Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thank God for Disney, The Wire Services, and the Record Labels!

Fortunately, for we lone photographers, awash in a sea of a litigious society, our rights stand equal to that of the mighty behemoths - Disney, Sony Music, and all of the news photography wire services. Now, don't get me wrong here, but there's an old adage - the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I greatly dislike what the record labels have done to independent musicians, and the contracts that the wire services dictate to the freelance community is crushing self-employed photographers like Steinbeck's Joads were. While I want to tag them as Steinbeck did when he wrote "I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this", in reference to the Great Depression, there'll be enough time to sort out things and finger point later. Right now, these folks, with their deep pockets, and unreasonable demands for our intellectual property will be the defenders of intellectual property in general, and thus, in a strange twist of fate, the IP of yours and mine as well.

How so?

(Continued after the Jump)

We need only look a few years back, when the hooligans that ran Napster were, quite literally, running amok with the creative talents of musicians everywhere. More than one professional photographer I knew had streams of Napster-sourced music running in their studio, and they seemed to see nothing wrong with it, until I pointed out the hypocrisy, but then I was the killjoy. Too bad. Call me Kilroy, or Killjoy, stealing music was stealing from artists. Period. Then, someone (ahem - Apple) invented a way to properly manage music, and Napster was lobotomized into a lifeless parody of itself, all legal, of course. All, thanks to the music industry's deep pockets and lawyers on retainer.

Now, we have the imbecile Lawrence Lessig, who, from the ivory tower of Harvard University (by way of a video festival awards ceremony), attempted to decree that the thieves of the world "can teach this culture how this form of expression is essential." By "this form" he meant, the mash-ups and repurposing of others intellectual property, and he goes on to say "When we've taught the culture, the law catches up..." Really? Is that what they're teaching at Harvard these days? Teaching the general public to break the law, and eventually it will be ok? Gosh, that sounds a lot like the early arguments for the 12,000,000 illegal aliens undocumented immigrants, and they're close to getting just that. Lessig posits "We need to stand up and acknowledge what we're doing, give people credit, and thank them, but not ask permission". Fortunately, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

With we as the goose, enter the gander. While I didn't like that Disney mickey-moused with the copyright laws to protect their aging-into-public-domain mouse, it did demonstrate their might, when they wanted it to be exercised. Photographers will likely be among the beneficiaries of the platoons of lawyers the intellectual property industry entertainment industry brings to bear against ill-concieved pronouncements like Lessig's. When the wire services, music, or movie industries leverage their might against the mash-up madness, the laws (and yes, the constitution) will rear up its ugly head and lop off Lessig's Medusa-like head. Lessig can pander to the masses, who no doubt cheered his cute little idea, but if he has any sense at all, he knows it'll never happen, but he gets points and street cred from the mash-up artist for these ideas. How's that working out for you so far, Mr. Fairey?

Lessig, according to the PDN article on this, is quoted as saying "Respect in the 21st century is acknowledgment. When you use someone else’s work, you give them credit." Ok, and I can pay my mortgage Mr Lessig, are you saying "let's screw the creative community now, and you'll respect them in the morning?" If so, who's wearing the beer goggles now?

While the concept of Creative Commons was a good one, Lessig has essentially named himself Creative Evisceration Officer, and anyone who now supports CC is aligning themselves with his as-yet-unstated-until-now position. ASMP, who has previously associated themselves with Lessig (here) should immediately disassociate themselves from Lessig in no uncertain terms. Plagarism Today, asked in a piece - Is Creative Commons a Rights Grab? - and it seems that that was the smoke, and Lessig's latest comments reveal the fire. Who will he burn next?

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pitching the Photographic Client - On the Phone

Often what it comes down to when calling a prospective client is the introduction. Suppose, for example, you want to call Jason Adams* at Spin magazine to shoot portraits for them. Your objective is to engage him with your creative talents, right? Wrong. Your objective is to get his permission to send an email to him with a few images, and a link to your website. How do you do this? Well, break down your call into what happens.

First - find out his direct dial number. How do you do that? Well, first things first - what's the main number? A Google search for "Spin Magazine" turns up this - and once there, they conveniently have a "masthead" link - here. Their direct dial number turns out to be 212-231-7400. That'll get you to the receptionist. You can first call that number and say "Hi, can you please tell me the direct dial number for Jason Adams?", and maybe you'll get lucky. If they say "oh, we don't give those out...but I'll connect you..." say "no thank you, not right now" and hang up. You can also ask what his extension number is, and they may give you that. You can also call after hours, select the company directory, and enter Jason's name, and often that automated system will say "connecting you to extension 312, please wait while I connect you", and now you have somewhere to begin.

So, you now now that Jason's extension is 312. That'll get you to him when you dial the main number after hours, and key in his extension, or when you're in their lobby, and want to stalk Jason from the phone on the side table. Don't do that. The next resource is the jobs, PR, or advertising sections of the website. Unlike all the other sections of the website designed to keep the hundreds of thousands of readers from bugging the staff, the advertising department (and thus, that section of their website) is chock full of contact information and direct dial information. So too, the PR section. So, let's delve a little deeper, shall we?

(Continued after the Jump)

The "contact" section of the advertising section of the website (here) lists all sorts of emails and direct dials that were missing from the main "contact us" section of the site - here! Surprise Surprise!

