Playing your cards right
Christmas may already seem a very long time ago, but it’s possible you left a lingering impression of the day with your clients. I’m talking here about Christmas cards and greetings.
Perhaps you, like Cameron and Miliband, sent a personalised greeting with your and your family’s smiling faces? And, if you did, what were you saying about yourself? The subliminal message was that you’re a responsible adult who is a part of the wider community, a family person with loved ones and growing mouths to feed.
Or maybe you sent an Elf Yourself video greeting – and what would that really be saying? That you’re able to laugh at yourself, are a bit ‘fun’, don’t mind being silly… Did you include other people – and pets – in the show? One person I know puts not just her own face on an elf’s body, but her children’s and even the dog – which is all very jolly, but maybe not so professional. Another, though, went the other way and only included her own face, which gave the impression that she was a bit alone in the world, with no one to share her silliness with… So maybe this sort of Christmas greeting should be consigned to those you don’t do business with, as you can’t be sure of the response.
Then there’s the greeting that reflects what you do for a living, but again, this needs a bit of thought. One art director I know received two of these via email, both by illustrators. One was in the artist’s style and was slick and so good, it could have been used for a job. The other? Looked like it had been thrown together with Clip-Art. What did Mat, the art director think? “He shouldn’t have bothered. Someone even sent me a hamper this year, but it’s not going to make me use them more.”
If that’s the attitude of those receiving your greetings, is it really such a good idea to send cards and greetings to your professional contacts?
“I don’t agree with Christmas cards – I think they’re a waste of resources. But a nice email is lovely, though it wouldn’t change how I feel about their work,” says commissioning editor Sarah.
“If I get a card, I’ll think, ‘That’s really nice’, and if I get an email, that’s fine too, but not receiving either wouldn’t make any difference,” says Vicky, another commissioning editor at a large magazine publisher. “It’s a nice gesture, but not expected.”
“The ones you get them from should be people you already have a good working relationship with,” says Simon, editor of a mass-read monthly publication. “If it’s to suck up it’s ridiculous. I don’t expect them anyway. I had a couple this year – a pleasant surprise – but that’s all.”
So, for next year, the general consensus seems to be: only send seasonal greetings to those clients you do regular work for; only send something that’s of a high, professional calibre, nothing too personal or silly (unless you work as a clown or stand-up comedian!); and don’t expect to get any work from it.
By Liz Granirer