Over his 32 years running PMI, President and CEO David Case’s philosophy has grown to be: Surround yourself with the best people; then give them free rein and get out of their way.
But the broadcasting and media production company deals with a different competitive landscape today. As the only full-service one-stop shop in town, advertising agencies brought PMI concepts and PMI would use its cameras, studios, editorial, audio and music suites, computer graphics with animation, etc., to bring them to life.
“Through the democratization of technology, more and more people have been able to enter into our world. Now, it seems just because someone can pick up an iPhone and take a video with it, they feel that they know how to create a program or a commercial as well as we do,” Case says.
More important than technology, though, are the people who create the imagery, tell the stories and do the special effects, he says. Talent is the differentiator.
PMI’s full-time workforce ranges from 40 to 60, depending on the long-term projects in the works. The company produces commercials, is the largest distributor of off-network television shows in the country and recently began producing feature films.
With an emphasis on people, Case says finding talent isn’t the challenge. PMI knows where to look and people reach out regularly. The challenge is finding people who have the PMI personality.
Most job applicants have the needed technological skills, and a missing area can be trained. What you can’t change is personality. So, PMI spends a lot of time trying to get to heart of the personality of job applicants to see if they’ll fit in.
“If you don’t fit in, the current staff will cut you out of the herd in a heartbeat, and you will not be successful,” Case says.
An adverse fit can be apparent in just a few days, he says. PMI’s Executive Vice President David Hartman calls it PURE, a previously undetected recruitment error.
That’s why Case likes the saying: Be slow to hire and fast to fire.
PMI has a relaxed culture, where employees really enjoy their jobs. People wear jeans and many bring their dogs to work. Case started bringing his dog to the office the day after 9/11 — his wife thought PMI could use a morale boost and protection from terrorists.
Today, he uses people’s reactions to the office dogs to gauge whether they’ll fit at PMI.