Simply the Best – How to survive as a Radio Advertising Copywriter

Tina Turner has a lot to answer for. I thought the cliche “Simply the Best” would have dies a slow painful death by now. Not so. Every now and again we get a client (especially UK clients I write for) who think it would be a great idea to have this tune behind their ad. Well, like a cross border crocodile smuggler, they’d need deep pockets.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, as copywriters we’re dealing with clients who have an idea of what a radio commercial should sound like. When we give them alternative ideas they play it safe. If they write their own it usually starts with a question. “Are YOU thinking of buying a new (insert product)?” Cliché cliché cliché.

As copywriters I don’t think we have a problem coming up with new ideas, or giving old ideas a new spin. What we sometimes have trouble with is finding the energy and spark to fight back the dross and fight for our ideas past the apathy of some sales people (just give ’em what they want!) and the play it safe attitude of some clients.

I have worked at a radio group where the sales people simply would not work well with Creative. They were led by a management who didn’t give a stuff about quality and retention of clients. The job was a constant battle to try and get good practice in place. It was a thankless and soul destroying job.

How do we survive? 8 tips in no particular order….

1. Enjoy the clients who DO go with the more creative compelling ideas. Rejoice in their trust in you.
2. Remember it’s only radio. If we have a bad day, nobody dies.
3. Rejoice in the good sales execs… the ones that give you decent lead times, that produce excellent briefs and that talk you up in front of clients and super serve them. Asked for 1 script? Give them four! (the others?…. give ’em what they want)
4. Get a hobby. Away from radio and sales. I enjoy scuba diving and teaching scuba. If I didn’t have that I would probably be a frazzled mess.
5. Laugh at your mistakes… or at least snigger under your breath.
6. If you have a sales exec who really aggravates you imagine them naked. If that doesn’t work, ask them for a naked photo. It will at least keep them out of your office for a few days.
7. That brilliant idea rejected by a client could be an award winner… produce it and play it out on air (with client permission, in the early hours) and THEN enter it for some awards.
8. Marry a wonderful person who couldn’t care less about your job.

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