A simple appeal to the agencies about ad meetings.

This blog is a simple one, my friends.  Easy for us to accomplish, and symbolic for us going forward.

If you’ve been to an ad meeting for a Broadway show recently, then you’ve probably been crowded around a table with the many other members of the team.  One meeting I know had to have two rooms!  That’s ok.  It takes more and more people to put on a show these days, from marketers to digital marketers to the many producers that raise the millions of dollars necessary to pay all those people.

But in addition to all those people in the room(s), there are usually several people on the phone . . . and most of those are Producers who live in other places.

And that’s usually where things go a little wonky.

Someone doesn’t know where their mute button is, so the entire meeting hears barking dogs, or a conversation with the wifey, or . . . true story . . . a belch.  Someone else can’t hear the meeting well, and they say so every five minutes.  Someone hears very well, and speaks up every five seconds, throwing the meeting off track, because we all have to stop and listen to the person that’s not in the room.

It’s a bit of a disaster.

So, um . . . last I checked it was 2013, right?  And video conferencing is being done by 12 year olds with Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facetime, right?

Let’s get everyone who wants to call in to these meetings to do so on video.  It will create more efficient meetings, with more engagement, more accountability, and just more sh$t getting done.

See?  I told you this was a simple one.

Now, why haven’t we done it?  That’s a bigger issue.

Look, we’re always a little behind the other industries out there.  It’s not the agency’s fault.  We, as Producers, have to learn to ask for changes like this.

Because as Producers . . . as those who put the product on the stage . . . it’s our responsibility to grab the hand of our business and drag it into the next current decade.

If we don’t do it . . . who will?



(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Kevin Lambert says:


  • Ken, as an out-of-towner I sure hope this happens soon!

  • Caralyn says:

    So if they can’t find the mute button and don’t know how to work the phone – how are they going to figure out how to use their camera? It’s true that my 2 year old knows how to use Skype, but you’re assuming quite a bit on the producers’ part. I say if they don’t know equipment and etiquette by now, they shouldn’t be in that ad meeting.

  • In some ways, I’m going to disagree. I’m not in the same industry, but I regularly do meetings that involve VTCs. Invariably, the VTC adds nothing to the meeting: charts are presented (this can be done via a tool such as Sametime or Meeting Place), but there is no need to see faces. Further, loads of time is lost setting up a multipoint VTC.

    Better is to teach people telecom etiquitte: mute your line unless you are speaking. When you speak, make sure you speak into the microphone. If you can, use a landland or real telephone/speakerphone for the call, not a cell phone.

  • Jay says:

    While a good idea in theory, I’ve gotta agree with the other posters who think this might be easier said than done.

    In my business as soon as we add a third video caller, even though we’re using the same technology, the quality isn’t as good. And yes, there’s still a problem of mute buttons, feedback from one end with the volume being turned up too loud and ultimately the people who are using the equipment, don’t take the time to LEARN the equipment, and have assistants set these things up and send them on their way, only to have them called in halfway through to fix a problem. (Can you tell I’m typing this from experience.)

    Certainly a great idea, but a costly one and probably won’t save you any headaches in the long run.

  • Kile Ozier says:


    Please, everyone, JOIN THE 21ST CENTURY!

    Even with adroit mute-button-abilities, meeting can be so easily hijacked by the long-distance caller, as the one-way nature of the technology keeps them from hearing you or y’all from hearing them, depending on who uttered the first syllable in a given exchange.

    Google hangout and skype are SO EASY. Granted, one must have the bandwidth that video requires; but, once that is accomplished, the communication becomes SO much more clear and the meetings become more productive and SHORTER.

    Just sayin’.

    It also cuts down on people “multitasking” at their desks when the can be seen…

    If bandwidth is a problem, do skype voice – it’s omnidirectional and more clear than most phone lines.

    DEATH to the conference call, Say I.

  • Kaylie says:

    One word: Nefsis.

  • Jim Lande says:

    I was one of the out of town producers on an ad agency teleconference with some of the same issues described, just yesterday morning! Tech and protocol problems aside, teleconferencing is really a critically important tool. In my prior career in Washington, interagency and multiple time-zone secure videoconferencing was common and people just had to learn how to do it early in their careers.

  • Very good post, informative and thorough.

  • Stephanie says:

    I understand all of the complications involved in video conferencing…I’m an MBA student at BU, and with several team projects per semester, sometimes it is easier to try and video conference. What I have discovered, is that anyone who makes the meeting a priority will take the time to figure out how to use or install on their computer Skype/Google Hangout etc, and will quite simply, make it happen. I agree with Ken, it is a simple solution, unfortunately, those who are the most technologically able to participate via the interwebs (so to speak!) are the least likely to have access to the capital to buy their way into a producer’s billing on a show. For example, me. I would SO be into helping produce/market a show, and I know how to get online and do a meeting or an interview. (I just had a video-interview with The Pekoe Group for a summer internship). However, I’m too worried about my student loans to even begin to think about helping finance a Broadway show, and so I’m not even in the picture yet. (I would LOVE to hear from anyone who has any brighter ideas!!!)

  • Susan says:

    Here’s another idea for ad meetings – stop the handouts! We used to kill a tree per meeting, with all the charts and reports and graphs that were distributed to the 30 people around the table, which were looked at during the meeting and then either filled up file drawers or went straight to the garbage. Now, we do all ad meetings by power point, and send charts, graphs & reports digitally. An easy way to save a ream of paper per week!

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