There are few things more irritating than being asked to do work for free.
This sort of thing disproportionately affects those working in the arts, especially as social capital is becoming an important currency with which to navigate creative spaces.
Still, work is work. And money is money.
An irate photography company posted an email exchange with a publicist (called Melissa) for an “influencer,” on imgur. She wanted to know if they could photograph a wedding in exchange for “exposure.”
The publicist (Melissa) emailed Betrothed and Co, telling them they wanted a documentary-style video and approximately 1,000 images.
The pay was to be the following:
In exchange she is willing to extensively promote your business to followers on Instagram and Facebook (combined amount of 55,000) including Story Shout Outs and will offer a discount of at least 25 per cent on your packages.
Oh, and this too:
Just so you are aware, we have approached four other similar businesses in your area so a fast response will be beneficial to your business.
It gets so much worse.
Frankie and Laura, from Betrothed and Co started off with a nice, but firm response
Firstly, they enquired about the followers: 55,000 doesn't seem all that much when taking into account "bots, duplicate accounts and the types of followers who are not our target audience" not to mention they're asking to be given free products worth "between £3-£4k in total."
They went on:
Thanks also for your thoughtful suggestion of a 25 per cent cut in our fee for any followers that book through your client's promotional posts. Previously when we have received recommendations and promotions from high-value clients, we have been able to actually raise our prices in reflection of their strong reputations. So in that vein, it's helpful to know in advance that being linked with your client will automatically knock 25% off the perceived value of the product we spent years honing.
And then they put the nail in the coffin
We really appreciate how valued as artists and professionals you have made us feel by informing us that you have only sent this exact same email to four other companies, and that a fast response will secure us the wedding rather than any artistic considerations. Likewise, please get back to us as soon as possible if you have any further questions, and we can start to get something locked in the diary!
So, did the influencer's publicist realise that the premise of their email was rude, and after careful deliberation come up with suitable remuneration for services they intended to procure?
No, this is the internet. The publicist called the email "abusive"
Melissa's client, she said, "find that kind of unprofessional email appalling" and as a result will "no longer be considering you as contenders to shoot what would have been a very lucrative wedding for you."
Lucrative how though?
Melissa went on to say the wedding is "really important" as her client's mum has been diagnosed with cancer, and used a racial slur about travellers.
In her final email, she concluded:
Please don't email again, as we will have to name and shame if you continue with this abuse.
And what abuse?
In the final email to be sent to Melissa, Frankie and Laura made a few crucial points:
1. Sarcasm is not abuse.
2. A networking opportunity is not payment for services rendered.