Read between the lines: decoding a VT Pulse story

3 May

Today we look inward and deconstruct one of Venues Today’s own news articles to help you, the loyal reader, have a better understanding of our unique writing style. This article was pulled from the April 28th VT Pulse. As we go through this piece, I want you to ask yourself “How do I read between the lines? What is Venues Today trying to tell me?

INTIX GOES VIRTUAL WITH OUTSOURCING PLAN; FREELAND HEADS TO QCUE; CHAN CONFIRMED IN PHOENIX; PRESSON LEAVING INTRUST

First, apologies in advance for using this annoying quotation system, but this blogging application isn’t exactly robust software. So let’s look at this headline. Seems awfully long right? Maybe even a bit fragmented. Well, the reason we write this way is because this column essentially includes four different pieces of information. We’re not clever enough to connect all of these thoughts into one brilliant line of prose, so instead, we break the headline up, which is supposed to make it more readable.

INTIX, the association for ticketing professionals, has restructured its association offices and plans to outsource most of its services, said President Jena Hoffman.

Ok, first off, all bad signs. If you work for a company and you hear your president or CEO utter the words “outsource” or “restructure,” it’s time to polish up the resume.

The association’s three-person staff has been let go, the Manhattan office has been closed and most of the association’s needs have been outsourced to other companies.

Hoffman said it’s part of her plan to turn INTIX into a “virtual association” and cut back on operating costs.

“It was an interesting decision that included a combination of looking at where INTIX was financially and what INTIX wanted to accomplish,” she said. “We’re attempting to get to a place where we’re delivering more value to our members.”

This is where you, the reader, need to read between the lines. Have you ever had someone deliver really bad news, in the nicest way possible? Cutting to save money is a fairly straight-forward concept. But what about “delivering value to our members.” What is that supposed to mean? Is that more of an abstract concept?

The company’s new headquarters is in Indianapolis, the location of its outsourced reception service. The association phone number, which has a Manhattan area code, will stay the same.

INTIX Board Chair Joe Carter of the Los Angeles Philharmonic said that not all of the outsourcing has been finalized — the group was still selecting partners to help with membership, communications and its annual meeting.

As for the annual conference, set for Jan. 18-20 in San Francisco, Carter said much of that works goes to the local planning committee, which is headed by Russ Stanley from the San Francisco Giants.

“We always depend on the local membership to help with the conference, but the company that will be booking the show hasn’t been hired yet,” Carter explained. “Our vendors are really important to us and we’re trying to make sure it is as easy as possible” during the transition.

Carter has a nice save at the end of this article. This is a sign of polish, of someone who knows how to talk to the media. This last bit isn’t really for you, the reader. Unless you happen to own a major ticketing company. In that case, you might be asking yourself ‘Whoa, INTIX might be in trouble, and we’re about to invest (insert large sum of money) into a booth at their trade show.’ Before you can rethink this decision, in comes Joe Carter to tell you, ‘We still want your business. We’re not sure how this is all going to work out, but we know for sure that we still want your business. Please.’

Eric Freeland is a regular INTIX attendee, but he’ll be working for a different company when he attends the conference in his hometown. The former StubHub dealmaker has moved over to dynamic pricing company Qcue, where he’ll work as VP of Business Development.

Wait, what?

At StubHub, Freeland handled the company’s 24 Major League Baseball accounts, and oversaw the company’s first non-sports integration with Tickets.com for all entertainment events at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. At Qcue, he’ll work with CEO Barry Kahn to sign up clients for the company’s dynamic pricing software system, which helps teams and venues set their prices. For now, Freeland said he would stay in the Bay Area, but he hasn’t ruled out relocating to Austin, Texas where Qcue is based.

Ok, you’re trying to tell me this guy who works for one of the biggest companies in the secondary market is leaving to work for a start-up firm. That seems….risky. Why would this young man do this? Let’s assume that he is a reasonable person, and a very knowledgeable person. After all, he manages many accounts for this big firm. Does he know something about this start-up company that might not be obvious to the rest of us?

“The opportunity is there for Qcue to become (in dynamic pricing) what StubHub has become in the secondary market,” Freeland said. “Qcue has a very legitimate shot at being the driver in the dynamic pricing industry, which is the direction I think teams and venues will go in the short to medium term.”

Ok, so Eric pretty much has to say this next bit, and as a reporter, I’m kind of obligated to write it. I spoke with Eric for ten minutes, yet I only chose this quote. Part of that is context and space; let’s keep in mind that this is a new hire article, so the attention of the reader is limited. This quote stood out because Eric was able to make an interesting point using the language of a business reporter. He used business jargon, but instead of throwing around terms like “synergy” and “strategy,” he made a concise business observation that’s not just fluff. Sure he’s spinning the story a bit, but what’s the alternative?

Chris Presson resigned his post as general manager of Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., effective May 7.

He told Venues Today that opening the new arena in January was a demanding task and he has made a personal decision to find a job that allows more family time. The staff he worked with stays in place and booking is still being handled by Scott Neal. Gary Desjardins, SMG regional oversight manager and GM of the Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Okla., will head the search for a replacement, looking first within the SMG family.

Poor guy. That’s tough. I don’t like these type of stories. Interesting side note though. This is where Linda actually takes over the article, so you might notice a different tone.

Presson was named the general manager in June 2008 and worked with Sedgwick County to open the Intrust Bank Arena in January 2010. Prior to taking his position with the arena, Presson served as general manager of the Wichita Thunder hockey team.

John Chan has been named director of the Phoenix Convention Center after a year as interim director. He replaced Jay Green, who retired, in May 2009.

Chan has been with the city of Phoenix since 1992 and oversaw construction of the convention center expansion. He will manage a $50 million operating budget and nearly 275 employees.

That’s fact-based reporting at its best. In two sentences, you have a time line, career history, valuation and scale. And I’m not just saying that cause she’s my boss (but Linda if you’re reading this, AWESOME!). But really, it paints a pretty concise picture, and if you know anything about the venue business, you can now size up John’s career and compare it with….I don’t know….maybe your own career.

Chan played a key role in the 2009 NBA All-Star game activities and 2010 WrestleMania events at the venue, and is helping with the bids for the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions. — Dave Brooks and Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this article: Jena Hoffman, (323) 636-1101; Joe Carter, (213) 972-3165; Eric Freeland, (415) 297-6540; Chris Presson, (316) 440-9015; Scott Neal, (316) 440-9014; John Chan, (602) 256-3567

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