Policies, Terms & Conditions

Guidelines for Success

Please familiarize yourself with our policies, so we can insure customer service, quality of work and a mutually beneficially working partnership. Upon the retaining of services from Sterling Media Northwest, clients are responsible for understanding and upholding the policies and procedures outlined below.

  1. Ala Carte / Creative Services: These services require a security purchase order (approximately 50%-100% of the total estimated costs) and are due in advance; balance is due upon delivery.
  1. Hard costs: For all work that is commissioned and that require out-of-house, pass-through expenses, i.e.: printing costs, 3rd party vendor services, licensing, talent, production materials, etc., are to be paid in full before work will be initiated on such services.
  1. Media Buying: All costs for media space or air-time are to be paid in advance or paid via an agreed retainer trust in your name (advertising/marketing ‘war chest’) at the beginning of each month, and is to be replenished monthly based upon a mutually agreed budget.
  1. Trade Agreements: All trade agreements will be reflected on the books, put in writing, and invoiced for/or against monthly. We require some sort of traceable, tangible, method of acquiring trade credits so both sides can keep a running accounting of agreed upon traded services or goods. Gift cards can work very well.
  1. Rates: We are committed to providing top quality work at a competitive price and will always go the extra mile for our clients. Businesses and organizations throughout the Northwest come to us for the quality, consistency, and convenience we provide. Our rates are based on our 30+ of years of combined expertise, scaled to be competitive and based on the going rates for such professional services in our region. All of our standard agency clients (non ala carte) have access to our services at a 10% or greater discount from our published rates. Please refer to our published hourly rates and ala carte services menu. If a fee for a service has not been described specifically, we will defer to our standard published hourly rates. There may be additional charges/costs to consider and may not be included in original proposal cost or estimates.
  1. Invoicing: After the initial invoice reflecting your security purchase order, invoicing will commence monthly against your retainer credit balance until balance of retained services have been paid out in full. All invoices are net 10 days. In most cases an invoice and monthly statement will be mailed to you. Ongoing media buying will require monthly refilling of the advertising funds for media buys. Sterling Media Northwest reserves the right to withhold delivery and any transfer of ownership of any current work if accounts are not current or overdue invoices are not paid in full.
  1. Late Fees & Interest: Balances will receive interest charges after 30 days of 10%, and will be charged interest of an additional 20% at 60 days and for every month thereafter until completion of payment. If balances are referred to a collections agent for settlement of balances, all collections fees (typically 30% of the total amount) will be billed additionally to the client at the time of referral.
  1. Rush Jobs: SMNW will typically assess a 10%-25% ‘rush charge’ to ensure that our company and our vendors are properly compensated for rush jobs, (i.e.: bumping up a project in our priority cue before other client’s and paying customer’s deadlines) to help cover our costs from our vendors for rush fees, overtime of our staff, increased shipping and handling charges, etc.
  1. Mark-up: Vendor Mark-up is the agency standard of 17.5%-25%. Out-of-pocket expenses will be billed at 25% mark-up, which covers our handling costs and advancing of funds to cover costs for the client’s project.
  1. Additional Expenses: This may include but is not limited to extended in-house printing, postage, travel expenses, parking, licensing of fonts, purchase of stock imagery/stock video, royalty free music fees, talent/model fees, etc.
  1. Expense Approval: We will seek client approval whenever possible for additional expenses, however, if client approval is not possible, and the additional expenses are necessary for the completion of the project as outlined in the approved proposal/script/storyboard, etc., Sterling Media Northwest will use conservative and professional judgment in moving forward with any additional expenses and will invoice out-of pocket expenses plus mark-up.

Many clients come to us on a project-to-project basis or for a specific service or many services over time to ensure consistent work and application of their brand.

  1. Ala Carte / Creative Services: All hard costs for creative services, i.e. vendors fees + mark-up are due up front with a 50%-100% deposit for allocated budget described in proposal agreement for the production time of said creative service.
  1. Media Buying: All media buying will be based on estimated costs or strategic budget planning and are due in advance of any media buys placed on the client’s behalf and requires the signature of a Letter of Appointment document granting Sterling Media Northwest specific, occasional/seasonal permission to place media on their behalf. All media vendors will continue to have the right to direct the client directly regarding sales and inquiries.

