Why Does Your Next Big Show Need an Event Producer?

How do you work with — and benefit from — having an event producer? A few veteran event organizers weigh in.

It seems to be a fact of life that the U.S. Postal Service is under constant pressure and scrutiny. So for Maureen Goodson, executive director of the National Postal Forum (the mailing industry’s flagship meeting) it’s especially important that each year’s Forum run smoothly — especially when it comes to the keynote, which was delivered by U.S. Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan J. Brennan at the 2016 forum, March 20–23, in Nashville. “The last thing we needed was a dog-and-pony show happening on that stage,” Goodson said in the latest video in The Intersection by PSAV.

Which is why Goodson, who has 20 years in the industry, once again hired an executive producer to help cinch together a seamless, strong production. “It’s just not words behind a podium anymore,” Goodson said. “It’s got to be the design behind her, the set, the staging, that helps bring it all together.” 

Mike Watt, the executive producer at PSAV Creative Services, often helps deliver production magic to meetings such as the Forum — but still finds himself convincing planners about the value of hiring an event producer, and not just for their audiovisual needs. “People think, do I need one? Is my meeting big enough?” said Watt in the video. Yet regardless of event size, attendee engagement and executing creative vision are universal concerns, Watt said. “The thing I like about the producer role is that you’re letting one person take care of all of the elements — not just the logistics and the loading in, but your own your precious vision, this fragile idea that you have.”

During her 3o-year career, Laura Jelinek, the American Osteopathic Association’s (AOA) associate vice president, meetings & travel, has also learned that event producers can be worth their weight in gold. The AOA, which currently has a contract with PSAV, wants to make the on-site experience smooth for attendees, Jelinek said. “A producer knows what it takes and understands what has to happen, both to produce an event cost effectively and with the expertise to keep the audience engaged.”

That can go beyond knowing about and using the latest audiovisual technology, she said. It sometimes extends to education — such as helping attendees learn how to use tools available to them, like second-screen technology — as well as knowing the site-specific rules that govern each venue. “Each city is a little bit different, from labor requirements to move-in and move-out times.”

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To capture the invisible but vital role of event producers during her events, Jelinek took the photo above during a July administrative meeting. On the left are attendees, who can’t see the production team working behind the screen to the right. “I call it my ‘Oz’ photo,” she said. “The audience sometimes doesn’t understand everything it takes to make [a meeting] happen. You need to have a good technical producer.”

Why and How You Should Work with An Event Producer

1. Consider a producer as the one person who can take care of all the production elements.

2. Remember that producers not only give planners, but presenters, important peace of mind.

3. Consider including your producer earlier in the planning process to better serve your attendees.

4. Use a producer to make it look like you’ve spent more money than you actually have on production.

5. Keep your presentation designs simple and your presenters complex.

Want to earn CEUs? Watch the Intersection video at www.pcma.org/theintersection.

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch is associate editor of Convene.