Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Maybe it’s due to the enjoyment that I derive from writing, but I place a high value on one’s ability to convey information to others in an effective and efficient manner.  I become a bit frustrated when dealing with people who don’t seem to be able to get their points across, such that it becomes necessary to engage them in a protracted cross examination in order to determine what it is that they are trying to communicate.

Case in point: I spend a lot of time photographing sporting events.  As such, I periodically receive inquiries from media companies offering assignments to cover events for them.  Generally speaking, these offers are clear, concise, and require little, if any, interpretation on my part before I can decide whether or not to accept or decline an offer.

Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail from a photography company inquiring about my availability to cover an event for them on a specific date in April.  The e-mail indicated that the event would be held in a town that I was not familiar with.  For the sake of anonymity, let’s call it Smalltown.

No details about the nature of the event itself were included in the inquiry.  As far as I knew, it could have been anything between a baseball tournament and a karaoke festival.

Assuming that I was being offered this assignment because it and I were both located in the Peach State, I Googled “Smalltown, GA” to determine if there really were such a place and if I’d be interested in travelling there.  Sure enough, I found Smalltown, GA.  Unfortunately, it’s several hundred miles down the road from where I call home.
So I fired off a response asking if it might be possible for my potential new client to verify the event’s location and to provide me with some details regarding the event in question.

Maybe it’s just me, but communicating the full “411“: the Who, the What, the When, and the Where seems like the very least one could do if they’re really serious about offering someone a freelance assignment.

My follow-up inquiry initiated a flurry of e-mail communication that went something like this:

Oh!  The event is only 24 miles from where you are located.  It’s the Spring Fling Classic.  You’ll need to be there all day.”  (I still didn’t know if the Spring Fling Classic was a quilting bee or a dart tournament.)

I Googled Smalltown, Georgia.  It’s several hundred miles from me.

ID-10060553Oh!  The Spring Fling Classic is in Smalltown, Tennessee.  And by the way, it’s not the Spring Fling Classic that we need you to cover, it’s the Southeast Invitational.  And it’s going to be held about 20 miles from Smalltown.

Yes, but you see – I’m located in metro-Atlanta.  Smalltown, Tennessee is even further away than Smalltown, Georgia.

Ooops!  My bad.  The Southeast Invitational isn’t going to be in Tennessee.  It’s being held just north of Atlanta.

Okay. Could you send me a link to a web page with details regarding the Southeast Invitational? ”  (Poetry reading, Beer Fest? Your guess is as good as mine.)

Sure!  And oh!  By the way, it’s not on the date that I originally told you.  And it’s actually a two-day event.

Believe it or not, my attempts to clarify the potential client’s expectations regarding type of photographic coverage they desired and the compensation rate which I could expect to receive were even more convoluted.

How some companies manage to stay in business is beyond me.

It probably goes without saying that my calendar remains open on the weekend (or weekends) on which the Spring Fling Classic (or is it the Southeast Invitational) is/are going to be held.

If you happen to attend either, or both, events; I hope you have a good time!  And could you let me know what it was when you get back?


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