Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

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.

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!

 

why you should consider my voiceover advice on public relations and publicity

UD Magazine Winter 2016-17 (not the real cover)

No this is not the REAL cover of University of Dayton Magazine. The guy in the pink shirt just pasted himself on there. What a goof!

Maybe it was because the new President of the University of Dayton is, like me, a native of Buffalo, NY and a fellow graduate of Canisius High School.

Maybe the University of Dayton Magazine wanted to profile someone who graduated 30 years ago.

Maybe it was because I finally paid the fines on all those overdue Roesch Library books from 1986.

Those are some of the answers I’ve given people who asked me how I got a profile article about my business in my university’s alumni magazine University of Dayton Magazine.

“How did you get THAT?” seems to be the question. They should be asking: “How did YOU (of all people) get that?”

My best guess reasons for getting the placement was a splash of creativity, timing and luck.

Let’s flash back to late summer or early fall 2016. The O’Connells had made like the Clampetts and moved, but instead of moving to Beverly (Hills, that is, swimming pools, movie stars) we moved to Raleigh, NC (more accurately, Cary, NC but everybody knows Raleigh, so there).

What one forgets, when one hasn’t moved in decades, is how many people need to be notified about ones change of address and what a pain that is to do. Oy!

While doing all the mandatory address changes, I remembered the secondary groups I needed to convey information to about our move, one being my school alumni associations, which included the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!).

In addition to wanting to know where to send their donation requests (as all private high school and colleges do) schools also update the alumni notes section of their newsletters. I didn’t remember the last time I updated UD about me (not so very often)  so the move seemed worthy of a note.

I sat at the computer and composed a note. The initial drafts of what I wrote bothered me because they were plain and dull. “I moved from Buffalo, NY to Cary, NC just outside of Raleigh.” Really? That was the best I could do? Nah, I could do better. I could make it more fun and interesting than that.

So this is what I sent:

“Former radio broadcaster (WVUD-FM ) turned voice-over talent Peter K. O’Connell (RTV, ’86) has moved from the 53rd largest broadcast market (Buffalo, NY) to the 24th largest broadcast market (Raleigh, NC)…mostly because it’s warmer. In August, O’Connell, his wife Andrea and their 3 children moved the clan to Cary, NC. Peter owns a popular voice-over company, audio’connell Voice-Over Talent, producing audio for commercial and narrations for clients around the world. He can be reached at peter @ audioconnell.com.”

Editor’s note: WVUD-FM was a 50,000 watt commercial FM radio station owned by the University of Dayton until they sold it some years ago.

My thinking was this new version was unique, fun and maybe interesting and informative…to somebody. At the very least it wasn’t boring. I sent it and promptly forgot about it.

Some days later, I received a nice email from Gita Balakrishnan, who writes for University of Dayton Magazine, where the alumni notes are published.

It said:

“I would like to know more about the Class Note you submitted to the UD Magazine for a possible Anatomy of a Class Note. If you are interested, please let me know so I can send over some questions to know a little bit more about you.”

Hmmm. Seems they were plotting their next edition of the alumni magazine and my timing was pretty fortunate (lucky). Were I a public relations specialist (and I am not) I believe I would have heard in my head the voice of a hockey announcer screaming ‘He shoots, he SCORES!’

What’s the point of sharing all this with my fellow voice talent? I just want to present some thoughts for you to consider as you draft your 2017 marketing plan or while you just play tiddlywinks at your desk waiting for the phone to maybe ring with a new VO job.

I don’t know what the publication numbers are for University of Dayton Magazine but simple math estimates easily assume there are certainly 100,000+ active living alumni to whom the University sends this publication. I really want to say there are more but let’s just use 100,000 as the number.

If even .5% of those 100K UD alumni (@500) are somehow involved in media production, isn’t it worth a few minutes time to write a creative, 4-sentence promotional blurb, send it in for free and see what happens? (Hint: the answer is yes).

My experience in interacting and advising a great many professional voice talents tells me they are generally deathly afraid of marketing and it’s tools, like public relations and publicity. The reasons range from lack of understanding about how to do it and what’s involved to the fact that marketing is too much like work (seriously).

