case studies staging

Apple Computer   Many consulting projects for Apple over 4 years.  Here is one:

      • Challenge:  Apple was launching a LIVE satellite broadcast for its many developers & user groups
  • Solutions:  We built a stage set (Replica of famous Steve Jobs-Steve Wozniak 1st garage office), brought in a LIVE studio audience, and created, short humorous video packages of the Apple team. Our satellite broadcast went out without a hitch to Apple user groups. I did media training with seven of the on-camera guests + on-air host.
  • Outcome:  Huge kudos from Steve Jobs and developer community for content, community and — and humor.  User groups unanimously requested more live feed future broadcasts.



      • Challenge:  Engage hearts & minds of tough, annual national sales meeting (1000 people)
  • Solutions:  Creative & Engagement

Wrote speeches & did speech coaching for 7 executive speakers. Worked closely with designers and AV production team at Production Resources of New York City and San Francisco.  Hired keynote (popular physics futurist, Dr. Michio Kaku). We introduced Dr. Kaku to leadership team at offsite, having him casually circulate at the intimate star-gazing night party in the Arizona desert. Party was equipped with huge telescopes and manned by 3 astronomers, eager to show the wonders of the sky.

Next night, I co-created SonyWood Squares for big Sales Mtg.  In this lively fun “TV game show “format, sales people had to answer product questions under fire on stage. I laced game show with hilarious, real 1950 TV spots I obtained from Sony Japan HQ vaults.  Also created/directed humorous comedy vignettes.

  • Outcome:  Client was thrilled with audience engagement.  Applause was deafening. After meeting, sales force was lined up in deep conversations with their managers.  An engaged, far flung sales staff renewed company bond, and left with deeper customer/product knowledge and pride in the co.


Genentech Fleischer Communications is a preferred Genentech vendor since 2004, doing projects with hundreds of clients. Here are two case studies:             CEO:

      • Challenge:  CEO was speaking at annual sales mtg. of 1000 people and was uncomfortable w/new format.   I was given less than two hours with CEO, a man I’d never met—before SHOWTIME.
      • Solution:   CEO and his advisors wanted him to connect intimately…emotionally with the huge audience, always hungry for face time with their beloved CEO. So Invision (production co.) created a Theater-in-the Round solution.  CEO had to keep walking around a huge circle stage, while doing his complex presentation. Instead of speaking elevated on stage, CEO could connect more intimately with a few at a time in the shallow rows around the theater-in-the-round.  
      • Outcome:   Though very skeptical at first–after coaching–the CEO embraced the unfamiliar format. He deeply connected with staff in a fresh, more intimate way. CEO surprised me by mentioning my counsel twice in his speech. Presentation was big hit with audience—and him.


Challenge:  Smart, popular senior technical director’s communication style ruffled feathers of some of his global senior leaders. They felt he became rattled during Q&A and was too technical and detailed in presentations–not reading the room well on the fly. Leaders valued him highly but wanted to groom his leadership communications. Solution: Client hired me to do Executive Communications training (private speech writing and speech coaching) during a one year retainer. Outcome:  His bosses said he learned finesse and strategy when Influencing Up. His Performance Review scores shot up.  He repeatedly said how valuable the coaching experience was for him— “….I was an engineer who had been so busy, who knew I had good social skills with peers –but I had never focused on Influencing Up as part of my leadership development.”

More Case Studies

PBS-TV Challenge:  Produce 13-week national PBS –TV original series in 4 months.  Called ‘Take Charge,’ our talk show w/live studio audience, helped people navigate their financial lives.  Premise:  Many fully -functioning adults are financial virgins, with financial angst.  Our host, Newsweek’s Jane Bryant Quinn, interviewed celebrity stars and wild characters from everyday life, and paired each with a financial advisor attuned to their problem. Now these guests had either screwed up their finances or were unusually wise w/money. Solution:  PBS-TV show was funded by national bank sponsor, Bank of the West. Ratings were high.  Me and my producing partner, Diane Friedman booked, prepped and directed on-air appearances;

Sports figures that lost it all to shady mgrs… A financial con artist serving prison time came on our show in handcuffs with guards…We covered celebrity ex-wives naïve about money until divorce or widowhood was a rude financial awakening…One show had a financial psychologist who advised funny, single comedians, clueless about money. Hollywood blacklisted actor Cliff Robertson, stood up to Hollywood when he uncovered improprieties and had a heroic, cautionary tale to tell.

