Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

answers to your voiceover database question

audioconnell contact managementYou may be saying to yourself: “Self, I did not know I had a voiceover database question! So how is Peter K.O’Connell going to answer a question I did not know I had?”

I am going to answer it extremely well, especially if you are using Google Contacts as your customer relationship management tool. Based on discussions I have had with many voice talents as FaffCon, alot of people DO use Google Contacts…mostly because it’s free!

What you see on the left is my groups list for my database, which has about 1,250 contacts, pruned down significantly from about a year or so ago. At the bottom, you see a red circle around OTHER CONTACTS. That’s what I will be talking about here, specifically regarding when users export their contact list for things like email blasts.

If you’re smart, and I know you are, when you export your contacts to services like MailChimp for email blasts, you review the exported list before you upload the list to Mail Chimp or some other blast service. In doing so, many times you look at a number of email addresses on the list and ask in a loud, bold and italicized voice:

Who’s email address is THAT and how did it get in there?

The email address you are looking at is not familiar to you nor does it  match any names in your contacts, yet there it sits in your excel or comma separated values sheet.

Most likely it came from OTHER CONTACTS and my advice to you here today is to review, edit and/or delete any names in OTHER CONTACTS before you export your next list.

Briefly stated, Gmail and Google Contacts will save email addresses of group emails you received and some individual emails too if there is not a contact assigned to it. OTHER CONTACTS is where these emails get stored.

It’s not a bad thing. Sometimes when you get an email from a prospect who turns into a client, in the haste to provide your product or service, you don’t always create a prosper contact account for that person (i.e. you did not put that name in your database).

Google Contacts helps make sure you hold on to the email address and let’s you decide later if it is “Contact Worthy” or if it gets deleted.

If you have not gone through OTHER CONTACTS in a long time, spend some time to go through it and don’t just immediately delete everything. Copy an unfamiliar email address into your emails and see what comes up. You’ll know pretty quickly if it’s a keep or toss.

And don’t forget to sort your contacts by groups. But that’s a blog for another day.

peter k. o’connell aka the explainer video voice guy

Explainer Videos Peter K. O'Connell

Being nicknamed “The Explainer Video Voice Guy” wasn’t something I planned…I think it’s that way with most nicknames. But once you work with clients enough and friendship develop, nicknames are born and that how I got mine.

Hey, as long as the check is made out to Peter K. O’Connell, clients can pretty much call me whatever they want 🙂

Peter K. O'Connell business cardOn my business cards, I list Explainer Videos as one of genres for which I provide voiceover services. People who aren’t involved in media production ask me sometimes “what is an explainer video?” It’s a reasonable question that you might have too.

Usually short (like 2-3 minutes – but sometimes longer), an Explainer Video is a  fun and informative video presentation that creatively explains a product or service. Because it’s fun and informative and short, an Explainer Video captures and retains the viewers attention, making it a more useful sales tool for companies — compared to longer, dull videos or even brochures.

Plus, video continues to be a preferred media for people to discover new ideas and concepts.

The reason I get selected so often to provide voiceovers for explainer videos, I have been told, is because I offer a variety of fun, informative and friendly reads – depending on the script and the client’s audio branding needs. Like commercials and narrations, Explainer Videos fit my vocal styles.

For example, as an Audiobook narrator, I think I’m good (maybe even just OK) but certainly not great. Yet with Explainer Videos, as a voice talent I excel. I can’t draw a straight line but I can enjoyably tell you all about that straight line with a Explainer Video script in hand.

At this point, it would probably be more effective (and likely more entertaining) to let the Explainer Videos do the talking. So here are some examples of my Explainer Video voiceover work.

DELOITTE CANADA

This was one of the more informative Explainer Videos I recall narrating as I felt I not only learned about the impressive depth of Deloitte Canada’s knowledge of Canada’s economy but I also understood it…and folks, I was never a Finance major in college. Really well written.

ESKER

I worked with a great team at Esker, a global leader in document process automation. Their talent marketing team asked me to voice a series of explainer videos that highlighted their impressive array of services in a fun and interesting way. They save a lot of smart companies a lot of time and money Here’s one example of the explainer video series I voiced for them.

 

3 MINUTE CATHOLIC CATECHISM

I’ve done videos for clients all over the world and it’s a great experience. This particular project was interesting because the producer found me on Google all the way over in Austria. 15-20 years ago, that would not have been possible but today, it happens all the time. This was an interesting project because the producers wanted to make these short 3-minute videos, explaining the Catholic religion’s Catechism, for many languages. They started in German, producing all the videos based on a German voice talents tracks, then came to me for English. Needless to say, the video timing got tricky as they switched languages. It was great nonetheless!

If you’re interested in using me as the voice for your explainer video, give me a call at +01 716-572-1800.

local is not as sexy?

