why the horn-toot is so vital to voice-over marketing


During one of my Voice-Over Workshops for a voice talent last week, we reviewed some of her marketing challenges and internal struggles. She is a talented voice talent and a generally gracious human being — all wonderful traits that I aspire to.

But her marketing kryptonite is tooting her own horn – marketing herself (which is her brand) out to the marketplace. She finds it awkward, braggadocios and lacking humility (my words not hers). Like I said, she’s a gracious person.

Let me repeat a secret I have shared here before…horn tooting or self-marketing IS awkward, braggadocios and lacking humility – no matter how subtle you try to be (be warned, a subtlety overdone can completely water down a marketing message).

I have grown a bit more accustomed to it now, but when I started out in my voice-over business, I felt REALLY weird about marketing my brand: me! Using “I” in sentences, talking about MY work, me writing a press release about me. Yuck.

How self-absorbed, how egotistical, how arrogant! Just who the hell do I think I am?!!!

I feel your awkward pain frightened horn tooters but now I’ll share with you the epiphany that allows me to toot my horn with less (not none) awkwardness.

Who the hell do I think I am?

I am a small business owner who has kids to feed and a mortgage to pay…and that money does NOT come in unless I am out there telling people what I do and how I do it and how what I do will help their business. And I AM the company. Whatever the tag line, no matter the iconography, at the end of the day I, as the professional voice-over talent, am the brand. I am selling myself – just not on a street corner…yet.

So I toot (and if you’re 5 years old, you are now giggling uncontrollably at my unintended fart joke—that’s cool, fart jokes ARE funny).

But since I am doing the promotional work (writing, choosing media outlets, targeting the messaging etc), I can control the message that gets put out there, I control the tools and images I use to promote myself. Some people feel more comfortable using a 3rd party to do this…hey, whatever gets the job done for you.

It is a necessary evil in a free-lancers life – this self-promotion.

So here’s is my little imaginary trick for dealing with this unsettling process of self-promotion you must do: pretend as you going through your marketing tasks that you are marketing for another company. Not another person, another company. In your head replace your name with Acme Voice-Over Company. This psychological game with yourself might give you the distance and perspective to get the horn-tooting starting and keep it going.

Listen, you are not egotistical, you are not self-absorbed.

You ARE a freelancer. You ARE small business owner or now what people are calling a Micro Business (soooo teeny tiny like me).

And you have my personal blessing to grab your horn and toot. It’s not only OK…it’s a requirement!

P.S. I did ANOTHER Voice-Over Workshop on Saturday and wouldn’t you know…another frightened horn tooter. It looks like we may have to hold a telethon! But again, now all’s well for him too. So all you frightened horn tooters…you are not alone.

MEDIA RELEASE – O’Connell Delivers the Punch Line for Canada’s Kraft Dinner

TORONTO, ON, April 7, 2014 – - It was probably only a matter of time before Kraft Foods Group, Inc., whose founder James Lewis Kraft started his cheese business in Buffalo, NY back in 1903, included a Buffalo, NY-born voice-over talent in one of the national commercials.

In Kraft Foods most recent and imaginative national television commercial for Canada’s Kraft Dinner (known as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the United States), international voice-over talent Peter K. O’Connell provided two voices (“Jockey” and “Pony”) for the countrywide TV spot.


According to one report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canadians buy more Kraft Dinner than anyone else in the world, estimated at one point to be about 75 million boxes annually. Other publications note that Kraft Dinner is considered “Canada’s National Dish”.

About Kraft Foods Group
Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT) is one of North America’s largest consumer packaged food and beverage companies, with annual revenues of more than $18 billion. With the spirit of a startup and the soul of a powerhouse, Kraft has an unrivaled portfolio of products in the beverages, cheese, refrigerated meals and grocery categories. The company’s iconic brands include Kraft, Capri Sun, JELL-O, Kool-Aid, Lunchables, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Planters and Velveeta. Kraft’s 22,500 employees in the U.S. and Canada have a passion for making the foods and beverages people love. Kraft is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the NASDAQ-100 indices.

