Touching Base

Reader Pamela writes:

I was working on an awards show recently, hired as a recipient andpresenter wrangler, within one day bumped up to assistant stage manager for the recipient and presenters stage within one day.

The executive producers and Stage manager praised me several times and said they would love to have me work for them again, The exec Prod also said she has some jobs lined up she thinks I would be good for, Ive worked a PA countless times which are outlined on my CV, which she has.

She told me to email her to touch base on the other projects, I was
curious what I should write, as I don’t want to sound like an ass
kisser, nor too friend basis, also she is from out of town and got
home Saturday, when would be appropriate to send her that email, as it is Monday?

I usually work out of a production house, these are visiting jobs for
me and I’m not sure on the email l etiquette for a Eexc Producers???

I’ve never worked on an awards show, but my understanding is that they’re fairly similar to the game shows and reality shows I’ve worked on.

The crew is usually smaller than on a scripted show or movie, and because of that, the divisions between the upper and lower ranks are less strict.  I’ve made friends with producers on reality shows, and have hardly interacted with their equivalents in the scripted world.

My point being, I wouldn’t treat an EP of an awards show much differently than any other potential employer.  Which is to say, I would suggest my standard 2-3 day waiting period.

In this particular case, though, I would not e-mail her today.  If she’s been out of town for any length of time, there will be a pile up of e-mails and voice messages for her to attend to this morning.  An e-mail from a production assistant asking for a job is likely to get lost in the shuffle, unless she happens to need a PA at the exact moment she sees your message.  Wait until at least Tuesday, and even then, Tuesday afternoon.

As for what you should write, keep it simple.

Hi, [her name here]!

How was your trip to Whereveristan?

While we were shooting the Razzies, you mentioned you have some projects coming up, and you’d need a few PAs.  I enjoyed working with you [and your team], and I’d love to do it again.  Please keep me in mind when your shows start up.



One final note.  When deciding how to punctuate a sentence, consider the following:

This applies to question marks, as well.
This applies to question marks, as well.

Now, I realize I’m a pot calling you black.  I also realize that you’re not expecting me to hire you, so what does it matter if I find errors in your email?

But take a look at John August’s article, “Professional Writing and the Rise of the Amateur.”  A quick excerpt:

You don’t get to pick when you’re going to be professional, and when you’re going to be amateur…  People will always judge you.  You can’t control that. You can’t control what scale they’re going to judge you on, or which criteria are most important.

The only thing you can control is your work. And that’s why your work, all of your work, has to be professional.

Your e-mail isn’t your “work,” per se, but it is how you present yourself.  If I were thinking about hiring you, an e-mail riddled with run-on sentences, spelling mistakes, and gramatical errors would give me pause.  I hope your follow-up with the producer is more carefully composed.

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2 Responses

  1. I love that you made the point about punctuation, grammar, etc. I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect, but I strive for perfection — or at least that kind of imperfection that looks perfect to anyone but the grammar nazis (should that be capitalized?). I get a lot of compliments and some ribbing for having orderly, well-written and (generally) error-free emails and Facebook comments, etc., which always bothers me. It’s hard for me to understand why people who live in an increasingly “textual” world see the basice level of legibility and attention to detail as prissiness or pedantry or whatever. Even kids in my online college courses apparently deem it an inconvenience to proof-read comments and forum posts — as if that’s not part of the grade! Your post made me happy, if only because I feel I’ve found an ally in the battle against sloppy informal writing. Too many people fail to realize that “informal” doesn’t necessarily mean thrown-together or improper.

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