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what does your web site look like?

Peter K. O'Connell Web Site Layout

My oldest needed some “mall therapy” last night so we walked through a variety of stores that sold stuff nobody really needed but some folks thought they wanted.

We walked through the Apple store looking at all the new fangled devices and then I did the thing that all Fathers like to do to their children.

I embarrassed my child.

What I did was open the browser on different models of computers: big ones, small ones, portable ones…all of them, then typed in my voiceover web site domain.

She found it embarrassing partly because it was my web site on these screens and partly because I’m her Father and this was in a mall and Daaaaaaaaa!

My purpose actually wasn’t to embarrass anyone but rather to check and see how my web site looked on a variety of different screens with updated software.

See, we all assume our website designs and layouts look good everywhere because that what the designers say and that’s what they are supposed to do….look good everywhere.

But technology changes and sometimes upgrades on different computers and devices can alter the look of a website in ways you don’t expect.

So next time you are in an Apple store or Microsoft store or Best Buy or someplace that shows a variety of different screens and allows you to surf the web, surf to your own web site.

Make sure it looks and interacts the way it’s supposed to. If it works perfectly well, then you don’t need to do a thing.

If not, make whatever changes you need to keep it updated.

I’m sure you’d rather know about a problem now than find out about the issue from a prospective or current client.

the politics of voicing political commercials

Peter K. O'Connell Political Commercial Voice TalentEverything now seems to be politicized with people spewing absolute-isms about every conceivable topic.

Even about voicing political commercials.

Among voice talents, there is usually an annual discussion (often held near election season) about a voice actor’s stance on voicing political commercials.

Often (but not always) the discussion comes down to two positions:

TALENT A: ‘I am a voice talent who voices political commercials – I don’t care much about the candidate or the referendum in the script because I am a voice actor. Use of my voice in a political spot is my job and my service, not an endorsement of a person or an agenda.’

An example of their thinking: A voice actor may be the voice of a soft drink company but not drink or even like the product.

TALENT B: ‘I am a voice talent who voices political commercials – but they must be for a particular political party, candidate or position. If they do not meet those criteria I will not voice that spot as it would make me uncomfortable.’

An example of their thinking: A voice actor will decline to do a political commercial for a candidate who position on an issue conflicts with hers (some voice actors who will not even voice a specific a political party).

Which actor is right?

If you answered, “both” or “it’s an individual choice”, you’re correct. There is neither a correct nor simple answer.

But I would also guess that as you read both options, as a voice talent, you identified more with one option versus the other.

Every voice actor has his own moral compass and that gut instinct determines the voice talent’s comfort level working for an individual political candidate, a referendum or even a political party.

Some voice talents are so disturbed by the political process or the conflict it incites that they won’t voice political commercials at all. I understand that thinking as well.

And yet, there are few additional forms of media other than political commercials where the influence of a voice talent’s work is so greatly influences a targeted audience. Eliciting emotions, getting people to think and feel about a topic, product or service is the foundation of what a voice actor does.

I am a voice talent for political commercials. What about you?

voiceover business card story

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Business Card

Over the weekend, audio producer Brad Newman was evidently looking at all the business cards he collected at FaffCon 9.

He saw that I had not one but two new business card designs.

He posted a picture on social media and it started a discussion because folks had questions. Why the two cards? Why the different designs? Why didn’t Minnesota beat the Yankees in the wild card series? Lots of questions.

So I thought I would do a quick overview on the two cards which will also bring you up to speed on my marketing changes (if you’re some kind of marketing stalker).

OLD CARD

  • 2017 O'Connell Business Card Old The relatively cheaper old cards were crafted while I was trying to get some new, fancier cards made
  • My original goal was to update all my voiceover branding since I moved to North Carolina; I would adopt the dark blue light blue scheme that was a tip of the hat to the University of North Carolina’s color scheme (not exactly like theirs but in the family)
  • I also had a graphic idea for really highlighting the phrase “Voice Over Talent” and explaining the type of work that involves (because I’ve had to continuously explain what a voiceover does for 35+ years)
  • I was trying to do a plastic card, as I had done before with cards I did while in Buffalo, but my old vendor screwed up the new blue design TWICE and after that, he got fired
  • You’d be surprised at what a complete pain in the butt it is to try and RGB and PMS color match light blues – ridiculous
  • For the old cards, I found a vendor who did the thick paper cards who also painted the sides
  • He could not do a PMS color do I got stuck with that crazy bright blue
  • The weight of the card was really nice as was the painted edge
  • As nobody else was going to be as bothered by the color situation on the old card as I was…I lived with that old card for a while

As time went on, I knew I wasn’t happy with the old card and, even more so, with the word mark itself which I felt needed help.

