This week, the annual Society for News Design workshop cranks up in Cleveland.
In a time in which our industry has precious little to celebrate, this will be an opportunity for visual journalists to brush up on the latest news design trends, to network and to enjoy a little down-time with their pals and to let off some steam.
What we have for you today: A preview in three parts…
1. We’ll look at how SNDCLE is going to be different from previous workshops.
2. We’ll give you the essentials of what you need to know while you’re there. And…
3. For those of you who have never been to an SND workshop before, I’ll share my tips for getting the most of out of your time there.
And away we go…
WHAT’S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR
…especially for those of you who
have been to an SND workshop before
SND secretary/treasurer David Kordalski took some time from preparing for you to tell us…
There are a number of things that will be different at SNDCLE. Very different, indeed. Because that’s how we roll in the birthplace of rock.
First, we are not holding the workshop in a hotel. We’re holding it in a conference center, with an auditorium and several breakout rooms. It’s called Sammy’s, and it’s in a building called One Cleveland Center, which is about 3-4 blocks from the Hyatt.
Photo by Eustacio Humphrey/The Plain Dealer
It’s an easy walk on a crisp October day, but just in case it ain’t so crisp, there will be trolleys running back and forth one hour before and after the workshop.
Secondly, there will not be one big awards ceremony. Instead, the awards will be spread out at the beginning of each keynote, in order to get singular focus onto that particular award. Here’s the schedule:
- Golds: At the opening reception at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum [Thursday, 7-11 p.m.]
- World’s Best-Designed: Friday, 9 a.m., immediately preceding the keynote by CNN’s Marisa Gallagher
- Student Designer of the Year: Friday, 2 p.m., immediately preceding the keynote by Bottle Rocket App’s Michael Griffith
- Best in Show: Saturday, 9 a.m., immediately preceding the keynote by Digital First’s Jim Brady
- President’s Awards: Saturday, 2 p.m., immediately preceding the keynote by WebbMedia Group’s Amy Webb
- Lifetime Achievement: Part of the closing cocktail party at Hilarities Comedy Club [Saturday, 4-9 p.m.]
What? Closing cocktail party? Does that mean no traditional banquet?
Yes, happily so, because frankly, we hate eating bland, hotel banquet food while stuck at a ten-top table that’s too big to talk across, and we figure you do, too. Instead, we think it’ll be much more productive (and fun) to hold our last session in an environment conducive to mingling with new friends and catching up with old colleagues.
So you’ll find no stuffy suits, rubber chicken dinners or cramps caused by three hours of sitting. We’ll close SNDCLE with a few drinks, a lot of laughs, a great program, some good friends and a send-off worthy of a weekend spent recharging your creative batteries.
MORE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Your essential guide to this week’s workshop
We’ll do this in Q&A format…
Q. My boss just decided I could go. Is it too late to register?
A. It’s never too late: If you can get there, you can attend.
SND executive director Steve Komives and his crew of volunteers will be happy to register you at the door, if necessary.
The only thing you’ve lost is your early-bird discount. The fee is now $495 for both members and non-members and $320 for students and faculty.
What the folks in Cleveland can not help you with is getting a hotel room. The official SND hotel — the Hyatt Regency in the Arcade — was booked up weeks ago. What’s more: There’s a NFL game in town this weekend. Or, rather, what passes for NFL in Cleveland.
However, Mr. Kordalski and the folks at the Plain Dealer have made a helpful list of alternatives you might call.
Hey, you never know. There may be cancellations. If you’re game, give ’em a shot.
Q. How about if I can find a roommate who already has a room? I could split the cost with them.
A. Great idea! The best way to do this might be to tweet with the #sndcle hashtag and state what you’re looking for.
A panel discussion on editing and
design hubs at last years’ SND/STL.
Q. Will there be there stuff going on early again this year? For students and whatnot?
A. There’s stuff going on early on Thursday again this year for everyone. And whatnot.
David points out there will be two “bonus sessions” on Thursday:
1) Student workshop, all day Thursday, free for registered students. Workshop starts at 10 a.m.; portfolio critiques start at 3 p.m.