Outcome: High PBS-TV ratings and critical acclaim Challenge: held their successful annual trade show conferences (Dreamforce) at S.F.’s Moscone Center. Yet they had never broadcast Dreamforce, their signature 3-day event. This year they blew out the stops, having and Steve Wonder doing ‘sit downs’ to talk biz with CEO Marc Benioff, President Clinton as the keynote. And, they created a 18 hours of live streaming video from the tradeshow floor.I was hired ONLY 4 days before Conference, with little time to prepare. Solution: hired Rebel Unit to construct a TV studio at epicenter of trade show and stream video over the 3 day mega-conference. Rebel Unit hired me as producer of the 3 day broadcast.  We broadcast live from this “studio” and did man-on-the-street interviews from trade show floor.  As producer I was on headsets w/ director, camera, & audio crew , timing and pacing the LIVE show. I also coached our multiple on-air hosts IN REAL TIME by speaking into hidden earpieces—as well as coaching our “green” Salesforce staff reporters-for-a-day, who interviewed clients/guestson the trade floor. This was a textbook” keep cool under fire” career moment for all our multiple hosts. Outcome:  Nearly flawless 18 hours of live TV — wildly popular, streaming online. Air traffic controllers couldn’t have done better than our joined-at-the-hip TV crew. One on-air SVP guest sought me afterwards and joked, “Could you stay in my ear, giving me play-by-play advice as I walk through life?”  Also, when it was a wrap, client threw down his headsets in joyous triumph, grabbed me first for a bear hug and exclaimed, “I want to work with you again.”

Jewish Community Center/S.F  Challenge:   The 73-year San Francisco institution was tearing down their beloved building to build a new one on the same site.  Many members had raised their kids here, met their spouses and grown up here. Destroying this “home away from home” was a Community Relations quagmire, even if new building was going up on top of the ruins. Solution:  The Center commissioned me to create a high impact, high touch; interactive exhibit for their lobby.  I produced:

COLLAGE PAINTING:  I faux painted a 12 foot X 10 foot artistic canvas; on it I embedded a collage from the Center’s old clippings (1930-present). This included news of the day, artifacts, Jewish recipes, stellar arts and lecture evening programs, etc. (The producer of       “I LOVE LUCY” was a JCC member and lectured there. KQED’s Michael Krazny/FORUM lectures/runs panels often). In short, the large painting/collage was a hopeful, light-bathed testament to the Jewish Community Center’s love of and from San Francisco community.

WAILING WALL:  On the opposite wall I created a 3-dimensional “Israeli-type Wailing Wall” (from cork I had sent from Portugal). The community stuffed small hand-written messages — into the crevices of the “wailing wall.” Each was a heartfelt hope or fear for the new building. At the top of the wailing wall I painted an abstract “yellow brick road”  This painted road meandered into actual architectural drawings of the new building.

Outcome:  Public outpouring was strong.  Members of community stuffed Wailing Wall with secret messages of hope and trepidation. The lobby exhibit got great media coverage. This Community Relations gesture helped ease the sad-happy transition from tearing down old building to raising a new one. My two “paintings” still hang in their halls.

Corcept  Challenge:   High tech pharmaceutical company held educational events so patients could learn about their FREE Patient Advocacy program.  This free program helped patients navigate the complex healthcare system.   Speaker was very popular with patients, great 1 on 1–but not used to large public speaking venues, like Las Vegas. Solution:  Intensive but short Speech Coaching/public speaker training for one month Outcome:  New patient advocacy sign-ups shot through the roof (from 3 last year to 30 this year: and that’s 30 from an audience of 100!)  My client had such a positive experience, such sales success as a speaker; while reducing performance anxiety and feeling her own power. She said the coaching changed her view of public speaking.  Patient audience –struggling with a tough disease—said that they felt empowered and truly heard by Corcept.

Suz Lipman Challenge:   Author wanted to take public speaking abilities to the next professional level (tight narrative, better visuals, and marketing sophistication). Solution:  Hire me privately as a speechwriter and speech coach for 2 months Outcome:   Client said, “Thank you so much for all your help with public speaking. Not only did you teach me a great deal and help me take my public speaking to the next level, you were a constant delight to work with –and I think I made a new friend. I gained invaluable methods that I will carry forward as I grow my public speaking career.”