As much as I liked the word mark font on the old card, the full word mark did not make the brand name (which happens to be my name) stand out. I wanted a font for the brand name that looked personalized, which would then be supported by the tag line in that font I used on the old word mark.

I could have tried actually printing my name and making that part of the logo, except my printing Sucks with a capital S.

So I look at thousands (truly thousands) of hand script fonts that conveyed friendly, fun and masculine.

Trying to find a masculine looking hand script font that also doesn’t look like it was written by some kind of angry demon is not as easy as you’d think.

Remember, I was trying to convey friendly to support the tag line “Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent”. Worse some of the “male” based script font sure looked awfully girly to me and many of my voiceover peers, whose opinions I sought throughout this process.

Two things then happened kind of simultaneously. I found the font I really liked for the brand and I found a new vendor for printing the plastic cards. It would look good but it would not be cheap.

NEW CARD

  • 2017 O'Connell Business Card NewWorking with the new brand font and old tagline font within the blues color scheme, my designer came up with the logo idea of making everything flush right…I thought it worked really well, so I carried that thought through on the front of the business card where everything is flush right
  • I tried to make the font sizes bigger….small font size may be cool but readability is where it’s at for business cards and my eyes are getting old – bigger font size and a bit bolder
  • My designer also PATIENTLY helped me narrow down my PMS color choices…she deserves combat pay for babysitting me through that debacle
  • I really liked the way the back of the card (all dark blue with white VOICE OVER TALENT) worked on the old card so kept it on the back of the new card
  • The card size as you may have noticed is bigger than the old card…it is credit card size
  • I added a clear coating on all the front and on the white VOICE OVER TALENT…really makes a nice impact

So then why did I bring two sets of cards to FaffCon? Well I didn’t really. I brought mostly the old cards to distribute because I wanted to get rid of them and my peers aren’t likely to be as impacted by my card design as real prospects. I handed out a few of the (expensive) new ones to a few Faffers.

Now you know more about my business cards than you ever wanted to…hope this helps.

with your social media branding – get the picture!

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent facebook

So many voiceover talents tell me that they don’t have time for marketing. That’s usually code for ‘I don’t know how to do it and that fact scares the pants off me!’

Other voice talents are little more honest and say they don’t know what to do or how to start.

Whether it’s marketing, accounting, legal documents or technology, we each have elements of running a business that scare us because we don’t know how or where to start. Me too.

My plan is usually to contact someone who specializes in the area I am clueless in and at least get started in some direction.

For business, I have a greater affinity for marketing (I’m not an expert….NO ONE in voiceover is a marketing expert and if they tell you otherwise, run away!).

What I’ve noticed is that soooo many voice talents are missing a simple yet prominent branding opportunity that is easy to set up. Oh, and it’s FREE!

So what I thought I’d offer is a really quick step that will offer a little boost to your branding. It involves Social Media and you don’t have to pay for anything.

 

IT’S SIMPLE AND EASY SO WHY NOT?

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent SoundcloudMost of us in voiceover have social media accounts on channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and SoundCloud. There are a million others and what I will cover here will probably be applicable to those others.

Most of us in voiceover also have some kind of logo (a specifically designed image with or without words to represent your company) or word mark (just your name or company name in a specific font or design) that we use to brand our voiceover businesses on web sites or printed materials like business cards.

But many voice talents with the aforementioned social media accounts, who also have these logos or word marks, do NOT put the two elements together on their social media pages. I know because I just look at some social media accounts for some fairly well known talent and I saw blank spaces where banners should be.

