When television producer Dick Robertson wanted help with a commencement speech, he called on Ramey Warren, known in Hollywood entertainment circles as the "Guest Whisperer."
Warren, chief executive and founder of Studio City-based Media Savvy, and her business partner, Steven Lewis, have been coaching celebrities on how to be good guests on talk shows and at press junkets for years.
Before Robertson took off to Virginia Commonwealth University, he wanted to have Ramey critique his rehearsal.
"Her experience in producing television gives her a unique ability to see little things that I would have never seen," Robertson said. "And little changes made a huge, very material impact on my delivery of the speech."
Before she launched Media Savvy in 1998, Warren was a producer for "Johnny Carson's Tonight Show," preparing celebrity guests for their appearances. Lewis, a former publicist and television executive, came aboard the Studio City-based company as co-owner in 2006.
Together the duo has coached hundreds of giddy celebrities and hardnosed entertainment executives on how to deliver a message while being entertaining.
"What we do is show executives how to stay on point and on message at the same time that they develop their own personal style, using story telling tools such as anecdotes," Warren said. "People may forget a point that you make but they never forget a good quick story."
Media Savvy has 10 coaches throughout the country that work in two-person teams.
"We first sit them down and go over exactly what it is that they're trying to convey, from beginning to middle to end, and identify what is the central theme of their message," Warren said. "Then we take a step back and look at how the whole performance comes off."
Lewis said that some people are naturals when it comes to public speaking but even the naturals need help finding their voice and telling stories.
Local business psychologist and talk show host Mitchell Perry recently employed Media Savvy to prep him for a recent appearance on "The Montel Williams Show," where he was one of several medical professionals on the show's "Living Well" series.
"I needed somebody who was going to give it to me straight," Perry said. "They didn't pull any punches and my appearance on Montel's show was the better for it. He kept me on the entire hour."
Half-day sessions with a Media Savvy team can run up to $5,000, depending on how much time and on-camera work is done in the company's media lab, where clients are filmed and critiqued. Typically, a client needs about four half-day sessions before being fully prepared. That cost is high when compared with other media consulting services.
While many public relations companies offer media coaching as part of a larger package, it's rare to find a company where it is the exclusive specialty.
"We have offered media coaching for years but it is merely one part of an entire media approach that we take," said Dean Bender, chief executive of Bender Helper Impact, a longtime media and entertainment consulting company in Los Angeles.
Media Savvy is now trying to bring its Hollywood talent tricks to executives who want to deliver more powerful presentations to venture capitalists. The company may have to adopt its approach to meet the expectations of a different audience.
Internet industry consultant Ian Gerthler, chief executive of Symplegades Inc., said that one big problem is that most technology entrepreneurs tend to get too focused on one particular piece of the puzzle when pitching investors.
"When you are talking to venture capitalists you can't be talking bits and bites. You have to differentiate yourself from the rest who may have a similar business plan," said Gerthler, who specializes in putting investors together with Internet technology startups.
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