About Peter K. O’Connell
America’s Friendly, Neighborhood Voice-Over Talent, Peter K. O’Connell, has worked with a wide variety of companies from around the world in addition to this most recent production for Kraft Foods. Some of Peter’s clients include PBS Television Network, Shell Oil, Pitney Bowes, Bacardi Rum, Highlights HIGH FIVE Magazine, Deloitte Canada, Zaycon Foods, U.S. Army, Starz Cable Television Network, BlueCross BlueShield, SunSetter Awnings, Time Warner Cable, Esker, First Financial Bank, N.A., Harlequin Enterprises, The Buffalo News, and Darien Lake Theme Park.
Described as a natural born storyteller, Peter K. O’Connell’s voice-over productions have been heard globally in radio and TV commercials, medical narrations, television infomercials, political commercial voice-overs, TV network promos, e-learning narration projects (computer-based training, internet-based training and web-based training), PSA’s, message on-hold as well as other video and media productions. Peter owns audio’connell Voice Over Talent, a division of O’Connell Communications, LLC.

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Company Name Pronunciation:
au•dio•o’•con•nell (awe-de-oh-oh-kah-nel) or au•di-o’•con•nell (awe-de-oh-kah-nel)

Company Name Spelling:
Use lower case letters- audio’connell or audio’connell Voice Over Talent

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the 2014 midwest voice-over conference march 28 & 29

Midwest Ohio VO

So on Facebook, where voice talent go to cajole, complain and try out new material, I saw there was yet another voice-over group. Like a lemming, I joined it – or should I say I was accepted cause the owner, my friend Terry Daniel keeps it closed (never a bad idea).

The FIRST thing I saw was something I did not know about – something called the Midwest Voice-Over Conference.

Now as anyone in voice-over knows, the world is not lacking for voice-over conferences – most all of them trying to share knowledge and sell stuff – that’s fine. You’re all pretty familiar with my partiality to FaffCon, which is a completely different animal as far as voice-over events go (which is why it’s always a sell-out). FaffCon is great too, not better than other events (that would be a subjective opinion anyway) but great. My point is there’s room for these events. Whether or not there’s an audience for all of them has yet to be determined.

What caught my attention was the concept of a meeting specifically of mid-west voice talents – wouldn’t that be fun?! Same with northeast, southwest etc. Divide it up anyway you want…make it a conference for only voice talents with connected earlobes – who cares, just have fun and learn. The connections these folks make with each conference will prove to be very valuable, even if (as with the Midwest Conference) the conference is mostly for newbies. Hey, it’s never bad to make a new friend.

The person who I know most who is presenting at the the Midwest Voice-Over Conference is Laura VonHolle, who is one of my agents at Heyman Talent. Now like all my agents, she’d have trouble picking me out of a line-up, but she and the folks at Heyman are good people and they’re going to have a heart to heart with the folks at the the Midwest Voice-Over Conference about securing representation. That’s a pretty good start as topics go.

My advice (other than for the organizers to drop that annoying audio commercial that plays as soon as you open the site) is if you have the time and you’re working (or want to work) in the VO biz, then head over to Columbus for the weekend and see what the experience has to offer. I hope everybody has a great time.

dissecting the voice-over audition in toronto

Elley-Ray Hennessy & Deb Munro

Two of Canada’s most creative voice-over coaches and my friends, Deb Munro and Elley-Ray Hennessy, are hosting another interesting voice-over workshop the weekend of March 8 & 9, 2014 (yes, that’s THIS weekend).

It’s called Dissecting the Audition and it will be held at the Asti Livingston’s brand new studio uniquely called ;) Livingston Studios in Toronto.

The big news is while you can attend the whole weekend for $300.00, they are offering a special one day rate (pick Saturday OR Sunday) for $150. A nice deal!

You can get ALL the information on the event by emailing john@elley-ray.com .

can you serve your customers this well?

The new Delsay suitcase

The new Delsay suitcase

The internet is full of complainers about bad customer service (I am occasionally guilty of complaining) which really doesn’t mean a thing to most businesses unless something goes viral and who has time for that?

Yet in addition to the occasional complaint, I also am of the school of ‘don’t recognize a problem without offering a solution” as well as “be as effusive in your praise as you are in your condemnation”. (OK on that last one, I’m not sure there’s an actual school).

So as you may recall from a Facebook post this summer (because where else was I going to share such useless information) I got a new suitcase. I know, the shock of that news probably still makes you woozy but stay with me here.

The brand of suitcase I bought was Delsay and I bought it not because of the brand (which sorry to say I didn’t know – not a student of luggage, just a very big user of it) but because of all the suitcases at the Marshall’s store I was in, it looked the best (believe me, I was in there for an hour checking every darn thing out).

