Drew Santin was excited to learn that his trade association was cosponsoring a seminar that would be transmitted nationwide via satellite. The conference topic -- using technology to make prototypes rapidly -- described his company's business exactly. However, there was no place to view the telecast near Santin Engineering, in West Peabody, Mass.

For a $400 fee, paid to the conference producers, Santin transformed his $4-million company into an authorized viewing site. He also paid $700 to a nearby satellite-dish-rental firm for one day's use of a dish, including installation and setup. Santin Engineering then invited customers to watch the seminar and enjoy a buffet lunch and a company tour. (Santin could have held the event at a hotel with a satellite dish, but he welcomed the chance to show off his plant.) The 50-employee company also sent out press releases about the telecast.

Although guests were given short notice, Santin estimates that more than 60 people attended, about half of them current customers and half prospective ones. During the show Santin collected questions from the audience and faxed them to the speakers. He later addressed any questions the panelists hadn't.

Santin is pleased that his company got to showcase its expertise. In addition, the press releases raised the profile of the 40-year-old family business and resulted in several interviews by local radio and cable stations. Santin offers only one caution to others considering a similar event: make sure the satellite link is properly tuned. When the broadcast began, Santin's guests found themselves watching a fishing program!