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

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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

Dan O’Day – RADIO IS A PRECISE MEDIUM

Dan O’Day is a great, reasoned, sensible thinker on radio advertising. He developed the Certified Professional Commercial Copywriter course for the RAB in the USA (I was the first person to qualify outside of Texas!!)

Here are some of his wise words… Click here.

Dan O’Day

Put me on the Breakfast Show!

Most radio stations in the world it’s the Breakfast show that is the flag ship and attracts the most listeners. This is where advertisers, naturally, want to focus their effort. Understandably. But lets break it down a little further. Here’s my typical morning:-

5.45am Wake up
6am into the kitchen turn the radio on while I prepare my breakfast.
6.30am hit the shower and get dressed for work.
7am Catch some TV news
7.45am on the motorbike to work (no radio)
8:05 at my desk with a cup of fruit tea… catching up on mails etc.

Now imagine if the peak of breakfast show listening is at 07:55 and you place your spot there, every day…. 07:55… then every day you would miss me! I will never hear your spot. The same is true of other people’s listening habits across the whole day. Although you want to hit the maximum people the maximum number of times, you don’t do that by JUST hitting the peaks!

So make sure your activity is across the day, and different times during those hours.

Ask your Sales Person for an Optimum Effective Schedule! Have a look here.

Of course I have an issue with the number of times people have to hear an ad to respond… since 3.5, or 3.25 or 4 are just made up numbers! But there is a general feel that, with a good offer, you start to get a good response when the OTH hits about 4 or 5. (Which is why it’s NOT good advertising to be on for just a week!

You HELP by making sure your spot ads tell people what you want them to do, and gives them a really good reason to do it!!

A tranny. The radio, not the boy.

If you don’t have to say it… don’t say it!

I still listen to a lot of UK radio. It’s not much different to radio here.
And something that I notice about a lot of radio ads…a LOT… say things that you don’t have to say.

Let me explain.

“Come to our open day on Friday the 31st of October 2013”

Oh, I’m so glad you said 2013. I thought it might be October NEXT year. Or perhaps I’d missed it! Come on! You can drop the 2013.

“Come to our store and buy your next pair of shoes from Simon’s Shoes… or call 0787 386 017”

I’ve already written why phone numbers are a waste of time… because no one remembers them. They’re also a waste of time if people don’t buy your product or service over the phone!

www dot? Really?

“Simon’s Rib Restaurant… open every day from 12 ’til 3 and evenings 7 ’til 11.”
Cool, so you’ve told me your open when people want to eat. Don’t waste your time, tell me why my lunch break should be spent at Simon’s Rib Restaurant! Tell me, for example, I can download a free desert voucher… and put the opening hours on THAT if you must!

If you can reasonably expect the listener to fill in these details, then spend the time you’ve saved to entice the listener into doing BUSINESS with the advertiser.

When to Talk, and When to Walk Away.

The client is INSISTING on two phone numbers in their 20 second ad.
Because they are putting 2 phone number in, the ad will not work for them and they will never use our stations again.
The Sales exec is terrified of losing the sale.
Other Radio Stations apparently will take the money.

Those stations will get one sale and never see that client again. The problem is it wont be those stations that get the blame… it will be “radio”. It seems easier to say to the client… OK….. whatever you want. But sometimes we need to walk away. Especially from the client who will blackmail the sales person over money, threaten to use other stations, generally throw their toys out of the pram.

If I went to a doctor and asked him to give me different drugs to the one he prescribed, I am pretty sure he wouldn’t do it. Even if I told him that I would go elsewhere where they WOULD give me the drugs and that he’d lose me as a patient.

In radio sales there is a duty to take care of the client’s money because it is an investment. We’re like investment bankers! (OK that’s a pretty poor choice of comparison) The point is we have to show clients the right way to spend their money and when we KNOW they’re wasting it we need to walk away. I’m not saying we slam the door behind us… we want the client, we want their money… but not at ANY COST. We also want their money long term, not just for the one off sale. We want their business to grow as a result of their advertising and for them to spend MORE money with us as a station.

Sales People you need several things:-
• You need to be trusted as someone who gives good advice
• You need training, to read books and do courses in Radio Sales.
• You need to understand the clients business, and show them you understand yours.
• You need to know the name of your afternoon presenter. Really, you should know the product!
• You should work closely with the client to get a good brief.
• You need great Creatives to write you effective radio advertising.
• You need courage and integrity.

Courage

Suite 101

Yesterday I was interviewed for Suite 101 by my former boss, mentor, former Head of Creative at Radio Clyde, quoter of Burns, and all round good guy Dan McCurdy.

Dan M Curdy


You can find the interview here.

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