Agency clients value the expertise, quality, consistency, and convenience that an advertising agency provides, as well as the insulation we create between themselves and the many various media outlets and their sales representatives. By working with us directly and exclusively for all realms of advertising, creative marketing, public relations and media buying services, our agency clients find we can save them time and money, and reach their customers more effectively with a creative and consistent advertising message and campaign(s).

  1. Agency Representation Application: To qualify for advertising representation, we request basic business and financial information. All provided information will be treated as confidential and for internal use only. Sterling Media NW reserves the right to check credit references and credit reports with respect to evaluating its decision. If your business meets our criteria, your application will be submitted to our agency executives for consideration.
  1. Investment/ Contract: Upon agency approval, we will develop a customized marketing plan and budget outline for your business. We require a minimum monthly advertising and marketing budget for services of $5000 per month commitment and minimum 6-12 month time commitment unless it is campaign or project based. Most of our clients choose to have us work with them as an ongoing and developing relationship for many years. We find the longer we can work on development of an ongoing advertising and marketing plan for a client, the better the results and the better the return on investment. The more we can grow to know your company, the more we help your success grow.
  1. Retainer: Agency clients must provide a retainer at the beginning of each month to bill against for all media buys, ad design, website design & maintenance, video production & other creative services.
  1. Letter of Appointment: the Letter of Appointment is a standard form letter that agencies use and media outlets require that expresses that the advertising agency has been officially appointed as the Agency of Record for the advertising client and that the agency is thereby authorized to negotiate ad rates and place media buys and commercial traffic instructions, as well as allowing the advertising agency to be in communication regarding accounting and financial information. This also allows us to collect and review invoices and make payments for the advertising client. The Letter of Appointment (or L.O.A. in media speak) is not a binding contract, but more of a ‘permission slip’ from your company and our agency to the media partners that we work with. We also disclose guidelines for invoicing and payment as well as direct media salespeople not to contact you or your business directly, but rather to contact our agency representatives so that we can meet with you to discuss options and offerings from the various media sales reps when it’s convenient for you. We request that the client does not interject anything into the communications with media channels and other vendors whatsoever, other than to direct them to speak with our agency representatives. This will help avoid confusion and extra expenses or mistakes that can be very costly.
  1. Agency Commission: Agencies across the globe receive a 15% commission off of rates for gross costs for media purchases from media partners (i.e.: radio, TV, print media, outdoor, etc.). We negotiate the best deals we can leverage based on our relationships with our media partners and collective media budgets, and pass that savings on to the client, and the media pay us a 15% commission for taking care of everything for them.
  1. Media Buying: A minimum required project/campaign/monthly compensation for this service is $500, which covers our time in research, negotiating deals, fielding sales calls, correspondence, repairing errors, follow up, proof of performance from the media outlets, etc. A project/campaign/monthly media buy of $5000 qualifies for this fee due to the 15% agency discount all agencies receive from media outlets. i.e.: 15% of $5K=$500. In some cases, we will be wiling to take this amount in trade or direct payment against the monthly expenses to be incurred for media buying services at a minimum total equal to $500 collectively.
  1. Administrative Fee: All regularly invoiced clients will be charged a monthly administrative fee of $49 for our time in accounting, error checking, hard costs, communications to solve problems, locating missing invoices, our invoicing of collected services, A.R. services, and our bill paying to the media outlets on behalf of the advertiser.
  1. Discounted Rates: Agency Clients will receive a 10% discount or more on all creative services.
  1. 3rd Party Contracts: Sterling Media NW may contract with others to provide creative services such as writing, photography, video capture and illustration, etc. The client aggress to be bound by any terms and conditions, including required credits, with respect to reproduction of such material as may be imposed on Sterling Media Northwest by such third parties.
  1. Preferred Vendors: We take pride in utilizing the services and products of vendors that we trust and have an ongoing relationship with, and due the best we can to make sure the highest of quality is delivered. Sterling Media Northwest tries to use the highest quality local and regional vendors whenever possible. We understand that there are always options out there that may come in with bids for similar services or products at lower prices, but you may rest assured that we will get the best deals for our clients that we can from the vendors that we work with. We expect that you entrust in us to provide you with best quality and price that we can find and use reputable and socially responsible vendors whenever possible.
