Walk the Talk: Standing Up for the Value of Your Creative Work


Today we bring you a guest post by Stan Friedman, founding principal at San Francisco’s Pivotal Communications.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft — the world’s #1 software company, awash in a record $22 billion in net income on more than a record $87 billion in 2014 global revenue — announced that nearly 20% of its workforce would be laid off. It was the largest one-time firing in company history.

Citing pursuit of a broader “transformation” for Microsoft, its CEO said that he intends to “flatten the organization and develop leaner business processes.”

You may not be in the tech sector, but we’ve all heard this type of corporate rationale many times before….

What do you want to bet that a large number of Microsoft’s laid-off workforce—by choice or circumstance–will join the freelance nation? They might become 2.0 99-weekers, face obsolescence, or pursue limited opportunities as subcontractors. This means compensation for their work output that’s a fraction of their previous wages, reduced benefits, and curtailed long-term security—all common occurrences since The Great Recession of 2008.

Six years after the so-called “recovery” from The Downturn, corporate profits have risen by 25-30 percent on average.  And Corporate Headquarters no longer need excuses or explanations to make salaried full-timers into 1099ers—cheaper and more replaceable.  It’s noteworthy that two-thirds of the jobs gained back in the recovery are now lower-paid part-time or freelance.

Our industry has not been spared…there’s hardly a sense of what constitutes fair play or fair valuation around our creative output.  A feigned industry civility has emerged that borders on economic bullying in which creative, valued full time employment has morphed into “contingent employment”, enforcing disingenuous claims of authorship and theft-of-voice, as well as a “minimal employment” reality with depressed compensation, lack of benefits and little-to-no security.

So what must 1099ers do to protect the integrity and “authenticity” of our creative output for these times?   

Well, it’s going to take individual action and collective sharing of strategic outcomes.  That’s why we want to hear your stories about the ways you’ve pushed back and stood up for yourself in making smart, tough choices. We’d also like to hear your wall-of-shame stories and the instructive ways in which you acquiesced in order to take care of business or the regrets you may have had about not pushing back in given situations.

Why?  Because we’ve all been there—and we know in our hearts that we will likely be there again.  We need to be prepared to advance courageously.

Walk the talk:  Protect your creative value.  Begin now.  Leave no stone unturned.  Get with the program.

Media & Market Strategist-Tactician Stan Friedman profiles brands and issues.  As Pivotal Communications Founding Principal, he continues working as an iconoclastic problem-solver and corporate gadfly. He most recently won the PRWeek Awards 2014 “Corporate Branding Campaign of the Year” (for Seymour PR and Sabra Dipping Co.).