Within the world of events there are two common, and very different roles, that have the same title – ‘Producer’.
As a specialist recruitment consultancy working within the Events sector we regularly work on both types of role. And, when we advertise roles for a ‘Producer’, the many and varied responses that we receive from interested candidates often reveal that they have seen the role title – but they haven’t read the advert! Gotcha!
More importantly though, it shows that there is a lot of confusion (understandably) about what a ‘Producer’ is – and the confusion that can exist as that title can mean many different things – so it is a real case of ‘read the small print’ even if it isn’t that small!
This is further confused as Producer is also a term widely used in the TV, Media, and Digital worlds – so no wonder it is not as simple as the word itself.
So, we thought, for all event job hunters and Producers out there, it would be useful to take a moment just to run through the different types of ‘Producer’, the different worlds they work in, and the different expertise they need. Also, if you are someone who is looking to build a career in events, this may be useful as you try and plot your way through the varied and exciting opportunities the event world can offer.
So, here we go.
There are two main ‘Producer’ event roles that commonly get confused.
Firstly, let’s start with Conference Producers.
A Conference Producer, (sometimes also referred to as a Content Producer or Commercial Producer), normally works within commercial events – ie events that are designed around their intellectual content, so as to attract fee-paying delegates with a particular interest in that content. So, a Conference Producer’s role is all about content and subject matter – normally within a specialist area/sector.
A Conference Producer focusses on developing the intellectual content and topics for an event. Their role has research at its core - identifying topics for a conference (or workshop or seminar) through in-depth market research, and putting together a commercially viable conference agenda. As part of this, they’ll normally be tasked to find and recruit speakers who will be of interest to their target audience. Ultimately, as well as wanting to produce a really interesting event that an audience benefits from in terms of learning/knowledge, within commercial events a Producer’s end goal is ‘bums on seats’, and generating profit/money from the event because people want to attend, and are happy to pay.
A Conference Producer may work for an Association or Professional Membership body, a ‘think tank’, a Commercial events company, or a Publishing/Media company. Their key expertise will be in their research skills, a deep understanding of their sector and the audiences they need to reach, and an ability to review and assess information, and understand what the key areas of interest are. Some Conference Producers will be specialists in a particular sector eg legal, oil & gas, property, engineering etc. and others will be generalists who are adept at quickly learning about a new sector and its key issues. A Conference Producer will research the sector, its commercial or professional challenges, its innovations, its hot topics, its best practice. They’ll also be involved with the marketeers within their organisation, on how to promote the event, and who to market it to …. (for further information about what it takes to be a Conference Producer, see our blog here).
Live Event Producers
Our second main group of Producers are Live Event Producers, or, within the live events world, again more often simply referred to as Producers. But they are very different in their role and expertise.
This sort of Producer normally works for an events or brand communications agency and their role centres on:
- taking an event from client brief to final delivery
- understanding the key objectives of the event
- designing the format of the event to achieve these
- pulling together the full creative, technical and logistical production of an event.
They will be the lynch pin and project lead to the creative, technical and logistics teams.
A Live Event Producer will work very closely with the client to understand what they need the event to do – be it to show off the key selling points of a new product, incentivise a team, or to inform the company’s staff on what’s happening in the business. The Producer may decide this is best done with a big conference for 500 people over two days in an exotic location, a roadshow visiting relevant dealers, or a ‘wow’ moment PR stunt launching the product in a very creative and visually impactful way. The Producer is the person who will propose what the best solution is … and then they’ll also be the one to make it happen.
Within the corporate world, Producers will typically work on conferences, awards events, roadshows and launches – normally events where there is a technical requirement for staging as well as script/av content, and a creative aspect designing the look and feel of the event to make it as interactive and successful in its messaging objectives as possible. Events might range from a Sales Conference for a pharmaceutical company, an AGM, or a car launch incorporating lots of theatrical and/or interactive elements.
A Live Events Producer will normally have had an events agency background, (typically starting off as a Production Assistant or Junior Producer). Their forte may be corporate events (events centred around conveying a company’s message, brand or product information, which will therefore involve lots of understanding corporate/brand messaging), or public events (such as festivals and celebratory events, with a focus more on the purely technical and staging aspects), or a mix of the two.
In summary a Live Events Producer will understand all the elements that are needed to bring a whole event together, across creative design, format, technical production and logistics. (Watch out for our upcoming blog – What is a Live Event Producer). So, you can see how specialist, and how different, this role is!
But it doesn’t end there.
Our final ‘catch-all’ grouping of Producers – are TV/Radio Producers, Digital Producers, and Theatre Producers – we often see TV or digital Producers apply for our events focussed roles. While there are, of course, a lot of key skills that overlap – eg creative understanding, production knowledge (within their technical specialism), project management etc… - the sort of projects they work on, and hence their expertise, is very different. But again, the fact that the same ‘Producer’ job title can apply – does of course sometimes lead to confusion within the job market place!
So, if you are a Producer - be it TV, Live Event, Conference or Digital - before you apply to the next Producer role you see – it is certainly worth taking a moment just to check if it is the sort of role you think it is!
And - in answer to the question, when is a Producer not a Producer? Well, unfortunately it can be, when they are a Producer! Just a different type!
Within our fabulous world of events - whether you are a Conference Producer or a Live Event Producer looking for a new role, we are always delighted to hear from you – we regularly get great opportunities for both talents and expertise … just check the small print to avoid disappointment!
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