In the ad section, we learn that while the main # is still 212-231-7400, the publisher's direct dial number (obviously, to his secretary!) is 212-231-7302. We also learn that one of the account managers there has the direct dial number 212-231-7355. Other people listed on this page have the suffix of the phone number 7421, 7426, 7450, 7440, 7470. So, it seems, Spin owns the 7300 and the 7400 exchanges for the 231 prefix, of the 212 area code. So, Jason's direct dial number is most likely 212-231-7312. Bingo! Now, don't dial it just yet, TEST it during off hours. Say, around 10:30 at night, call the number and see if it's Jason's voicemail. Be careful, in today's day and age, many people are forwarding their work numbers to their mobiles, so if he answers, apologize for the wrong number, and hang up! You're not ready to actually talk to Jason yet!

Now, you need to learn Jason's email address. Why? Because you don't want to ASK him for it - you should be saavy enough to have figured it out BEFORE you talk to Jason. Do some more research. Often, as before, the advertising, PR, and Human Resources section of the site has peoples' email addresses. BUT WAIT! You shout, I don't want a job - I want to do a shoot for them! Patience there, friend. heading back to the advertising URL - here - we see that the publisher's email - Malcolm Campbell is, and the Fashion Director - Kelly Rae is Seeing a pattern there? That's right - Jason's email is likely first initial then last name, In other places, it's, and then it can be In other words, learn the email nomenclature. Now, be careful, because if the person's name is John Smith, there may be more than one "", so it'll either be first two letters of the first name then the last name, or it could be It can get a little tricky there. You an also try doing a search for his email address "" and see if it comes up.

Ok, now that you have the contact information, head to the website, or the local bookstore and check out what they're doing now. DO NOT call and offer them something you do that they don't! See what they're doing and think about if you are a good fit or not, and be honest - don't waste there time or yours. If you're spending all your time doing this research, I am assuming you've already been pining about how your work is just as great as what they are running, or better, and you could do that too, so that's why you're doing this research, but, really, be honest!

So, say, you see a great portrait of Fat Joe and Jay-Z in the magazine, and you light your stuff like that, but it says in the credit "Photographed on location in Jay-Z's Atlanta studio, August 12, 2010." And, say, you're a detroit photographer, and the car executives aren't calling these days for updated portraits. So, prepare your pitch. You have 20 seconds. Write it down. Refine it. It might go something like this:
"Hi Jason, I hope I'm not catching you at a bad time, but I wanted to just call and get your permission to send you an email promo. I hate spam, and I didn't want you to think I was spamming you, but I saw that amazing portrait the magazine ran of Fat Joe and Jay-Z, and I work in the Detroit area and wanted to share with you some of my work if that's ok?"
When Jason says "sure, no problem". You can either say "thanks, I'll send it right along", or say "I have your email as, is that correct?" Either way, don't ASK for it, but you could confirm it's right.

There are a dozen ways you can script your call, but the key is to script it, and read it a dozen times to yourself to ensure it's smooth, and you don't stumble, and you sound natural. My first read of that script took 15 seconds. Some might dissect that and say the "I hate spam..." sentence fragment is negative, and should be avoided, but the positive side of that is you're trying to point out that you don't want to spam him. The point is - think, and then re-think your pitch on the phone.

When he says "sure", send it right along - as in, within 5 minutes or so. Don't call first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day. Right before lunch time (remember time zones changes from yours!) or midday - between 2 and 3:30.

Don't leave messages. If he doesn't answer, call back 20-30 minutes later. Don't call right before an "on the hour" or "on the half-hour" time, because he's likely headed to a meeting. So, call between the :10~:20, or the :40~:50 time windows.

How many times does Jason need to experience your name/offering before being ready to do business with you? Nine times. The problem is - for every three times you do put your name/offering infront of him, he's actually only paying attention once. Yup. Don't believe me? Check this link for more insights, and then go buy it as it's a book I highly recommend - Guerrilla Marketing. So, you've just done it twice, and maybe he'll remember it once. You've now got 8 more conscious experiences for Jason to have with your work before he's ready to work with you. Maybe less, if you're really all that you think you are.

What else could you do? Well, you could look up Jason on Facebook and LinkedIn, to see if you can learn more about him. Read his wall postings, and really get to know Jason. Yes, I know you might think this is stalking, but, in reality, it's called gathering business intelligence about your prospective clients, so they become your clients. Once you get to know Jason, you'll want to note in your smart phone things like his favorite drink(s), birthday, kids names, spouse's name, the neighborhood where he lives, where he grew up, and so on. Again, this isn't stalking, it's getting to know more about your client, over time, and then not forgetting that he's, say, an alcoholic, so you don't send him a nice bottle of wine for the holidays. Or, knowing that he's jewish, and would likely take offense at your "Christmas" gift. The above personal client "data" are things you learn from them, over time, whether they share that information with you directly, or post about it on their facebook account - i.e. publically! Either way, be careful how you use the information, as it could come across as really creepy. For example, if you say "hey, my kid just joined Babe Ruth baseball, does your son Timmy like it?" And when Jason says "how do you know my son Timmy plays Babe Ruth?!?!" You can say "oh, I remembered you posted on facebook about the game..." - be honest wherever possible.

You could, of course, get all sorts of contact information from Agency Access, or AdBase. Back in July of 2008 we wrote Getting Clients - A Few Options, and in November of 2008 we wrote Marketing 201: AdBase - A Timesaving and Valuable Tool, which does a lot of the initial research for you, for a fee, of course.

next up? What to write in that email!

(* Jason Adams, by the way, is a made-up name. He's fictional. I have no idea of there ever was a Jason Adams at Spin, but, you get the point.)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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