That’s not smart for many reasons.

First, it’s easy to upload and place these images on social media channels. Second, most voice talents have links on their business web sites to their social media pages and when a visitor clicks on the link, they will notice the branding is inconsistent (or maybe not really know where they are and lose interest. Third, some prospects may come across you/your company via social media FIRST and not your web site.

So it would probably be a good and easy thing to make sure your social media pages have your branding on them. I’ve yet to come up with a reason as to how that kind of business branding can hurt a business social media account.

 

WHAT IS BUSINESS AND WHAT IS PERSONAL

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent TwitterAs many people as there are on social media, there is an equal amount of different reasons people participate on social media. If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers.

Most people who do not own their own business use most social media channels for personal reasons and that’s fine. But if you have a business web site (and thereby your own voiceover business) and you have social media channel links on that web site, those social media channels that your business web site is linking to better have some professional branding.

Can you have both personal and business social media accounts? Sure. But on your business web site, only link to your professional social media pages, not the personal ones. On your business social media pages, show them your talents, your knowledge and your shiny, happy, professional side.

To specifically address business versus personal on social media, let’s talk about one of the most informal and popular social media channels, Facebook. Here’s how I do it and you can take this for what it’s worth.

I don’t link to my personal Facebook page from my voiceover web site. I set up a business Facebook page and that’s the only Facebook link I share from my business web site. Why?

Maybe on another day I’ll post something new about how you should post only professional things on business social media pages but I also kinda think if you need me to tell you that at this point, you’ve got bigger business problems than branding.

If you’re directing clients to your business social media pages – there should be no political, religious or personal public discussions or fights. You are a vendor, you are to be professional and that’s it.  If you disagree, I respect your opinion and would like to advise there is nothing on this or any other page that can help you. You should move from this place and good luck.

 

SIMPLE BRANDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent LinkedInFor the purpose of this post, I just want to focus on your profile image and most especially your banner. If you handle these two items well, then you completed some valuable marketing tasks.

Most everybody has posted at least a profile picture on their social media pages. This usually leads to a discussion about if a profile picture on a business social media page should have a picture of you, the voice talent or your logo.

I think the answer is: it depends.

Some channels like LinkedIn strongly advise you use a picture of yourself. On LinkedIn, I agree. For Twitter and other channels, it depends on your branding and in some instances, what you are comfortable with.

Remember, with a profile space, it’s fairly small so any logo (or if you’re like me, a secondary logo) needs to be able to be pretty recognizable in that small space. A highly detailed logo will likely not be visually useful.

If you go with a personal picture of yourself, it does not have to be a professional head shot, just a nice, usually smiling and clear shot ….not you wearing a lampshade or you holding a beer. Common sense, I know, but as we all experience on a daily basis, common sense is not so common.

So let’s get to that social media page banner. Do you have a logo you really like? Or a studio shot that might have a little corner logo? Or maybe a cool shot of you recording something in a studio? All these ideas and I’m sure many others will help tell people you are a professional voice talent.

All would make good social media page banners. Just make the image consistent with your branding.

That’s it! That’s the entire purpose of this branding exercise.

 

HOW DO I GET THE BANNER SIZE CORRECT FOR MY PICTURE

The honest answer is I don’t know.

I can only tell you how I do it. It ain’t pretty but it works.

I have downloaded countless social media banner size templates and directions over the years and maybe I’m just ignorant (a real possibility) but the numbers and the sizing tools I use (probably incorrectly) just don’t match up.

For me it’s trail and error.

I start with Power Point. This is all done on my MacBook Pro, so how you work with Power Point on your computer may vary but most options listed should be pretty close to these directions (I hope).

These will LOOK like a lot of steps but I am trying to be super clear, so once you actually do it, it won’t feel like as many steps. Do not be overwhelmed, these directions are not hard.

