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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Using Clear Envelopes and Document Mailers

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I just received this question from a student, and this question is asked so often by actors that I thought I would post my answer here:

I just ordered clear headshot envelopes to send out my headshots in.  I normally send out my resume/headshot in a regular 8 1/2 X 11 manila mailing envelope.  Since the headshot and resume will be in a clear headshot envelope do you think it is acceptable to use a Ready Post Photo Document Mailer???  I don't think they look as professional however it would protect my photo during mailing.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for such a great question. A lot of actors have asked about this, so I thought I would throw my $0.02 worth in!

Personally, I don't think that using document mailers are worth the effort. Envelopes are only bent or folded when absolutely necessary (for example, for fitting into a small PO Box) so when you include cardboard (or similar object) to protect the photo, you can sometimes inhibit the delivery of your photo to the intended recipient. The regular envelope should be protective enough from everyday wear and tear- if the post office needs to bend your photo to deliver it, you want to be sure that your envelope lets them do so. Plus, using a document mailer makes what is already an expensive endeavor even more expensive, and it adds another step to the mailing process. So, I think you can bypass this item. 

That being said, if you feel strongly about using it, I don't think it would look unprofessional. I think the recipient will have a clear understanding of why you are including it, so I don't think it would reflect badly on you. 

I also want to mention... if window envelopes cost more than traditional ones, for future mailings you can probably bypass using window envelopes altogether. Most offices have their mail opened by assistants & interns (or a mail room) so the end recipient won't have seen the envelope anyway. I am all about creative marketing, but if you are watching your wallet (like most of us are) this might be an area where you can save a little $$. 

Thanks again for posting this question- hope my feedback helps!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

6 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Ash with Wings said...

I know it has been a while since this post, but I wondered if you have changed your mind on window envelopes. Several websites have said it is THE way to get noticed quickly when submitting to agents. (Otherwise "your submission will have to wait weeks at the bottom of a pile" or something like that.) I am new to LA and want to mail to commercial agents, but I want to make the best possible decision on materials.
Thank you for your time. I just found your site today, and I am really enjoying it.

Erin Cronican said...

Great question, Ash. The websites you mentioned are absolutely correct- having a window envelope will certainly get your photo noticed faster than a plain envelope. But most likely, the envelope will not get you the kind of attention you are looking for- for several reasons:

1) As I mentioned in the original post, a good deal of mail is opened by assistants and then passed along to the intended recipient. Almost every agent and casting director I have met stated that they DO read all of their own mail. But they do not necessarily receive the contents in their original envelope.

2) If #1 is true and most industry folks read all of their mail, having a window envelope will not make you stand out any more or less. And window envelopes cost more money, so you'll be paying more with little chance of achieving greater results.

3) There is a slight chance that being able to see your photo without opening the envelope may actually do more harm than good. The agent/CD may see your photo and decide against opening the envelope altogether- rendering your resume & cover letter unseen.

Ultimately, my main feeling is that window envelopes won't really hurt you if you use them, but simply aren't worth the extra money. But on the off chance that my #3 point (above) is possible, I might avoid using these envelopes altogether.

Thanks for stopping by - I am so glad you are enjoying the blog!

Erin =)

blogsbyben said...

Thanks for your posting.
An hour ago I had decided to get the window envelopes.
I am glad I read your blog here before committing though because you really offer some logical points regarding why someone like me (see: broke) should opt against them.
It brings up another question for me, though; If the envelope will be received by a middle-person anyway, can I drop off my materials in person--only to save the money, not with the intentions of having a meet-and-greet?

Thanks again for the blog.

Erin Cronican said...

Thanks for your question, Ben. It depends on where you live- in NYC, it is frowned upon to do drops offs, so if you live in the city it would be best for you to use the mail. if you live in another city, like Los Angeles, drop offs are more common. But then you want to ask yourself- would you be spending the same amount of money on gas? And how much time will it take from your day to do the drop off- is it worth your time? Once you consider these questions, you'll have a better idea what the right choice would be for you.

Hope this helps- thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Hi! If you do use the clear window envelopes, is folding your cover letter to fit inside, okay? The envelopes are made especially for head shots (8X10), yet standard paper is 8 1/2X11... I don't want this to look unprofessional, but on the other hand it, sounds like an intern may be the one to have to unfold the letter anyhow. ha.

Erin Cronican said...

Great question- I think that would be fine. My preference would be to fold the paper with the writing facing outward, that way they can see that it is a cover letter before they open it.

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