The Community Table Discusses Email Blasts – The Main Course Part 2

Welcome to our 8th series of posts where we share the results from our conversations held directly with community leaders about top of mind photo-industry issues. Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.

And speaking of powerful, if you were to do an internet search today for “Email Blasts”, you could find yourself easily overwhelmed and yet still not get much in the way of insightful information to help you know how to send more relevant messages to advertising’s best and brightest recipients. Generic results range from what is the definition of one — a single sending of many electronic messages to many people at the same time. Or 5-tips for your next one. Or how to send powerful emails. Or how to send low-cost to a few or to millions. Or common rookie mistakes. Or how to be the best with Email. Or 10 Golden Rules for Email Blasts. And that’s just some from page 1.

Recognizing that this topic can be confusing for not just senders but also receivers, we thought it was a good subject for the Community Table. And for this particular subject we reached out to our friends and marketing colleagues from Agency Access. And since they’ve been discussing just this for years now, they were more than happy to take a participating seat at the table.

So on a warm and windy LA-day in November, we welcomed some of LA’s best creative buyers to talk with us; and over lunch we had a rousing and productive conversation around what they’ve learned, what they like and what they dislike and what they do with their many electronic messages.

And in addition to the four blog posts, all of the information gleaned from the Community Table has been consolidated by Agency Access in this well summarized Photographer’s Guide to Email Promotion. Download it here.

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As a reminder, each Conversation Starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing. Rather than sharing the entire conversation, we included the original question and then the quotes and notes that were most relevant. Please note, often times the person leading the conversation spoke most often.

Participating Buyers
Jason Lau, Art Buyer | Content Producer 180LA
Lisa Lee, Group Executive Art Producer CP+B
Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Senior Art Producer, Innocean
Jennifer Lamping, Manager of Art Production, RPA
Lisa Matthews, Manager of Art Production, Team One
Jessica Mirolla, Art / Content Producer, The Garage Team Mazda
Andrea Rosenfeld, Senior Art Producer, David & Goliath
Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer

And with that, we welcome you back to the table.

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Sara Tollefson Photography

Sara Tollefson Photography

THE PRESENT
QUESTION

Currently the way we measure your interest in what we send you is through your clicks; so would it be accurate to assume that if you don’t click that you are not interested?

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
No. Not at all. I get very busy so do not always have the time to click through. I save my emails for when I have time to do my research and sometimes I get to it and sometimes I don’t. But, by then, I usually get another email. It is not a good measure of my interest, just my work load. And, to me, the time of day they are delivered doesn’t matter. To me, they are there and I get to them when I can.

Also, I helped create an Artist Showcase that lives on our intranet.   It is a database for our creative. So when I see someone I think is interesting I will add them to the database and include their links, their reps links, social media links and at least three screen grabs from their sites. I then tag it with relevant keywords.

I do like to make sure to show both the rep site and the personal site because most often both showcase different work.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
So, email blasts are work for you too?

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
Oh yes. When I start researching an hour can go by quickly. Which is why I can’t dedicate that much time. My research takes me in many different directions.

Do you think they sender is aware of your working practices?
Well, I kind of do know this, but honestly it creeps me out a bit. Do they know where I click? How close are they paying attention?

I love the research, I love finding a new photographer. It is a great part of my job and social media makes finding new photographers easier. I like to hashtag too and follow the hashtags. It all plays into each other and these blasts are an immediate tool to say “Check me out!” I will look and I will either like and dig deeper into it or I won’t.

Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer
I think Chrissy is right, I think it is just the tip of the iceberg. We go from there to the website to their Instagram to their Facebook page and then all of a sudden you are on Flicker. Fifteen clicks later you are discovering other things and that is fun.

While you dig, you have to also figure out if this person knows what they are doing or not.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
And, that is the amazing part. If the inexperienced person is asking you to spend your time, you have to be able to figure out who is relevant and viable. That is where The Best Practices comes into play.

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
But if they are young and just starting out and if you have the opportunity to speak with that photographer, you can advise them and give them encouragement.

Amanda Sosa Stone, Agency Access
How long does it take to trust someone assuming they are marketing consistently and staying in touch?

Agency-Access_Digital-Fusion_Tollefson_0103

Sara Tollefson Photography

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
It used to be that I could take a chance more often but now I produce large asset packs and I can’t take that risk as often.

