Q Media: Audio Tour Experts

Delivering your goals, to your visitors, within your budget.

Updating MillerCoors Brewing Company

Recently, one of our previous and favorite clients, Coors Brewery, formed a joint venture with Miller Brewing Company; by all accounts the marriage is going well. However, since we produced their first audio tour in 2008 BEFORE the venture, updates were necessary. As you can guess, while this isn’t rocket science, a few things came up that are good lessons to learn from.

Stasha Boyd and Lisa Knipp (MillerCoors project manager) working through the script.

Stasha Boyd and Lisa Knipp (MillerCoors project manager) working through the script.

First, not all name references are the same. The joint venture changed the name of Coors’ Brewery to MillerCoors. However, distinctions had to be made between the place (Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado), the entity Adolf Coors started (Coors’ Brewery), and the new corporate entity (MillerCoors.) Each reference had to be evaluated to determine exactly what it was and what the term meant. Obviously, getting carried away with MS Word’s “find and replace” feature wouldn’t do. Lesson: Semantics matter. Meanings of words change in odd and unexpected ways for reasons that aren’t always obvious at first. When dealing with scripts, learn to love the “semantic argument.”

Second, some subtler changes had occured as well. There were a couple of key staff changes, many of which had nothing to do with the joint venture but as we proceeded through revising the script presented opportunities to make “improvements.” In one case, we have an example of differing experts. The previous script had been vetted and re-vetted by the subject matter experts and been declared “perfect.” Then a new expert came on the scene with a new “expert” opinion and insisted on a couple of changes for items that were “wrong.” Now as a lay person, the differences to me appeared so minor that the changes seemed trivial, especially in light of the fact that the changes would need to be repeated in multiple languages adding to the expense. But as a producer, it is my job to deliver the client’s product within the budget. The client project manager went through the requested changes. Together, we evaluated the cost vs. effectiveness and then she told me what to do. In several instances, we simply made the requested changes. Other times we found an alternative. At no time did we indicate that the new expert was “wrong” or that the old expert had been “wrong.” Many times, expert opinions as just that, opinions… but by experts. Lesson: Know your role. My role was to get the job done for the client as perfectly and cost effectively as possible. I offered advice, not obstuction. The new expert was a respected source of knowledge, just like her predecessor. Ultimately, the decision maker was the client’s project manager. She was responsible for the final result, the money, and the visitor’s satisfaction. A tough job.

Third, while we were there, we had to deal with some technical issues. MillerCoors uses the Orpheo Classic audio guide. It is rugged, easy to use, and simple for the staff to distribute and maintain. The system had worked perfectly for over a year, past it’s warranty date, and suddenly something started to go, for lack of a better term, wonky. (It was simply coincedence that this happened at the same time as the content updates were needed.) The units weren’t charging properly. In spite of a great staff, good maintenance practices and NO instances of this type of failure in the past, the things just weren’t working up to standard. We never were able to clearly diagnose the problem, even after we shipped the charging racks back to the manufacturer HOWEVER, they (Orpheo Systems) replaced the boards in all 15 racks free of charge in spite of the fact the warranty was expired. They even replaced the batteries, 300 of them, even though batteries are never warrantied. THANK YOU, ORPHEO! This is an example of why we are part of the Orpheo Network of distributorsLesson: Know who your working with. Machines break but when they do there should be some sort of identifiable reason. If not, then something isn’t right. All three companies (MillerCoors, Q Media, and Orpheo) worked together, overcame obstacles, and maintained a reasonable approach to solving the problem.   

Our projects are just like the rest of life — mostly a blast but with a few unexpected bumps here and there. I can only predict two things about any creative audio tour project that we undertake with a client: first, something is going to come up. Murphy’s Law or otherwise, there’s no such thing as a perfection; and second when we work together, letting each team member contribute their specialty to their best degree, then the results will, inevitably, be outstanding.

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