2) The path to iPad with InDesign, all day Thursday with Jeff Goertzen and Chris Morris. It’s an additional fee [$75 for SND members; $100 for non-members] but it’s worth every penny. Register here.
Q. How can I get from the airport to the hotel without it costing me an arm and a leg?
A. Sadly, there is be no free shuttle. David Kordalski tells us:
The best way is to take the nation’s first light rail connection to an airport, the RTA Rapid’s Red Line, to the Tower City/Public Square station.
It runs every 10 minutes in peak times, every 20 in slower periods.
The Hyatt Regency is an easy 2-block walk through Tower City.
View Cleveland transit map in a larger map
Here’s the weekday schedule.
The price is certainly right: Only a buck-fifty each way.
Or, you can just take a taxi. The hotel says that will set you back about $25.
If you do that, you might consider sharing a ride. Make up a big sign that says: SND: Share a taxi to the hotel?
Read more about your airport-to-the-hotel options here.
Back to that train, however. David tells us the RTA Rapid is…
…also a great way to get from the hotel over to the historic West Side Market (and all the microbreweries nearby).
During weekdays, flag down the free, green trolleys in order to get around downtown.
The free RTA downtown trolley.
Q. So the workshop won’t be in our hotel. How far away will it be?
A. Only about three-and-a-half blocks away. Piece of cake. Especially since it won’t be snowing or raining.
View From the hotel to the venue in a larger map
Q. That reminds me: What will the weather be like this week?
A. Not too bad. Better than it’s been here in Virginia Beach this week.
Highs in the mid-to-high 50s. Lows in the low 40s. Partly cloudy and no rain at all except, perhaps, on Wednesday and Sunday.
So yeah: Dress warmly. Bring a sweater or jacket.
It won’t get quite this cold. So fear not.
Photo by Sammy’s, at One Cleveland Center.
Q. Will there be wifi in the meeting hall? How much will that cost us?
A. David tells us:
There will be wifi in the meeting hall, and it will be free to attendees. Every speaker will have a specific hash tag as well as the general #sndcle, so use that wifi to keep up with and add to a robust Twitter feed.
Also, anyone who booked a room at the Hyatt Regency via the special SND rate gets free internet in the hotel, David says.
Q. Where should I eat while I’m there? What should I do in my spare time?
A. My suggestion: Find a fun-looking crowd and tag along.
Seriously, though, folks will be all over. David offers up his own recommendations:
East 4th Street: Right behind the Hyatt, it’s home to some of the Midwest’s finest restaurants. Don’t take our word for it, though… Bon Appetit named one of East 4th’s best, the Greenhouse Tavern, a Top Ten Best New Restaurant in 2009, and Iron Chef Michael Symon‘s marquee restaurant, Lola, is right down the street.
East 4th Street even has its own Twitter feed.
Warehouse District: A nice walk or trolly ride on the other side of Public Square, this long-established district is home to great bars and affordable eateries.
The Market District: Take the Rapid over to an area chock-full of local breweries and casual fun.
Tremont: Better take a cab, because this historic and funky neighborhood of restaurants and galleries was established near the Cuyahoga, which is a Native American word for crooked. It’s difficult to navigate, but well worth the trip! You name it, Tremont’s got it, from authentic Polish to haute cuisine and everything in between.
Gordon Square Arts District: Cab or rental car, but again, an adventure well worth exploring. The world’s most ambitious hot dogs at the Happy Dog or the Sunday regae brunch at the Parkview Nite Club are only two of a host of reasons to make the trip.
University Circle: Home of the world-renowned Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Severance Hall (home of the Cleveland Orchestra), the Museum of Natural History (check out Balto!) and more … take the Health Line down Euclid Avenue.
Want to know more about Cleveland? Our friends at Positively Cleveland have compiled plenty of info for SNDCLE attendees here.
Q. Can I see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while I’m in town?
A. In fact, that’s where the reception will be held Thursday night. According to the official SNDCLE web site, your badge will get you…
…a special all-access pass to see exhibits including memorabilia from acts that shaped rock ‘n’ roll, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, Elmore James, RUN-D.M.C. and more.
