GIVING GOOD PHONE: AFTER BIDDING ON A JOB, THE SILENCE CAN BE DEAFENING. WHY DON'T THEY CALL?

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Hard as this may be to believe, at my company we do not get awarded every project that we bid on. I know, I know, this is a shock and a disappointment to you too, but c'mon, get over it already. We do.

What happens when we don't get a job is illuminating. The lead person at the agency (most of the time it's the producer) has a CDM, a Character Defining Moment -- the chance to make The Call.

You would be amazed how often The Call is not made. Now, no one likes to give someone else bad news (or at least no one that I want to work with does), but here is the range of possible outcomes:

1. No call whatsoever. We have to track down the agency days later and ask lamely, "Hey, whatever happened to that job we spent weeks conference-calling about and did 19 different bid permutations for?"

2. The producer calls the rep, who hasn't been actively involved for weeks, but for some reason is now central to the chain of communication.

3. They call at 8:30 a.m. when they know no one will be here (have you gotten any one of us on the phone before 9:30?) and they leave voicemail. Fuh God sakes.

4. About a third of the time, I get The Call. Now this may sound odd, but all rites of passage are important in our culture and I pride myself on taking Good Call. The Call is a rare moment to give the production company honest, constructive feedback about why we didn't get the job and what we should have done differently. My job is to immediately put you, the Caller, at ease, say it's no big deal, this is just business, and start gathering info. Be assured that I understand that it's natural for you to feel uncomfortable and want to get off the phone ASAP. But take an extra moment to give me feedback. It's OK, it's cathartic. Make The Call. You'll feel better.

I promise not to weep or rage. Well, not until after we hang up, anyway. If you don't make the call and maybe sometime in the future you want to work with one of our directors, or you see me at the MoMA show, having not made the call you might feel awkward. So, you have my number. Use it.

Statistically, the triple-bid system would lead one to believe that on most jobs, one company gets it and two don't. That would mean that two-thirds of the time someone needs to make The Call. At my company, the actual percentage is classified, but anyone who says they get everything they bid on is: 1. Exaggerating, 2. Steve Dickstein, 3. Jon Kamen.

Remember, we all live in the Information Age. And inform is a verb.

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