by Clive Young
New York (July 23, 2007)–On the surface, it might sound like artist relations on steroids, but that’s a far cry from breadth and depth of what Sennheiser’s new Global Relations Division can do, according to its director, Greg Beebe. The new unit, founded in January and expected to be fully operational by August, has been designed to support not just artists, but high profile events, corporations, engineers and sound companies around the globe.
“We’re in the business of providing red-carpet treatment for our most elite customers,” said Beebe. “We’re working on projects like the Pan AM Games, the Olympics, the upcoming Cirque Du Soleil tour, the Live Earth concerts. We’re also working with artists like Avril Lavigne, Beyonce, Nelly Furtado, The Police–and this isn’t just your standard, cookie-cutter artist relations, give-product-away-free kind of deal; this is a concerted effort to differentiate ourselves from the competition while strategically managing projects which cross borders.”
To staff the Global Relations Division, Sennheiser has appointed Mick Whelan–one of the point men behind Midas’ XL8 console and an FOH legend–to be Global Support Manager, coordinating with regional managers, all of whom were promoted from within the company. “We have three relations manager who have a combined tenure of a couple of decades of experience,” said Beebe, referring to Kristy Jo Winkler, manager for the Americas and Canada; Mark Saunders, now in charge of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and Vince Tan, looking after Asia and Australia from his office in Singapore.
While the division is still getting off the ground, it actually has already completed its first challenge: the recent Pan AM Games. “I was speaking to an audience of our subsidiaries and distributors to explain the new division, and afterwards, the general manager from Belgium mentioned he had a broadcaster going to the Games who needed some help. There, they may sell 18-20 broadcast microphones in a year; this particular broadcaster needed close to 150. We got involved and said, ‘We’ll let you borrow the microphones you need, then work with the sales subsidiaries around the world to move them afterwards, and in exchange, we’d like this and this and this.’
“They gave us more than we asked for and towards the end of the Games in Brazil, they said, ‘We’ve enjoyed these microphones so much, we’d like to buy all of them.’ So for us, that turned out to be a grand slam, because we didn’t have to sell off the mics that they used. That was something we did in between setting up our division and it worked out incredibly well.”
As Beebe sees it, the division will allow Sennheiser to achieve four goals: to maximize possible broadcast and media exposure, to differentiate itself from competition, and to support both global sales and marketing distribution.
And despite the focus on far more than just artists, they, too, are a big focus for the new entity, said Beebe: “One of the most important things is to harmonize the support across borders. The most embarrassing thing that could happen would be that an international artist would get great service in the U.S. and less-than-great service in, say, Bolivia. If that happens, then that doesn’t reflect positively on our company. We want to make sure that what ever the project is, if we’ve identified them as an entity that we wish to work with, and we have a two-way relationship, we want to make sure that they get the same level quality treatment wherever they are in the world.”