Yes, that’s the place, there on the left.
Designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, the Rock Hall opened its doors in 1995 on the shores of Lake Erie. The museum is devoted to performers, creators, promoters, and others associated with the growth and popularity of rock and roll music.
Read more about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum here.
Q. For those of us on a budget: Will there be cheap eats anywhere around?
A. That’s the question I have whenever I attend SND. I’m the guy who skips the $30 breakfast buffet and strikes out in search of a McDonald’s.
Well, there is no McDonald’s within walking distance of the hotel or the workshop venue. In fact, I’m not finding much in my usual searches for fast-food in that area.
Inside the Hyatt Regency at the Arcade.
There is a food court, however, there in the arcade part of the hotel. You’ll find a deli, a gyro joint, a grilled sub place a Mexican grill, an Asian restaurant and a bakery.
The downside: This fast-food court closes at 6 p.m. Find more information here.
In addition, a number of joints in the vicinity of the hotel and venue will be displaying this sticker in their window.
When you see it, go in and eat. You’ll get a discount if you’re wearing your SND badge.
Read more about this deal here.
And for you broke college students out there who are attending the student session on Thursday: You’re in luck. Not only is the session free, a free lunch is included.
(That whole thing is sponsored by Digital First Media, so make sure to thank keynote speaker Jim Brady when you see him.)
Q. Please tell me there’s a Starbucks nearby.
A. The good news: There is a Starbucks near the hotel. The bad news: It’s not exactly on your way to the workshop venue itself, One Cleveland Center. In fact, it’s on the opposite side of the hotel.
Walk out the south, or Euclid Ave. side of the hotel and turn right. As best I can tell, it’s maybe two blocks away at 200 Public Square. It’ll be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
However, Plain Dealer designer Emmet Smith tweets today:
Find Phoenix’ web site here and its Twitter feed here.
In addition, there will be free coffee served in the meeting venue Friday morning (sponsored by Hoefler & Frere-Jones) and Saturday morning (sponsored by CCI Europe).
Plus, there is a coffee bar there in the hotel, open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight. Read more about it here.
And now, especially for you college students and other fabulous noobies…
TEN WAYS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF SND
…especially if you’ve never been before.
1. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE
The presentations will be terrific. Have you seen the all-star list of speakers? Wow…
But frankly, they’re of secondary importance. The most important reason to go to Cleveland — your Number One task while you’re there — will be to meet people. To network.
Believe it or not, there will be folks in Cleveland who are hiring. Or who may be hiring soon. Or who may be hiring soon but don’t know it yet.
There will be folks in Cleveland who have the power to hire interns. If you’re looking for an internship for summer 2013, then now is the time to start looking. Not during spring break.
Your task will be to make a fabulous impression on these folks; one that will cause them to not only remember you and your work, but also to make them think of you when they discover they have a position to fill. Your task will be to put either your portfolio or your card — containing info on how they can find your online portfolio — into their hands.
You’ll be tasked with doing this in a way that doesn’t piss them off or annoy them or the other attendees.
And just because all that isn’t difficult enough, you’ll have to do it without knowing just which editors will be doing the hiring this year!
Sounds like an impossible job? It’s not. It’s simple networking 101. And you can do it. It’s a piece of cake, really. As long as you love meeting new people.
(If you loathe meeting and talking to people, then do us all a favor and change your major, willya? I mean, after all: This is the communication industry.)
So meet as many people as you can. Shake as many hands as you can. Make a fabulous first impression.
Q. Are you saying the sessions aren’t important?
A. No, I’m not saying that at all. You’ll learn a lot at those sessions. I’m just saying SND workshops are about more than just the sessions.
- Don’t obsess over the sessions. You’ll occasionally run into a situation in which you have to choose between two — or three — sessions you really, really want to see. Fact is, very few sessions at an annual workshop suck outright. So if you have even a passing interest in the subject, you’ll get something out of the session. Believe me.
The Washington Post’s Laura Stanton speaks at SND/STL.
