100 Year since the start of “The Great War”

It’s been 100 years since the start of WW1. And it’s been marked in various countries. Whenever I see clips of the trenches I think of this advert. Yes it’s an advert. But listen how it grabs you, and holds you emotionally, and no phone number in sight!

Click the photo to take you to the audio

Audio Here

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John Evington – Commercials, Friend or Foe

Some really nice thoughts on ad breaks on radio stations from John Evington here.

I worked under John many many years ago (about 23 years ago) in Stoke on Trent UK. He knows his stuff! I’ll remind him sometime of the day he voiced an ad for me… promoting the Bolshoi Ballet…. and mentioning some of those Russian dancers by name.

The dapper John Evington

The humble comma, the magnificent full stop

I’m not great at spelling and grammar. I am in awe of the spellchecker on my computer and often frustrated that it switches to US English (whatever that is!) from time to time. But something that is central to what copywriters for radio do…is writing for the spoken word. So now when I write by blog I use those three little dots to indicate the pause in the speech, that slight rise in intonation.

(I always notice spelling mistakes on this blog AFTER I hit publish!)

Often when clients write their own scripts, or even new copywriters, they forget that they are not writing to be read, but to be read out loud. That is why, when you write a script you HAVE to READ IT OUT LOUD.

As you read it, with a stopwatch, you will notice where the voice would have to take a breath, a pause, break a sentence. Put the punctuation in. Make it clear. Help the voice over by putting a new sentence on a new line. It helps them because they can see the sentence end that they are aiming at.

Also, don’t use caps lock. Proper sentence case writing will help give meaning to the words and using uppercase words tells the voice you wanted this delivered firmly… or in certain context, shouted. (shouting in a radio commercial is not a great idea unless there’s something being dramatised). I was taught at school that the word “and” does not require a coma. But on a script, from time to time I will add one to give that increased sense of a pause,(sic) and possibly a new thought.

Make sure your producer knows what you mean when you put in CAPS or italic… or underline!
Make the font big enough to read and 1.5 line space it so the voice can put in their own notes. Some voice over artists have their own way of marking up a script so it you ask for a particular emphasis on a word they can repeat it exactly take after take. (usually if you take more than 4 takes of a script with and experienced voice over, there’s something wrong with your communication and not the voices ability.*

So read it outloud.
Put in the punctuation.
Write for the SPOKEN word, not the written word.

*I was once assisting with an agency session at a radio studio with a voice over friend. I walked into the studio to hear the voice pleading with the agency “producer” to give him some direction on how he wanted it differently. They had just completed Take 30 something. The agency bod turned off the talk back and said to the sound engineer… “I think we have it anyway… let’s use take 2”.

I’m glad the voice over didn’t hear it!!

read out loud

Radio Advertising and Social Media

I’ve noticed an increasing trend with briefs for radio advertising and commercials getting to air. Clients are trying to get plugged in to social media and want people to “follow” or “like” them on Facebook… or to follow them on Twitter and employ various hashtags to do so.

I have no objections to this, but I do have some questions and words of caution for those advertisers.

1. What is the OBJECTIVE of your advertising? What do you want people to DO?

If the objective is to get more people to follow you on Facebook, OK, that’s fair enough. But if your objective is to get people to do business with you, to buy your product or service, why are you sending them to social media? Sending them from an advert… to another advert. Why aren’t you inviting them to your premises… or the e-commerce website where they can buy the product or service from you?

2. Why should I “like” you?

Social Media Landing Page DesignerOne of the things I’m constantly reminded of in all the Radio Advertising training I’ve done over the years is that people really don’t care about your company, even your product or service, what they care about is their need at the time, and how your product or service answers that need. Advertisers are too close to their product and believe the mission statements their company drills into their heads about the core values and the mission statements. It might give THEM a warm fuzzy feeling. But Joe Public really isn’t that bothered. Of the 500 people that may “like” your page, of the few hundred thousand that the radio station reaches… how many will buy from you? Have you given them a good reason. I wont “like” you… I’m not that emotionally invested. But I might BUY something from you.

