with building contractors and the budget process.

Surely the budget is anywhere near the one Collin Brum has to work with on his latest project. Collin is my stepmom's nephew; a sort-of much-younger cousin. Colin works for Coca-Cola. He's a marketing "events" guy. I think he started with pop-up tents and free Cokes on the beach, but he  has a lot more on his shoulders now. Still, if you'd "like to give the world a Coke," you should have a job like Collin's... he has managed promotional efforts at the Olympics since the 2010 games in Vancouver. I wonder if there's anything I could learn from him for my project with Pioneers?

See below for a video in which Collin gives a tour of Coca-Cola Station in Rio

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