- Split up. If you’re attending as part of a group, send various folks to sessions in the same time slot. You can swap notes later.
- In the past, some sessions have offered handouts and some have not. The past few years, SND has made a real push to make sure any handouts or presentations are downloadable — shortly after the session — as Powerpoint or PDF documents.
Q. Which sessions are the hot ones to attend this year?
A. Oh, please don’t ask me that.
Q. Seriously. Which ones should I go to?
A. Seriously? Go to all of them. The lineup this year is so incredibly… incredibly… well, incredibly incredible that I couldn’t possibly choose between some of them.
For example: Normally, I’d advise you to never miss a speaking appearance by Karl Gude. Karl is more than a noted professor (at Michigan State, in fact) and he’s more than an graphics guru. He’s a bona-fide force of nature.
Karl Gude at SND/STL. With a cramp in his hand, I think.
But if you pencil in Karl’s fabulous Free is Gude session — Friday at 3:30 in the Erie Room — you’ll miss:
- Julie Elman of Ohio University and formerly of the Virginian-Pilot — I often refer to her as the greatest front-page designer this planet has ever seen — who’ll be speaking about how and from where to seek inspiration. She’ll be in the 12th Street room.
- Chris Courtney of the Chicago Tribune, who’s speaking on making the leap into coding. Which you’ll need to do if you want to get into mobile or tablet apps (and, y’know, who doesn’t?). Chris will be speaking in the auditorium of One Cleveland Center.
- And a panel discussion in the St. Clair room on what we learned from this year’s SND competition. On the panel will be: Michael Whitley of the Los Angeles Times, Rob Schneider of the Dallas Morning News, Steve Cavendish of the Nashville City Paper and Katherine Myrick of the Washington Post.
I mean, come on. If I were there this year, I’d find myself at 3:30 p.m. Friday, sitting in the corridor and whimpering with indecision.
Q. But wait a minute. I thought you said not to obsess about the sessions.
A. Do as I say and not as I do.
Anyway: Wow. What a lineup.
Find the schedules here:
In addition, there is supposed to be a schedule app. Keep on the lookout for it. We had one of those last year in St. Louis. Man, that was a lot easier than keeping up with the official printed bulletin.
UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.
I’m now told the SNDCLE schedule app is now up and running. Read more about it here. Download it directly here.
2. DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT YOUR BUSINESS CARDS
What? You don’t have business cards? You’ve never needed them before? You don’t think you need them now, in the internet age?
Hey, feel free to bring hard copies and CDs if you like. When you see Rick Epps or David Kordalski between sessions, it’s easy to slip them your packet when they can toss it into their briefcase or computer bag.
David Kordalski and Rick Epps at SND/
Denver. Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.
But what happens when you run into Tracy Collins at the opening reception? You don’t have your CDs on you, so you can’t give him one. And he has no pockets big enough for your file folder anyway.
So bring business cards. And then give them out to everyone you meet. Everyone.
And then what?
After you meet someone, take a moment — as quickly as you can — to grab a pen and make a brief note or two on the back of their card. Anything that will help you remember them. “Gave me career advice.” “Mentioned a sports design internship.” “Said he liked my page one work and wants to see more PDFs.”
Why take the time to do this? Because if you do it right, you’ll get home to discover you have dozens of cards. And you’ll have no idea of which card went with which person. These quick notes may help you keep them straight.
Now, once you get home — that’s when the real work begins. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Put all the cards in a stack.
- Type all the info from the cards into the electronic contact book on your MacBook, iPhone, iPad or Blackberry.
- Look up everyone you met at Facebook or LinkedIn. Invite them to link up with you via those sites.
- Then, write everyone a personalized e-mail. Tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. A personal detail or two — that’s what those notes are for — to help prevent these e-mails from reading like form letters.
- And then, the really tough part: Keep in touch. E-mail from time to time. Wish them a happy birthday or whatever. If you see they’ve posted something nice at NewsPageDesigner, congratulate them. Or, better yet, ask them how they pulled off this or that fabulous project.
This is basic networking.
