If you’re new to contacting industry professionals, this article should make it less daunting than it sounds. They’re just other human beings at the end of the day. But they do have a particular set of skills and a brain full of knowledge and opinions that you could, and should, be tapping in to. That’s why we’ve got some ways on how to approach that first-time email introduction.
Keep it short and simple
Most creatives are usually time poor. They also don’t need your life story before you’ve had your first meeting, so don’t be afraid to get to the point quickly. Introduce yourself by telling them your situation, where you’re studying or where you hav just left (uni or agency) and why you’re emailing them. And don’t forget to add your website or folio link too. You’ll get bonus points if you add a sentence about why you’ve emailed them specifically. Did you like a recent piece of work, or did you find them on our agency contact list etc.
While we’ve got a long list of people you can contact, remember they have a day jobs and your email may catch them on a busy day. If they haven’t got back to you within a couple of days, it’s ok to send them a little nudge. But don’t panic if they don’t get back to you in 5 minutes.
Build yourself up to the big cheese
If you’ve never had a book crit before, don’t waste the ECD’s time. You may only get one shot at impressing them so don’t go full steam ahead and put all your eggs in one basket as It could massively backfire. If you like a specific agency, meet the junior/midweight creatives first. Get their view on your work. Get them to improve it. Then get them to refer you to someone more senior. After a couple of meetings with different people in the same agency, you’ve then got multiple people talking about you. Once they think your book is in a good place, then try and get a meeting with the people in charge of hiring/placements. Even if agencies have dedicated creatives usually looking after bringing in placements, go see others before you them. Especially if you’re just starting out.
If you have a style of work you like, pick people from agencies doing that kind of work. It seems obvious, but you’re more likely to get better feedback on your Instagram takeover idea from an agency person who lives and breathes that as a day job. It’s long been said that you should always tailor your work to the agencies you’re seeing (digital agencies = show more digital work in your book etc), but you shouldn’t have to do that if you’re already contacting the people and places you want to work.
If you’re trying to get into a well-known agency, also remember everyone else is probably attempting to do the same. Look at smaller, less well-known agencies and you might find they have similar clients – but a lot less competition to get your foot in the door.
Look locally and even further afield.
You might think you want to want in London. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get opinions from creatives elsewhere. There are great agencies dotted around the country – and even more abroad. With WFH and video crits a thing. What’s stopping you talking to creatives in Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, London and Tunbridge Wells all in the same day?
It may seem obvious but being nice goes along way. Everyone on our list is wanting to help nurture and mentor junior talent. You don’t have to do something weird to get their attention or act different. Just be yourself, be nice, and drop them a thanks afterwards or shout out the meeting on social. Do whatever feels natural to you.