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.

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3 Responses to “why you should consider my voiceover advice on public relations and publicity”

  1. Thanks for these insights, Peter. I’m currently teaching English in Saudi Arabia and will be recording from my portable studio during breaks and holidays, and will be taking a leaf from your book.

  2. Wonderful insights.
    I’d forgotten about press releases.
    Thanks for the reminder.
    Congratulations on you r success with it.
    Jay

  3. Jay,

    Glad I could help!

    Best always,
    –Peter

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