If you want to fancy up your cards in a way so folks will remember you, go right ahead. Speaking for myself, I tend to remember the unusual business cards the most. But make sure you cover the basic info: Name. E-mail address. Phone number. And, preferably, a link where we can go to see your portfolio.
And, of course, make sure the info on your card is accurate and easy to read. Most news design professionals will forgive a boring card. But an ugly-ass, error-ridden card? Heh…
Q. But business cards are old-school! No one I know uses business cards any more!
A. That’s because everyone you know is a young college student. Many of the folks out there in newspaper hiring land are in their 50s or 40s or 30s. They still use business cards. So make sure you have one to offer them. And make sure you get a copy of theirs.
Q. But it’s too damn late to have business cards made up! What do I do?
A. It’s never too late! Go to OfficeMax or FedEx/Kinko’s. They can design a card on the spot and print 500 of them in about 45 minutes. If you happen to have one of my old black-and-white VizEds business cards, that’s where it came from: Kinko’s. Total cost was under $30.
Q. It IS too late! I didn’t see this post until I was already in Cleveland!
A. There aren’t Kinko’s in Cleveland? Really?
3. PROOFREAD YOUR RESUMÉS
You might bring copies of your resumé, either on disc or on dead trees, to distribute. Fine; no problem.
But the No. 1 problem I find on resumes: Typos. Poor grammar. Mistakes.
Now, some visual editors won’t mind this at all. Hell, some of the worst typists on this planet are graphic artists.
But if I were to bring you in for an interview, it’d never be by my call alone. I’d have to get my AME or my managing editor or my editor to sign off on you. And, being word people, they might not like seeing dumbass mistakes on your resumé. Because the kind of candidate who distributes a resumé with a mistake on it just might be the kind of new hire who won’t pay close attention to her business front design or her locator map or the interactive presentation she’s building for us.
So take the time to proofread any resumé or word material, be it hard or soft copy, that you distribute in Cleveland.
Q. But I suck at proofreading!
A. That’s OK; I do, too. As you can tell from this blog.
Here’s what you do: Find a copy editor or a teacher who’ll help out. Barter some design work if you have to. But make sure your resumé is immaculate.
4. SLEEP IS FOR SISSIES
While the presentations you’ll see in Cleveland are very cool, some of the most important work is being done in what Mark Friesen of the Oregonian used to call “backchannels.”
These are conversations being had in the hallways. Among the booths in the exhibitor’s hall. At a little sandwich shop down the street. At the bar, late at night.
Especially that last one. Believe me. You’ll be amazed at the amount of business in this business — or any business, really — that’s done over a beer.
Some sessions get pretty crowded. If there’s a session you
know you want to see, don’t dawdle in the corridor. Get a seat.
So don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything shuts down at 5:30 p.m. or whenever the sessions end. That’s just when things get rolling for many of the professionals you’ll see in Cleveland.
I’ve had some very interesting discussions at 1 or 2 in the morning. I recall reviewing a student portfolio at 3 a.m. in Boston, although that is a bit late for me. Especially at my age.
Late night at an SND workshop is basically the old-school version of social networking. Don’t waste the opportunity. There will be folks getting together all over the hotel — in suites, in rooms, in the lobby, in the bar. And down the street at nearby establishments. Find an interesting discussion and join in. If you find it boring, say goodnight and find another discussion.
And stick with it as late as you can. Sleeping is overrated, anyway. You can always sleep when you get home.
Q. How do I find a professional who’ll look at my portfolio at 3 a.m.?
A. Well, that’s the rub. I’m the only person stupid enough to try to do that, and I won’t be in Cleveland this year. Count on the professionals being quite a bit smarter than I am.
5. DON’T BE A DOUCHEBAG
So you see Dan Zedek chatting with Tim Frank. You want to talk to both of them, so you run over, interrupt the hell out of them and you thrust your portfolio in front of them.
Remember the first impression thing we talked about? Well, congratulations; you just did it. Both Tim and Dan are now quite impressed with how much you suck.
