Verb Media is tweaking that golden thread in our community
Recently I was scrolling through Facebook, and I saw a post, on our local community page, by a gentleman asking for an old metal bath which they wanted to use in a shoot. Of course, I had to connect with them, because how can there be people in my own suburb wanting to do something so cool and I not know them?
Lyndon Miller Pegs of Verb Media, a funky, cool organization in my own community, took the time to chat to me.
Netflix is one of our clients, so whenever they bring certain shows or programming that they’re trying to create buzz around to the country they get us to do a launch event. Recently we did a virtual event for How to Ruin Christmas The Wedding, and Kings of Joburg. Other South African based shows like Shadow have been fun ones we’ve done in the past. Sabrina was a rad event to do because we did it in the old train station of Joburg. It’s absolutely spectacular. It’s very eerie and spooky so it’s the perfect place to do something like that.
My background is theatre and Verb is a business that was born out of me being in the performing arts industry. I gravitated more to the marketing experiential side of the industry and it organically took its legs from there. It started with me as a one man band and then along the way more employees, more clients, gaining new partners for different skill sets for what was just an entertainment company and partnering with certain individuals like my business partner and my husband in fact as well. We managed to grow the business into a full scale experiential event and entertainment, brand activation industry.
How are you managing during Covid? Obviously a lot of business owners are sort of floundering along. How has it been for you?
We took a firm stance in the beginning that we would take this thing as it comes and do whatever we could do to keep our doors open. Right in the beginning one of my clients said to me we as business owners need to ensure that there are businesses to come back to after this pandemic is over. It’s already disastrous, He gave me some good advice and said do whatever you can during this time to survive. Our top priority was to hold onto jobs which we managed to do with a set amount of people. I think very shortly after lock down, the world started evolving. Clients started leaning on us how to be innovative, how do we take this thing that we do 52 weeks of the year and still make it relevant. We jumped onto the virtual eventing and the gifting side of things. I firmly believe and I don’t want to burst any virtual people’s bubbles that there will be a place and a time for virtual eventing and I think certain things may change, smaller conferences etc that people would spend bucketloads of money on to take them to Sun City or to Mauritius or whatever can now be done virtually. But I do think human beings love interaction. They enjoy being able to touch feel, taste, smell and but you know, we’ve been doing whatever we can to survive during the time from gifting to virtual entertainment. Virtual experiences for customers and then a fair amount of side hustles as well. I have a little passion project which turned into a business during lockdown which is my hat making and my husband has a side line business too, pottery and macramé and hanging plants. It’s given us a great opportunity to experience different realms of ourselves and creativity and outlets to keep our brains thinking and going. I must say all in all I feel quite grateful for everything that’s happened other than the disastrous things that have happened. It’s given opportunities to reevaluate how necessary and unnecessary some things are in a business.
What I would like to see is a combination of live and online events.
A lot of clients want us to produce what they’re calling a hybrid event, which is partially live and partially streamed. I think in future it will be a demand for events going for those who cannot or don’t want to attend in person we want to be able to give them access as well. Your wish is our command, it really is happening with the industry.
At the end of the day the virtual eventing and the virtual realm is there to make people’s lives easier. Services like Netflix and all the rest is meant to be making peoples’ lives more convenient. So I think it’s going to naturally organically take that course.
See the showreel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJGk4E-LGL4
You guys are in five different countries.
We remain a very small business and operation. We do feel like that works for us but what we have done is found strategic partners in parts of South Africa and the world that we collaborate with to be able to produce internationally for our clients. We’ve done work in Africa from Zambia to Nigeria to Zimbabwe. In South Africa in all 9 provinces we have strategic partners that work together with us to make success for our clients. We have also produced events in the UK and the US and we have local partners in the Middle East etc that help us. The most amazing thing about this virtual world is that we can be in South Africa and produce events. Recently we did an event which was almost like a 24 hour stream where we produced events in the US, Ireland, the UK, South Africa and Singapore all in one day. It started at 2am and ended at like 8pm at night. All those events happened right here in Jhb. We are as strong as our partners and our suppliers. The virtual world is just taking it to a new level where we could do it anywhere.
You guys are like a bridge between business and performing arts.
We do see ourselves as huge advocates for the performing arts. We employ hundreds upon hundreds of performers for various corporate eventing, styling and video shoots, commercials etc. So we pride ourselves in being a contributor to the performing arts. We’ve taken it into ourselves to put ourselves in the centre of the arts and business. Because I do feel like there’s a huge lack of that in our country as well as lack of support in the government. No country should ever be solely reliant in the government. The eventing industry deals in billions of rands of revenue in a year for the country so it’s definitely something that we pride ourselves on supporting the arts community.
We’ve been asked to do some weird things over the years and I absolutely love it. I don’t know whether to take it as a compliment or an insult but I get phone calls saying I’ve got the weirdest request from a client and the only people that I know who can find it or do it for me is Verb. I think it’s a great thing to be able to be that person or those people that you call for the weird and wonderful things. So its all type of performers from specialists to acrobatic acts. Anything weird wonderful and fabulous.
Are you guys based in Kensington?
We actually live in Kensington and we have done for the past ten years but interesting fact, Verb’s first office was the tramshed on the corner of Milner and Roberts, so even our business first office was in Kensington at the tramshed. So our roots are definitely very deep here.
I’d love to see the arts, like a local theatre
Like Rhodes Park is such an amazing park to do something outdoor. The bandstand is something that a little bit of soap and water and a little lick of paint can fix. We as residents need to encourage that type of facility in our community in places like Rhodes Park for the community to feel a lot more closer to one another.
It would be nice to network with a few people and get that to happen.
I’d love to chat about that. If we have the right audience with performers that go there and perform and people can make donations live there while they’re on stage. That’s an opportunity where artists can solidify themselves in Kensington and it would become a place where fans and people want to come and perform because they know that the local community will come and support them.
Is there anything particular that you would like to get across with the sort of blog post? Is there a way that our local community can better support anything that you’re doing?
I firmly believe that the community should support other local businesses here in Kensington. We have corporate that support our business and we’re so grateful for that, and we would never say no to support the business, but there are so many businesses in need at the moment more than ours that need support. Buy local, support local, visit the local coffee shops in Kensington, restaurants, stores. They need the support during all of this. They’ve really suffered tremendously specially in the hospitality industry.
What I’d like to drive in terms of a project that we’ve launched on Verb is a campaign called 12 Months of Giving. Every single month of this year we’re identifying a charity and organization that needs help or support or just a shout out to the world. I’d love the community to know about that and how they can support that. People can contact the charities directly, it doesn’t go through us. We’re using it as a mouthpiece to get their initiatives out there. In January we helped Children of Fire which is an organization that basically supports through counselling, through operations, and just general live and well being and support to children that have been affected by burns, shack burns or household burns or whatever it may be. They’re absolutely an amazing organization based in Melville. Our February charity was Princess Alice adoption home. If we have left over chips or cooldrinks or things that can be a treat for the kids or whatever it may be. We’re passing it and paying it forward to them..They use 150 nappies a day. They are in desperate need of things like that.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
I did want to mention one thing, so my mother was the biggest fan of John Ritter. Biggest fan of John Ritter. He was one of her favourites and she adored him in Three’s Company and when I clicked on your link I was like this is such a great vibe. My mom in the last two years of her life lived in Kensington as well and I just thought it was such a great connection. I think she’s working her magic up there. I do truly believe that we’re all connected in some way or another.
Keep up with what Verb Media is up to here: https://www.facebook.com/VerbMedia
Watch the full interview here.