The AV industry has existed a very long time now. Our trade association, Infocomm, itself celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2009. Yet, despite this long history, and despite the fact that products from our industry are integral to daily life around the world (mics, speakers, TVs, computer monitors, etc), we are still widely unknown and overlooked by many. It took until the release of MasterFormat2004 before we got a place of our own for AV specs in construction documents. There are still no AV Design Engineer or AV Installer degree programs in the United States, possibly the world, and only a few related degree programs out there that are similar – acoustical engineer, communications, broadcast degrees, etc. And, the public at large has no clue what we do, for the most part. Heck, I’m AVDawn for pity’s sake, yet my own mother thinks I “sell TVs or something like that.” (Bless her heart!)
The reality is that, despite the best efforts of Infocomm, of NSCA, and of our own industry media (magazines, blogs, etc), the audiovisual industry still has a major identity crisis. The only way this is going to change is for those of us in the industry to go beyond just doing our jobs. We need to even go beyond just selling our companies, and we need to sell our industry. Now, many of us in sales and marketing already do this. We do it every time we put together a proposal for a potential new client – first we sell WHY they need AV, and then we sell why they need OUR AV. While we’re making progress towards recognition, we need a lot more concerted effort to get the word about our industry out there. In short, we need to get out there and evangelize.
Tell people what it is you do for a living. Don’t be shy about explaining exactly what the audiovisual industry is, or is not. Come up with an elevator speech – a quick blurb about what we do and why it is important – and whip it out on elevators, at networking events, heck, at the gym or church or PTA. Remember, wherever you are, you are an ambassador for AV, so tell folks what we’re all about! In fact, make it a point to reach out beyond just your company and your clients and take part in local networking groups, Chambers of Commerce, Technology Councils and community organizations. Offer to speak to schools about AV – be they grade schools, junior and senior high schools, or colleges – and let kids know the opportunities available to them in this constantly-growing and evolving industry. Don’t be afraid to promote your business successes, or outreach efforts, or speaking gigs in local newspapers and let the world know what you are up to and what AV is about. If you do all of this, you are embodying the principals behindInfocomm’s AVWeek – so let them know about your efforts! In short, spread the word!
Speaking of Infocomm, if you aren’t already, get involved in the AV community – join Infocomm or NSCA, check out the AV groups on LinkedIn, become an #AVTweep if you are on Twitter. Get to know others in our industry who share your passion for all things geeky and tech, and you will gain more than just great friends. You will also learn new ways to promote our field and our own individual services. Journalist Mark Shields once said, “There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals or organizations that you can rally to your cause, the better.” He is completely correct. If we all work together to educate our clients, our communities, our civilization about AV, our industry will gain new respect and stature in the business world, which can only improve business for ALL of us.
In this tough economy, we all could use a boost in visibility and interest in AV. There is a Swedish proverb, however, that says, “The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm.” So, whatever you are doing, wherever you might be, take a moment to talk AV. Put a smile on your face, make a new friend, and then tell them about why our industry matters. Preach it, Brothers and Sisters. Preach it, and we’ll ALL benefit. Amen!