The point of email is to communicate ideas in a particular way. Problem is, especially when it comes to marketing and promotional-filled emails, most people think of it as a one-sided proposition: stuff that I want to tell you, not stuff that you will find useful to hear. And that's not even getting into saying it in a way they want to hear it, which is the subject of this month's column.
If you haven't yet, go catch up on last month's discussion about good stuff to do (and avoid) when composing an email to people in (and outside of) the industry. Then come back here and rock Part 2â€¦
1. Never send attachments.
I can't believe how many people still violate this fundamental rule. But they do, so I'll spell it out: no PDFs, no JPEGs, no dancing GIFs, nothing except your brilliant words (and not too many of them: more on that coming up).
I'm not even a fan of too much HTML formatting, and some people turn off their formatting, so all of your colors and graphics and sparklies get stripped before they hit the inbox.
I get that we're actors and that our faces are part of our brands. That's why you should have a website and a business card and a head shot with your face on it. Whoever told you to add it to your email was, I'm sorry to say, wrong. And you can tell them I said so.
Finally, if you insist on having your picture on there, please make it small in file size. There is no reason it should be more than 100K in size. But really, the best way to handle all of this is toâ€¦
2. Use the magic of hyperlinks to share information.
As I've pointed out in previous columns, there's a whole world of social media at your service. Use it to post your information, pictures, resumes, videos, etc., and then link back to it in your email signature. Speaking of whichâ€¦
3. Keep the email signatures to a reasonable length.
I have seen people in the business world use 25-line email signatures. Don't be stupid like them. All you need are:
- your name
- your main URL (to your website or your IMDB or your LACasting page)
- your contact telephone number
- maybe one other URL to one other site you want to promote (and make it a good â€˜un!)
I mix it up, variously linking to my newsletter signup, my LA Casting articles archive or my curse-filled (but hilarious!) YouTube video featuring me playing an inspirational New Year's resolution song on guitar and singing along.
If you're a prolific creator of quality content (and if you are, YAY! for you, smart actor!), trust that a little taste will whet someone's appetite. Purveyors of free supermarket samples and drug dealers have been employing this effective marketing technique for eons, and you can, too. Speaking of lengthâ€¦
4. Keep your email itself to a reasonable length.
The shorter, the better. Yes, it takes more time to write a good, short email. It's worth it. You stand a far better chance of someone replying if you make a specific, well-phrased, pithy request than if you spew your life story and all its attendant joys and woes. I'm rapidly approaching the point where I delete stuff over a certain length.
Try this next time: print out a copy of your draft. If the email goes more than a third of the way down the page, including all the address candy at the top, it's too long. If there's not enough white space (meaning paragraph breaks), it's too long. When in doubt? It's too long.
5. Never, ever, ever add someone to your mailing list without their express, written permission.
This goes for me or anyone else. It's not just a good idea: it's literally the law, according to the CAN-SPAM Act. For my newsletter, I use a double opt-in method of signup. You don't need to do that, but you should always ask permission and WAIT for an email reply saying â€œyes.â€
A better way to handle this in the age of social media is to build a circle of friends via social media, and keep them posted via witty (please, please be witty!) and brief (ditto) updates, like on Facebook.
I get inundated with stuff; I can only imagine what producers and casting directors get. Don't do it.
6. When you do send out group emails, hide the addresses by using the â€œBCCâ€ field.
If you don't know what this means or how to do it, ask a nerdier friend, or look it up on the Google. People poach email addresses and hit â€œreply allâ€ and all manner of other hideous practices when you don't. Oh. Alsoâ€¦
7. Hide the addresses by using the "BCC" field.
There are some very nice people who don't get the â€œhide email addresses in BCC fieldâ€ thing, and sometimes, rude or clueless people will see those names as an opportunity to build their own email list. Let me assure you that you do nothing good and everything bad to your brand and reputation by this nefarious practice.
8. Don't send forwards or political emails.
I don't think you should do this at all, frankly, but definitely never do it to a business or industry contact. My new policy is that people who do it to me get their emails sent straight to the trash. As a side note, even if you are forwarding the MOST IMPORTANT or EXCELLENT thing in the world, please check the debunking site Snopes.com first to make sure it's not a hoax.
And feel free to share this resource with your friends and family who send you stuff. In fact, the only time I advocate hitting â€œreply allâ€ to mass emails is to let everyone know it's a hoax and about Snopes.
BONUS EXCELLENT ARTICLE: My friend, casting director Bonnie Gillespie wrote a fantabulous piece on the right use of social media and email to promote yourself as an actor. It's so smart, it's saved me hours of work I might have had to spend writing it. So go read it, and the rest of her archives, and follow her on Facebook, and get smart!
Want more? Check out the acting resources page. It's got links out to all kinds of good actor resources, plus information on how to sign up to get on the list for upcoming workshops.
Colleen Wainwright is writer-speaker-consultant who started calling herself â€œthe communicatrixâ€ when she hit three hyphens. She spent a decade writing commercials and another decade acting in them for cash money. Now she uses her powers for good and not evil by helping actors and other good, hard-working people with a dream to uncover their unique fabulosity and get it out there in the world.