For those that know me, I'm the queen of passive, and quite arguably the best “good cop” you've ever met, which means I always appreciate someone more than willing to play the “bad cop” in uncomfortable scenarios. I squirm under awkward situations and try to keep the tension to a minimum and the goodwill at a maximum. So every now and then when I find myself in a professional situation in which I may be unfairly taken advantage of and have to say no or explain why an offer or relationship may be unbalanced, I anguish over how I will assert myself firmly and get the point across but still maintain my sense of self which naturally wants to bubble everything over with warmth and humor.
An important exercise is to strive to prove that one can be professional, nice, genuine, and treat others well, while still continuing to grow in her/his career and achieving a considerable amount of success.
It's crucial to maintain good ties and positive relationships with brands, publicists and colleagues, as you never know where these companies and people may pop up throughout your career, which may enable some incredible opportunities for you down the road.
Here's three scenarios that could viably occur, alongside responses for each that you can execute which politely say no, without being rude, overly confrontational, and can still cultivate a relationship going forward.
If a brand repeatedly sends you emails about something you'd never write about, you can: let them know what you do cover (because they obviously didn't do their homework)
I appreciate you including me on your list, but I tend to not cover _____. I would be glad to consider your clients for future coverage if could send me information, promotions, and events related only to the topics that I focus on in my blog, which are largely ____, ___. and ____. Thanks so much for understanding, and I look forward to working with you with content in those categories soon.”
If a brand expresses a deep interest in working with you, and after several back and forth emails, you realize they aren't planning to compensate you, you can: quickly tell them no way!
I'm truly honored that you would consider me for this particular campaign, and as much as I'm a fan of the brand, I'm only able to take on sponsored opportunities at this point in time. Please see attached for my rate card, as I'd love to work with you on a future endeavor in which a budget is available. In the meanwhile, thanks again for thinking of me for this, and let's touch base in about a month so that I can let you know what I'm working on and if there may be an opportunity to work together in another capacity.”
If you already agreed to a campaign and set terms, and afterward the list of requirements change, you can: stick to your guns, reference past documents as back-up, and ask to be compensated.
I'm very much looking forward to working with you on this exciting venture, and just wanted to reiterate our agreed upon deliverables. From our email correspondences/contract signed on ____ and copied below, I committed to ___, ___, and ___. As promised, I will complete this items by ____, and if you would like me to additionally perform ___, _____, and ____ during the course of this campaign, we will need to rework the contract as these services will add an additional ___ to the previously determined rate. If you are unable to confirm that the compensation will be adjusted accordingly, then we will agree to stick to the original terms of the contract. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.”
What situations have you encountered and how have you politely said no?