Promax takes its show on the road

Jul 8, 2002  •  Post A Comment

With the just-ended 2002 Los Angeles convention behind them, organizers of Promax & BDA are already in the thick of their next challenge: the Ratings Roadshow, a touring edition of the confab that is slated to hit Dallas, Atlanta, New York and Chicago beginning this month.
“I feel totally thrilled with the response to both this past convention and the Ratings Roadshow, especially considering it’s been a tough year for the industry,” Promax & BDA President and CEO Glynn Brailsford said. “This shows that we have a great crowd of loyal supporters who are aware of the importance of promotion to their business.”
While syndicators failed to offer presentations in Los Angeles, Paramount and Universal (now merged with Studios USA) have joined King World on the roster of companies presenting events at the Roadshow, which was instituted in response to the financial crunch that prevented a number of stations from attending the larger Los Angeles conference two weeks ago.
Among other presenters are promo strategist Lee Hunt, repeating a session that was popular at the L.A. conference, “Raise Your Ratings 5-10 Percent Using Only Promos and Design,” and Graeme Newell, offering consecutive sessions on weather and news promos.
Attendance at the Los Angeles convention slipped by double digits from last year’s Miami show to 3,900 registered attendees. Still, the drop is significantly less than that experienced by some other industry trade shows in the past year, and the organization confirmed it will be back in Los Angeles next year, likely in a hotel this time, for another go-round.
“Our numbers were just under 15 percent down this year,” Mr. Brailsford said. “This attrition is remarkably low compared to other shows, and given the general downturn in the TV industry, I think this relatively small difference reflects the importance of promotion, marketing and design in today’s television world. It also reflects the loyalty of our members and underlines the wisdom of staging the show in a major media market like Los Angeles.”
Despite the uptick in tempo and attitude at the convention, organizers are looking hard at the fiscal health of the organization. Early in the week, sources said that at a pre-convention board meeting, Promax Chairman Mark Stroman called for a thorough review of the organization’s spending habits. A panel will be put together to examine Promax’s budget, deciding fates of executive positions and divisions throughout the organization.
“Any board would scrutinize the way its board is run, so it’s run leanly and efficiently-especially in this economy,” Mr. Brailsford said.
Despite tough economic times, Promax regulars found enough positives at the event to keep them coming back for more. Twentieth Television President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Cook, also Promax’s vice chairman, said the addition of speakers such as Jamie Kellner, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System, and Chris Albrecht, president of original programming at HBO Worldwide, added executive star power to the meetings. Meanwhile, “ER” executive producer John Wells and celebrities such as Roger Ebert, John Walsh and Dr. Phil (all of whom will host syndicated series this fall) brought in star power of their own.
“Like a lot of these organizations, Promax BDA is in the process of reinventing itself in order to best serve its constituents,” Mr. Cook said. “By having representatives from networks, production and other arenas involved, its helps me come away from these conventions with some additional information that helps me and my business. Exhibitors told us that they were happy with the turnout and attendees told us that they came away with new tricks that are invaluable in the marketing arena.”
Others felt the conference best served as both a business meeting ground and an opportunity to hobnob with industry giants and up-and-comers.
“The overall experience of this has been inherently positive,” said John DeBello, president and creative director of Four Square Entertainment. “The real value of this convention comes not from what words I put on my legal pad but from the experience of the adventure amidst the creative community. I hope next time there will be a greater optimistic energy, that the worst is behind us and it’s time to move forward.”