A cautionary post for the (rare) uncommunicative dance PR #winge

Dancers at the last Saturday Night Fever Secret Cinema, London. (c) Carole Edrich 2013.

Dancers at the last Saturday Night Fever Secret Cinema, London. (c) Carole Edrich 2013.

I’ve always had a non-linear career with different skills and disciplines, contact and contract informing, inspiring and strengthening the other. At the simplest level research for features, production, news and studio shoots help me meet more people, learn more about dance, light, and photography and stimulates new ideas. Since I learn every dance I cover (sadly to varying degrees of success) this also informs my work while inspiring me to research new ideas for dance features and blog posts. This in turn leads to more ideas for photographic projects and features, dance related research and creative collaborations and so it goes. The experience gained from this along with experience of having run a successful risk management consultancy adds weight and utility to my mentoring and training and the relationships I develop during my work result in more ideas for features, creative projects and production shoots which in turn give rise to more reviews, features and creative work and so it goes.

While this particular virtuous circle is unique to me, some type of non-linear integration of life, work and passion is what fuels every artist’s creativity. Like the good ex risk manager that I am, I’ve identified the weakest link in my own virtuous circle.

It’s with uncommunicative PRs.

Since most media plans their content many months in advance I rely on future plans, schedules and outlines for my photo feature ideas. It’s so common in my industry that many such plans are issued as ‘embargoed’. An embargoed announcement is a kind of warning. Think of it as a heads-up in return for a commitment not to publish until the rough plans have been firmed up and the event is sure to go ahead. It gives me the opportunity to talk to my editor(s), for my editor(s) to plan the space for the feature, and helps both of us think about – and discuss- what might replace it if the plans behind the embargoed event comes to nothing. That system works well.

Audience at the last of the Saturday Night Fever Secret Cinema, London. (c) Carole Edrich 2013.

Audience at the last of the Saturday Night Fever Secret Cinema, London. (c) Carole Edrich 2013.

Sometimes I get a heads-up for an event, get a commission for it and then hear nothing at all. In this case I’ll approach the PR responsible to find out what’s happening and generally things move on well from there, often after a short exchange of emails about what I’ll need for my work. Occasionally the PR won’t answer. I’m left with a commitment to produce a quality feature by a deadline and no idea about whether it’s happening at all.

There’s no way out. If I nag the PR or their boss I’ll antagonise them and prejudice their treatment of me in the future and if I don’t it means I’m unable to deliver and mucking my editor(s) around. The impact of this isn’t simply that I don’t get the payment for that feature. Editors are always busy, they’re so pressed for time they’ll choose to work only with those on whom they can rely. So if the PR isn’t straight and communicative with me I could loose the opportunity to work for a particular magazine forever.

These are parlous economic times. No freelance can afford that kind of knock.

In order to minimise this risk to myself I’ll not be pitching ideas from such organisations even if they’re arranging the most interesting events around.