Volume 5 —
& Shakeouts — Best
Practices — Snapshots
in Outsourcing — Management
Advisory — "Position yourself as the
solution." Milt Thomas, Coca Cola, Management Topic
Go Round, CMMA Spring 1998 conference.
The last few months have not been
kind to corporate media departments. On March 1, 1999, the video
department at Pharmacia & Upjohn, Kalamazoo, MI, was
bought by manager Michael Betz and two of his associates.
P&U is consolidating management and marketing functions in
New Jersey and will outsource all media production. The Video
Center, located in a separate building off campus, houses audio
and video studios and post production facilities and retains the
P&U video library. We wish Michael and his partners success
in their new venture.
The merger of Amoco and BP
(British Petroleum), led to closure of the Amoco video network,
based in Chicago, this past January. Though BP has an extensive
VSAT network for their service stations and convenience stores,
video communications is apparently not considered valuable. This
is not the first time BP has closed media facilities in
companies they have bought out. Manager Mark Klocksin is now
looking for another position.
upgraded digital production studios in Chicago were closed down
at the end of the year in anticipation of the merger with SBC
Communications. The company felt it could be more attractive to
stockholders and potential merger partners, by relying more
heavily on outsource providers. The facility had recently been
upgraded to a fully digital multiple media production support
The AT&T Video Resource
in Piscataway, NJ, was closed on April 1, 1998. The studios were
built in the 1980's, when AT& T moved its headquarters from
New York to Basking Ridge, NJ. The studios were designed to
serve a large number of scattered AT&T business units and
also become a major commercial production facility serving the
NY Metropolitan market. For a long time that formula worked, but
the trivestiture, combined with the arrival of a new CEO and the
need to further cut operating costs drove the decision to
consolidate all video production in corporate Public Relations.
The equipment in Piscataway was sold off through an independent
broker, with no expansion planned for the relatively small
Basking Ridge facility.
Prototyping is a best
practice which warrants serious consideration. Originally a
standard in manufacturing, in this instance the concept is
derived from reengineering, where business processes are
redesigned and tested to validate their feasibility. The Procter
& Gamble practice, along with that of several other world
class production organizations, is to set budget money aside
specifically for the purpose of developing prototype media
deliverables. As example, uncovering an unmet client need might
lead to developing a CD-ROM. The media department contributes
the media expertise and cost of production while the client only
need provide content expertise and agree to test the CD-ROM
under actual conditions.
If the deliverable proves to be
successful, it then serves as a demonstration piece the media
department can use in marketing services to other departments.
One option is for an agreement with the client to contribute to
the cost of production if the deliverable proves valuable. In
these days of tight budgets, how can a media department find the
means to fund prototyping? The fact is, it's always possible to
find a way to squeeze a few dollars here and there. The largest
prototyping investment is time, which can always be found for
the right cause. Outside suppliers or equipment manufacturers
looking to demonstrate their products and services may pitch in
to help cover out of pocket costs.
It must be made clear to clients
that this is a one-time event and they should not expect future
freebies. Clients should also be given a full report on the real
cost of each prototype. The producing organization needs to
treat prototypes as real projects with deadlines and quality
controls, not something to be done when and if the spirit
In December 1998 NCR
Corporation, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, solicited
outsourcing bids from several large production companies for
multi-media and electronic meeting management functions. NCR was
spun off from AT&T in 1997 during the "trivestiture".
The RFPs were developed and administered by the NCR purhasing
department. The in-house media department was encouraged to
submit proposals. The contract was awarded to Curtis, Inc.,
of Cincinnati, whose outsourcing contract with GE's Aircraft
Engine division was recently renewed for a five year term.
Curtis now operates a satellite
shop on site at NCR, but will relinquish the space at some
future date. They also offered full-time employment to the NCR
production staff. This was a very fast track project, with
potential vendors being given less than six weeks to submit an
has been on an acquisition binge ever since going public three
years ago. One area of concentration for their expansion has
been the a/v equipment rental business, which includes providing
a/v services for hotels. Now they have announced a Corporate
Services Division, targeting the a/v equipment pool management
and meeting room support requirements for Fortune 500 companies.
This division, controlling 500
equipment pool inventory centers, is based in Atlanta. Carabiner
also provides media production management outsourcing and has a
division that develops corporate training programs. The recently
acquired Spectrum Data integration business was yet another
component of Carabiner's remarkable business strategy "to
provide complete business communication services."
Ken Mundt, Video Communications
Manager at Flow International in Kent, Washington, passed
on his response to Karen Rogers' challenge of "inviting
yourself to the party."
Flow International is a medium
sized company ($160 million in annual revenues) so they don't
have distance communications technology in-house. They do,
however, make frequent use of the Kinko/Sprint videoconferencing
network to confer with their six worldwide subsidiaries. Ken
says organizing videoconferences is a simple process, once the
initial arrangements have been established. An administrative
assistant could certainly handle ongoing coordination. However,
he chooses to stay directly involved with each conference, from
making the reservations to being on hand during the meeting to
make sure all goes well.
Why? Well, the attendees are his
CEO, COO, CFO and a lot of other officers with "C"
type titles. For a minimal amount of effort, Ken gets the skinny
on operational and financial information about the company as
well as high level visibility among top management. His presence
enhances his importance. And, he gets information which not only
helps him communicate credibly with management, it also gives
him information helpful in better managing his own organization
and as he says: "craft on-the-money messages in our
marketing, investor and internal communications media."