From to tool bar window, I go to File and then I go to “page setup” — the “size” window will come up

  • I believe the default set up (depending on which version of power point you are using) will come up as “On-screen show (4:3)”
  • Change that setting to “On-screen show (16:10)”
  • Save that page as a .ppt document, title it something like “social media banner” or something equally creative
  • Make sure the page is laid out horizontally by clicking on the page layout icon on this same page size pop-up screen, then click OK
  • From the tool bar at the top of the power point page, click on “Insert” go down to “Photo” and then you might get another option that allows you to pick “Picture from photo”
  • Find the picture you want to use, click to insert it on the Power Point page and it should appear on your
  • How you adjust the photo on the Power Point page will depend on the operating system you’re using so I will not try and direct you here
  • Some pictures (not logos) can easily fill the banner space…if that’s the case with your chosen image, then awesome
  • I will say you will likely want a lot of white space around your image (especially if your image is a logo) to be able to work with the banner space within most social channels…of course, some images are big and you may just want to fill the banner with the image….that works too…it all depends on the image
  • So if you have the image the way you want it (or the way you THINK you want it until you upload it to the social media channel banner space to see how it will actually lay out), you should save it twice…once as a ppt file (which means just hit save) and then again as a .png file
  • You should be able to click the “Save As” button and when the window pops up, there will be a drop down window which will say .ppT. ….. click on that and you should get a selection of file types….pick .png and hit save
  • Go over to your social media channel, click on the profile page and find the banner space; if you are signed into your account, there should be a button on that page that says “Update image”, click on that, a window of some sort will pop up that says pick photo
  • Follow the windows to your photo and insert it
  • It may give you the option to adjust the picture or zoom in on the picture (this is where all the white space comes in handy)
  • Position the picture where you think it would look best -when you are happy with it, click save…done
  • When you look at the finished picture on the page layout, you may decide you need to re-size or adjust (as I usually do)…don’t get frustrated as this happens to many folks…just adjust on the PPT, re-save as a .PPT and .PNG and upload the new. PNG file with your adjustment

Remember to do this on ALL your social media channels. Hope this helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

diane merritt walks again to raise money in the fight against alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease took Diane Merritt’s Mother from her and Diane’s children in 2009.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the US.

My Father-In Law suffers from dementia – the impact on him is obvious as is the impact on those of us who surround him…constant heartbreak and struggle.

Diane Merritt Walk Against Alzheimer's Disease 2017

Voiceover Talent Diane Merritt participates in the Walk Against Alzheimer’s Disease 2017 in Greenville, SC

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues.

So every year, Diane Merritt raises thousands of dollars and then walks in the WALK TO END ALZHEIMERS in Greenville, SC.

Her walk is today but they will continue to accept your donations after today.

THIS IS DIANE’S DONATION PAGE – please click on it and donate. She walks for her Mom, she walks for my Father-In-Law, she walks for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients everywhere.

Give what you can. Thanks

Voiceover samples from popular fishing & outdoors show – Jason Mitchell Outdoors – on Fox Sports Networks

Jason Mitchell Host Of Jason Mitchell Outdoors

Jason Mitchell, host of Jason Mitchell Outdoors

Many voice talents will try and play it cool when they see or hear their voiceover work. Or some are like me, they are so oblivious to all the stimuli we are inundated with everyday, we don’t always pay attention when our stuff in on the screen or on the radio.

We’re not cool so much as clueless! 😉

But, truth is, when we’re not oblivious we are also definitely not too cool to enjoy hearing and seeing out work (no matter how blasé we seem).

Jason Mitchell Outdoors Fox Sports NorthSo it was very cool for me to see video samples of the voiceover work I have done for the fishing and outdoors program, Jason Mitchell Outdoors.

The popular weekend broadcast is seen in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Eastern Nebraska, Iowa on Fox Sports North Network and in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri on Fox Sports Midwest Network.

The show explores some of the most effective tactics on the fishing scene right now. Information packed episodes highlighting open water and ice fishing tactics. Multi-species format for walleye, bass, musky, panfish, catfish and more.

Jason Mitchell, who has earned a legendary status as a professional hunting and fishing guide, hosts the show and is one of the elite guides making a living from fishing and hunting

I not only voice the show’s intro and outro but I also voice some of the show’s commercial and well as serve as a segment narrator in certain episodes.

I hope you enjoy these video and voiceover samples from Jason Mitchell Outdoors.