‘Caring’ is a two-syllable word that is uncommon in the business world. It is difficult to establish a business that exemplifies caring by creating moments for clients that will last a lifetime. All the same, many in the event management industry feel rewarded when they successfully put smiles on the faces of their clients. Sight & Sound Events is one such company that is renowned for orchestrating fun events with a blend of care since the year 1994. Jodi Harris is the CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) of FUN at the company. The nature of this business is to create fun events. Her company specializes in everything event production-wise, from DJs, bands, showgirls, celebrity impersonators, photo booths, videography, photography, event planning, and more.
A look at Jodi’s journey
Until 1994, Jodi was in television production, working for ABC (television network) as a secretary (then called an administrative assistant) in the most unglamorous department in the country, BO & E (Broadcast Operations & Engineering). This was her entry into the industry. “I spent one year in that department and used the internal job postings to get to my next move in public relations. I learned all about the world of public relations and working with our celebrity talent, which helped me on my next internal job move,” she highlights. “That move was to TV production, and again, using our internal job postings, I interviewed and landed a dream job on the award-winning production team of ‘Live with Regis & Kathie Lee’.” She was always fond of production, especially live event production, but her interest shifted to disc jockeying when she met her husband during a vacation in California.
Later, she moved to Hollywood and worked for Woody Frazier’s productions, Nickelodeon, and had a short stint at MTV in Los Angeles before their big move to New York. Later, she was introduced to a local cable company, where she was hired to produce local origin TV while also working on events alongside her then-fiance. After marriage, she fully indulged in entertainment and event production. She shares, “This opened up many doors for us because we had the flexibility and freedom to make appointments with the hotel catering directors. We not only joined special event associations to meet more people and get our name out, but also got on the local boards of these associations.”
Striving in the industry
Before starting Sight & Sound Events, Jodi did work in the corporate industry. “My business, the event business, is personal. Every event—weddings, birthdays, or corporate events—is a reflection of that person throwing the event,” she continues. “They want to know that when they hire you, the job will get done and that everyone who leaves their event will say it was the best event experience ever.” Jodi is keenly interested in deploying innovation to further her company’s growth. Sight & Sound Events has innovated and evolved as a result of their consistent education through attendance at industry conferences. “I like watching YouTube videos, reading industry-related articles, and signing up for webinars related to our industry,” she adds. “Listening to industry podcasts and, of course, social media is HUGE! Seeing what others in our industry are creating for their clients. Social media has changed the game! You can see everything.”
She recalls the year 1994, when it was difficult to balance business processes due to a lack of reliable software or technology. “Now our booking and event CRM does it all for us,” she proudly highlights. “Everyone and anyone need to have some sort of automated process. It’s vital to the success of your company.” She watches a lot of YouTube to gain knowledge. “Yes, you can learn anything and everything on YouTube, from social media marketing tips from the industry’s best of the best to graphic design to organizational tips,” says Jodi. “Whenever I need to know the latest social media tip or trick, I’ll follow an influencer like Roberto Blake, Vanessa Lau, or Jasmine Star, who are right there with the answer I’m looking for.” She also attends a lot of industry events, from the Mobile Entertainment Experience (MEX) in Las Vegas for DJs to VidCon, where YouTubers and social media influencers get together and sit in seminars. She says, “I also belong to professional associations to learn from and network with other professionals within my industry.” She has created a series of YouTube videos called “Spotlights” that highlight the services that they provide as a company. A series of sales Q & A videos are also available. Through various public speaking events and podcasts, Jodi intends to share her knowledge. “I want to inspire others who do want to get into the industry with some of the lessons I learned from being a girl boss,” Jodi states. “Women in the DJ industry are certainly getting a lot more attention and not just for their looks.” In comparison to men, women have to strive harder to merely show that they can Mix, Program, and Create experiences.
Her podcast, called ‘Boss Time’, is currently in production as she is interviewing business owners about the business of being a business owner. In addition to that, she is also in the early stages of developing a business book. Through her company, Jodi also focuses on giving back to the community. Sight & Sound Events is involved with the American Cancer Society, hosting and providing entertainment for the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event that brings (in 2019) over 30,000 people together to raise money in the fight against cancer.
Beyond the pandemic
Jodi describes her business as a social gathering business. As a result, the pandemic has had a significant impact on her business, bringing it to a screeching halt. “However, people still celebrated birthdays and couples still got married, but things looked different. Instead of hotels, ballrooms were in backyards. Instead of restaurants, we were in driveways playing music. I’m proud to say that I never “turtledup” and kept going 1000%,” says Jodi. During such difficult times, she coped with the obstacles and carved a successful trail for her business. “What will drive my business is the FACT that if the last 2 years taught us ANYTHING it’s that people need to celebrate. People need to be around other people.” Further, she states, it might have been fun to ZOOM or go virtual in meetings, but it fails to match the intensity and effect that a face-to face meeting creates.
She says, “We’re seeing more groups that wouldn’t have had any DJ or entertainment now moving forward to give their guests an experience again.”