Many of the professionals see their good friends from other papers only once or twice a year. They value greatly the chance to buy Steve Dorsey a beer. Or to let him buy them one.
So please let them have at least some time to meet and greet their pals.
OMG… So many big names in one place at SND/Denver…
My head might explode… Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.
If you’re hoping to meet someone, hover in the vicinity and try to catch them when their conversation is wrapping up. If you’re hoping for a portfolio review, make sure you understand that these professionals have presentations they want to see, too.
Perhaps you’ll be told that a professional won’t have time to look at your stuff right now. Most will ask you to approach them later. Some will even try to set up an appointment with you.
But nearly all of them want to see your stuff. Recruiting is one of the reasons they’re going in the first place. Blowing you off wouldn’t make sense.
Another thing: If you bring your portfolio to Cleveland, make sure you pare it down to the bare minimum. Folks simply won’t have time to leaf through 20 or 25 pages of your work. Keep it to five or six pages, max. Of only your very best stuff.
And as you hand them your book, make sure you specify why you’re showing them your work. If you’re hoping for a job or an internship, say so. If you want feedback on your pages, say that, too.
The auditorium at One Erie Center, where
many of the larger sessions will be held.
The smaller, breakout sessions will be held in rooms
like this one: The Erie Room. Photos from Sammy’s,
at One Cleveland Center.
Also, keep in mind that if you ask a professional to critique your work, you might actually get a critique. If they find something in your pages they don’t like — and, believe me, they probably will — then make sure you take their suggestions with a smile. If you can’t take a critique, then for Chrissakes, don’t ask for one. (I learned this one the hard way, 21 years ago at an SND Quickcourse in Chapel Hill. Ask me about it sometime.)
If you see a little rudeness on the part of a professional, try to understand: Perhaps he’s under some stress at the moment. Perhaps he’s speaking in the next session and his Mac just died.
But if you find a professional being consistently rude, please let me know. I’ll be glad to have someone kick their ass. Or, better yet, I’ll ridicule them publicly, here in the blog.
If, on the other hand, you act rudely — well, believe me: You’ll only be hurting yourself.
Q. But it is OK to bring my portfolio, right?
A. Oh, absolutely. Bring it especially if you’re job hunting or if you’re hoping to ask industry professionals to critique your work.
(In fact, there’s a special portfolio review session set up just for college students at 3 p.m. Thursday.)
But keep in mind if you bring your portfolio every day, you’ll have to tote it around all day. I’ve seen a lot of students — at SND/Houston in ’05, at SND/Orlando in ’06, at SND/Boston in ’07, last year at SND/STL — struggling to carry big portfolio cases, laptop bags, purses and workshop swag bags.
Bring what you want. But consider the repercussions.
6. WATCH WHAT YOU DRINK
Yes, many will be imbibing. Some will imbibe quite a bit. Some will get downright sloppy drunk.
And that’s OK for professionals. They’re over the legal drinking age. But for you job-seekers and college-types, you might want to take care.
SND folks gather at a bar in Denver. Photo by Octavio Diaz.
I’m not going to discuss the legalities of alcohol and folks under the age of 21 — that’s between you and your Mommy and Daddy. I will, however, point out that if you get a little tipsy and then run into a hiring editor…
Well, it could get nasty. Just member that “first impression” thing I talked about earlier.
You’ve had way too much to drink, but then you spot Jeff Glick. You trot over, grab him by the shoulder, spin him around, pump his arm and loudly proclaim you’re his next intern.
Then you belch loudly. And you ralph all over his shoes.
Oh, yeah: He’ll remember you.
OK, that’s an extreme example. But I’ve seen things nearly that bad.
If you’re drinking, try not to drink too much. Save that for when you get home or back to school.
7. LEAVE SPACE FOR THE TRIP BACK
Some papers will bring cool swag to give away. Others will have huge bundles containing copies of their paper.
Some of the cool give-away freebies from
SND/Denver. Photo by Steve Dorsey.
And hey, you never know when you’ll spot that gotta-have-it item in the SND Foundation silent auction.
So when you pack your suitcase, make sure you leave a little extra room for whatever you bring home.