WWDLFDWhat follows is not a religious story, it’s a voiceover business story written thousands of years ago.

Most who know me won’t be surprised that I was in Church the other day but you might be surprised to hear I was paying attention while I was there.

And what I heard didn’t so much speak immediately to my spiritual side as to my voiceover side.

Yes, our all-knowing God wrote a kind of parable about the voiceover business.

Long before there was a voiceover business.

I told you, this is a voiceover business story.

The quote from reading was this:

“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.”  ~ Mt 13: 57

The context of the quote depicted the disrespect and disbelief shown to Jesus in his hometown as he began his adult work spreading the word of God to those he had grown up around and who knew him as a child. The locals.

Let me be clear at the outset: I do not think I or anybody else is like Jesus nor do I believe that voice talents should be treated like prophets. This is a business story!

The quote IMMEDIATELY took me back to Buffalo, NY and the years I spent working to get voiceover work locally, especially from advertising agencies.

I remember one instance in particular that illustrates the issue well.

There was an owner of a boutique (read: small) ad agency in Buffalo who seemed generally quite proud of herself (even featured herself in her own commercials for her agency). Some friends at a networking mixer had introduced me to her. She asked me what I did and I told her I was a voiceover talent — this got her attention.

“Oh you are? We get all our voice talents from New York City.” I was about to say something like ‘that’s nice’ when one of the people in the circle (who was a client of mine) jumped right over me (incensed by the rudeness and tone of this agency person) and said “Oh Peter is really quite good, you should use him!” Love that client!

Buy Local FirstBut that story reflects a truth in voiceover that I know personally and I have found (talking with VO’s around the country) is pretty universal. Local voice talents, no matter how qualified and no matter how many national brands they have voiced for, just don’t seem to be good enough for some of the producers in their own region.

What is the VO’s fault? They are a local voice. To some media producers, a voice talent from their own area is perceived to be less talented versus a voiceover from another market, further away.

It was a problem for Jesus and it’s still a problem for voice talents. Sometimes the local folks don’t see our value just because we are local.

This doesn’t mean that voice talents don’t get ANY local voice work and, to be sure, some voice talents are very popular around where they live. I have a very good relationship with many WNY producers and really enjoy working them. But there is a kind bias against local talent by some local producers…everywhere in the country.

I’m fortunate having moved into a new area. I am now the ‘new’ guy, a fresh voice! ‘Let’s try the new guy!’ Yes, I say, lets!

And maybe having moved away from my hometown, I’ll be some WNY media producers’ ‘out of town’ voice guy. That would be a hoot.

I offer this story for some of you who I just know are experiencing the same issue in your voiceover business. Burdened wit the same confused frustration I used to have. I want you to know not to feel bad about it and just move on.

If Jesus had to deal with it too, then we ‘local’ voice talents are in pretty good company.

the fun is gone

Political Discussion on Social Media

I didn’t like the cat videos.

But now I miss them a little.

Righteous indignation and straight out hate abounds on Facebook now, a result of a bitter election between less than stellar choices (OK, that’s my opinion, your mileage may vary).

But here is a universal truth, no matter who won the 2016 Presidential Election, based on the results, about 50% of the country would be complaining and protesting and causing a stink. And now we’re divided.

And we are ugly.

Every single one of us.

Pick your party, pick your platform, pick your nose. Ugly. All of it.

We are NOT talking about a healthy debate among mature people. On social media, that just does not happen any more…if it ever did.

If we looked at ourselves on Facebook as we do our children, if we saw the kind of rants and vulgarity….really foul stuff…we would send ourselves to our rooms without dinner and all our Christmas toy would be taken away for a month.

The prevailing attitude: if you’re not FOR me, you’re AGAINST me.

Can’t we see this about our own behavior? Can’t we stop ourselves?

While it isn’t the only battle ground for this hate speech that we seem to be getting so good at, but the stump speech convenience of Facebook allows it’s participants to tee off on their rant of the day (or hour). Vitriol abounds and if you’re not spewing it, you’re receiving it…or at least reading it.

Those who spew the vitriol will claim that they are defending their right to free speech, to defend (their version) of America from the bad guys (i.e. anyone who disagrees with them…again, which ever side you want to take). And if someone recommends curbing bad behavior, the recommender doesn’t ‘understand the seriousness of what’s at stake.’

Um, yes we do.

But we also see the absolute useless of changing people’s opinions on a life or death matter via social networking. The shared information on social media…and often mis-information…is not creating awareness but it is creating wariness.

We see people treating politicians (of course, only the politicians that they like) as if they are trustworthy fighters of truth, justice and the American way. The shortest answer I can give here is they are so not. Some of the ARE trying. Some of them are just trying.

