‘This is a very simply game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes…it rains.” Bull Durham
As I see it, one of my roles on this blog is, for lack of better words, to play the fool. For you that is. In other words, I’m taking one for the team. I’ve said time and time again that I’ve wished, both when I was starting out and still as I find my way, that I had someone like me who I could ask for advice or learn from. But I didn’t when I was starting and I frequently forget to ask for help now…so here I am as a result, sometimes doing it right, sometimes doing it wrong, sometimes…just doing it.
And last week, I did something wrong. So I’m here to tell you about it so that you, hopefully, don’t do it wrong if the opportunity should present itself.
Swimming around the freelancers’ pool
Freelancing has placed me in wide variety of situations at this point, I’m assuming you could say the same. By definition, we get thrown into all matter of circumstances where we may or may not have any clue how to act or be or do. Over our heads, soaked to our ankles, blowing bubbles, treading water or swimming speedily through the course – sometimes within a span of 5 minutes. Right?
Currently, I’m working on a massive project with a sizable team, we’ve got a little bit of every role you could imagine. Specific to my ‘doing it wrong’, we have two publicists. They’re Big deals. (It was suggested that I add the capital ‘B’). One of them is French – and I imagine her sitting at a huge mahogany desk with a toy poodle on her lap and a long, thin cigarette hanging off of a long porcelain cigarette holder between her long thin fingers. Her hair is piled on top of her head and she’s wearing Chanel. But I have no idea if that is even a little bit true.
Anyway, I pissed her off.
You see, on a regular basis, the publicists send out emails to the team alerting us to news breaks or product mentions. And I, in my blind ignorance and bloggy haze of ‘we’re all in this together’, figured they were just letting us know whenever we were featured in the media. Since I’m running the social media campaign, I’ve engaged many listening tools – effectively holding my trusty stethoscope up to the internet – so that I know every time we ‘appear’ online. Obviously, then, I thought I should contribute to these emails as well. You know – one for all and all for…
I got told off…and how (and quickly) for this gaff. Those press breaks they were sending were gigs the publicists themselves had landed. The break is there metric for their work for the client. Had I secured the mention I just emailed? (she asked). Um…nooooo, not so much. I just thought we were all spreading the good news. It turns out, we weren’t. Not even a little bit.
All worked out fine, I apologized, I never did it again, I returned to my corner to do my job. And I learned some things, which makes it all worth it in the end:
- Now that I know why what I did wasn’t okay, it seems blaringly, glaringly obvious.
- This is true of most lessons learned, except maybe those gleaned from a calculus textbook.
- When entering a new situation, take a good look around and identify things that might not be familiar.
- Find someone, either within the fray or without, that is familiar with those things.
- If you feel like doing a certain something that is out of your general knowledge area, ask this someone for guidance: Run it by them first.
- Keep your wits about you – did you just break a cardinal rule? ruin a business? step over a cultural line? threaten someone’s place on the totem pole? Put your mistake in perspective.
- Life is very interesting when the old media and the new media play together in the sandbox.
- My skin is getting thicker. Once upon a time I might have been mortified or at least obsessed about my faux pas. This time I said ‘whoops!’, laughed and moved right along.
- What’s next? (Thank you, President Bartlett). The only way out of an error is forward. Fix it, change your behavior, don’t do it again.
- When you have the best readers in the world, it isn’t that hard to tell them about the times when you’re stupid.
- I really do love to share. It’s how I got myself into this mess…and it’s how I’m getting myself out.
Image credit: Banalities