Q. I had thought about donating something to the silent auction, but I plumb forgot about it. Hasn’t the deadline passed?
A. The deadline was Oct. 4. However, whenever I go to SND, I usually take a half-dozen or so things with me for the auction. I suspect they won’t turn anything down. Look for Steve Komives on the registration desk. Tell him I sent you.
The silent auction table at SND/STL.
Q. What sort of things are they looking for?
A. Well, what sort of things might you buy? For a quick primer, read this. When you check in at the SND registration desk, tell ’em you have something for the auction.
8. DON’T BE SHY
Every year, I find myself compelled to defend SND against charges that the Society is too cliquish.
Well, bullshit on that.
Folks of the Society are very glad to meet you. Some of them will travel all the way to Cleveland just to meet you, in fact. I don’t find them cliquish at all.
The society’s 2010 president — Kris Viesselman,
left — and the 2011 president, Steve Dorsey.
Two of the least-cliquish people I know.
Photo by Satoshi Toyoshima.
Hey, I once felt the same way, too. What I discovered, though, is that if you go out there and make an effort to meet people and to shake their hands and exchange business cards and if you can make intelligent conversation with them, they”ll be delighted to include you in their circle of friends.
There may be a few exceptions. But only a few. Hell, if these folks will talk to a geek like me, they”ll talk to anyone.
So don’t be afraid to chat. And if you’re shy, well then, go ahead and play the wallflower game. Just don’t come crying to me later about cliques.
Q. So you’re telling me there is no cliquish behavior at all by professionals at SND?
A. That’s not quite what I’m saying. Remember earlier, when I mentioned this is the one chance a year some professionals have to meet and greet each other? If you don’t quite know who or what you’re looking at, some of this meet-and-greet can seem like a bunch of cliques.
And, sure ’nuff, the first thing you probably do on Thursday night will be to attend the opening reception. Where you’ll spot a lot of meet-and-greet.
But do what I told you. Go meet the folks you want to meet.
Q. I have this one person I really, really want to meet. But I’m too scared to walk up to them and introduce myself! What do I do?
A. Sigh… Do us all a favor and get out of the communications business. Please?
OK, that’s a bit harsh. Try this instead…
Find an industry professional to whom you do not feel intimidated speaking. Ask her if she knows the person you want to meet. If she does, then ask her — politely — if she’ll introduce you.
If that doesn’t work, then suck it up and do it yourself. Just remember to be polite.
9. DON’T JUST SUCK UP — SUCK DOWN, TOO
You’re familiar with the idea of “pass it forward,” right? Consider this a variation.
You’ll be there in Cleveland with a few portfolio CDs, a big mess of business cards and an eager grin painted on your face, scanning the crowd for big-name visual editors to whom you can suck up.
The irony of it is: Many of those same visual editors are doing the same damn thing — they’re looking for even bigger-name AMEs and managing editors to whom they can suck up.
And the biggest names of all? In my experience, I’ve found that those top dogs don’t always consider themselves to be top dogs. So some of them, even, are looking for someone they can chat up.
From the opening reception at SND/STL last year: The
extraordinarily talented Ryan Huddle of the Boston Globe
sucks up to the extraordinarily talented Adonis Durado of
the Times of Oman. Who probably thinks he’s the one
sucking up. And, in fact, they’re both geniuses of visual
Journalism. Funny how this works.
So my message is this: Go ahead and spend time sucking up. That’s part of what networking is all about.
But make sure you spend some quality time with folks who are newer to the business than you are. Folks from smaller papers. College kids.
Or, if you’re still in college, underclassmen. Or folks from tiny colleges you’ve never heard of.
I’m a believer that if you spend time helping out smaller fish — what I call sucking down — then, at some point, the karma will even out and you’ll find yourself graced with good fortune.
Even if that doesn’t happen, you’ve made a friend for life. And who knows who that kid will grow into one day? I like to tell the story of a very young, very green college kid I met once at a Poynter seminar in 1994. Flash-forward fourteen years: That kid was deputy art director of the Washington Post.
