It’s a strange irony that what is regarded as the most difficult form of advertising-writing is also the same discipline that gets the least respect.
I’m talking about writing for radio. In “Hey, Whipple Squeeze This”, Luke Sullivan talks about radio as a dry heat: it’s not glamorous as its other ATL cousins but it’s effective.
In South Africa especially, radio is a very powerful medium. It requires no special software, no licence and can be accessed wherever there’s a signal. So it’s great for reaching the mass working-class/office-bound markets.
The problem with writing for radio is that everyone thinks they can do it. After all, it’s just words, right? The truth is radio writing has very sensitive filters like readability and hearability (dunno if that’s even a word. But it works). I’ve had scripts submitted where trademarks (TM) were included in the body script. Like you’re going to read out the trademark. I’ve had scripts submitted where dialogue is used that doesn’t sound like any conversation I’ve ever had or heard. I’ve even had scripts that were just products and prices with a brand-name.
I’d love to share the copy decks out here, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone… But that might change too.
Anyway, here are 3 quick and dirty radio copywriting tips:
1. Be economical with words: Don’t write more than you have to.
2. Don’t write dialogue unless it sounds natural: Seriously. No-one speaks in terms of pay-off lines or jargon. And I’ve yet to meet someone who can rattle off a laundy-list of product-benefits and make it sound natural.
3. Visualise the ad: Think how the scenario would look if you could use images. Then replicate that with sound and key words in your script.
Quick. Dirty. If you didn’t know, now you do. 🙂