Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It doesn't take much....

It's great to know where you stand.

Recently I've been pitching for work; fielding opportunities to other people and also waiting for the results of a tendering process on one of my magazines that was bound to have implications for me. In the first and third cases, the biggest frustration has been the lack of communication from the parties involved.

When someone contacts me, to ask if I need any support or have any jobs going or whatever, I always try and answer them - even if it's just to say 'no thanks' or 'not at the moment'. It's just polite - and I know how frustrating it is to be on the other end waiting for a response.

I'll draw the line at non-solicited and irrelevant emails or sales calls, but if it's someone in and around my field - another writer or a photographer, I'll always try and respond. I'm sure I don't always do it - sometimes the pressure of the task in hand overtakes the moment, but the will and intent is there.

It doesn't always seem to be reciprocated though. I pitched for a day's training, with some follow-up workshops recently - I know I didn't get it, because that initial day was yesterday! Initially, the guy I pitched costs and ideas to seemed interested, but he never go back to me after our first email exchanges. Had he not followed up my initial response to the invitation to tender, I wouldn't have minded, but he did - and the failure to complete the loop is just bad manners.

Yesterday, through my own prodding, I found out that it looks like I've lost the feature writing for a magazine I've written for the last two years. It wasn't entirely unexpected - I knew the design and production of the publication had been retendered and there was always a good chance that whichever agency took it on would have their own writers.

Yet the client was keen to keep me on board and had asked the new agency to talk to me. What really sticks in my throat is that the agency had gone back to the client saying they had talked to me. They haven't. Do I now even want to work with an agency that lies to its clients right at the start of the relationship?

It looks like I'll be working for the client on another project anyway, so all's not lost - but I'm saddened by the way things have turned out.

Honesty for me is the necessity of building business relationships. I still have a good relationship with that client because we talk openly and honestly, and they have kept me up to date as the tendering process has progressed. I understand that it makes best business sense for them to have one company producing their publications, and have no problem with that.

I also appreciated a note from the client yesterday which said:

Seriously, I would hope they could find some way of using you but I suspect it will be little. I'm sorry for that and you do know it has zero to do with your quality of work. You helped us create a great magazine

I'll always try and keep an open approach - even if it's just taking the few seconds to type a couple of line email and hit the send button. It's not that hard, is it?


Anonymous said...

From personal experience, part of the issue in these circumstances is a lack of proactivity on the part of the supplier. I met a PR agency a few months ago. Did they follow-up and keep in contact? No. Have they got the work? No. Why? Because I wanted to know whether they were really hungry for the work. Their silence spoke volumes.

Mark S said...

It's a good point - and cuts to the delicate nature of a supplier/client relationship.

There's a fine line between keeping in touch and badgering. I'm not brilliant at getting on the phone or dropping by my clients' offices if there's not a particular reason to make that contact, but I do at least try and keep up by email - and try and be proactive around the work where I can.

But I'm very conscious of badgering people too - a great way to switch off terrific clients and send them off to rival companies.

When I was on the corporate side, there were certain printers and new media agencies who were on the phone every week to see if I had any work for them, and sometimes got quite aggressive when I wasn't putting projects on their plate.

They were the calls I didn't want to take and the people I didn't want to work with. said...

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