Introducing Pete May Productions

When it comes to May Company Communications Productions getting any transcription done, I tell them that I have elves who wait for the last person to leave the office and turn out the lights, then they burst out in a Disney-style whirl of stardust and magically transcribe my interviews.

Pete May runs May Productions, what he calls “a communications company that is boutique” based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. “I see ‘boutique’ as the opposite of the top-heavy, cookie-cutter communication ‘warehouse stores’ that seem to dominate nowadays.  We’re small by choice.  Being small makes us nimble and cost-effective plus it ensures every project will get our full attention.  It also keeps me on the front lines of production, not back at headquarters, bogged down in management.”

Pete side-stepped from science into television 30 years ago.“I don’t regret my years in engineering.  I call on that knowledge and experience every day.  TV just felt like a better fit!”

The May Interview: Why Our Communications Company Uses Transcriptions

In a brief interview, Pete shares about his work and the involvement of Way With Words Transcription in his world-class video productions.

Pete, briefly describe your company

May Productions is a boutique communications company, specializing in ‘not specializing.’  But core competency, our area of primary focus?  I’d say high-end video production and speechwriting for Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and anyone in between.

Why do you have audio files transcribed?

I collect facts and opinions for my written work by talking to people, interviewing people. Transcription puts the material that I collect into a readable, searchable, cut-and-pastable, emailable form. Another big reason is that I want to be able to pay attention to the person I’m interviewing, instead of worrying about taking notes. I can give that person 100% of my attention and assume that the transcript will be my notes. I’ve found in the past that if I’m trying to listen to someone and also get down accurate quotes, things they’re saying, it turns out to be a mess. So that’s a big reason that I have audio files transcribed.

Explain how you use transcripts?

Anyone can shoot videos nowadays.  Anyone can edit.  There even seems to be an emphasis on looking “crowdsourced” and unprofessional!  One thing that doesn’t change and that’s the need to tell a good story and that’s how we distinguish ourselves; by being superior storytellers.

May Productions know how to assemble facts, descriptions, dialogue – complete with all the twists, turns and surprises – into an engaging, effective, evocative story.  I wouldn’t start assembling a bookcase from Ikea without having all the parts right there in front of me, and I can’t assemble a story until I have all the pieces gathered together.  To me, those pieces are my transcripts.

How do transcripts add value to your business?

May Productions deliver videos, speeches, scripts and articles: that’s our finished product. But we collect media all throughout the process of creating those products.  What we’ve started doing is giving those raw pieces as value-added material back to the clients.  Now, we usually shoot videos of our interviews and I can certainly give the client a copy of the raw footage, but without editing and compression capabilities, video files are of limited use to the clients.  I can give clients a transcript of the interview and they’ve got a useful, editable, portable reference; something small enough to attach to an email.

And it’s also informative for a client to see what they say in print.  It helps them think more clearly about what they say – especially clients who find themselves quoted from time to time.  It’s very instructive for a client to see what they’ve offered the news media and maybe understand better why certain sound bites are chosen.

Do other similar companies also get audio files transcribed?

I don’t really know how other people do it.  I know that some people in my business, in the video business, don’t get transcriptions, and they do all their story assembly editing video clips together.  But I think that’s a cumbersome, inefficient and expensive way to work.

At May Productions, there’s a difference between working online and offline.  Online is when I’m sitting with my editor who’s operating a top-of-the-line workstation, dragging and dropping real-time sound and video while we charge by the minute!  Offline is when I’m sitting at a coffee shop, tapping away at a Word doc on my laptop, making big decisions “on paper.”  Guess which one is more cost-effective for my client.

Why do you use Way With Words for your transcription needs?

Well, we use Way With Words for a number of reasons.

First Reason: Handle All Volumes Of Work

First of all, Way With Words seems to be a very scalable company: it doesn’t matter whether I send one interview to transcribe or a dozen, there doesn’t ever seem to be any problem handling the work, and that’s something I can’t really say about local transcription services I’ve tried in the past. Other transcription services I’ve tried in the past forced me to work on their schedule.  It doesn’t matter if I want a quick turnaround.  They don’t have time!

Second Reason: Choice Of Turnarounds

Another big reason May Productions use Way With Words is the turnaround: I can end a day of shooting at 7 pm Central Standard Time in the United States, compress my audio files, and upload them to Way With Words that evening, and because of the time difference, Way With Words has been able to transcribe them overnight and have them waiting for me when I sit down at my desk the next morning.  That’s a tremendous advantage!

I never promise clients I’ll have the transcripts the next day.  I like to surprise them!  It’s become a little joke with some of my clients: I tell them that I have elves who wait for the last person to leave the office and turn out the lights, then they burst out in a Disney-style whirl of stardust and magically transcribe my interviews.  I get emails from my clients asking, “Are your elves free tonight?  I’ve got some tapes that need transcribing.”

Third Reason: Magically Transcribe My Interviews Accurately

The final, and probably most important, the reason our communications company uses Way With Words is their accuracy. It’s very embarrassing to hand a transcript to a client and have it full of errors.  In one case, another transcription service I tried actually spelled the name of the company and their product wrong.  C’mon!  Ever hear of “Google!”  That made me nervous about the entire transcript.  I don’t have time to compare transcripts and recordings and check for accuracy.

I’ve sent transcripts to Way With Words containing very technical engineering discussions and they get it right.  I’ve sent them interviews regarding the history of vintners in France.  Words and names that I didn’t understand when I did the interview come back correctly transcribed.  Believe me, I’ve tested Way With Words and they’ve never failed me!

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