Article Published: May 3, 2014
Article Published: May 3, 2014
Interview by Jonathan Kersting, Associate Publisher
TEQ: So David, tell us about PMI and what led you to found it.
David Case: In the mid-‘80s, I recognized the need to offer multiple television-related production services to our clients at one location. Embracing that concept, we created PMI. Initially, we offered location and studio production services on film or videotape, editorial services, original music track creation and audio finishing. Because of our rapid acceptance in the marketplace, we quickly doubled our editorial facilities and added computer graphics and computer animation. Within a couple of years we had expanded into the distribution of syndicated television programs and acquired a second production facility of an equal size, in Phoenix. Initially most of our business came from the regional advertising industry, but very early in our history we began serving the business community as well as the original programming world. Somewhere in our historical time line, the internet came to life and we rapidly moved into the multi-media business. Today, we still serve all of those market segments but only from the Pittsburgh location.
TEQ: What’s it been like growing and evolving a media company over the years? What have been the challenges?
DC: The biggest challenge has always been understanding the changing landscape of the market and its needs, while living on the “bleeding” edge of technology—where the expense of purchasing one wrong piece of equipment can be a devastating blow, to a company where depreciation is a real number. It’s always been a difficult balancing act, between the services offered, the emerging needs of the marketplace, and the facilities required stay ahead of the curve.
TEQ: Speaking of evolution, give us details on some of PMI’s new offerings around social media and content marketing services.
DC: At our core, we have been great storytellers for nearly 30 years; that art is part of our DNA. Eventually though, we realized that we were doing our clients a disservice by not sharing our thoughts regarding the new trends in the marketplace and the various outlets for their content: the world of content marketing and social media. If we could develop a strategy for additional uses of their content, as opposed to the single purpose they originally contacted us for, there could be a real opportunity to better serve their needs and reach their target audience in a fragmented media landscape. This concept was the genius of PMI Digital, the intersection of storytelling, consumer insight and digital platforms—it’s what we like to call Intelligent Content.
Our experienced digital staff takes a deep dive into our client’s digital behaviors, personas and ecosystems, and develops a content strategy to address those identified needs. We then use either new content, which is specifically developed for the plan, or existing or curated content to tell a robust story—and we’re not just talking video. That content could be blog posts, webinars, e-books, short-form video content… the list goes on and on. Hey, we get it—consumers are smart, and they are in control. Unless we are developing content that they actually want to opt into, the audience won’t hear our message. We are creating content and strategies around short-form visual communication that are relevant, entertaining and available on demand to encourage the organic behaviors around emerging digital technologies. We believe that if we deliver consistent, ongoing and valuable information to our client’s target audiences, they will be rewarded by their customers’ business and loyalty.
TEQ: Anyone who tours PMI’s offices/studios has seen beautiful wooden furniture crafted by you! Tell us about your passion for woodworking. How did you get into it?
DC: I began working in wood almost immediately after I was married, as my wife and I couldn’t afford any furniture in our apartment… and if it wasn’t for the kindheartedness of our families and their old furniture, we would have been sitting on the floor to eat dinner and watch our 13” television. We had managed to purchase a new mattress and box spring from a local furniture store but had no headboard or bed frame. That purchase was the impetus for me to begin building furniture, and my very first project was a frame and headboard from an old shelving unit which I reclaimed from the trash. That project went so well that I just continued by purchasing furniture and cabinet making books, and buying a tool here and there. My passion for woodworking is what someone once referred to as “unnecessary creative.” It gives me a creative outlet which is not related to our daily work at PMI. And in order to make certain that it remains “unnecessary,” I won’t undertake any woodworking project where there is a deadline or money involved—that would make it work.
Today, in addition to furniture, I really enjoy making the consoles used throughout our post-production suites at PMI.
TEQ: How do you see Pittsburgh as a place for tech-intensive companies to grow and thrive?
DC: Our city seems to end up at the top, or very near the top, of most lists when comparing economic drivers, lifestyle, cultural attractions, healthcare, real estate values, philanthropic efforts, angel funding, venture funding, and yes, even golf courses—without the major natural disasters you find in many other cities. With all of the positives we have, I believe that the only reason a tech-intensive company would not grow and thrive here is that the founders of that company believe that “the grass is greener” in other parts of the United States. I’ve noticed a “boomerang effect” when you look at the students who grow up here, go to school here and then leave for their dream job—and then end up returning. Sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until you’ve lost it.
Since 1985, we have been instrumental in the start-up of more than a half-dozen tech-intensive companies, and most of those still continue to operate successfully in the Pittsburgh region.