Model Talk: The Importance of Confirmation & Check-In Emails
***This post was scheduled to be published several weeks in advance and not meant to be applied in real time among what's happening with the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone should be taking all precautions to be safe, including practicing social distancing and staying indoors. This post is not meant to encourage people to move forward with shoots, fashion shows, booked gigs, etc. Keep yourself and those around you safe!***
(This post will be especially beneficial for freelance models.)
It can be a pain but to ensure each shoot goes according to plan but it helps to go the extra step of learning how to implement confirmation and check-in emails with the people you choose to work with.
This isn't rocket science--just common sense.
Life gets busy and oftentimes things come up at the last minute that could cause the cancellation of a scheduled shoot, meeting or related appointment. Sometimes the other person will actually forget they had a scheduled obligation. Oops.
To avoid getting left high and dry at the last minute--or the day of--it helps to try and decrease any unexpected surprises from happening by embracing the routine of sending out confirmation and check-in emails to make sure everyone involved is on the same page.
Sending this same information via text is also an option but I like to focus more on emails because it creates a more reliable paper trail for both parties, not to mention it forces you to keep your writing and communication skills sharp and presents you in a more professional light. If the person you're working with prefers text to email then switch over to accommodate that. As long as you're maintaining contact in some way, shape or form, that's what's most important.
To keep things simple for the sake of this blog post, I'll use your run-of-the-mill photoshoot as a prime example of how to put this type of correspondence into play.
YOU'VE BOOKED THE PHOTOGRAPHER
The next step is to discuss the details, such as date, time and location. Other details like wardrobe, makeup/hair, looks, etc. will also be covered but let's just focus on the logistical stuff for now.
It is easy to pick a date, time and place to shoot and put it on your calendar BUT this shouldn't be the only time you ever communicate with the photographer, aside from the shoot date itself. There should be some form of correspondence ideally one week before the date you've confirmed.
SEND A CHECK-IN EMAIL
Already been in touch regularly with the photographer back and forth to work out details related to your upcoming shoot together? Great! Chances are you'll both be on the same page leading up to the shoot.
Haven't really heard from the photographer or have you been so busy that you haven't thought about reaching out since the last time you set up the shoot date, time and location?
Then it's time to send a check-in email. It should be short and sweet and to the point (but still professional and personable, of course). Simply tell the photographer you wanted to send a short note to check that you're still on track for the shoot at the chosen date, time and location. Include this info in your check-in email even though you've both shared this with each other already.
Schedules change, projects come up, some weeks tend to be more hectic than others and restating the basic info about your shoot will help jog the photographer's memory. Don't make them have to fish for the info or sort through their inboxes to find it.
Also use the check-in email to ask any questions or concerns you might have or to update them about anything on your end (i.e. wardrobe choices, changes, etc.).
SEND A CONFIRMATION EMAIL
Haven't gotten a response from the photographer in regards to your check-in email? Don't panic just yet. It can take people a while to return messages, especially if they're traveling or otherwise super tied up with work.
If you sent the check-in email a week before your scheduled shoot and haven't heard back in at least 24-48 hours, then shoot over another email to follow up (or text). Let them know you want to make sure they got your last message and can confirm the shoot and the details already discussed.
As a way to cover all your bases, in this latest message also add in that if you don't hear from them by a certain date and time (ideally 2 days before the shoot), that you'll assume something has come up on their end and the shoot will need to be rescheduled.
In other words: if they don't confirm, you won't show up--but instead of saying that outright, what I described above is a nicer way of putting things. Adding in this little bit of information is a polite way of letting them know how important it is to you that they confirm sooner than later or if they need to cancel or reschedule, then now is the time to do so.
I use this as part of my professional communications with others all the time and it gets results for those who tend to be flakey or don't respond in a timely manner. It still allows you to get the point across without looking like you're being difficult. Remember: there's always a way to say things without being overly dramatic or extra.
If the deadline for them to confirm comes and goes, then make plans for one of two things to happen:
1) You'll never hear from them and they'll totally flake.
2) You'll hear from the photographer at the last minute saying they're either still down to shoot at the originally scheduled date and time OR they have to cancel/reschedule.
It is up to you to decide if you will still work with the photographer if the second scenario is what you end up dealing with. Weigh the pros and cons. If you've already booked something else, then go with that and tell the photographer you're committed to another project since you didn't hear back from them. If you still have that date and time open and want to shoot, then go ahead and let them know you're still on board.
What if the photographer ends up reaching out to you days or weeks after they flaked on your original shoot, wanting to still work with you? Well, to me, that would be a red flag and I wouldn't be interested, unless their reason for flaking was a total fluke that couldn't be helped or was out of their control...and if their work was really good and they don't typically have a reputation for being flakey.
DO YOU REALLY NEED TO SEND BOTH A CHECK-IN & CONFIRMATION EMAIL?
That all depends on how responsive your communications have been with the person so far. As stated earlier in this post, if you've been in regular contact with the photographer to work out details and plan the shoot together, chances are you'll only need to send a quick confirmation email a day or so before, simply letting them know how excited you are for the shoot coming up. Simple as that.
But if the communication has been almost non-existent or the photographer is hard to get a hold of, then doubling up with a check-in and confirmation email would be in your best interest because you're giving that individual plenty of opportunity to reply back and solidify the plans OR cancel/change them.
Not taking action or assuming they'll show up since you've both picked a date, time and location will increase the odds of miscommunication and a possibility of someone getting upset that things didn't go according to plan. Avoid the hassle, stress and drama by taking this extra step as a professional to make the people you're working with accountable for their actions (or lack of). Even if they end up being sour about how things played out, you can come away from the situation knowing that you laid everything out for them--it's not your fault if they choose to flake or not take your time into consideration.
If you're putting together a shoot at the last minute where a check-in email a week before doesn't apply, then simply send a confirmation email or text at least 2 days before and go from there.
Professional courtesy goes a long way. It also goes both ways so if you end up on the receiving end of getting check-in and confirmation emails/texts, step up and respond in a timely manner. Those who can't (or won't) do this, don't tend to make it very far in their careers for a reason. Don't be that person.