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Collaborating to succeed: seminar review
Friday, May 30, 2014 (All day)

Publishing professionals should collaborate with fellow art directors, photographers, writers and editors to enhance their portfolio and win new clients.

That was the thrust of PWAC Toronto Chapter’s May 22, 2014 seminar — here are some of the key highlights that emerged that allowed audience members to re-evaluate their approach to completing a project.

Alison Garwood Jones
• The power of platforms such as LinkedIn can help your business
• Freelancers should consider the importance of working in a social sphere, as it can lead to an increase in their client base
• Editors within your network can help to build up your profile, particularly if you ask for recommendations. Essentially, you are putting your name out there for new publishing opportunities
• Social media allows collaboration with new companies; this can lead to many opportunities for content provision
• Work your social media networks. With Twitter, follow those you admire — she’s a fan of Maria Popova — and join groups on LinkedIn. The people you follow may be people you can collaborate with in the future
• A good example of a project that has emerged through collaboration is www.brainpickings.com
• Show people your process in snippets. Share ideas on blogs and LinkedIn; particularly, take advantage of rich media on LinkedIn to show your work via interactive portfolios. “These are future breadcrumbs”
• Spread the love. Endorse on LinkedIn and highlight the work of others, and the favor will be returned

Matthew McKinnon

Working collaboratively with photographer Giles was an exercise in teamwork. “Giles Revell smashed a subject’s PR training (i.e., canned responses to everything I threw at her) by repeating my same questions, but triggering the flash on his camera every time she began the same answers. He only had to do it a few times before the façade crumbled, then we both got to talk to the real person on the other side.”
• While a photographer and writer work months apart, there are opportunities to collaborate
• If you are going to collaborate, talk to people in different ways. Listen twice as much as you speak
• By collaborating, you will be surprised by what another approach can do to enhance a project. During a photo essay project, McKinnon saw the strength of collaborative projects in a different way: “As excited as we are to work as a group, an outside individual had a better idea.”
• “My advice to freelancers who want to collaborate is to listen first, speak second, and then listen again. If you’re self-aware, then you know what you can and cannot accomplish on your own. So hear what others can do, tell them your capabilities, and then take direction to figure out how everyone can win.”
• A great web tool for facilitating collaborative projects is trello

Maureen Barlow and Sherryll Sobie Cooke, co-owners of Pixels & Prose
• Barlow and Cooke started by working together on a newsletter called the Bullet-Twin for mothers of twins. They had a great experience, and so decided to start a business together that offers writing and graphic design
• Says Cooke: “It was 2009 and I was volunteering as the editor of a non-profit newsletter when the art director, also a volunteer, announced his exit plan. At 20 pages, the newsletter was robust and needed an experienced designer who could handle multiple pages of copy and ads, and deliver by deadline every month. The next newsletter was looming; I needed to find a replacement, and fast. I learned about Maureen from a mutual acquaintance and quickly crafted an email. With pleasantries aside I got right down to business: ‘Will you be our next art director?’ I wrote. Sealed off with the overly enthusiastic subject header: ‘Brilliant Idea?’ I crossed my fingers and hit send.”
• When collaborating with someone, it is important to see one another face to face
• Celebrate your collaborative accomplishments
• When considering new collaborative partnerships, a personality test will outline your strengths and show you what working conditions might be like
• Personality traits can complement one another and enhance what you bring to the table as a team
• Some great personality tests are Meyer’s Brigg and Find Your Star Wars Twin

Angela Walcott is an executive board member with PWAC Toronto Chapter. Her work has appeared in THIS Magazine, The Gate, Sway, Share, CA Magazine and The Scene.

- Angela Walcott


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