Yes, we understand “for exposure” isn’t great

Some companies like to use people’s services and pay for them in terms of “exposure”.  Basically, it means that the person may get their name and work seen by a bunch of people.  If you’re thinking that’s probably a bad deal, you’re right.  I’m pretty sure this notion has been around for a while.

I was once offered “exposure” if I created an app for someone. They were going to pay me in terms of a LinkedIn recommendation and a tweet to 700 people. Foolishly, I only declined.  The proper Internet response would have been an open letter.

Thanks to social media, people now rant about this.  And they do it often.  What this has done is created a weird situation where the amount of exposure someone gets for doing a concert, artwork, or whatever, is dwarfed by the amount of exposure they get for posting an “open letter” talking about the hypocrisy of “exposure”.

Going to complain about “exposure”?  Make sure you follow these simple steps:

  1. Make the assumption that the absolute head of the organization is personally making these decisions.  Or someone who’s already associated with the event that is highly recognizable. There’s no way the task of recruiting people has fallen into someone else’s lap.
  2. Point out how much money they make from ticket sales. Multiply that by the number of seats.  But stop the math there.  You’d hate to be including the list of costs like liability insurance, rental fees for them, cost of equipment, etc.  If they sell a $100 ticket, that’s a full Benjamin Franklin going into the pocket of the person in item 1.
  3. Mention how your landlord doesn’t accept “exposure” for payment.  Really, this is quite a witty response that no one has heard before.  But before you do, ask your landlord if he’d waive your rent if you got his building featured on the cover of a local magazine.  Or on 20 billboards throughout the city.  I’m guessing there’s a point where he’d agree to waive your rent for a month for exposure.
  4. Tell us how long you’ve been in the business.  Or references to past work.  Or what other people paid you for.  What your hours of availability in the upcoming month are.  You need to milk this exposure.

Or, I suppose you could just treat those offers like a bad offer and ignore them.

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