Mea Culpa by Graeme Spicer


In my role as Director of Strategic Planning at Edge Studio, every day I get the opportunity to speak with voice actors about their victories and their frustrations. And as a working voice actor, I’m guilty of many of the things that I warn others about. Seems to always be the way.

Earlier this year, I did a session for a production studio located in my hometown – a midsized Canadian market. I have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Creative Director – he has been feeding me work consistently over the past couple of years. I love this client.

The session went smoothly, and when I followed up to ensure he had everything he needed, he replied yes, and that the commercials had already been completed and approved. As he generally does, he graciously sent me MP3 copies.

In a moment of temporary insanity (I can think of no other reason to explain my irresponsibility), on a Thursday I posted the radio commercials to SoundCloud and on my Facebook page. "So proud of this work for my hometown, etc."

I knew better.

Not six hours later, I received an email from my client stating that his boss had just received a concerned email from the ad agency, and asking me to immediately remove the post from Twitter. The campaign didn't launch until Monday! Ironically, I hadn't tweeted the ad. However, I had completely forgotten that when I post to SoundCloud or Facebook, I have a setting clicked somewhere WHERE THE CONTENT IS IMMEDIATELY CROSS POSTED TO MY TWITTER ACCOUNT.

I was upset. I like to pride myself on being the easy guy to work with. Always cooperative and professional. I couldn't believe that I had acted with so little respect for my client, his client, and their client's client.

All ended well. I sent an appropriately humble apology, and immediately removed the offending content. There wasn't really anything of use to the advertiser's competitors, so even if someone had heard the spot no real damage would have been done. My client was understanding and almost apologetic for the sensitivities of the advertiser, and assured me that this was a small thing and wouldn't affect my ongoing work with him.

But it doesn't matter. It could have been far worse. The spots might have been advertising a huge price promotion or sale. The fact that the content wasn't particularly sensitive doesn't erase the sin.

So, the lesson learned. You must respect that the materials you work on are not yours to use indiscriminately. Most agencies and advertisers are gracious, and allow the use of their work for demos and self-promotion by a voice actor. But, they have every right to disallow the use of their materials for any reason, at any time. Ask first, or at the very least make absolutely certain that the work has aired or has in some other way been made public before using it in any promotional way.

Thankfully I’m still working with the studio, but only because of their graciousness and willingness to forgive. I’m not certain I would have made the same decision.

Forgiveness

Also thanks for the warning from someone who is virtually ALL over the social network. I've read this advice before, but it is easily forgotten when wanting to spread the joy...

But I'm sure - almost 100% positive - that you too would have been as forgiving as your client. As long as no detrimental damage is done, everyone should be allowed a second chance...

Happy voicing!

Mea Maxima Culpa

Mea Maxima Culpa
Thank you for this, Graeme. If someone at your level of experience and professionalism can misstep and recover so gracefully, there's hope for the rest of us! I had a near-miss recently that taught me this lesson in a vivid way.

After completing a project that went exceptionally well, I was excited to share it with others on social media. The client's message had already gone public, and was receiving good press. Fortunately, before I acted on my well-intentioned impulse to give them even more exposure, I had the presence of mind to *ask* my clients first if it was OK for me to share some of it on social media. I'm glad I did, because they said no -- they wanted to control the message in their own way.

I do a lot of work with these people, and asking in advance helped both of us understand each other better. In this case, discretion was indeed the better part of valor.

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