For creative professionals
Having trouble getting your audio heard? Never fear. Radio-heads Tim Craig, Clare Bowen, and Caitlin Breeze share top tips and insight in the first part of our guide to presenting audio.
Read Part 2 of our Guide, Presenting Ideas.
Tim Craig - Creative Director at Radioville
“Words are ear and mouth before they are pen and paper.”
If I had my way, words destined for the radio would only ever be ear and mouth (and perhaps MP3) but I haven’t yet met a client brave enough to go along with me on that. They need a script. On paper. Why? To make sure everything is ‘in there’. To send to the vampires in their Compliance Department to gnaw on. Sometimes, simply to give them the sense that what they are paying for – a radio ad – is tangible, not ethereal and insubstantial (which, actually, it is. In a good way).
But that doesn’t mean they have to have the script first. When presenting your radio idea, remember, this is your client’s one chance to hear their ad the way the listener will. After they’ve read the script, like a first kiss, it will never be the same again.
- Where possible, (i.e. where budgets and timescales allow) present a broadcast quality demo, using real actors.
- Where not possible, read/act it out loud to them, or mock up a demo in-house.
- On no account give them the script until after they have heard it.
Presenting audio before the script seems to leap, Evel Knievel-like, over the gaping chasm of corporate due diligence (that’s enough of that analogy – Ed). In fact, a client once told me, as his campaign went to air, “You know, I’d never have bought that idea if it had been on paper”.
Present audio as audio. Results guaranteed.
Clare Bowen - Head of Creative Development at RAB
The main problem with selling in radio to clients is that they are inclined to listen to radio concepts with their eyes on the brief, rather than listening in the way a real radio audience does. They end up signing off a piece of work that ticks the boxes on paper rather than listening to the reality of what is written - they listen with the brain not with the ear.
If you want to sell a radio idea, then you should try to make it as close to the listener experience as you can. When you present in front of a client, be really conscious of what they are looking at. Most people will feel self-conscious when they are being asked to listen to a piece of audio without a visual point of focus. There are two things I’d suggest. The first of these is to ensure the people presenting are confident actors and can read the scripts in an engaging way. Another thing that may work well is to record a demo tape, but if you present this, do think about what the client will be looking at. Some form of visual distraction will really help them concentrate the mind on what they are listening to. When George Lucas was looking to get finance for first Star Wars, he used black and white grainy footage of spitfires dogfighting in the battle of Britain to show what the x fighter attacking the death star might look like. In radio, you are allowed to use a storyboard!
Similarly if a client insists on seeing the script while you present, negotiate a first reading where they are just listening. Or they will be looking for the brand cues and RTB without giving full attention to your creative idea
If the script is heavily reliant on sound effects or if it is likely to be shared internally on email amongst your clients’ team, it can be a good idea to write a detailed summary of the ad and the creative idea at the top of the page to ensure there is no misinterpretation once it’s out of your hands.
And finally make sure your ad is to time – or that you are clear on the time length you are proposing.
Caitlin Breeze - Copywriter at AMV BBDO
Know your characters
Your characters shouldn’t just be “Male VO” or “Welsh woman” to you. Give them personality. Think about how their idiosyncrasies might come across in speech.Who are they? What do they want in life, and in this scene? That way, whoever presents or performs the work will have a rounded character to work from – this helps get the best performance out of them.
Read aloud when you’re writing, to check it works. Most importantly, though, read your script aloud when you’re presenting to the client. Radio is meant to be heard: your performance, tone and pace can help the client grasp the idea behind the script that bit faster. If you have the time and the budget, you could record a demo in advance and play that instead.
Another way to give help the client understand how the idea will work is to provide VO artist suggestions, and play samples from their reels. It helps everyone involved to imagine how the finished radio advert might sound.
Read Part 2 of our Guide, Presenting Ideas.