3. Are you willing to open up the conversation?

Twitter and Facebook are double edged swords. If your business is not doing great customer service the conversation will reflect that. Travelocity is where I go before booking a holiday or visiting a restaurant, and I take note of the reviews and weigh my options. So be careful how you use social media. The boss from a scuba diving company I work for is brilliant at handling the very rare negative reviews he gets on Travelocity. He acknowledges the complaint and he describes what steps he’s taking to rectify and legitimate concerns. If you’re willing to take the good as well as the bad, to be actively engaged on social media, then great… go right ahead.

4. Are you adding value to people’s lives

I did some work for a butchery in the UK and they have a Facebook page. It’s great! Packed full of useful ideas for recipes and with their latest offers. They add value and if I was close to their outlets I would probably “follow” them. But for their radio advertising we did not mention Facebook… the objective was to bring people in to the shops because of the very good deal they were doing on a pack of meat for the BBQ. Again it came down to the desired result of their advertising. It was not to add a thousand Facebook followers… it was to move meat off the shelves.

5. How are you using Radio and Social Media together?

Does this contradict what I’ve said before? I don’t think so. If you have special offers on the radio, make sure they’re on your Facebook page as well, and the landing page of your website (I don’t want to click around to find a special offer, it should be there when I arrive… thank goodness people have generally stopped using flash landing pages!!). People will find you! You MUST make sure you’re EASY to find. People will be looking for you after you’ve advertised on the radio, but STILL your first objective is to get them to do business with you.

I listen to radio whilst using my tablet. I hear something I’m interested in I may Google it, so be prepared. Let the chatter bring in more people. But please, please, consider first what you want your radio advertising to achieve.

So you want to be a Voice Over?

rushtononradio

The way I was trained to present radio commercials to clients was to voice them down the phone…. Or in a meeting face to face. I normally tell them, “Look, I’ve not a voice over artist, we will use a professional, this is just to give you an idea of how it will sound. This particular client was down the phone. It was a Tommy Vance style read. I had the particular VO (Voice Over) in mind and he would do an amazing job. After presenting the client said “I want YOU to voice my ad.” I spluttered, excused myself, told him about the voice I wanted to do the ad… but still he insisted. I still have copies of the two ads I voiced and it reminds me of the nightmare.

Many people think it’s easy. You just speak into the microphone…. Surely!?

The reason I was so reluctant…

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I Can’t Hear You

I write radio ads.
I turn up the radio when they come on.
I listen to award winning ads.
I listen to the worst ads.
I listen out for colleagues ads.

But the radio listening public don’t “listen” to radio ads.

Have you ever been to a party where there are lots of conversations going on and someone mentions your name? You pick it from dozens of conversations. The brain is amazing at picking up cues that are relevant.

Radio consumers don’t have a desire to hear radio advertising… what they do have are problems. Their gas boiler is not working, their house is cold, they need to replace their car, they have a puncture, their salary ran out four days before pay day. What they will hear and pick out on the radio is an ad that offers a solution to their problem or need. The radio advertising that doesn’t get heard is the advertising that doesn’t offer that. Quite often it’s advertising crammed with information (because that’s what the client wants in their ad). It just becomes a drone.

Advertisers have to remember it’s NOT what they want to say but what the listener needs to hear to respond.

So say something that will make them tune in and take notice.

I’m not listening

30 seconds

I should read that book by that Chinese General.
Apparently the way he avoided losing in battle was pretty much avoiding the battle.
I am worn down by the fight.

It starts like this. I’d write a great ad. Even if it was only great in my own mind. It answered the brief… and the listener (who frankly only tunes to the station to hear MY ads) would love it. The client loves it too. 40 seconds of crafted genius! But. At here’s the big butt (sic). The exec has already booked the airtime as 30 seconds.

Before the brief landed on my desk.
Before the ad was written and agreed.
Before my parents were born.
The ad was already booked as a 30 seconds.

Now what? Can’t you just get the voices to TALK faster? Eerrrr no!
Can you cut it down? Yes! But it wont be THAT potential award winning masterpiece!
It’s what the client can afford. Really? That Merc driving client I can’t talk to because he’s on holiday in Mauritius?

So I rewrite the idea.
I cut it back to 30 seconds.
It’s passable.
But it’s not what it COULD have been.
My life is a little less fulfilled.
My loyal listening fans are not as enriched by my genius (I guess).
The exec and the client are not sure (after 3 broadcasts) if the ad is working.

But I’m on to the next battle.
I’ve written a series of genius 20s! They’re funny, memorable and compelling.

Guess what.

The client has booked 30s

40secons