  1. Unfamiliar Vendors: If a client requires from us a quote from a different and unfamiliar vendor, we will charge our standard research fee to search for quotes from outside vendors, and cannot, as such, guarantee the quality of the product that they produce and will assess our standard mark-up of 17.5% to 25%. If client prefers to research, select, & work directly with vendors, Sterling Media Northwest is happy to provide appropriate files to client for distribution to such vendors.
  1. Requested Client Vendor: If a client has a specific vendor that they would prefer that work with for a specific project, we will also negotiate the best rates we can and get them the file formats in proper sizes and file extensions for their optimal use and will assess similar fees as previously described. Once a project is initiated with a vendor on behalf of a client, we ask that all communications be directed through Sterling Media Northwest and that the client does not interject anything into the communications with that vendor whatsoever. This will help avoid confusion and extra expenses or mistakes that can be very costly.
  1. Project Proposals: Project proposals are an estimate, not a quote. It is based on the information provided, and may be inappropriate or underestimated if additional information is forthcoming, the scheduling changes, or specifications change. Research and development, contact of media outlets, checking on available media inventory, negotiating rates, creative considerations, etc., take time and cost money and should only be inquired upon only by businesses who are serious about allocation of funds to compensate the agency for our investment of time and resources on their behalf. Upon signature, Clients are responsible for understanding and upholding the policies and procedures outlined in this document.
    • Revisions & Alterations: Work not described in the signed proposal agreement, including but not limited to revisions, corrections, alterations, updates and additional proofs, will be billed at an additional cost and hourly labor rate. SMNW will keep the client informed on any additional services required and will seek Client approval
    • Samples: Client shall provide Sterling Media Northwest with a minimum of 1 sample of each printed or published work for our records and use in SMNW’s Portfolio or other self-promotional uses.
    • Cancelation & Delay: In the event of cancelation, or if any phase of the assignment is delayed longer than sixty days, we will bill for work completed to date.
    • Refunds: All payments, retainers and security purchase orders are non-refundable unless Sterling Media Northwest is reasonably at fault for not delivering what was originally agreed to in our proposal.
    • Loyalty Clause: Once contracted for services, the client agrees to work solely with Sterling Media Northwest to provide the services for which we were hired. If we are contracted to place media in a given market on your behalf, it can be very time consuming and confusing for representatives from your business to be placing media buys or associated negotiations with other media outlets or representatives in the same market and will end up adding to our agency’s time and costs. If you or your representatives are contacted by any media sales representatives, it is our expectation that you will refer them to us and make it clear that you are represented by our agency and should not be called on directly. In addition, taking our project, or work on any project, to another service provider without our formal written consent will result in additional charges or fees for work, and may be grounds for pursing legal remedy for copyright infringement against our agency and creative team.
    • Reasonable Open Door Client/ Agency Communications: In the event of a delay in completion in any part of a project due to unforeseen complications on behalf of our team or the client, we reserve the right to reasonable adjustment of timelines for completion of the project based on updated scheduling, gathering of necessary content, coordination of talent, products, locations, etc., based on open and clear communications between agency and client
  1. Agency Marketing Plan/ Contract: Once a contract is entered into, we expect that we will be given appropriate time to work with that contract and develop a return on our investment. The agency advertising and marketing contract is a basic outline that will allow us to reach prospective customers and bring them to you, however this does take time, and there are no guarantees. We will make changes to the initial plan and overall outline as we find the right chemistry of media mix that can be achieved within your budget and for your business, but it also takes time to properly evaluate performance. We cannot, and will not, be constantly changing our media placement and risking our negotiated rates and relationships to acquire such preferred rates due to sudden and unexpected changes demanded by our clients without good reason. Charges may apply for time involved in man-hours for regularly ‘re-inventing the wheel’, so to speak, to meet sudden client demands. That being said we will always be flexible and understanding of the changing needs of business and the rapidly changing media landscape that we navigate for our clients for the betterment of their business.
    • Contract Dissolution: Any costs incurred by the agency on behalf of the client that were to be spread across the duration of a contract as well as any commissions scheduled until the end of such contract date will be reasonably compensated upon dissolution of any contracts. All media buying placements that have been previously scheduled require a minimum of 30-day cancellation notice as required by the majority of media outlets throughout the industry. All closing contract payments are due immediately upon contract dissolution.