Universally, ALL of that same group are concerned about the expense of marketing. Public relations and publicity may cost you some time, but usually very little (if any) money.

There was no guarantee that my 4-sentence email would turn into such a nice profile or that they would even print a sentence of it. There was a 100% guarantee NOTHING would be published if I didn’t send it.

audio'connell_logo_blue_raleigh, NCSome voice talents look at writing press releases about their business as embarrassing, because as a voice talent you are the business. So, in essence, you are just writing about ‘how great thou are’ when you’re writing something about your own business and it’s awkward. That’s very true. But remember, readers (press or the public) either don’t know or mostly don’t care who wrote the release – they are just reading it. They’ll discover the facts as they need them.

Here’s my trick and maybe it will work for you too: when writing a press release or presenting a story idea about your “business” (which, again, is you), think about yourself as. a. business.

When you write your personal name in the release or pitch, you write “John Smith” but you should perceive it in your head as writing “The John Smith Company”. There, now you’re not an individual, you are an entity. People write releases about entities all the time!

I respect humility more than you could possibly know and I too feel extremely awkward about writing about myself in releases. But the bank respects my monthly mortgage payment more than my humility. So if publicity helps me make more money to pay that mortgage, then I will use my little trick to get past my internal awkwardness and just cash the checks from any business my small PR efforts get for me.

My hope for you is you take a day, or a ½ day and think creatively about your business, your services and the institutions/groups you are involved with in your life. I just know there are public relations and publicity opportunities for your business within some of those groups. Think! 🙂

Alumni groups are one such group, churches are another, charities you work with are another. Of course there are more if you just think about it, it’s your life. Make a list!

You read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch local TV….they need content to fill their paper and airwaves. Is there a story idea or an angle you could offer them with some service you offer or some project you’ve worked on or a client you’ve secured that the public might find interesting and unique?

Still not sure?

Is what you do, the services you offer and the projects & clients you’ve worked with/on more interesting than an 800lb pumpkin? Because I see TV crews and radio stations covering pumpkin weigh-offs like the darn Super Bowl at Halloween. So I think you might have some angle on your business that someone in the media might want to cover too. I think at least SOME of what we do is more interesting than an 800lb pumpkin.

But you have to do the research and the legwork.

You have to look up the contact information for all the media outlets in your area.

You have to make those editor or reporter calls to pitch your idea or write that email.

You have to learn how to write a professional press release (it’s NOT hard).

You have to think about what you do and how to translate that into an interesting pitch for an article in the business section of your newspaper or even the lifestyle or sports section.

You may perform as a voice talent but you’re really a business owner. Instead of fretting about where your next job is coming from, how about focusing on expanding your audience now…without much if any expense and see what that leads to. It will be more productive than fretting. I hope this helps.

Oh, and that 4-sentence blurb I sent to UD Magazine evolved into this….

Peter K. O'Connell University of Dayton Anatomy of a Class NoteFormer radio broadcaster (WVUD-FM) turned voice-over talent Peter K. O’Connell (RTV, ’86) has moved from the 53rd largest broadcast market (Buffalo, NY) to the 24th largest broadcast market (Raleigh, N.C)—mostly because it’s warmer. In August 2016, O’Connell, his wife Andrea and their 3 children moved the clan to Cary, N.C. Peter owns his popular voice-over company, audio’connell Voice-Over Talent producing audio for commercial and narrations for clients around the world.

WVUD-FM—Peter started working at WVUD in 1982 after the station’s program director heard him on the University’s carrier-current station, WDCR. He started at “Hitradio 100” doing afternoon drives news before later coming the evening disk-jockey.

Broadcaster, Voice Actor and Teacher Jack Rang

Jack C. Rang, September 27, 1923 – February 7, 2011

RTV— A radio television major, O’Connell credits a former General Manager for WVUD, professor and great voice talent, Jack Rang, with teaching him commercial performance at UD. As he recalls, “Jack had an awesome voice.” Most of Peter’s early training came via imitation of others, listening to local and network broadcasts to analyze how they did it. Since then, he has had professional training from talented industry veterans in New York, Chicago and LA.