So using the suitcase for about 3 months, the retractable metal handle was giving me problems. Sometimes it would open and sometimes not. Sometimes it would close and sometimes not. Both at completely inopportune times, like when a line of people behind me on the airplane are trying to get to their seats and I could not get my suitcase in the overhead bin cause the damn handle won’t CLOSE!!!!!’

Well one day on a trip (again after only about 3 months of use) the handle just plain broke. I wasn’t even angry. Not surprised but maybe a little disappointed.

I went on line to the customer service page of Delsay and saw there was a repair center in Buffalo at a very well respected luggage store. So I went over there to see how much the repair would cost. The gentleman at Militello’s Luggage was very nice and said before he quoted it, he wanted to call Delsay because it might be under warranty.

A bit embarrassed, I advised the owner I bought the luggage at Marshall’s – a discount store. None the less, he said he would let me know what he heard and then call me back.

Not only was it covered, but Delsay said forget the repair, we’re sending you a brand new suitcase. And not the same one, but, like a much nicer one than I bought. I had to pay $10 or something for handling.

Done! Done with joy. Done with a happy dance — that might have kinda creeped out the guy from the luggage store.

So in return, I must advise you, nay order you to only buy your travel luggage from Delsay. Period. No one else ever again – Delsay is the brand to buy for your luggage. Cause mistake can happen occasionally and Delsay professionally fixes the mistakes.

And I have not had a stich of problem with my new bag. Thank you Delsay.

the new voice-over studio

 audio'connell Voice-Over Talent Studio "a"

audio’connell Voice-Over Talent Studio “a”

As voice-over talents, we specialize in “theatre of the mind”. Our job is to create an image, a presence, a brand in the mind of the listener. We get paid to pretend and it’s pretty great.

Within our own work space, voice talents do some great pretending too. Some VO’s like Joe Cipriano build wonderful voice-over studios within their property that are visually and audibly amazing. Some have pre-fabricated studios like Whisper Rooms to record in. Other voice talents work in their closets, surrounded by heavy winter coats or movers blankets.

I hesitated to write this post about my new voice-over booth for fear it would come across as boastful in someway. That’s not the intent; rather I hope this gives you helpful ideas if you are thinking about changing your voice-over recording space.

There are a thousand variations of voice-over recording booths, all simply want to ensure the best possible audio fidelity even if most of our studios will never make it to the pages of Architectural Digest (well, Joe’s might). Anyway, the beauty of the studio is in the eye of the beholder as, individually, we’re usually the only ones who see it.

The old "booth"

The old “booth”

For years I’ve been cranking out tons of national, regional and local voice-over projects from a little sound box I made from old shutters and some foam. It has worked wonderfully and clients have been well pleased.

I wasn’t concerned that it was short on looks. But in the past few years, I have been concerned that it was not conducive to one important area of voice-over performance…I could not stand and record in my old set up. I was limited in the physicality of my performance.

With certain voice-over scripts, the physicality of the performance can really come through. I needed to change my voice acting set-up.

I’d been thinking about it, talking about it but for a myriad of reasons, I didn’t just get it done. Until now.

My goal was to create a great sounding space (quiet but not dead sounding), that gave me the physical space to perform sitting or standing, that worked within the dimensions of the room (a kind of reading room off the living room where I keep my office) that would be somewhat attractive (cause it would be in the space off the living room).

audioconnell voice over booth construction

audioconnell voice over booth construction

Over at hardware store, they sell White Thermally-Fused Melamine board in sheets of 4′w x 7′ h and about 3/4″ thick. They are sturdy and attractive. With those boards, I had a carpenter friend of mine build a 3 walled box with a roof (cause handy I am not…my wife is though) and put it in the corner of the office. Inside the booth, there was installed a counter. Then, based on a video recommendation from George Whittman and some insight from Dan Friedman, I ordered custom built acoustical panels for the interior and put some sound foam on the ceiling. On the fourth wall (which I didn’t want to enclose at this time) hangs a very heavy curtain (wife’s idea). Simple.

audioconnell Voice-Over Talent Recording Booth

audioconnell Voice-Over Talent Recording Booth

I had the sound tested by a long haired audio recording expert in North Carolina who said the recorded sound quality was excellent. I’m happy, the wife is happy and clients didn’t even notice a change.

But I do. Not just in the physical space but the ability I have now to vary my performance. I move completely differently within this space and I think you can hear it in the performance. We’ll see what happens from here.