One shortage concern is a stenographic (stenographers’) aversion to the colloquial big-box companies. Some reporters have reported that even when the company acquiesces and pays proper rates, they don’t want to take it for whatever perceived reasons. The other day I was lucky enough to catch a profound and interesting idea put out there by MA Payonk on her current blog space, Steno Jewels.
To put it in simple terms it’s the age-old idea of private labeling. Example: Imagine all the resellers out there that take Coke, slap their label on it, and sell it away. Perfectly legal, functional, conceptual example of private labeling. You see this all day, every day in probably every store you walk into.
How would this work in steno? Well, if an agency is asking you to cover and they’ve agreed to pay what you want paid, but you have an aversion to building their brand for whatever reason, it’s perfectly sensible and allowable for you to make an agreement with them that you will cover production, and/or billing, and/or read & sign or services that are normally under their purview. Imagine a world where it’s your name, transcript cover, brand, on all the materials. That’s what we’re talking about here.
Succinctly whatever their cut is, it is for the marketing side of what they’ve done. In this private label example, the reporter is becoming more of a focal point, face, and name attached to the full service.
There is some merit to this idea. Many steno and reporting companies today follow a strict corporate brand strategy where their name is on every transcript, and this is something you see all over the country from McDonald’s to From You Flowers. That said, money is money, business is business, and if you can sell the idea of the private label strategy or an alternative branding strategy, you can take advantage of this novel shortage solution. As a matter of fact, we have seen this strategy before in reverse. For example, if ABC Company asks CBA Company to cover, CBA often goes “as” ABC. This idea would be the company “going as” Reporter Doe.
The only real question is: Would a company agree? And my money is on yes. I truly believe that companies would agree, especially if there was a dialogue or agreement. Maybe the answer would be middle of the road: We want to handle production but you can put all your contact information on the certification. In this country there is literally no limit to what can be in an agreement except that an agreement may not be illegal, so it is a sincere hope that every freelance reporter would read this and maybe come to their own conclusions or come up with their own ideas about being a self-employed person and the advertisement decisions that need to go along with that. It’s a hell of a lot more corporate friendly than my previous suggestion to poach clients, and you can bet that given the option, these companies will choose to work with us.