24th largest broadcast market—Peter’s move opens up his work to a larger and more media centric market. And Peter notes that “the weather is a bit more forgiving here than in Buffalo from December to March.”

audio’connell Voice Over Talent—Peter started his company right after graduation, where he started doing spots for local companies. When Peter works with students who want to become talents in the business, the one thing he tells them is that “You have to want to perform voiceover like you want to breathe—because it takes a lot of work to be noticed in this industry, to stand out, it’s not just about a cool voice.”

World—Peter’s voice-over recordings have been heard globally including London, England; Seoul, Korea; the Caribbean; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; Delhi, India and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nationally across the United States, Peter’s voice has been heard in all major markets including New York City; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dallas, Texas; Dayton, Ohio and Buffalo, New York.

letters, we get letters…

audioconnell_email_computerWell maybe not letters so much as emails. Often the emails are clients or prospects wanting a quote on a voice-over project they are working on.

But almost as often I get emails from people wanting to break into the voice-over business. Many established voice talents receive these types of emails.

I try and answer them as honestly as I know how, even though I know most want me to paint a rosy picture of their voice-over future for them. I don’t do that but nor do I want to shatter their dreams.

Every person has a right to try to follow their dream and it’s not my place to knock them down. Nor is my place to set false expectations.

Just as an illustration, I will share with you an email I received this evening (yes, on a Sunday evening). Such an email on a Sunday is not so uncommon, as many people are facing the prospect of another Monday at the job they don’t like with great dread. I know that feeling from my past lives and I am not unsympathetic to their plight.

So anyway, here is the email I received and my reply. I’ll leave it to you to decide if I am a helpful realist or a soulless dream crusher.

“I am a 22 yr old kid looking to fulfill his dreams. I’ve wanted nothing more than to be involved with voice acting since I was little. It’s truly what makes me happy and I do believe I have the talents to do some great things. Just looking for someone to take a chance with me. Just want one shot. I cant do an office job anymore. It isn’t the life for me at all. I’m miserable. I need to be around people and to make others happy.”

Here is my reply:

“Fortunately for you, you have an objective. A goal.

Now you need a strategy.

Know this first and foremost….working in voice-over is pretty much running a one-person business. You’re in an office 90% of the time and a studio 10% of the time. Those % can vary but not much on average.

Do you want to run a small business? I know you think you want to be in voice-over but what you’re really saying is I want to run a small business. You’re saying I want to take the financial risk (money is not huge for many), I want to be responsible for sales, marketing, human resources, accounting and toilet cleaning. It a one person gig and you do it ALL.

Are you ready for all that? ALL of that?

I’m not trying to scare you…I’m just offering you the facts. Your dreams of what voice-over could be will not jive with what the reality will be. It is hard work. Hard. Work. 24/7/365. And in all of this, I haven’t even mentioned turning on the mic.

If you have the financial resources to withstand significant dry times (no VO jobs) and start -up costs (studio, marketing etc), if you have the acumen run a small business and the personality to create positive business relationships, then consider starting your new voice-over business up on the side. Keep your day job and work VO in your off time. It can be done and is done by thousands everyday.

Take a look at my free e-book and see if that helps you on this proposed journey as well. The Voice-Over Entrance Exam can be found at www.voiceoverentranceexam.com

Go in with your eyes WIDE open to the work ahead.

Be afraid. Be worried.

Then, as you’re consumed by uncertainty, do it anyway.

You’re 22. If you fail, you’ll recover. But what happens if you succeed?

You miss 100% of the shots you never take in life. Just remember to take SMART shots, not emotional shots.

I hope this helps. Good luck.”

re-visiting voice-over body shop was a completely different experience

George Whittam, Dan Lenard, Peter K. O'Connell VOBS

When I wrote the promo blog for my Monday night appearance on Voice-Over Body Shop (formerly known as East-West Audio Body Shop or EWABS), I had the chance to watch a bit of my 2011 appearance. That episode was George Whittam and Dan Lenard’s 4th show and it was a great deal of work for them to get the show on the net, given the tools of the time. But like true broadcasters they worked through it and got the show done. It was a fun time for me to be a part of and especially for the audience.

Fast forward to last night.

