I asked Mary Preussel, former Photo Rep, Account Rep for Black Book, and now an Account Rep for Workbook what suggestions she has for determining how good a rep is. Her reply: “As one who works with reps regularly through Workbook, I would suggest checking to see how active they are in advertising and promoting their talent in the top source directories and direct mail campaigns, what they have budgeted annually, what kind of financial commitment are they asking from the artist? How are their people skills and attention to detail? What markets are they going to concentrate on–how often are they traveling/presenting? What kind of corporate direct plan do they have? What organizations do they belong to–how are they networking, including blogs and social networking on the internet? What are they expecting of the artist?”
I would add that you first want to see who else they represent, look at the rep’s website and marketing materials, their LinkedIn page, their Facebook and Twitter pages (they should have business pages), and ask how they obtain leads. (Do they use Adbase or Agency Access for email promos and prospect lists?) What professional organizations do they belong to? Look at their contract/agreement early on – that will answer a lot of questions for you. If it’s short and informal, that should raise a flag. Ask for references. If you live in the town where the rep lives, you have the advantage of being able to ask around. Don’t just ask other photographers, ask other reps, and ask clients if you can. One of my photographers asked a well known consultant who is his friend, she looked at my roster and recognized one of the names and emailed him directly to ask for a reference. I didn’t find this out until we were in the last stages of consideration; I was impressed with his research and it made me more confident he was a good candidate for me to rep.
What it all boils down to is this: if the rep you are considering is active online and in the “know” regarding the popular resources and tools out there, has fresh marketing materials, understands the market you are a fit for, and you and she/he have chemistry, (it is a partnership, after all) you probably have a winner. If their marketing plan isn’t very strong and planned out, and they aren’t offering marketing services and dollars on your behalf, I’d keep looking.
The Rep: Marta Aldriedge is an Artist Representative and owner of Big Picture Reps. From offices in Dallas and LA, the firm reps photographers, illustrators, and retouching/CGI studios. http://www.bigpicturereps.com