    • Client Termination: If more than 90 days out in payments, client will be immediately released from our advertising agency without additional notification. Media outlets will be notified of the debt situation in professional terms and will be advised against working with said client without deposit and advanced payment. Excessive lack of communication and regular lack of a timely response to our communications can also result in client termination by the agency. We expect our clients to regard us a partner in their business and without attention to our communications we will be wasting time and money and we will not be able to do our job properly.
  1. Copyright: All materials used in the production of this assignment, whether preliminary or final, including original artwork, computer generated artwork, digital files, formats and code, remains the sole property of Sterling Media Northwest, unless specifically licensed and released in writing and after all costs and licensing have been settled. Creative concepts, proofs, designs and ideas which are not accepted, remain the property of Sterling Media Northwest and may be used in the future during the course of other assignments by Sterling Media Northwest only.
  1. Client Permissions: Sterling Media Northwest grants the client permission to use the Final Art solely in connection with the Project as defined in the Proposal and for usage of the Final Art in its original form only. Client may not crop, distort, manipulate, reconfigure, mimic, animate, create derivative works or extract portions or in any other manner, alter the Final Art. Any form of unapproved alterations will be grounds for copyright infringement. With written agreement and secured licensing, most any of our creative work can used for other applications, but we request that the client communicates with us clearly about the intent.
  1. Promotions/Advertising: Sterling Media Northwest, our employees, freelancers, and interns retain the right to use all stages of our work in any promotional materials or advertising for the benefit of our agency and it’s artists.
  1. Accreditation: SMNW has the right to include a credit line on all completed work and this same credit line shall be included in any publication of the design by the client. Written approval is required for any publication of the Client’s design created by SMNW.
  1. Communication: Client shall be responsible for performing the following in a reasonable and timely manner: Communication of administrative, operational, financial or creative decisions if they in any way affect the design or production of Deliverables from our agency team, as well as timely coordination of required approvals and scheduling of meetings.
  1. Provided Materials: The Client guarantees that all materials supplied to SMNW are owed by the client or that the Client has such necessary rights in such materials to permit SMNW to use for a specified project. The Client shall indemnify, defend and hold SMNW harmless from and against any claim suite, damages and expense including attorney fees, arising from or out of any claim or by any party that its rights have been or are being violated or infringed upon with respect to any materials provided by the Client.
  1. Commissioned Materials: It is the clients responsibility to research any possible trademark, copyright or intellectually property rights infringement for commissioned materials. The Client shall indemnify, defend and hold SMNW harmless from and against any claim suite, damages and expense including attorney fees, arising from or out of any claim or by any party that its rights have been or are being violated or infringed upon with respect to any materials commissioned by the Client.
  1. Licensed / Stock Materials: It is the client’s responsibility to maintain and uphold the rules and regulations that pertain to any licensed or stock components within the project or design(s). After the project has been delivered for production or to the client, Sterling Media Northwest will not be held liable or responsible for any unlawful use/alteration of licensed/stock components if such use/alterations are executed by another party or individual.
  1. Project Approval: Sterling Media Northwest will make every reasonable effort to assure the accuracy of the material produced, but are not responsible for the correctness of copy, illustrations, photographs, trademarks, nor for obtaining clearances or approvals. It is the client’s responsibility to proof the final version of product before it is sent to media outlets and vendors for distribution. Once written project approval via email or hard copy signature has been issued by client or client’s approved representative, any further changes to ad copy, creative, fixing of typos, etc., will be done at the request and expensive of client.
  1. Privacy: We will take normal measure to safeguard any materials entrusted to us. All correspondence and documents provided will be treated as confidential between the client and Sterling Media Northwest. However, we are not responsible for the loss, damage or unauthorized use of such materials, nor are we responsible for the actions of the vendors and suppliers we utilize. Upon agency client relationship we will provide you with our annual privacy policy notice document.
  1. Records: Sterling Media Northwest shall maintain records of hours and reimbursable expenses and shall make such records available to the retained Client for inspection on request.

This Agreement shall be construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the state of Oregon.