We're going to touch on this, if you have an agent and if you do not have an agent. Listen, things call for all the time, this space is famously last minute. We just closed the campaign yesterday and it involves a fairly involved brief in which influencers are going to have to go into the woods and do something, they're going to have to plan a trip and it all has to be shot and live by July 4th.
That is not uncommon in the space, I understand that things come up. There might be something that you agreed to do, go to a dinner, go to an event, speak at something, whatever it is or if it's just, you've agreed to do a sponsored post for someone. Whatever it might be, it is understandable that things come up. There are opportunities that you can't turn down, maybe it's a lot more money, maybe it's a brand that you've always wanted to work with, maybe it's a trip to Bali and for some reason you're a fucking idiot and you want to go to Bali.
I understand that these things happen and I don't think that you having to cancel will necessarily blacklist you from ever working with that brand again, but there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. I think the first thing to just remember is that people have a desire to feel important and to feel like they are being respected and taken care of. If you have to cancel a previous engagement because you want to do another engagement, you're already putting the person you're canceling with below the person who you're leaving them for, and that is just a shit feeling, it's just not fun.
Even if you understand it, even if you say, "Hey, I really wanted to do this but this other brand offered me $20,000 to do this thing and I have to do it." You can understand that but it still doesn't feel good. You're coming in from that big disadvantage, one, you're messing with their job and their work, they're going to have to find someone to replace you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Two, it feels shitty to get left for someone else essentially. I think the first thing you want to do is be honest and sincere and explain what is happening, don't just say, "Hey, something came up, can't do it."
Let me step back, the first thing you should try and do is not cancel, try and make it work somehow. I can't think of an example right now that is applicable to all of you but the first thing is to try and make it work. Tell the brand who maybe is offering you another opportunity that is a conflict with the other one, that you already are committed to something, and you're going to talk to that brand and see if you can move it around. The opportunity that you are leaving for, they should understand that you have a previous engagement that you're trying to make work. First things first is like, try and make it work, if at all possible try and make it work.
If you can't make it work, explain the situation, tell the brand that you're cancelling on that you've tried to make it work, say, "Hey, I talked to this brand, I tried to get them to move this shoot but they've already booked the photographer. They asked the photographer if they could move it to another day but they can't because they're flying out to LA that day. I'm infinitely sorry, I really tried. Please let me know if there's anything you can do." That feels a lot better than, "Hey, something came up and I'm no longer going to be able to make it." That feels really shitty.
Just be a fucking decent person and try and make it work. You committed to something, you want to get out of it, try and make it work. If you can't make it work, try and do something else, "So sorry I can't attend the dinner, I'll give you guys--" let's say it's a launch for a perfume and it's a dinner with the founder and 20 influencers and it's very exclusive blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can't come to the dinner anymore, you'd still love to support the brand, can they send you a bottle over and you'll make sure to get a post up or doing Insta story about it. Let me know if there's any key messaging or anything I should hit."
Awesome, they're inviting you to the dinner to get the post out of you anyway, you're saying, "Listen, I'm here to try and make this right for you. That's the long and short of it, you should treat them with respect, make them feel important, show them that you tried to make it work even if you can't, offer an alternative. If it's not something like a dinner or something, say like, "Hey, can we move our shoot date, can we move this how, can we make this work, can I do it remotely?" Just try and make it work. If you absolutely can't, sincerely apologize and offer to try and do something else to support and help the brand. That goes a long way in making you feel good about it. They may even say, "Hey, it's okay. I totally understand. You're good, you don't have to do anything." But just offering is a nice gesture. Now, if you have an agent, I understand that your agent might be the one to reach out to cancel your engagement. That totally makes sense. One of the nice things about having representation is that you don't have to be the bad guy.
You can tell your agent to say, "Go get me more money." You can tell your agent to say, "No, I'm not using that stupid hashtag." You can use your agent to say, "So sorry, issues with a previous engagement." Tell your agent the same thing, tell them to try and make it work, tell them to all the stuff I just told you, make sure they are communicating that. Then, the kicker is and this is important, you as an influencer should also reach out, you should reach out to the brand directly, apologize again, say you're so sorry, you really wanted to make it work, but as your agent said, you'd be happy to support them with an Insta story or whatever it might be or you hope to be able to make it work next time.
That little thing, two minutes of your time, your precious time, that I know is so strapped, two fucking minutes, write an email and say you're sorry, that you're really looking forward to it and you hope to be able to do it the next time. You're not that important and it's not that hard, so just fucking do it. Your agent is your mouthpiece, but you are your brand. If your agent writes a weird email that the brand finds to be rude, then you are seen as rude.
That person is your mouthpiece and if you're not telling them how to speak, if you're not telling them how to treat your potential clients or your current clients, then you're doing yourself a huge disservice. It's not that I look at every single email that goes out of this company, but if I see anything that looks weird or I don't like the tone that I see on an email, we have a conversation about it, because everyone needs to be aligned on how you speak to people.
Your agent and you should be treating every single opportunity with respect and gratitude and if you cannot make it with sincere regret and hope that you get to work together in the future. Easy thing to get right. If you get it wrong, it's really fucking annoying. I can speak from personal experience and it is damaging to a level that it's probably hard to come back. Do better.
- IGTV, Reaching Global Audiences, Declining Offers Gracefully