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.

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Have you got an idea for…

I hate being asked “Have you got an idea for (X category Client)?”

I hate it on so many different levels.

First of all… it assumes that ideas are pulled out of nowhere for a particular client. Or that you have a database of script ideas that can be applied. I used to have a client who thought I had a file of scripts that I used for “Motor Dealers” or “Double Glazing”. I do keep all my scripts, and sometime look back at them for inspiration. But it’s very rare. I need to know what I’m trying to achieve before coming up with an idea.

The second reason is, it’s the first stop for a lazy salesperson who doesn’t want to take a brief. Let’s go back to them with an idea to get them on air! NO!! Lets go back to them and find a way to help their business grow through radio advertising! Lets help them see how radio can work for them. Let’s go back to them with an idea based on where they currently are, where they need to go. The second stop is the “Category Demo Showreel”… where the client hears a dozen ads in his category and then choses one… because he thinks it’s a menu.

There are books written with ideas for scripts and promotions. They contain prescripted ideas you can even go to a website, book your airtime, enter your business name, business category and location and it will send you a “script”. Frankly the scripts are OK… but they are not meeting the clients exact business requirements. How can they? If it’s a script for a plumber the script only says “Come to us, because we’re a plumber” Not very dynamic advertising. They may be creative and sound good on air, but what is it doing for the client? On the whole, very little.

I love Dan O’Days Bad Commercial Generator… and it’s amazing how many people think it’s a genuine useful tool! But there is no short cut to writing good radio advertising. The books will help you as a writer to stimulate your mind… but it’s not a bespoke solution for a client.

As Mike Bersin says.. “The reason you see copywriters staring blankly into space (or more often, Facebook) is not that they are trying to come up with an idea… they’re trying to work out what they’re trying to have an idea about!”

I can come up with great ideas for a client.
But I need an great brief in the first place.
Give me that BEFORE we “go back to the client with some ideas”.
Then give me the time and respect to work on it!

Can you come up with a great idea for a removal company?

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