Archive for October 3rd, 2008

Hey gang…it’s been a crazy week. A video project has tripled in scope and has assumed top priority, particularly in this economic environment! So here is a hybrid repost/rewrite of a topic from the early days of Lively Exchange.

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Get ready for a mind-blowing revelation: Copywriting or video production for large corporate clients–companies with a marketing department as opposed to a marketing guy–can be rewarding and challenging at the same time.

Thanks, genius. What’s that mean?

The benefits are numerous. The corporate marketing or merchandising manager usually know pretty much exactly what they want to say about their product-they just need a creative way to express it. All of the research you need usually arrives in a compressed folder or a UPS envelope. The typical MBA knows how to delegate tasks and, if you have earned their trust, they usually stay out of your hair. Best of all, with a Fortune 1000 company you usually don’t have to wonder if that $700 check is going to clear!

I sense a “but” coming…

On the other hand, when things veer outside of those “usually’s” it can get challenging. These managers are busy people, multitasking to the extreme. This script, website or brochure may be Priority One for me, but it’s more like Priority Seven for the manager. Getting your questions answered may prove difficult at times. And yes, you will get paid, but I didn’t say when. Remember that your invoice has to be signed and coded and sent to Accounts Payable by that very same harried manager.

So, um, yeah. That first example sounds better. How do you steer things in that direction?

One thing that helps is to have an internal project liaison.  When I enter into a professional arrangement with a large corporation, I cross my fingers that such a person is waiting for me on the other end.

The project liaison is a corporate in-house gatekeeper to whom the various marketing, merchandising and training mangers turn. The liaison is a “creative resource wrangler” that serves many functions beneficial to the company and the freelancer.

From the company perspective, the internal project liaison:

  • Compiles, vets and maintains a roster of qualified creative talent
  • Matches projects to the appropriate vendors
  • Can field vendors’ general questions about company history, policies, philosophy and, equally important, politics!

From the freelance writer or producer’s perspective, the internal project liaison:

  • Helps the writer or producer prioritize competing internal projects
  • Can be a vital sounding board when the project hits its inevitable bumps
  • Is a more credible figure when it’s time to poke or prod the client for a variety of concerns, including: payment, invoicing, getting paid, remuneration, gettin yo moneyz, and so on.

It is a tremendous convenience to have a single reliable resource looking out for you in a huge corporation. And it is definitely a two-way street. The internal project liaison has many clients depending on him or her to provide them with a talented, professional creative solution. He puts his credibility on the line and chooses you. You return the favor by not only doing a great job but by keeping him in the loop at all times-during the highs and lows-so that he is absolutely up to the minute. This is professional courtesy, but it can also help prevent any he said/she said if things go rotten!

So, look for an internal project liaison to empower/count on/whine to. If one doesn’t exist, help create one. Almost every marketing assistant is looking for a way to stand out and gain more responsibility. Making headaches disappear for managers and directors is a golden opportunity to do that.

The final bit of advice is to remember that being proactive and doing what you can to keep the machinery running is helpful, but only to a point. You’re still only a freelancer. You can only suggest, nudge and influence so much.  If an internal client simply doesn’t want to play ball, the project will suffer. Hopefully, between that client’s internal reputation (as a slacker) and your strong relationship with the liaison, you won’t be penalized for it.

But don’t be too shocked if you are!

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