We see that to make change you must get involved in the actual process (i.e. real life, not social media). Because of the pathetic pool of talent from which to pick leadership of any kind, we ended up with the choices we did. The worse news is that anyone with ANY common sense doesn’t want to swim in political waters.

People like me do not turn a blind eye to the evolving truths of the world. We are not uniformed. We just work to effect change in less obnoxious, divisive, dismissive and hurtful ways.

facebook iconI cannot decide how this plays out for Facebook. My theory is that usage may be up on the service because some people believe they are furthering their agenda/cause (and I think serving their egos) by posting as many rants and rant-like links as they can find …often without vetting the link’s accuracy (again, on either side).

However, I think Facebook may see (and likely not report) that said usage is up because of active use by a smaller total number of people. I believe folks like me are standing further away from Facebook.

We don’t sign in as much or at all. It’s not social, it’s not fun, it’s not relaxing. No idea how many people are doing this besides me…it’s just a gut feeling.

And to be clear, that withdrawal is not Facebook’s fault. It’s because of the content of the social media service’s users. And as you may have noticed, ‘users’ begins with ‘us’.

I pulled the Facebook app off my phone weeks ago. I have spent significantly less time on the service. I’ve tried ignoring and unfriending and unfollowing but the poison still permeates.

So I stay away more. In the end, that’s probably best anyway. Maybe I’ll connect more in real life. That’s what matters anyway.

peter’s handy dandy new voiceover demo checklist!

Peter's Handy Dandy ChecklistHaving completed my new commercial voiceover demo, I say with modesty, not bravado, that I am pleased with the results. I hope clients and prospects will like it as well because they are every demo’s intended audience.

However, I intentionally reminded myself recently to keep all the hard work of these past few months of demo pre-production, production and post-production in the proper perspective.

Here, now, is that perspective: it may crush the souls of many professional voiceover talents but the truth must come out: nobody – not one single person among your clients, agents or prospects – is AS excited about your new release voiceover demo as you are.

Yes, that demo…that creatively grew inside you and was meticulously birthed from inside an acoustically perfect studio and lovingly mastered by the finest audio doctors and nurses and is now ready to proudly be shared with the world…is mostly seen by that world as just another voiceover demo.

“But…”, you scream inside your head, “doesn’t everyone hear how much BETTER this demo is compared to the last one which now sounds to me now like a scratchy Al Jolson record played on a Victrola? I’ve improved so much!!! Love me! Love my voice!!!!!”

Gentle voice talent, no, the world generally doesn’t share your enthusiasm for this hard fought piece of audio. It’s not that the demo is bad (unless it is, yet probably really isn’t) but to them it is just ‘another demo’.

“Aw, what’s the use? What’s the point?! Why did I make a new voiceover demo then, if nobody cares?”

Aw pal, don’t be bummed. You just have to look at your demo differently.
The trick is, my friend, if you cannot make the world care about your new demo, then you must focus on making the world aware of your new demo.

What I’m going to start for you here is Peter’s Handy Dandy New Voiceover Demo Checklist! This list will help you organize WHO should be made aware of (and/or actually receive) your new voiceover demo and also (in my opinion) in what approximate order they should be made aware/receive. Your mileage may vary so use this as a helpful starting point and feel free to add stuff:

  1. All Personal Web Accounts
    1. Your personal web sites (maybe include some text about the demo being new)
    2. Sound Cloud
    3. Pay To Play accounts
    4. LinkedIn (your profile accepts media)
  1. Your Agents
    1. Send a personal email with the demo
    2. Make a follow up call to make sure they got it and post it to their web site (great –and reasonable – opportunity to get meaningful phone time with them)
    3. Make sure they post it to VOICEBANK if they have that account
    4. Include them in a mass email blast (more on that in a moment)
    5. Send a thank you follow up
  1. Recording Studios Where Your Are On A VO Roster
    1. Send a personal email with the demo
    2. Make a follow up call to make sure they got it and post it to their web site (great –and reasonable – opportunity to get meaningful phone time with them)
    3. Take good notes from your conversation if there is any new studio news (new people, new equipment, new location etc.)
    4. Send a thank you follow up
  1. Media/Video Studios Where Your Are On A VO Roster
    1. Send a personal email with the demo
    2. Make a follow up call to make sure they got it and post it to their web site (great –and reasonable – opportunity to get meaningful phone time with them)
    3. Take good notes from your conversation if there is any new studio news (new people, new equipment, new location etc.)
    4. Send a thank you follow up
  1. Prospect/Client Email Blast
    1. This should be a one topic email blast
    2. Keep the text short (under 100 words and even under 50 if you can)
    3. Add some nice graphics, pictures are even better
    4. Links to the demo in the email are vital (obviously)
    5. Pick key clients and do some phone follow-up to seek their opinion of the demo, discuss new opportunities
  1. Hot Prospects and Agents
    1. Email and call prospects that you really want to connect with about the demo
    2. Pick those few agents whose roster you’d really like to be on and contact them about your new demo
  1. Other Social Media
    1. Blog Posts about new Demo
    2. Facebook
    3. Twitter et al

So now, even though most of these folks might not care you have a new demo, they will be aware of it. Using any or all of the above tools to create that awareness (and maybe even subliminally some sense of excitement or urgency) might make some of your audience care about the your new demo. At least it should bring you to top of mind awareness in casting for a while.

