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

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.

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

Westgate Mall , Nairobi – September 21st 2013

It’s been just a few days since the dreadful evens in my town of Nairobi. The operation to secure the Mall is only just coming to an end. The count of the dead is still rising.

I moved here a few years ago to work for Radio Africa Group as the Group Manager for Creative and Production. Nairobi is a city of problems. But also of glitzy Malls and nice coffee shops. Places where you can hear accents from all over the world.

On Saturday the 21st of September our world was shaken, when gunmen threw grenades and opened fire on a radio station event. Ruhila and her unborn baby were killed in the attack. Many more have died and as I write we don’t know the true numbers.

I met Ruhila a couple of years before then. I can tell you she was one of those people who radiated positive energy. She always had a laugh and a smile. I didn’t know her as well as her colleagues at East FM and Kiss TV, also part of our group, and that is my loss. I had dinner yesterday with one of her former colleagues who told me it was like losing a sister. She will be missed

Ruhila Adatia-Sood

Ruhila Adatia-Sood


Many of my colleagues have physical and mental wounds from this dreadful incident, Christian, Muslim and Hindu.

Personally I don’t know what to feel. I feel loss, I feel relief that I wan’t there for my normal Saturday morning shopping trip. I feel anger at the people who did this. Sometimes I feel it all in one go!

Radio in Kenya, our stations particularly, are dealing with the sorrow and maintaining output and professionalism.

There are many stories of bravery, but this from Kamal Kaur, one of East FMs presenters and a friend who was there on the day.

“I could only watch in horror as my son Armaan missed a bullet by an inch as my daughter Sapna pushed him and herself down. I was trying to pull down the little boy who got shot instead of my son. Both my kids were hurt but are thankfully ok. I’m sorry I’m not taking any calls. It’s traumatic repeating the story over and over again. We are thankfully safe and I’m humbled with your love and support. We had someone looking out for us today. Armaan was helping a little girl evacuate through Java’s service entrance despite being hurt on his leg. I’m so proud of my son. He’s only 8. A kind Samaritan had to carry Sapna out as her leg was bleeding heavily and there’s still a lot of shrapnel in both their legs.
I have lost a dear colleague who was pregnant. She just took Sapna’s baby cradle last week to start getting things together for the arrival of her baby. I don’t know what to do or say.
I don’t know who else we have lost today. I had no idea where my kids were but they were so sensible and kept telling everyone to pretend they were dead so they wouldn’t be shot at. I know a lot of families have been ripped apart today. I just don’t know what to do or say. I’m sorry I’m not taking calls. I just cant speak.
Thank you for everything. Thank you for calling, messaging and looking out for us. We are safe. Please pray, please donate blood at any hospital. There are little children who need you to save their lives. There’s peoples relatives there. Please help.”

The week before, at the same time, I was standing where the grenades and bullets landed. No more words.

Armaan, Kamal and Sapna

Armaan, Kamal and Sapna

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