In session with Mills Media
CN talks to the founder of Liverpool-based Mills Media about his ascent up the events ladder
Andrew Mills (pictured below), managing director, Mills Media Creative (MMC), has embraced the changing world of technology and client services. Having set up MMC’s video production unit and overseen the introduction of digital printing and copying, it was 1999 when Mills first took the plunge and dived head first into the world of conferences and live events.
How did you get started in the conference business?
Our core offering was always photography and latterly video production.
During a client meeting to discuss both services, they asked who could assist with their staging of a big conference. When we spoke about the event in more detail, the factory manager asked: “Why don’t you do it for us?” I talked with our production team and after some initial deliberation, we said yes. That client was Unilever.
Dipping your toe in the industry for one of the largest companies in the world must have been quite a challenge?
Indeed. Funnily enough, the event was called SWIM (Sustainable Water Integrated Management). It was a three-day conference that welcomed Unilever staff from all over the world to Liverpool. We brought in a tech supplier to assist but the core team were Mills staff. We designed the set, created the PPT, made intro films and shot stills. It was a massive learning curve but thankfully a great success. We still work regularly with Unilever.
How do you keep your work fresh and interesting?
Since day one we’ve always asked the same question: “How do we engage with the audience?” We want our live events to be memorable and have impact. We are a creative company and always like to bounce ideas and concepts around with the client.
Our job is to listen first, and then offer solutions that blend imagination with knowledge, and innovation with professionalism.
How has technology changed the business?
When we first started the web was in its infancy. The advancements we’ve seen are almost from the realms of science fiction.
The key is to embrace technology but never to lose sight that ‘experience’ is a human emotion; people are why we stage events in the first place.
What has been your favourite live event?
You always remember your first; SWIM is fondly thought of, but others include WaterAid’s Mid-Summer Ball in Coventry Cathedral when over a quarter of a million pounds was raised and the British Cycling Gala to celebrate the 2012 Olympics.
What’s next for MMC?
There’s much in the pipeline for the year ahead and a good breadth of variety too.
We will continue to produce shows with enthusiasm, skill and a touch of panache and I hope our name continues to be synonymous with great events, engaging content and, very importantly, always delivered with a smile.