So spend time helping out the folks below you in the pecking order. You’ll make friends, develop your leadership and mentoring skills and perhaps make a lifelong friend in the industry.
At the very least, you’ve done the right thing. And dammit, I’d like to think that still counts for something. Occasionally.
Q. Really? Even the professionals are there to suck up to other professionals?
A. Really. The sucking-up thing never really goes away. No matter how high you rise in the industry, there is always someone out there at a level above you — or a level above where you perceive yourself to be — sucking up to someone even higher.
Q. Wow. I feel a bit better, then.
A. Good. Stop sweating and, um, join the suck-fest.
10. FOLLOW THE TWITTER FEED
Starting with SND/Boston, back in 2007 — and the next year in Vegas, and the year after that in Buenos Aires and the year after that in Denver and then last year in St. Louis — the wifi airwaves were buzzing with information as the conference was happening.
SND maintains a live blog of the entire workshop, but frankly, I’ve had difficulty in locating that live blog. I never did find it last year. And I was there.
But still, word gets around amazingly fast. Mostly, thanks to Twitter.
Joey Marburger of the Washington Post, Matt Mansfield
of Northwestern University and Scott Goldman, then of the
Indianapolis Star, at SND/Denver. Photo by Michael Stoll.
While some of this coverage is aimed at folks back home who can’t make the trip, quite a bit of it is aimed at folks on-site: Where the cool party is happening. The scuttlebutt on which morning session will be the most kick-ass. Last-minute schedule changes. Who’s hiring.
David Kordalski tells us:
Absolutely. We plan on making the recipients of the SNDF travel grants sing, er, blog for their supper through social media tweets, updates on the sndcle Facebook page and on the website. Also, we’ll be collecting your feeds and instagram impressions of the conference and Cleveland on sndcle.com.
Every speaker will have a hash tag, as well as the general #sndcle
So don’t forget to bring your iPhone or your iPad or Droid or whatever and log on often.
Just don’t make the mistake of living all weekend with your nose in your device. Because, y’know, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to do that at home.
THREE CLOSING QUESTIONS
Q. I can’t go this year. I’ll keep up with the happenings via Twitter. But I sure wish I could feel like I’m a part of things.
A. Me, too. Luckily, there’s a way we can party like it’s 2012: Visit the SNDCLE Swag Store, where you buy items like T-shirts…
…and MacBook sleeves…
…and even specialty items like Andrea Levy apparel…
…and Julie Elman coffee mugs.
The same applies if you’re going this week but simply forget to pick up some swag. David tells us:
The Swag Store will be up until the end of time (which could be Dec. 21, 2012, if you believe the Mayans.
Find the Swag Store here.
Q. Is there no illustrator auction this year?
A. David tells us:
No, we’re not doing an illustrator auction this year. Frankly, we don’t think it was fair to the artists to have that commitment hanging over their head for a year.
The idea of illustration as a fund-raiser is still very appealing, though, so we’ve come up with a nice alternative. It’s easy for artists to participate, yet it puts them in control of exactly how much time that participation requires.
They simply send us one (or more) digital illustrations that fall within specific sizes, granting SND the second rights. We’ll put them on products on the SNDCLE Swag Store — shirts, mugs and/or notecards and art posters on archival paper — then make them available for up to a year. A high percentage of the proceeds will go toward the Foundation or toward conference expenses.
The piece(s) can be from their own freelance work, or they can be from their publication as long as they have the right to grant the usage. Of course, if they want to do something special just for this project, that’s very cool, but that’s not what we’re asking.
From our end, we’ll ensure we tell the story of the illustration, and provide links where the people purchasing the merchandise can see more. That way, the artists get more exposure, they have a closed-end to their participation and people (even non-SND folks, as this goes into the general Zazzle marketplace) get cool stuff. Win-win-win.
Again, find the Swag Store here.
Q. But wait! I have more questions!
A. I’m afraid I’m out of answers.
If you do have more questions, the best place to go is to Twitter. Make sure you use the #sndcle hash tag. I’m sure someone will get right back to you.