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Pics.io Customer Stories: Global Forest Generation

Organization’s name: Global Forest Generation
Headquarters: Arlington, VA, United States
Founded: 2018

Global Forest Generation (GFG) is a nonprofit organization that connects leaders worldwide to revive forest ecosystems. It aims to protect our planet for future generations through a collective effort involving conservation leaders, private partnerships, and local and indigenous communities who together are inspiring transformative conservation solutions across the globe.

Today we talked to Abby Metzger, Director of Communications at Global Forest Generation about how this nonprofit organization uses Pics.io digital asset management (DAM).

  • Could you tell me more about your organization?

I am the communications director for Global Forest Generation. We are a strategic partner of a large-scale restoration initiative in South America called Acción Andina. Acción Andina works in five countries in South America involving 14 conservation partners and 22 different projects, tens of thousands of local and indigenous communities who are actively reforesting the high Andean landscape. It's communities, children, moms and dads, and grandmothers all coming together to reforest their mountains. Global Forest Generation is more of the operations behind Acción Andina, providing communications, leadership, fundraising, and conservation support. We are looking to scale our work in South America and other locations as well. We really believe in the power of community-led, large-scale restoration as one of many tools to combat climate change and build resilient communities and cultures across the world.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of on-the-ground restoration work happening all over the world, with people constantly snapping photos. We are a pretty dispersed organization. Having a repository to help with our digital asset management is fantastic, as a lot of our work is very visual.

  • What are you responsible for?

I'm just a team of one, at least for Global Forest Generation. And I also have a counterpart at Acción Andina. A lot of my work is providing the high-level strategic direction of the organization, such as defining priorities, key audiences, which communication tools will get us the exposure that we want, while understanding that we can't capitalize on every single opportunity.

I also split my time implementing daily communications and feeding the beast, so to speak: posting on social media, making website updates, responding to interview requests, and just keeping things on track. Ideally, my role would be more heavily focused on the overall strategic vision. 

Personally, I am a writer. I like to create content. That means that I also create content in digital spaces such as social media and websites. I've done some project management of videos as well. But at heart, I'm a writer. I really like to see what are the parts of a story that are going to connect with other human beings, and how do we pull out the most important parts to either inform, inspire, persuade, or whatever we're trying to do.

  • What problem did you solve with the Pics.io DAM system?

As I said, we work in a really dispersed way. As such, we don't have the means or capacity to send a professional photographer all the time in all the places where we work. Often we’re crowdsourcing a lot of photos from the partners themselves. We do have professional photography as well. 

We often have an overwhelming amount of information, including images being posted on social media or shared on WhatsApp. And sometimes there’s little understanding of the context outside of the person who took the photo or who was in the photo. Without a DAM system, nothing is discoverable. 

I think a DAM system, at the very least, creates a single repository where we can apply some tags and metadata, put assets in a folder, and have some context to discover and share the same content again. It also helps to evaluate whether it's a photo that makes sense to accompany whatever written material we might have. So Pics.io digital asset management provides curation, organization, and discoverability.

There is a linkage between our Google Drive and Pics.io. As photos are added to Google Drive, they show up in Pics.io or vice versa.

Google Drive Digital Asset Management Solution
Discover how Pics.io’s digital asset management solution can help you organize and optimize your Google Drive.
  • What does your current workflow look like?

We enable the partners to upload content by themselves, which is great. There's not a bottleneck with one person, but it also requires retraining. It's not always a good idea to dump in every photo without any information. That is why we give training for our partners to provide guidelines on what photos, videos, and assets to include and how to provide some basic information. Partners are uploading photos on a daily basis. 

My counterpart and I also upload content, probably in a little more curated way – we get professional photos. We have different metadata categories and different years within those categories. We tried to make these categories as broad as possible and then narrow by date, for example.

Pics.io DAM allows to create your own metadata custom fields that would best fit the content you’re managing.

As a whole, our main workflow is allowing partners to upload photos, videos, and other assets, giving them the proper training to understand how to do that well and continually retraining. My counterpart and I ensure that our best and brightest assets are getting in DAM as well. We don't always do this perfectly!

Something that I particularly appreciate is being able to use the star ratings to find five-star photos. For example, I may not need a specific image or composition, but I just need something amazing. So I go into DAM and get top-shelf photos that we want to use for our annual reports, for our flashiest things, for marketing, and for media kits. 

One of the challenges that we have is, among all the photos that are submitted every month, we want to have the 10 best photos. So my counterpart and I created a system where you could link an asset to the folder named Best Photos for February, March, April, etc. We're not duplicating the photos, we're simply linking them. And that's been helpful when our development officers, for instance, need to send a nice photo to a donor; they don't need to go through the 3,000 photos that were submitted for March.

  • What kind of files do you manage through Pics.io? Only photos and videos mainly?

There are also documents, PDFs, and other more utilitarian things.

  • Which departments work with Pics.io?

Anyone on our team has access to it. So that could be people from our advancement team or raising money, our CEO Florent Kaiser, and the conservation partners. Our fundraising team also puts together reports and newsletters and looks for photos in DAM.

  • You mentioned multiple locations previously. Do you work with any freelancers or contractors? What is the workflow for such cooperation?

We do work with contractors and freelancers. Some years ago we also had some donor partners. For instance, One Tree Planted took amazing, professional photos. We just came back from a trip where we hired a professional photographer for restoration activities happening in Peru. We had, as part of an award that we won, a professional photographer in Ecuador as well. We contract with people, I would say at least once a year, and it's very useful.

  • Do you have experience with Pics.io websites?

Yes, we use websites. That's actually how we do the 10 best photos.

  • Can you estimate how much time the DAM system saves you?

The amount of content that we get each week, especially during tree planting season is overwhelming. And even after that, there are so many activities going on. Pics.io probably collectively saves 5 to 10 hours a week. Finding photos is always a challenge, and Pics.io does make it easier.

  • What is your favorite feature in Pics.io?

I love the search function – I love how it shows the photos from a specific time period. That's important for us. We produce an annual report, and we do not want to show photos that are outside of the period of that report. So it’s useful to be able to cross-tabulate and say, I want photos from this period that have this keyword, or are of this quality. It's really nice to be able to layer those search terms and not manually go through thousands of photos.

Abby Metzger

"I find Pics.io the easiest to use, the most intuitive, and the most robust."

Abby Metzger, Director of Communications at Global Forest Generation
  • Thank you so much for the interview!

Did you enjoy this article? Give Pics.io a try — or book a demo with us, and we'll be happy to answer any of your questions.

Pics.io Team
Welcome to Pics.io blog, where you'll get useful tips, resources & best practices on how digital asset management can help your business to manage & distribute digital content on top of cloud storage.