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.

Thinking the wrong way around…

This week I’ve been dealing with a client. It’s one of those impossible situations where they’ve told the station what they want, and in the form they’ve asked for we simply can’t deliver it. There is a problem from a station point of view that we’re very protective of the brand. From the other side the client has become fixated on an approach. They are not thinking about how to get the campaign to work, they are thinking about how to deliver an idea that they’ve had.

When I train sales people on taking briefs I ask them, if they have an idea while they are taking a brief, they keep it to themselves. This is the opposite to an old Sales Director of mine who would tell them to come up with ideas there and then! They would bring the idea back to the station and the creative team would have to try to deliver that idea. Or if it was not possible then explain to a client… who was expecting that particular concept… why we couldn’t do it. I think that Sales Director was not wrong, but badly timed. We would have lots of rows about the briefs his sales people brought in. The time to WOW the client with a great idea is when you’ve worked on it, honed it and made sure you can execute it.

Yes! Ideas Sell. That’s the whole concept of Creative Led Selling!
Yes! Sales people come up with some great ideas.
But there is a thought process that goes into making commercials, and it’s not JUST about making great SOUNDING radio. It’s about making the campaign work. “The client wants two woman talking on a bus” is not a brief!!

Think about your radio like this. What do I want people to actually DO when they’ve heard the ad. And have I given them a really good reason to do it. Judge the script the same way. Does it communicate the brief!

The concept or idea should not form part of the brief. But it can be a note at the end. If it’s a great idea your writer will be happy to use it. If it’s a dead end, give the writer the freedom to move away from that concept.

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Rodin's sculpture entitled "How am I supposed to make this idea work on radio!"