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
Drafting off that iceberg idea and your answer Chrissy, I should add that I too receive emails from photographers all of the time. And, it takes me quite a long time to add them to my short list. I need to see them in other places and not just my inbox. I need to do that same sort of spider webbing and then I want to be surprised when I flip through Archive or At-Edge or somewhere else and see them again. I am imagining that is exactly what is happening with you all as well.

Jennifer Perlmutter, Agency Access
I wonder, how important is consistency when you look at their Instagram and other social media? And, how often do you need to click on someone’s email blast if you have already bookmarked them and know who they are?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
I think that if we know the photographer we do not always have to click on the website and that is not an indication that we aren’t interested just that we know them and we’re familiar with their work.

Jennifer Lamping, RPA
Many times I do not click. I just like to be reminded.

QUESTION
How often do you receive emails on a desktop compared to a mobile device these days?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
It all depends. I really look at phones and laptops as interchangeable. If I am at the office, I am using the laptop – I can work faster that way. But if I am on set, I am on my phone. It doesn’t really matter to me, but if I had to have a preference I would say I prefer to look at them in the office because I have more time. If you are on-set with your phone there are other things going on and I don’t have the time.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
What about your creatives?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
If you are 25 and under, you are always on your phone.

Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer
For me, the phone is too small and visually I don’t get a good representation of the images. I don’t like that. But now that our phones are getting bigger and larger iPads, I can see the transition happening.

Lisa Lee, Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Most images have to download on my laptop and they are automatic on my phone and I like that.

Agency-Access_Digital-Fusion_Tollefson_0165

Jennifer Lamping, RPA
Unless I am at my desk, I am not looking at it. If I am on my phone I am on the move and not interested in anything but the important emails.

QUESTION
Can you share 2 (or more) examples of why you think email promos are valuable?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
It is a great first way to be introduced to someone. You are not necessarily going to be able to meet with everyone so it is a great way to meet them.

Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer
If it is a rep, I am more likely to go to that link first. I like when there is an announcement as to new talent on their roster. And if they are with a new rep, it is interesting to see if they have a new take on this photographer. They moved for a reason, have they changed? Are they more relevant now?

Andrea Rosenfeld, David & Goliath
It is the reminder. It helps to bring someone to top of mind.

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
As a rep, having access to you when I have a new image to cheerlead about is really important. To show you the image otherwise, I would need to come in for a portfolio show, see you at an event or advertise the image in a source book where the lead time is months. Email promos give me direct access immediately.

Jennifer Lamping, RPA
It is a great way to see new work.  Do you have a preference to the type of image you are seeing? Personal work? Commercial work?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
If you are a new photographer, I think it is important to show production value. Producers need to see that you can handle the crazy, pressure-filled world of advertising. That you can not only take a great photo but know how to manage scouting, props, casting, styling, etc.,. but know that art directors and producers almost always respond to personal work.

Jennifer Lamping, RPA
…and to editorial work. They like seeing someone’s name in a magazine.

Lisa Lee, Crispin Porter Bogusky
Being in Colorado, I am bit more isolated so the emails make me feel a part of the industry.

QUESTION
Can you share 2 (or more) ways in which email promos are not valuable to you?

Jason Lau, 180LA
How do you keep yourself different than everyone else? Someone next door to you is shooting the next big thing so how will you compete? As an agency we are always having to keep ourselves relevant, so of course photographers should too.

Sara Tollefson Photography

Sara Tollefson Photography

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
Keeping in mind our goal of creating a Best Practices for Email Promos, what would you advise photographers are the biggest things they should not do?

Jason Lau, 180LA
If you are trying to get into the door of an agency and continue to email and call or send work, why isn’t it breaking through? Maybe they aren’t connecting with the right people?   Maybe they are sending too much? Why isn’t it working?

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
So if a photographer isn’t getting engagement after a certain amount of time, should they wonder if they are relevant from your agency?

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
And, you would hope that if we do engage, the photographer would know the relevant clients that we do have. I never like to be asked what client we have because that information is easily found.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
Do you expect that the email is the first step in the dating process and then eventually someone will come to meet you?

Jason Lau, 180LA
Sure. But what will engage me to take things to the next step and review their work?

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
How about when someone sends you an email, you click on it, they see that you clicked on it and then call you to follow up and say that they saw that you clicked on it.

In Unison.
No. That is creepy. No. No. No. Oh no.

