by Paul Russell
Why Actors Shouldn’t Trust Email
Actors have lost auditions and jobs due to email.
On recent Paul Russell Casting projects I deliberately engaged in a digital experiment. My office, when reaching out to unrepresented actors, sought electronic submissions only. The result? Devastating for the techno-addicted thespians.
What happened? Some startling surprises:
1. Actor email submissions dumped into the PRC spam folder
How & why?
The algorithms of PRC’s public email address server tossed—as junk—numerous incoming emails by the hundreds which contained the project’s title and/or role(s) sought. Yahoo (which my office has abandoned) programs its server to divert multiple incoming inquiries in which the text of each email contains repeated words and/or phrases shared by more than one email. Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and other public email servers also divert email from unknown senders which contain large attachments. And so, the actors I actively sought were banished to spam.
Only because of my interest in this digital experiment was I aware of what was happening. Another casting director (or a talent rep.) would have deleted with a single mouse click the long digital list of actors unjustly intermingled into the spam with the ads for sex aides and phishing scams.
2. Audition appointments never received by actors
This was the more shocking…
My office replied to a number of unrepresented actors to offer audition appointments. Too many of the audition appointments sent to actors utilizing various email servers (the most popular among actors being Gmail), were diverted into actors’ spam folders. A director’s request for an actress could not sway Yahoo from swiping away the young thespian’s audition appointment into a spam folder. The actress had only discovered the appointment (and my office’s multiple follow-up inquiries) in her spam folder after her audition day came and went.
Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL have also tossed emails from my office to recipients with whom I’ve had past electronic correspondence because the emails sent to associates contained identical text in each email: “audition,” “appointment,” “call-back,” and alike. These emails were not mass marketing materials. I was corresponding with requested information.
Why does this happen more than previously noticed? Email delivery is at the unmerciful whim of Silicon Valley techno-geek programmers who set algorithms deciding for you the delivery priority of your digital communications to your targets. Email platforms are becoming more stringent as to what and who can contact you. Overzealous algorithms now block desired dialogue; lumping your emails for seeking work with erectile dysfunction medication pitches.
You get what you pay for. ‘Free’ email does not equal assured delivery. Alternative or communication subsidiary? The USPS delivers to a brick and mortar mailbox never to a spam folder.
My office returned to actively seeking land mail submissions and calling out appointments via the phone. Too many actors have ignored land mail as an additional tool in their outreach. Some shortsighted actors whine that sending land mail takes too much time, effort, plus a dollar and spare change. To which I answer, you will receive in return what you pay for, which more than likely will be nothing.
Don’t forgo older technology in order to save miniscule cha-ching.
Regular readers of my online posts will recall what three talent agents and two casting directors recently asserted in an Answers for Actors post of how actors were placing themselves into obscurity in order to save a few dollars with their marketing investment. Successful businesses (actors are each an individual business) know that to reach their target consumer (casting and/or talent representation) multiple outreach platforms must be engaged.
As the owner of your business which is you; don’t rely on email as your only outreach to your consumers. Diversify to multiply opportunity.
Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher, and former actor has spanned thirty years. He’s worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul’s taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU, and speaks at universities including Elon, Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit www.PaulRussell.net.