Just remember that although you are justifiable proud of your new demo, sometimes the new demo isn’t the MOST important part. The valuable part of a new demo could just be opportunity to use the demo as a respectful and professional tool to communicate new and “interesting” news to prospects and clients to create awareness about YOU. The demo is your sound (and vital to your VO business) but you are the brand.

And just between us kids, I know how much better you sound on the new demo. You’re great! Nice job on the new demo!

 

yes, we all experience professional doubts

8 is great commercial demo audioconnellNewbie or old pro.

Voice talent or accountant.

Everybody goes through a period (or even periods) of professional doubt. If you’re dealing with voiceover doubts, maybe it will be helpful if I tell you how I solved my issue. As always, your mileage may vary.

For me, my professional doubts these past 18 months surrounded one very specific topic: my commercial voiceover demo.

I’d sailed through updates to my narration demo, my political demo, two (count ‘em, two!) television promo demos and two radio imaging demos.

But commercials are my bread and butter (narrations a close second). And I hadn’t updated my commercial demo in 8 years (I was booking off of it, so why should I change it? But I came to the realization that such thinking is just sloppy. 8 years without updating a demo is too long.
COMMERCIAL VOICEOVER DEMO audioconnell

In the past 18 months, that one demo has been something that been bugging me, to various degrees, specifically because I didn’t have a direction for the demo. I didn’t know what I wanted it to sound like. I didn’t have a handle on what I needed to have on the demo to sound current. Doubt.

Sure, voice-over trends come and go…’everyman’ begets ‘announcer’ begets ‘everyman’ on regular cycles and I can do each of those successfully in my sleep. But was I missing direction, content and answers. I didn’t know what the answers were nor did I know where to find them. Doubt.

I had doubts…about my abilities. So if you’d been hit by your own professional doubt too, just know you’re not alone.

I kept the ball moving by doing those other demos and by listening to a bunch of people’s commercial demos on Voicebank. My listening tour told me I was on my own…VO demos remain as individual as the people that voice them. Some were great. Some were truly crap. And these were people I know are booking.

Now I was doubt-filled AND confused.

During this indecisive period, in addition to doing other professional tasks (like those other demos), I relied on another tactic I’ve used in my life when faced with these kinds of situations: do nothing and wait.

While that sounds like a life plan that might make Tony Robbins’ giant head explode, it has actually worked pretty well for me.

I believe that in many instances, God or the universe or time will present me with an answer, a direction or a solution. I just have to be aware, pay attention and go where I need to go. I don’t know if I can explain it better than that.

For my commercial demo, that solution began to reveal itself during some voice-over meetings: VO Atlanta and Faffcon. There I found the answers to my doubt and lack of direction regarding the production of my commercial voice demo.

voices voicecasting mary lynn wissnerI happened upon my friend Melissa Exelberth at VO Atlanta who was having dinner with Mary Lynn Wissner, of Voices Voicecasting in LA. While I knew of her, I hadn’t until that time spent much time with Mary Lynn until that dinner and hallway conversations as the event went on. Mary Lynn had a real handle on what voice styles were being booked (she’s casting voice talent all the time). When she presented again at FaffCon and spoke with her further, I felt Mary Lynn was someone I absolutely needed to train with. Confidence was replacing doubt. With this solid professional connection, I had my direction.

So I began voiceover classes with Mary Lynn and I did so with some very specific goals in mind. I needed to see if I could harness the styles, execute the performances that were booking today. As an LA Casting Director who knows all the top agents, she was going to know whether I could do it. Certainly I felt I WAS doing that but I also know how much I sometimes don’t know. What I found out was that with what she described as minor tweaks, I was off to the races — the training went very well, and she is a great communicator.

Sound4VONext, I organized the scripts I believed would work well for the demo, providing lots of room for the styles I wanted to convey. Then we scheduled some times to record with Mary Lynn directing me and again, those session went exceedingly well. I reviewed some client spots I had done that I felt also work well on the demo, based on what Mary Lynn and I had worked on. I mixed new stuff with the existing stuff, with the help of the great audio engineer and voice talent Dan Friedman.

I am extremely pleased with our results.

I am doubtful no more.

Your solution is out there too. It will come to you. Be ready for it.