“Clearly, you and fellow co-producer Diane Friedman were the get-things-done-brains to get our business series on the air. You also helped this writer –more comfortable in print than TV–feel relaxed on camera.”   –   Columnist,         financial author, Newsweek Magazine+ TV host of PBS-TV 13-week series,“Take Charge”

You’re fast. I had the same speechwriter for 14 years. When he left , you were brand new to me. Yet you picked up the ball right away. Good job prepping a deep audience analysis.  –  CEO, Autodesk

“Fantastic job, Marianne. Very nicely done. You added the comedic elements and the threads that tied it all together. Of course now I have to hunt down a zillion more image and sound elements because of your great ideas—but it’s worth the work. Great stuff.”   –  Director of yearly sales event, WebEx

“You clearly understand our objectives and you “get” our culture. Thanks for making my job easier. The fact that you are a very solid writer goes without saying. Great job.”  –  VP, Sr. Producer, Wells Fargo Bank 

“I would be happy to scream from a mountaintop your professional demeanor, ease of communication and kick-ass quality work.”  –   Independent NYC graphic designer working with Sony Nat’l Sales meeting

“You have a reporter’s tolerance for being edited by many hands—while not losing your unique voice.”   –   VP Engineering, Apple Computer

“This is the first time I’ve ever worked with a communications coach. You have been so helpful in elevating my communication efforts—to the Board of Directors and the VCs.”   –  CEO, Centellax Software “On behalf of the Board and staff of SFSV I want to commend your stunning work in producing our annual benefit. It takes a remarkable person to come in cold, assess so clearly the complexity of the job, and then work so imaginatively putting the event together. And then–when the emcee walked out on us, 10 minutes in and you had to think on our feet and take over as emcee—well I am still getting calls from people who were so moved. You juggled complicated situations, heavy hitter personalities and infinite details with grace. You carefully coached and scripted speakers—drawing such rich meaning from them–and handled speakers with such care. The multimedia video and emcee script were first class. Thank you for your expert professionalism and your great heart.”  –  Executive Director, San Francisco School Volunteers

 “Finally!  This is the kind of serious writing collaboration I’ve been looking for and haven’t found often. You did an amazing job in such a short turnaround.”  – Sr. Marketing director, Solectron “We couldn’t have pulled off the comedy sketches without your clear guidance and expert direction, which brought the house down…the president of Sony/U.S.A. said that Sean’s keynote speech (w/you as speechwriter) was the best Sony speech he had ever heard.”  –  VP, Consumer Products Div., Sony

“You should be very proud of your new PBS-TV series, “Take Charge.” I have done many TV shows before, but your staff was the finest in terms of what they produced and how they did it. Diane and Marianne, you took a very personal interest not only in making sure the content was fresh and vibrant, but in preparing on-air guests to feel comfortable and make a real emotional connection with audience.”  –    Attorney & on-air guest, PBS-TVshow, Take Charge

“Although I am fortunate to have many kudos as a speaker, I needed that extra polishing that only a pro like you could provide. You are expert at giving feedback without ruffling feathers. You brought clarity to my materials by shaping both my writing and delivery skills—live and on camera. Your sense of the marketplace has proven invaluable as I launch this exciting new corporate seminar division to my business. There is always a laugh, wisdom or downright ‘real talk” in your emails.  People should pay you $1,000 an hour !  -President, Fleming Communications

You and I had a plan and really worked the plan. And all this prep paid off.  I used all your stuff. About half the people in audience came up afterwards to say ‘Great Job’.   Working with you was a great use of my time. In fact, working with you has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done at work all year.  My boss wrote to others saying that our Forum was model of how presentations should be at Genentech and mentioned me by name.”   –  Sr. Marketing Director, Genentech “Thanks for all of your consulting and coaching. You have been so helpful and a joy to work with on this project. I will definitely incorporate your advice in my presentations going forward. You have a real eye for cutting to the chase.”  – SVP, Genentech

“Thanks so much for the great skills you taught us in the recent workshop. I got to use them really fast in a presentation I just gave. You taught me a lot; how to get people’s attention, how to switch gears and how to answer tough questions under pressure.  I learned so much and could apply it so quickly.”  –   Manager, Volunteer Center of Sonoma County