Tardis writing…. writing to time

The Tardis is Doctor Who’s vehicle for getting around in time and space. From the outside it is the size of an old UK police box, inside it’s a massive maze of rooms. Even the Doctor hasn’t explored the entire Tardis. A thirty second radio ad is not a Tardis. I have once or twice asked clients to read scripts back to me over the phone (at the pace they want their amended script read) and time them. On one occassion the 30″ I had written had changed into a 70″ ad. But he assured me it was still a 30″.


Writers

You have to time your script out loud and leave time for sound effects.
A word count on the computer is useful… but it’s just a guide until you time it properly.
Read it with any music you’ve chosen. You could be 2 seconds or more over time on a slow piece of music
If you read it out loud and it comes to 39″. Congratulations you’ve written a 40.
If it’s 35 seconds… what can you cut out that’s not needed to make it a 30…. or what will make it BETTER and a 40?
If the client has revised it, is it STILL the duration you timed? Edit edit edit.
Before you ask….YES the Voice Over can go a bit quicker. But probably not THAT quick and it will sound rubbish. Make sure it’s right before you go into the studio.
BUY A STOPWATCH. They’re not expensive.

Salespeople

You are not selling suits in just one size.
If it needs to be longer OR shorter when the scripts have been written tell your client why it may not be a bog standard 30.
Learn about the advantages of longer commercials, more creative commercials and most importantly commercials that communicate and sell.

Clients

If you want to say more, if you want to mention something else (“… not to mention”) then, if you don’t want to damage your ad, ask for another script. The more you cram in the less effective your communication becomes.

Read it out loud. Project slightly. Time it!

Voice Overs

Sorry.
It’s a bit over written.
Thanks for getting me out of a hole with your skills!

Award Winning Radio Commercials

Radio commercials that win advertising awards are not always great effective radio ads. Sometimes they’re written just to win awards and may only get broadcast once, late at night, to qualify. Some radio ads have won gongs but not had any measurable result for the client… and some have.

Many year ago I wrote some ads using the voice of the late great Brian Glover…. based on an idea by the late great Mike Hurley. It was for a real client to sell a real car… and I didn’t know it was being entered into the London International Advertising Awards. I got a finalist certificate and was so pleased. It’s nice to be recognised in what can sometime feel like an industry where there is little recognition for the lowly copywriters and producers.

I have been recently asked on to the Grand Jury of the New York Festivals and I am very excited to be judging in the radio section. So what will I be looking for? I guess they will give us criteria… but personally I want a combination of these..

1. I want to be surprised where the ad takes me.

2. I want to hear people who understand and use the medium of sound.

3. I want to be held for the full duration of the ad.

4. I want to be moved emotionally or changed in my thinking.

5. I want to laugh or cry.

Long time no speak

It’s been a long time since I wrote here.

But a LOT has happened.

January last year we had a baby boy. Alex is now 1 year old.

We also relocated back to the UK. It was a big move, especially for my wife who’s now getting used to the English winter weather, short days and different foods.

Since January 2015 I am working for a company called Get Carter Productions. Get Carter are one of the top independent producers of radio commercials in the UK. I’ve already done some nice national campaigns.

Opening a new chapter is very exciting…. watch this space.

In Praise of The Radio Station Copywriter

Recently I had a mail from a former colleague from way back in the day. He is high up in sales for a radio group. I asked him who did his creative and he told me they use external production houses…. “It’s MUCH cheaper” he told me.

Mmmm. Lets look at that. A few years ago I was working as a freelancer at a radio station and we went out to see a client. We took a brief. Nothing different to what you may have to do with an external production house. The sales person kind of expected that the client would buy one ad to run on her station for a month. But we took more briefs, wrote around a dozen ads, and presented them to the client. We developed the relationship with that client, honed and worked on the creative and then they dropped the bombshell. They loved them so much wanted to run all the ads, in all the areas where they were launching their product. Suddenly an order that was maybe ten thousand pounds because hundreds of thousands. Creative and Sales working together can get clients to spend that would not have done so, it increases spend… it MORE than justifies having a Creative on the team…. if IF you do it right. IF you don’t see a writer as just a factory to make ads. In 2 visits I justified the salary of a Creative for the next 20 years. One Creative Consultant I know went into a radio station and worked out that every year the Creative Team added around a million pounds to the station that they would not have written without the onsite writers. I’m not sure HOW he worked it out, but I can believe it.

The UKRD Group has caught on to this and have employed Mike Bersin, putting site writers into their radio stations. Writers who can write multiple ad campaigns, who can present creative with confidence, and who have a wealth or radio experience. There are some big names and people who I hugely respect working at some UKRD stations now. I wish them well with it. They deserve to do big things.

As for production houses, there’s still a need for them. Healthy competition is a good thing. Agencies have choice, clients have choice and smaller stations that cant afford a production facility have an option. But if you want to see growth in sales, get a writer!

How many writers? Good question. Wouldn’t it be interesting if every sales person had a dedicated creative? I can only dream.

For more on Mike Bersin and his methods for increased Radio Station revenues, read these books!

The Creative Led Sell: The Definitive Guide to the Easiest and Most Effective Way to Sell Radio Advertising
Taking the Brief: A Simple Guide to Getting Great Briefs for Ads That Will Make the Client Money
Make More Money: A Business Users Guide to Creating Radio Ads That Increase Sales, Turnover and Profit.

L to R Simon Rushton, Emily Morris, Mike Bersin and Graham Elliott.

L to R Simon Rushton, Emily Morris, Mike Bersin and Graham Elliott.

The Customer is Always Right

rushtononradio

The expression “the customer is always right” is probably one of the most destructive clichés in business. Quite often I have clients re-writing part of their script, or trying to combine two scripts into one. Or the client attempts to showhorn too much information into their commercials, or they come up with an “idea” for their radio commercial which is idea driven rather than brief driven. OR they want their phone number adding to the radio commercial for their car dealership.

The Customer is quite often wrong. But they are always paying!

I will use another cliché used in sales training. When you go to see a doctor do you suggest the kind of treatment you would like? No, you describe the symptoms; he or she makes the diagnosis and suggests the kinds of treatments available. You may get a choice and the doctor will give you an opinion on…

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Rushtononradio…. For all your radio advertising needs

Oh yes, one of my least favorite cliches.  

See what Dan O’Day has to say about “For all your ( insert category ) needs” right here.

Whist you’re there… “why not have a look” at his other posts on Radio Advertising.

Ooops, another irritating cliche.

Cliche

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.