Locales have changed with Dan having moved this past summer from Buffalo, NY to Hollywood and a new studio in his new house. The show originates from this “Lenard Broadcast Center” so finally Dan and George are on the same set. The show has a new name (‘cause Dan isn’t in the East anymore) and the broadcast enjoys much better Internet streaming technology. George has become extremely comfortable as technical director with the newer technology and Dan keeps the flow of the show going very well. 5 years worth of shows will do that.

Sponsors have noticed the improved program as well because the show has many of them including (on this episode anyway) Voice-Over Essentials, Voice-Over Xtra, Edge Studio, Source Elements, VO2GoGo & Antland Productions.

I was linked in to the show about 30 minutes before air and got to have a nice visit with George and Dan, discussing how much the show has evolved. Certainly with any broadcast, that’s going to happen.

However, from my perspective as an early guest on show #4 to my latest appearance 5 years later, the show has experienced a wonderful evolution from two well-paired co-hosts who are not just committed to their show but, even more so, to their audience.

So if you didn’t get a chance to see the show live, here for your viewing pleasure is last night’s broadcast. Thanks boys. And happy 5th anniversary.

off to vo atlanta

VO Atlanta audioconnell

What’s your agenda when you attend a voice-over conference?

I think most people would answer – ‘whatever is on the agenda’ is on their agenda when attending a voice-over conference.

One assumes people look at what’s planned for a conference and decide based on that whether the event is worth attending.

That’s fine. I also think it’s lazy and unproductive. (Uh oh, here he goes again!)

Look, if you want to be led around by the nose by whatever is put in front of you in the banquet of conference classes, that’s OK.

It just seems to me that to get your true money’s worth out of a conference, you need to set personal objectives – to be achieved as a result of your attendance – that will help move your career further, no matter what stage you find yourself in your career.

I’ll give you a personal example.

Outside of FaffCon and FaffCamp, which remain my favorite professional voice-over events, I haven’t been to that many voice-over conferences. I’ve presented at some but I don’t attend that many.

Time is one reason but the bigger reason is I don’t feel the content at most VO conferences will add significantly to my current knowledge bank. That doesn’t mean I’m better or smarter or that the content isn’t good. It means I don’t feel like I’m the right audience for most VO conferences.

When you’ve worked in a business (any business) for 34 years, that’s going to happen. Someone with none of my experience, half of my experience or even more than my experience would likely see many VO conference agendas differently than I do. It’s a personal career decision.

But it is also true that after that much time, I’ve come to realize that I know how much I don’t know. And you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. The tricks had just better be spectacular.

The tricks at FaffCon and FaffCamp, because of the level of professional, experienced talent in attendance, have always been pretty spectacular and helped in my professional growth and development.

I am a newbie to VO Atlanta, which is now in its 3rd year. There are a significant number of folks new to the voice-over industry that will be in attendance and certainly some of VO Atlanta’s content is geared toward that audience. That’s cool.

Unique this year at VO Atlanta is the attendance of a great number of casting directors and voice over agents. This has piqued my interest.

It pleases me to already be working with many (but not all) of the agents at VO Atlanta including Erik Sheppard from Voice Talent Productions, Jeffrey Umberger from Umberger Agency and of course my agent and long time Toronto pal Tanya Buchanan from Ta-Da Voiceworks. I would like to at least meet a few of the agents and casting directors that I don’t yet know.

Further, there are a couple of sessions on Saturday (the day I’ll be there) that I would like to listen in on. Although I am not interested in the concept of X-sessions, which requires an additional fee for each session on top of the initial conference fee. Not judging, that’s just me.

Also, I’ll be in attendance at VO Atlanta with some of my fellow MVO: The Voice-Over Guys including Dan Friedman, Brad Venable, Jordan Reynolds and Dustin Ebaugh. That’s always fun!

Will there be Voxy Ladies there? Nah, ya can’t never find them anywhere. 😉 (ducking).

Finally, there are at least 25 of my longtime VO friends who will be in attendance, whose company I enjoy and who are always generous with their insights and advice.

Too, there are new friends to make at this new-to-me conference.

So not a lot of my objectives for VO Atlanta have anything to do with the agenda. But I do have specific objectives for my attendance.

My suggestion, if you are going to this or any other VO conference, is to think about what your goals and objectives are for attending…then think bigger – whatever that means to you.

You’re the student.

I hope this helps.