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When I enter into a professional arrangement with a large corporation, I cross my fingers that an internal Project Manager is waiting for me on the other end.

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

From the company perspective, the internal project manager:

  • 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 manager:

  • 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. (This is exactly what happened during a recent hair-on-fire emergency!)

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 PM 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 manager 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.

I’d love to hear your experiences working with a big corporate client!

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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-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?

Tune in tomorrow, or whatever the web equivalent of that is!

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Every now and then, I get the frantic call for an “emergency” video script from one of my corporate clients. Such a call came on a Monday about six weeks ago. Actually referring to them as “911 hair-on-fire emergencies,” the marketing manager wanted to shoot two videos in four days’ time.

You may ask, how many big important marketing videos, or brochures, or presentations pop up out of nowhere, to be delivered in four days? And given the liability and regulatory hassles these days, would such a script possibly make it through all the internal approval channels in that time? A cynical person (sometimes called a freelancer) might also ask, “Will that red alert sense of urgency include processing the invoice?”

For those playing at home, the answers are A) not many, B) not likely, and C) I laughed so hard that milk came out of my nose.

But what do you do? It’s one thing if “crying wolf” is their standard procedure. But if this is an otherwise dependable, regular client you treat it like the emergency they claim it to be. In this case, I dropped everything to deliver two first drafts in a day and a half. I included a note that said “send me your changes and I can get final drafts to you by end of day.”

That was six silent, lonely weeks ago.

Would you handle this situation differently? Let me know!

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