Becoming An Outdoors Communicator (Part Two) — OWAA Conference

Continued from part one…

Bill Powell (OWAA legal counsel)

  • (Practices law in Columbus, MO.)
  • (Freelance writer)
  • Choice of a business entity.  Be yourself.  Be professional and accurate.
  • Copyright — the right to profit from any creative work.
  • Generally the person who creates the work is the owner of the right to copy that work and benefit financially.
  • If the person who creates something is an employee, then the employer likely owns the copyright to the work. (Work for hire doctrine)
  • There must be a prior, written agreement if this is not the case.
  • Independent contractors are not employees, but do work similar to an employee with some restrictions.
  • As an IC, the presumption is the IC is the owner.   A free-lancer is an IC.
  • If a free-lancer signs a contract (work for hire) then they likely give up their copyright ownership.
  • Registration of copyright is always encouraged.
  • If you do one job and then do freelance work on the side — be able to prove you keep all things separate.
  • After March 1, 1989…it is no longer necessary to include the copyright notice.   But do so anyway.
  • Defamation and slander is two legal areas of trouble for the communicator.   Make sure what you say is clearly identified as opinion if you this could be a problem.
  • Privacy — the law does protect the privacy of certain information.   Know the rules.
  • The presenter keeps referencing a book he wrote entitled: “Legal Handbook For Freelancers” by Bill Powell.
  • Anything you send out electronic is not private.
  • Contracts. The law does not always require a written agreement to be an enforceable contract.
  • Be wary of language speaking of “all rights” or “works for hire.”
  • If asked to sign a contract, don’t be afraid to modify that contract before agreeing to it.

Michael Furtman (talking on book publishing)

  • 1980s were the heyday of outdoor book publishing.
  • In about the year 2000, this changed.  First to go were the large coffee table books.  If people wanted to learn about a subject they turned to these sort of books…then the Internet made things much more available.
  • Book companies began being run by bean counters instead of editors.   Publishing companies became a very traded commodity.
  • Coffee table books are expensive and risky to produce.
  • Guide books tend to sell better.   People will pay for information to read about where they plan to vacation or travel to.
  • Book sales are still good for the presenter, but he points out there is a downward trend.
  • Guidebooks are cheap to produce…usually just a few bucks.
  • People are reading and writing more than ever…just that much of it is being done on the computer.
  • Books can still make money.  You need to be aggressive in your marketing to publishers.
  • Plus, publishers need to be aggressive in marketing your finished work.
  • Publishers will sometimes pay you an “advance” against future royalties.
  • Work for hire projects are a one-time sale of your work (no future royalties)
  • Self-publishing.  Can be very lucrative, but can also be highly risky.
  • Pick titles for your books that will stay on the shelves for decades.
  • Right now the market is in flux…so much dependent on the Internet.
  • Figure out how you as a book writer can tap into the opportunities.

Jody Stemler (communications consultant)

  • Be a generalist…but have the expertise by doing your homework when necessary.
  • It’s not always what you know, but often it’s who you know.   Call on the right people.
  • The beauty of being a consultant or writer, you can choose to live anywhere.
  • Certain states require a business license if you work out of your house.
  • Taxes—pay those estimated taxes.
  • Retirement and benefits is all on your own.
  • Working from home is great…but you have to be a self-starter to succeed.
  • Build relationships to gain clients.  Let people know what you are doing.
  • Fill a niche.  Offer something that other people need.
  • As a consultant, know the objectives of your clients.
  • You have to be detail oriented knowing what you want to accomplish.
  • Meet your deadlines.   Establish a project outline.
  • Be available, but know that there are times when you are not at work (especially when working from home).
  • As a consultant, if you do a good job people are going to hear about it.   If you do a bad job, even MORE people are going to hear about it.
  • If you do a good job the work will flow.

Chris Hunt (Trout Unlimited, non-profit communicating)

  • (presenter’s personal website)
  • Earned media — getting the word out without spending lots of money.
  • TU is reaching out to the blogosphere more than they are to print these days.
  • Non-profit outreach is rewarding because you can see it working.
  • It can be challenging to get on the radar to share your goals to the media.
  • The press generally looks to non-profits as “the good guys.”
  • The key is to identify the people who can be most helpful to you.
  • Learn how to “use” the media, in a good way.
  • Control your message and be consistent.  The message needs to correlate with the work the group is doing.
  • Be a real person…the media looks for that credibility.
  • Take the media outdoors and show them what you are trying to do.

Steve Lightfoot (state agency communicating)

  • Works for the Texas Game, Fish and Parks.
  • Considers his work a liaison with the general public.
  • Working for an agency is not a bad thing…most still have money.
  • The traditional communicators are the Public Information officer.
  • Many state agencies have their own magazines or publications.   Many will accept freelance work.
  • Free-lancers can create a niche (such as radio programming) for a department.
  • Agencies are now looking to social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
  • When state agencies have cutbacks, this is usually to their full-time staff.   These cuts create opportunities for free-lancers.
  • Approach the agency with the concept of providing contract work.   It can be lucrative.
  • Remember, government has fiscal years.   Sometimes at the end of the year there is money that needs to be used.   Be there for them to spend it on you.
  • Build relationships with the people who make decisions.
  • Be willing to do something different.   This will get you noticed quicker.
  • Government work can get dull…too many forms, procedures, etc.   You also have to rely on politicians at times.
  • Have to be able to think quick on your feet…be flexible.

Robin Giner (OWAA Executive Director)

  • 1927 OWAA was born.
  • This is the 83rd annual writer conference.
  • About 1,000 individual members with about 300 supporting (corporate) members.

 ©2010 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.