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
I know the answer to that. I just needed you to say it out loud so that the photographers reading this could read you saying it. You would be surprised how much we are asked that question by photographers (not in our group though! )

Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer
It is off-putting and makes me want to be taken off of their list.

Jennifer Perlmutter, Agency Access
I am wondering about the young age of the creatives and if the art producers have to give them any education. This is still a production heavy industry, even when it looks light. So I wonder, how much education you need to give to your creative?

Jason Lau, 180LA
I found a photographer on Flicker that my creatives liked once and we used him for a shoot. We liked how he was different and no one was using him.  To make it work thought, we had to have a team conversation about what shooting with him would mean. There would be inherent risks. We decided to move forward by pairing him up with a strong crew and producer. We had to take our time and really be patient with the process. We also tried someone by asking them to do a test first too. That worked well. Either way, we all had to be talking a lot. Creatives, team, account, crew. Everyone had to be talking.

Unattributed
Would you prefer to get e-promos from photographers that only showed images with production value

Jason Lau, 180LA
It depends on the job. We have some projects that have big launch and big risks. So I need someone with experience. But if I had a smaller project I have more leeway to ask more of the team and try someone new.  I like meeting new people and helping to launch careers and I like finding that next best person. So, I like getting all kinds of promos.

Jennifer Perlmutter, Agency Access
What is that you want to see in their Instagram photos?

 

Sara Tollefson Photography

Sara Tollefson Photography

 

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
Their sense of humor and their personality. Their point of view on the world. I like being able to see behind the scenes. I like following them.

Jennifer Lamping, RPA
There are so many younger creative that are only searching Instagram for photography, or at least starting there.

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
I am shooting many projects for social media that are part of these larger projects so I can take risks more often and try younger and less experienced photographers.

Lisa Matthews, Team One
On these social media shoots, are you the acting producer for both sides or do you have an outside producer?

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
No, I am producing. My producing hat goes on for most of it. We have a content creator at our agency but I do most of it. Pulling permits and everything!

Lisa Matthews, Team One
Having to take on much of the production ourselves is the downside of all of this social media shooting. When we are asked to shoot these types of shoots, I make sure the producer knows that there will be a lot of extra work. For example, the photographer on a shoot this summer was so young she could not even rent a car.   And, they don’t have reps so I have to wear that hat too. There is a lot of education our end.  That type of work, is much harder work and much more stress for us.

Sara Tollefson Photography

Sara Tollefson Photography

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
We have heard that IT departments are starting to block promo email from photographers and are curious if your agency/company does that; and if so, how has they helped/hindered your job responsibilities and sourcing talent?

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Innocean
When something is blocked, I get an email from IT telling me it was blocked so I can review it if needed. And, that too can be annoying.

Rob Beckon. Freelance Producer
There is a quarantine at Saatchi too. But you can see who it is coming from.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
I think we already touched on this some, but how much do subject lines influence your interest in the e-promo?

Jennifer Lamping, RPA
It is more about who is sending it and if I know them. I tend to open up emails from photographers and reps I know more. If I don’t know them, then the subject line could be important. Unless it is obnoxious, it won’t stop me from looking.

Lisa Lee, Crispin Porter Bogusky
If it is funny or interesting, I might click on it sooner. Or even if it is a brand I know or like.

Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer
Subject lines are important because they are used for searching.

Sara Tollefson Photography

Sara Tollefson Photography

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer
It is so subjective. I might like a subject line that someone else doesn’t. Honestly, I just want to look at the image and I hope it loads quickly.

Andrea Rosenfeld, David & Goliath
I like to see the photographer‘s name. And, maybe why it is coming to me. Is it new? New rep?

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
When we were hosting a Community Table in Minneapolis about portfolio shows, it was unanimous that people preferred subject lines that were informative.   So, I would think following that protocol of being straight forward and literal is best.

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents
As far as Best Practices go, people should recognize that producers use the subject lines to search so create your lines with this in mind.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions
And then there is the other side. We sent a blast once where the line was, “The Time I Jumped in a Frozen Lake.” People replied over and over about how engaging that was for them.

 

Thanks for reading The Main Course Part 2. We hope this has been of value. Tune in on Thursday, February 18th  for our fourth installment where we’ll discuss what the future for email promos look like as well as sharing how buyers describe in one word the state of our industry.

And to see previous Community Tables posts from Los Angeles, San Francisco,  New York City, Chicago and Minneapolis, link here.

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