This is Part 8 in an 9-part series on creative event management ideas, a brief conversation between the virtual production team of Tracy Garrity, Event Producer, and David Haneke, Executive Producer, where they reveal the creative magic in planning a corporate event - and the value of collaboration between the client and the production team.
David: One of the first questions that I ask clients who approach me for creative development of an event is, “What is your sales force experiencing now, and how do you want your people to feel, respond and act as a result of an event or video?”The next question is similar: “What do you already have in your minds-eye for the creative, i.e. the music, emotional feeling, entertainment, teambuilding, videos, and overall response from your sales force?”
The message of what my clients have in their own mind is so important; the core message of a corporate event or video MUST come from the client because they are most familiar with the culture, the people, the language, the branding, and the challenges of their people. The more my client tells me about their sales organization, the better the creative will be.
When a VP of Sales has already identified where their audience is NOW, how they perceive their positioning, products, services, how they feel about the future prospects in sales, we're half way there in terms of the overall media used to reinforce the theme of their event or video.”
Tracy: Creative development is a key differentiator among agencies. Even the vernacular is unique for each agency. For example, a Creative Director who often drives the creative process can mean one of three things: big picture guy, an art director/designer or the creative writer.
This is often an indicator of what drives the creative process. Is it the visuals? The scripting? The key question to ask is, “Where will the creative make its largest impact during an event?”
Client collaboration throughout the creative process is essential. No one knows the client’s culture, product, messaging and audience as well as the client.
When I first started in this business, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for production companies was to go all-out for the pitch. We’d receive a detailed RFP and a chance for limited input, then off we’d go. We’d spend tens of thousands of dollars developing what WE thought was the perfect creative – in a vacuum. The thought was that the element of surprise was so important that we wouldn’t get feedback until after the pitch. Sometimes we were right on; often, we weren’t.
Regardless, the idea of developing the creative and all of its nuances without the client doesn’t make sense to me. It is one of the reasons I hate the SOP of responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP) and putting all of your eggs in one basket – or behind one idea, based upon limited input.
The real test is how the creative team – which stars the client - can work together to craft an engaging, informational and impactful meeting.
However, not every agency feels this way. The level of collaboration is another differentiator that should be defined by the client and discussed with the production team. The level of involvement and interaction should be clearly communicated and charted out in the production schedule so that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and when.
It all goes back to what is most important to the client. Ideally, we want to tailor our creative development to cater to the clients’ needs. This is one of the advantages of the virtual team. If you are able to take the time to get to know the client and their preferences, you can pull together the perfect creative team.
David: We develop themes, colors, sights, sounds, and also recommend entertainers based on what we need to accomplish with the audience. In other words, the VP will provide the overall message, and then we'll develop the imagery and experiences that provide an energy level that we anticipate the audience will love! Then we put it all together so that it flows well, and makes a cohesive idea retainable!
Tracy: ’Creative’ can take on so many elements, and it's always unique. The story can be told with a simple video, live entertainment, hands-on experience and small group learning, high tech animation, special effects – or even an effective speaker. Again, what resonates with this client – and with their customers? When done effectively, we can use what we create not only to tell the story to our audience, but also to help them tell the story to their audience.
David: And the beautiful thing about brainstorming how to express the creative message is that we can integrate these ideas into so many different formats: game shows, community service, video, graphics, music, expressions in dance, poetry, song, and even painting. And when we start thinking about creative, it can involve all the senses…taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound.
Let me give you an example: One client wanted something very 'hands-on' for developing teamwork, bringing together two different divisions of a sales organization – which had never worked together. Based on their culture, I recommended a chef experience because it not only allowed the two teams to work together, it also provided an avenue for creativity to flow, provided people who were very recently introduced an opportunity to compliment other people's strengths, as well as assist one another in reaching their goals. And this included an incredible bonus…the wonderful delight of tasting the creation – the best part!
Tracy: In that case, the client knew exactly what he wanted in terms of teamwork. But many clients don’t know exactly WHAT they want in terms of colors, sight, sound, taste, and design. But they do know their audience, they know the story they want to tell and the impact they’d like it to have on the audience. They know their brand, their culture and their competitors. They may say, “I don’t know exactly what I'm looking for… but I’ll know it when I see it.” So we often start with providing pictures, music tracks, movies, performances, or graphics which will prime the pump. In other words, I am looking for experiences that are similar to what they want. It’s a starting point, gives them something to react to and it helps us head in the right direction.
The magic happens when we have clearly defined objectives, an open and collaborative client, a creative team and expert partners to define, implement and enhance every detail of the experience. That is true fulfillment, not just for us, but also for our client and their sales force!“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Are you looking for assistance in making magic at your next event? Contact us for a free creative consultation.
Want more on producing an incredible event and assembling the best team? Download the free White Paper which contains event management best practices.
Part 7: 5 Promises to Expect
Part 9: Enjoying the Show