Posted by: wingnut650 | June 26, 2008

A Peek Behind the Curtain

In my role as a marketer, I am essentially acting as the “great Oz” – working behind the curtain, pulling the levers and projecting the voice of the all powerful Oz to the masses.  Really, Oz is a great metaphor for how marketing works.  The funny part of this metaphor is that just like in the movie, when the curtain is pulled back, many times what is going on “out of sight” is a lot of scrambling and bungling and today really hammered that home.
Our marketing team has been running a webcast series here at Quest Software where every two weeks we put on what is called a “pain of the week” webcast.  On these, we have two presenters who cover common issues/pains experienced in SQL Server by SQL Server database administrators.  These are pushed through Microsoft LiveMeeting and audio is streamed over the web.  They’re actually incredibly useful and the content is delivered by folks here at Quest that really know what they’re talking about – true domain experts. 
The hitch is that, even though we’ve done about ten of these to date and as many as 200+ people attend them, they always seem to be pulled off at the last minute.  Today was NO exception.  One of our presenters is in St. Petersburg Russia visiting one of our dev teams and found out about 15 minutes prior to the presentation that he couldn’t get into the webcast with audio – no good.  What we had him do was use his Skype account to call our San Francisco office from his computer where someone here logged into the the presentation and then held their phone to their laptop so the person in Russia could be heard via the streaming audio.  Then over the course of the hour long presentation, we furiously were IM’ing each other to coordinate the hand over of the audio from the Skype/San Francisco/St. Petersburg presenter and his counterpart in Boston…and pulled it off.
From the outside looking at the presentation, you would never have known the ridiculous juggling, scrambling and bungling that was involved in delivering the “polished” product.  Now the real silver lining to this is that in order for this type of craziness to succeed to the audience, there really MUST be a good deal of teamwork, coordination, know-how and trust (oh, yeah and LUCK) by those of us pulling the levers behind the curtain; AND, the content being delivered really has to be useful and relevant to those receiving it.  I’m really proud to say that our team at Quest has all of this in spades.

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  1. Andy – you are so right! Brent (one of the presenters) made the comment on IM to me during the webcast that we were cobbling this together with chewing gum and duct tape. I think that may have been giving us too much credit.

  2. There’s something incredibly rewarding about pulling something off this way – the way everyone comes together in the mad dash to make it work. I don’t think I can remember an instance where a webcast has worked out perfectly from start to finish, whether I’ve been presenting myself or acting as the Great and Powerful Oz. Invariably, there is always some sort of firewall issue for the person/people who didn’t download the necessary software in advance. We found a ‘call center’ number or IM address to be so valuable for customers/members/attendees. But when it’s the presenter… wow that is STRESSFUL. So bravo to your group for the chewing gum and duct tape. I’m sure the audience didn’t know, and if they did, I’m sure they chalked it up to the realities of webcasts.

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