This happens to us in sales all the time. Part of being in sales is that people will say they want to do things and then they don't. That is not because they don't like you, that is not because they've decided to go work with someone else, that is probably because they spoke too soon and now it's not happening and they feel really awkward or it is because they-- The budget got pulled, whatever it might be.
Now you hope that you have relationships with brands and partners that allow them to come to you and say, "Hey, I know I said this is happening. I'm so sorry it's not." We've had to do that to influencers before. It is a shitty thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. If you're emailing a brand about let's say you-- They said, "Okay, great, let's do the deal." You email them, they're not getting back. You're like, "Hey, when is the product shipping?" They're not getting back. They're not getting back.
I would follow up to a point and when it feels like-- Let's say they were going to ship a product on the 15th and it gets to be the 20th and you haven't heard from them, I would just send something that says, "Hey, I assume this is no longer happening because I haven't heard from you. Totally understand that things change. Yes, I'm going to operate under the assumption that this is no longer happening. Hope to work with you in the future."
I think what you don't want to do is get so upset, because you getting upset is not going to change anything unless you signed a contract and you feel like you want to extract money out of them because of that binding contract and the the kill fee. Fine. If you want to do that, do that. It's kind of annoying, but whatever. If you haven't created content yet and they've ghosted you, there should be no kill fee one and two. It's not that big of a deal. It is annoying.
What you don't want to do is create a situation where they feel so bad or awkward that they never want to email you again. I think if you can give them an easy out, they will often the next time be like, "I'm going to make it up to this person. The next deal I get, I'm going to this person because they were super chill about this thing happening and I want to do right by them." That's going to do you so much better than stomping your feet, telling them this is wrong, telling you're going to have a lawyer and making them feel terrible, or just constantly emailing them to a point where they're like, "I can't, I can't. I feel like this relationship is ruined over this and I can't go to them for something else."
I've been there in a situation where I pissed someone off and I felt like the next time something came up, I couldn't work with them because they were so upset that I was like, "Oh, I'm not going to go there. I'm not going to poke the bear." Be gracious. Now, if you've created the work, if you've shopped the product, and you haven't posted it yet and they ghost you, I do think that there is a-- Or they ghost you for a bit and then they say, "Hey, this isn't happening." I think you have a case to have a 20 percent kill fee or something. They're paying you a thousand bucks for them to give you $200 for creating the content.
Now, it's going to be essentially impossible for you to get that without having that in your contract. You might consider putting kill fees in your contract. Again, kill fee predicated on you actually creating the content and shooting it and doing all that. That assumes a lot of times I've paid a photographer, I've paid a videographer, I've paid for hair and makeup whatever it might be.
Speaker 2: What is a kill fee?
James: A kill fee is essentially something that you put in a contract, where if the party that's paying-- If the brand pulls out and you've created the content, you get a certain portion of that money, no matter what, even without posting it. Again, it protects you if you have to pay a photographer. If you did a two-day shoot, you missed other deals that it makes it so that even if you don't post it, you get some money if they back out. It would be very rare for a brand to have someone shoot content and then back out. I don't think it's massively important, but if you want to be careful, most big influencers probably have kill fees in their contracts.
If you've shot and posted and now they're ghosting you on the invoice, bring the full fucking fury of the good Lord Jesus down on them. Just do not stop. If they owe you money, be fucking relentless. Because if someone's not paying you, it's probably because they're running out of money or they don't have a lot of money. As they get money, the person they're paying first is the one that's the most annoying.
If someone hasn't paid you and they owe you money, don't stop. Just be relentless. If you live in New York City, there's also a-- I don't know if influencers actually fall into this, but there is a freelancer's law now where if a brand doesn't pay you for 90 days or something, New York City will allow you to sue them and automatically judge in your favor and you get 150% of the invoice or something.
Look up, I don't know the actual particulars, but it's this new law that New York has passed that protects freelancers from being taken advantage of by big corporations. You might want to look at that. Know your rights. Know when to threatened legal action. I also found with big brands, if they have an accounting department, I would stop bothering my rep or the person I worked with and start bothering accounting and call accounting directly.
If your rep stopped emailing you, just call information and say, "Hey, I want to talk to someone. I want to talk to the marketing director. I want to talk to the CMO, I want to talk to the person in accounting. I want to talk to the CFO." I once had a major multi-multi, multibillion-dollar organization that I felt I had wronged four card. I'm legally not allowed to say who. I emailed their CEO every day for 15 days, and eventually someone got back to me and they figured it out.
If you're persistent, you can usually get things done. Yes. I think if you posted the work, if you've done the work and you've posted it and now they're saying they don't pay you. They are in breach of contract. They are essentially breaking the law or at least breaking that contract. They owe you that fucking money. You did the work, they owe you money. There's no way to get around that. If they feel like they don't want to pay you, that's a brand you will never work with again anyway, that bridge is burned. Now, if something happens before you post, again, it's generally probably not the fault of the person that you work with.
These things change and someone will be like, "Cool, you got 50 grand, go do this project." They'll onboard a hundred influencers or something. Then a week later the CEO will be like, "No, actually we don't have that money now, we needed it somewhere else or whatever." Cancel all those contracts. It's generally not them trying to be terrible. It's just that these things happen in business. I wouldn't burn a bridge over that, but I would burn a bridge if I did the work and nobody paid me.
- How to Stop Losing Followers, Editorial Content, Brands Ghosting