Did you know Disney has an entire department that has one job... to watch social media and every post that has Disney & Disney “Like” Characters in it? How do I know that because a dear friend and baker found out the hard way. She was incredibly talented at creating Disney cake pops, cupcakes and amazing cake designs. What does one do but to showcase their talents on Facebook & Instagram…right? WRONG!!! Disney reached out to her and fined her for every photo/font on each social media outlet, fined her for every like, comment & share also (and for how long they had been actively published). Fortunately for her, she reached out to Disney very quickly after already removing everything from all platforms, they worked out a deal for a much lesser fine for her quick actions and openness of not knowing.
Now what they explained to her was because Disney pours lots of time, energy and money into creating their characters and image of their brand. They don't want a bad version of their characters out there and those to be associated with their brand. Plus the biggest no-no was that she was making a profit/money off of their characters. Now if you are a parent baking a cake in your home and you give your kid a birthday party…YOU can do that…but the minute you make $$ that’s the #1 can’t do! Your Baker can create a plain cake and you/parent can even purchase the Disney Characters to place on top…but the Baker can’t unless they own a licenses with Disney (that’s why your local grocery store can).
Remember back in the day when you would ask your Dj or you/couple would make a fun “mix” CD of all of the songs from the wedding and give them out to guests as party favors… this was a great idea because you’d relive all of those special moments every time you heard one of those songs…. THAT’s ILLEGAL TOO! You do not own those songs and can’t republish them without the song writer’s permission. It’s like you stole their hard work and gave it away for free.
So why do I share these stories…
I never thought in a million years that my trust with a vendor/venue would be broken. I’m an open book. I will share my knowledge and expertise to assist anyone coming up in this industry to better themselves and allow them to grow throughout their journey of finding who they want to be. But that trust was recently broken when it was brought to my attention that another local vendor had taken our KYAE branded schedules and passed them as their own. Literally they just took off our KYAE logo and replaced theirs… now they changed a few items that related to that particular event…but it was our exact font, layout, & flow of the night (which there are multiple options for schedules throughout the world).
Now I totally get it…almost every wedding has the same traditions and basic facts… but A TIMELINE is the showcase of a planner/coordinator. It’s how we explain to our potential and current clients how we execute an event. Ours being a unique flare and combination of several places around the world due to our network and relationships from attending worldwide conferences and experiences different cultures.
It’s amazing how some planners/coordinator’s schedules are like ghosts, you never see them & their schedules never see the light of day. Their vendors are so close to them they wouldn’t dare share their wisdom and how their flow even works. I remember my dear friend Leigh telling me how she would send everything in a PDF and made it very clear that those schedules were property of her brand and style. They would remain confidential between vendors, clients and her… that’s why I started writing at the bottom of all my emails when I sent out schedules that:
Please note these schedules are property of KYAE
and shall only be used on ___date of wedding/event with a KYAE lead coordinator onsite.
I think what hurts me most is I trusted this vendor and we liked working with them but now that trust is broken and I feel as if I have to update our schedules a bit because I don’t know if this is the first time they have passed our work on to their client/vendors or if they have been doing this since all of our weddings together over the past few years…
I’m sure the few vendors that cross paths with both of us will quickly notice our style/brand along with our 18 years of experience & expertise verses the poorly cut & paste, not correctly spaced version of our schedules.
Why and I sharing my story…for several reasons:
· BE HONEST!!! If you are just starting out whether you are a planner, building a venue, DJ, Photographer…any other vendor be up front if you are “stalking” another vendor in your field… I promise “you will get a lot more bees with honey than vinegar.” Tell the person you’d love to sit down and chat with them about how they got started, tips/tricks, things to look out for. Ask for advice… become friends! There is PLENTY of weddings & events for all of us! Who knows, one day they might be booked and refer you (I recommend you doing the same.)
· PAY YOUR DUES!!! Join Associations and the local Chamber to create your own network. Those Associations have members willing to help you grow in your career.
· GET EDUCATED!!! Take classes at a local community college or get a degree at a University. Get certified in your skillset.
· Attend local, national and international conferences to stay up to date on your skills and this ever changing industry.
· IF a vendor shares their documents, contracts, schedules, ways of doing business… DO NOT COPY THEM!!! It’s okay to use these as a guide/inspiration to create YOUR OWN BRAND and style. Remember no matter how large you think this industry is…it’s TINY and people talk! Couples are going to inquire to several vendors in the exact same skill/service (shocking right?!?!?). So don’t allow your files to look just like someone else’s paperwork because then they are going to question both of those vendors:
o Whose file is this really?
o Did they copy from someone else?
o Who’s been doing this longer?
o Who has more experience?
o Who is educated?
o Who has associations and networks to back them up?
The carbon copy will never be as “perfect” as the original and the carbon copy will never do it like the original…that’s why I always say:
I personally DO NOT HAVE ANY COMPETITION… Because NO ONE is going to do it exactly how I would do….
We each should have our own way of doing things not carbon copy what’s been done before or how someone else is doing it. Plus there are enough couples for all of us in this industry.
I thought long and hard about posting this blog because this betrayal of trust really got to me over the last few days…I just want new up and coming planners/vendors to be mindful and learn from this mistake… mistake of that vendor copying me & me trusting them with my thoughts and intellectual property… now everything will go out in PDF’s and our couples will no longer be allowed to share our documents via googledoc with other vendors. My preferred list is going to become more narrow and we will be very weary of whom we share our full schedules with. FYI I’ve failed students on projects before due to plagiarizing… this is no different. So if you have copied information on your website or in your paperwork I would highly suggest to take the time this weekend and update everything to an original piece of work and give credit where it’s due. I know I personally work hard in making sure to give credit to vendors and where I’ve gained my knowledge of inspiration. I just hope others will follow in doing the same…
As for us and KYAE...now we just take a step back and upgrade what we're already doing.... Question is are you ready to step up the game with us?!??!