Friday, September 4, 2009

Scholz & Volkmer: Peter Reichard

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
Hi, my name is Peter Reichard and I am the Executive Technical Director at Scholz & Volkmer in Wiesbaden, Germany. My agency designs and realizes digital communication solutions for clients like Mercedes-Benz, Panasonic, Coca-Cola, Leica and Swarovski, among others.

Our commitment is to provide clients with 360° digital communications. We therefore cover the areas of attention (e.g. banners, virals), information (web specials, corporate websites), dialogue (CRM), transaction (shops), use (digital products), support (brand communities) and referral (referral marketing).

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?
My passion for the digital area began with a fascination of computer games, just like it did for many other people. When I was 15, I had an Atari ST and developed small and actually pretty bad games for it. But what fascinated me right from the start is that you can create something reactive and interactive – out of practically nothing.

While studying industrial design I became aware of the fact that for me, developing and programming was as much fun as prototyping with the saw and milling machine. Well, maybe even a little more – because I later quit college in favour of web development J.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
I am convinced that fun is the mainspring of every good solution, especially in the area of creative communication. You only get motivated through positive results. For me, important factors are to have a team that’s fun and capable, a scenario in which everyone respects each other and where you face challenges together.

How we keep our team informed? Well, first of all, I think that it is necessary that people are curious and always interested in coping with the new technologies they have to use every day. At Scholz & Volkmer for example, we have our Intranet called ‘Inhouse’, where colleagues share new highlights with each other. These can be just hilarious viral clips, but also new technology, marketing ideas and so on. With 100 co-workers, you can gather lots of information this way.

Other sources of information and inspiration are fresh talents like freelancers and other agencies. Last year, we also organized a Summer School program: six international students were invited to work with us for a month. I think that such opportunities benefit both sides immensely and offer the possibility for cultural and functional exchange.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
The ideal client is willing to communicate. And is bold and gutsy.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?

Well, I have two kids. So I know what a challenge education can be ;-). In my opinion, education is, first and foremost, dependent on trust. It is more a process of growing with each other than taking control over someone else.

For me, basic principles are: don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Speak clearly and always at eye level. Establish objectives and consequences. Stay fair…. and have fun!

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

Wow, that’s a difficult question. But if I had to make a decision, I would say that at the moment, my highlight is a project we realised for Adidas a couple of weeks ago. We developed the world’s first interactive online live event for the sports brand in collaboration with German soccer club FC Bayern Munich. The well-known German actor and comedian Christian Ulmen slipped into the role of soccer fan Frerk Ohm. With Frerk, we produced a five-day interactive web-tv-show where users took control of what was happening: they could submit the craziest tasks on the website and Frerk had to compete in and complete them – live and on-location in Munich.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?

If I had a choice: just one. I find it difficult to focus and concentrate otherwise.

Q: What tools do you use to help you better organize your projects?
Actually, I haven’t managed to find the Swiss Army knife for organizing my projects. But lots of little helpful tools: Redmine, Moleskine, Mac-Mails to myself and so on.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
That depends, of course, on the project on hand. But in general: two or three people that burn for an idea, that are able to arse around but are also capable of putting their thoughts onto paper – or into the computer.

That could be anyone, really, regardless of their education or current job position: designers, programmers, managing directors, project managers, conceptual designers and everyone else I’ve forgotten.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
We use a standardised document for this: the Creative Brief, where all relevant and important information and objectives are gathered and documented on just one page.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Well, I guess that the number of communication modes and channels will expand even more and that agencies and brands will go further and further away from communicating on just one single platform.

Furthermore, I could imagine that two things will keep becoming more important: advertising as pure entertainment as well as extremely user-focused communication.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
Although I am already over 40 I’m afraid I don’t really have much wisdom to share yet. Thus I would rather like to quote my wife’s grandmother: Life has no guardrails. This may be a simple fact – but is at the same time a sentence you can interpret and think a lot about. My personal version would be, for example: There is no definitive security in life and be prepared for everything that comes.

And one last thing: It’s not just a job but a big part of your life. So - act responsibly. And…have I already said something about having fun?

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