Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

Some quick thoughts on a successful email blast

Voiceover talents love their email blasts.

It gets the message out to your “people” and putting a blast together is not terribly burdensome with all the online services available to help (they are not very costly either).

Depending on who you speak with, of course, email blasts are either the dumbest or the smartest marketing you can do. I’ll let you guess which side thinks they get better results from their blast.

There are two main drivers to a successful email blast: your list and your content. Which is more important? Both.

Let’s look at this two ways.

1. General Email Blast

Some voice talents write one email message or newsletter and send it to their entire list, without segmenting the list by categories (I’ll explain categories in a moment). This is the simplest way to do email blasts and can work if the message applies to everyone on your list.

2. Targeted Email Blast

This kind of blast involves creating an email message to just one portion of your list and sending the blast to them. For example, say you had a great idea for an email blast about your commercial production work. Let’s also say in your database, which you have previously broken up in to categories of people you work with and contact, you had a ton of commercial production contacts. BUT in your database you also had a ton of audiobook producer contacts too. In such a targeted email blast, you would omit the audiobook producer contacts from this specific blast because the message does not apply to them.

Which blast is more efficient? Depending on your message, both.

But I would suggest that voice talents send more general email blasts because it’s easy and are missing the marketing boat.

If you can target a specific message to a specific audience that would benefit from that message, spend the extra time to reach out to the RIGHT people, not just ALL the people.

Hope that helps.

‘you were their second choice’

2nd place trophy audioconnellA silver lining?

I prefer streets paved with gold.

But life doesn’t usually let us win every voice-over job and so it went today as I was advised, “you were their second choice”.

If you’ve been in voiceover for more than a day (and I’m not sure what percentage that is at the moment) you’ve likely been told at some point you were a prospect’s second choice for a voiceover job.

If you’ve been up for a job in almost any industry, you may have been told you were a second choice.

It happens. Now what?

Well nothing really. The bus left without you so you need to see about getting a different ride.

Sure, you can punch a wall or kick a dog (I’m personally OK with the wall option but not the dog…ever) but it doesn’t fix anything.

The real answer is that if it festers too much inside you, you need to get mentally tougher or quite seriously quit the voiceover business. The voiceover business is a business filled with rejection. Which is why it’s so great when you do land a new VO job.

As Pollyannaish as it might sound, it is not a bad thing to come in second. First is best but third is worse.

The point is your performance was really, really good. However, left up to the SUBJECTIVE (look it up) ear of a producer, they liked one other voice better. You cannot control that. No one can.

So if you can’t get over learning you came in second on a voice gig after more than about a minute, start working on your resume because you will need to look for a new job. I mean it. Get out of voiceover, for your own good.

Everybody else…move on. As I know you already have. Good job.

And congrats on that audition…you truly nailed it.

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.

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.