Monday, January 5, 2009

The Edge

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.

My name is Martin Mlekicki and I'm an Interactive Producer currently working in NYC. I have my own company; Blinx Media - which I've been managing for about six years now. We've focused our work in next gen web technologies, though we started out doing pretty much everything; print, digital, broadcast / video. Having worked at both Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Wieden and Kennedy, I've learned how important it is to understand what technologies exist and how they are being used in the digital landscape. I think that today's Interactive Producer needs to be well equiped to deal with the increasingly competitive nature of the Interacive Advertising Industry. We're seeing more and more money pouring into Interactive budgets and that's leading to more interesting, more challenging, work. As technologies evolve, the role of a producer also evolves and is becomming vital in client relations.

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
I have an eclectic background but most people like to say I'm the creative type. I went to school for film and was always very musical but I also taught myself Flash at an early age and payed my way through college building websites for people. I got interested in digital production when we formed Blinx in 2003. I was always the day-to-day business liaison and project manager and I think that just sort of happened on its own, because I hated seeing things out of order. Growing up, my dad would make me clean the lint off of my carpet and would flip out if my Nintendo controller wasn't coiled up and put back in the I guess I got that gene from him.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
Read...I read alot. Books and blogs. I haven't attended many conferences but I definitely plan to be doing that with the team in the future.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?

I like getting something thats impossible and I like a client that is up for a challenge. Then work is fun.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
Having a bird's eye view approach to client relations is very important. I found that the better understanding you have of your client's expectations the better off you are in communicating those expectations to your team, and in turn back to your client. Because, the most important part of a producer's job is communication. Whether its through budgets, schedules, emails, or phone calls - the key is in processing and relaying information. You need to get everything you need up front, so that you can assess quickly and thoroughly. Some clients want to know everything and some don't want to be bothered with the details but ultimately, you are responsible for educating them and setting those realistic expectations.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?

We did this project for at CP+B called Pimp Your Search, which took your ordinary search bar and modified its appearance. The project consisted of application development done in the US and India and Flash / PHP development done in Brazil. The web app hosted a multitude of skins which you could select as your new search bar. The cool thing was that you could do this in real time, so right after you clicked one of the skins your search bar instantly changed to that new skin. So pimpin.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
I'm a natural multi-tasker so I don't mind handling a bigger website build with a few smaller scale projects at a given time. But I think it depends on the place and the type of work. Some agencies have a good process that allows for more work to be handled by a given producer. Seven to ten projects was the norm at CP+B for me.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?

A kick ass dev squad (back-end and front-end), a Tech Director like Scott Prindle, an IA, some QA folks that don't put the low priority items back in Mantis after I remove them, no account people, a cool group of creatives that listen, 1 junior interactive producer to do all the small stuff, and maybe a group of very hot cheerleaders for motivational purposes.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
Knowing exactly what those best interests are and always keeping that above everything else in the list of priorities. Sometimes priorities change and you have to work with the client make sure they understand what sacrifices need to be made in order to stick to the goals. This is just about simple honest and open communication with me. Once you've defined what those interests are and they are spelled out in your SOW, everyone should be on the same page. When things change, everyone needs to know what kind of repercussions there will be and how to proceed to meeting those best interests.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?

Web 3.0 will be more targeted, tangible, executable and I think that our industry will make use of the web in real world applications. Technologies like geo-tagging and search will take on a whole new dimension making it incredibly easy for people to find what they're looking for whenever they want. This idea of precise information acquisition will broaden the channels of interactive advertising and give rise to new ad platforms that may take the word "genie" and make it a real thing. So you'll have the power of the internet in more places than just your laptop, phone, or home computer - and that is a very good thing for people in our industry.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
"The edge is still out there."

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