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Setting the AV Stage, Part 1

Jul 26, 2011 1:26 PM, with Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

The AV staging business is high stakes, very competitive, and it’s changing fast with new technology and social media working into event formats. Midori Connolly of Pulse Staging and Events is going to give us an inside look at the event staging industry, coming up next on the SVC podcast.
Midori Connolly with me from Pulse Staging and Events in San Diego. AV staging is a very dynamic business now the way the technology is going, so what do you do there and for whom do you do it?

Yeah hi, thanks for having me. As you said I am Midori Connolly, and I’m the co-founder and “Chief AV Girl” at Pulse Staging and Events. Essentially we truly are a traditional company in the sense that we own audio/visual inventory. We provide gear for live events. Our particular focus is on corporate association government medical meetings—conferences, conventions, seminars but some of our colleagues are more on what we call the “Rock and Roll side” so we tend to focus on business meetings. And we bring in the gear, we bring in the labor, we bring in expertise to operate our equipment so in that sense we are truly a traditional staging company. [Timestamp: 1:48]

That can be a very tight business with a lot of deadlines—a lot of gear to transport and keep up and running and I would think dealing with a lot of clients who sometimes know exactly what they want and others who may rely on you to fill in some of the details.
Yes very true. So what happens is we have a division in many ways for a lot of these smaller groups that are out there, in small associations they may not have the budget to hire a sort of a creative team or a production team so in some cases we have to put our little creative hats on and come up with a look/feel sort of concept for events but usually in most cases we work for a producer or creative production team. We don’t really design any content for events so in between the client and us we usually have producer who is doing a lot of the script writing…the true creative design for events but as I said, in some cases that just doesn’t happen so…but it’s definitely, as you mentioned, a high-stress type of situation not for the faint of heart. [Timestamp: 3:03]

And dealing with all that tech gear you can always count on there being some surprises.

…just at the worst time for it to happen.
Yes it’s amazing how once everything’s up and running you think, “Oh well what was ever the problem,” but getting there is always a bit of a…you just don’t sleep at night sometimes and one of the things I love is all of our friends on the built environment. I think that probably 80 percent of them said, “Oh yeah I did staging for a while but that was just way too crazy. [Timestamp: 3:36]

Well, there’s certainly no mystery in why that is with all the things you have to do. I know that the staging business has changed and is still very much in the technology revolution if you want to call it that. So I’m curious as to what you see as the biggest challenges in that field with new media and other elements being worked into it now.
Right so…and this is…I think we’re still in transition. I mean just like every part of this world, the economy really had an impact on the meetings industry and because of those changes you had people who were not able to travel to events. They just…logistically they could not afford it. They still wanted to be there, they wanted educational content, they wanted networking, they still wanted to be connected to the events and in many cases companies just couldn’t afford to travel their entire workforce to an annual meeting so in our case what we really found was that we had to step into the realm of doing what we call “hybrid meetings” or hybridizing these meetings so…just kind of blending audiences so…still having maybe a smaller, reduced size face to face event but using some kind of technological platform to incorporate and distribute the content to remote audiences around…sometimes the world. [Timestamp: 5]

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