Writing for Imaging

Imaging TreeBy Denzil Lacey

It’s the very same for your Radio Station, if you have poor content and scripts, the listener will just switch stations with the risk of never coming back. You really need to hit the listener each time with gold material to hook them in and keep them where you want them.

What not to do?

It’s very easy to leave scripting on the backburner or just copying another Radio Station - but that won’t win, it’s been done, it’s not original and might not resonate with your listener as well as you may have thought. You can also get into bad habits of using the same scripts that have always been used at your Radio Station, be it from a previous Imaging Producer or bits that you have used in previous jobs.

What to do?

Set scripting time every week before the session with your Station Voiceover. You could get ideas while you are walking your dog on a hot summer's day, watching a movie or TV show or even a pub chat - some of the best conversations begin in the pub! Be topical and stay current (particularly if you are a CHR/Hot AC Radio Station) and use the stuff your listener is interested in.

One of my favourite pieces of work was a promo for our JNLR Ratings back in February. The promo was based around Donald Trump and fake news. Donald Trump was everywhere in the news and literally everywhere you turned, so I turned it on its head and related it to the Listenership figures and used references to the locality (being Dublin). It got a great reaction from staff and listeners alike and it was different spin on Donald Trump and the stories at the time - a bit of humour and it wasn’t directly slagging Trump either; it was purely things that he had said but we used them to benefit our promo.

You can hear that promo in the link here: FM104 Trump Promo-Denzil Lacey

Using references to big topical stories is the best way to stay relevant with a bit of humour on the side.

Keep it short

The Listener’s attention span is getting shorter (particularly the younger people) so writing shorter and more to the point scripts are better. Make that 30 second promo, 20 seconds or even 10 seconds if you can!

It’s also important to keep those S&P Tags to a minimum too - yeah the client is paying for the mention but would they rather the promo be heard or the listener to tune out? I think you will find they want them to stay listening if they are paying - so meeting clients and informing Sales Reps about this is also key.

Below is an example of how you can change your scripting by changing the order and filter out the rubbish.

Original: We have your chance to see The Chainsmokers in New York. We will fly you and your mate, business class for seven nights to see them live in Madison Square Garden

Revised: Get qualified all week….. And you’ll fly to New York with your mate…. To see The Chainsmokers!

Remove Stop Words

Stop words are words like “a, about, above, across, after, afterwards, again, all, also, always etc..”

Stop words are described as “words which do not contain important significance to be used in Search Queries. Usually these words are filtered out from search queries because they return a vast amount of unnecessary information.”

I am a firm believer in leaving out stop words and words that do not add any value to a script - they just take up air time. Imagine how much airtime you could get back by removing stop words in all scripts?

Get Inspired

My buddy Staxx Williams at Z100 is nailing the creative writing at the moment. His stuff is killer and works very well! Check his stuff out!

Quick Tips:

Writing time: I have found that setting aside writing time every week can win you some epic promos and trails. If you have a promotion or big station event coming up in a few months, get a system going where you can store ideas, drops of audio and anything that can relate back to the promo or event. Systems I use are Slack, Evernote and Wunderlust. There are literally thousands of cloud-based organisers out there, do some research and find the ones that you like!

Watch, Listen and Read: Exactly as it’s titled really - but watch those TV and Neftlix Shows that your audience is watching to get some ideas for your Imaging. You can also pick up some magazines that they might be reading, and I even find Twitter is a great tool to find out what’s topical by using the “trending” feature - once you localise your ideas to your country or even better, the area that you are broadcasting. I know it’s becoming more difficult to do that with networks of Radio Stations becoming more and more apparent but you can find a way to do it!

Movie Trailers: It’s been said to me by a few different people that they love watching and hearing Movie Trailers to get ideas and even how they are composed and compiled - it can also give you ideas on how to structure your elements - it’s like a story, it has to have a beginning, middle and end (or conclusion) so Movie Trailers are a really good place to expand your palate!

Finally, if you are like me and you hate reading, don’t fear. I went through stages of not knowing how to write decent copy for Radio Imaging but I feel the above is something that has really benefitted me, and I am sure you can take something from it too.

Denzil Lacey is the Production Director with Dublin’s No. 1 Music Station - FM104. Based in Dublin, Ireland he manages a busy Production Department and team of producers. He welcomes your correspondence at denzil@zavamedia.com.

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