For an advertising copywriter, radio is one of the most exciting mediums you can work in. You don’t need a ridiculous budget, or an exotic location, or an art director to add in their design touch. Instead, all you need is a great script that is then brought to life in the recording studio. Of course, there are a few golden rules that will give you the best chance of writing a great radio script.
1. Timing is everything
A radio commercial needs to be written to a specific length of time. This can be 10, 15, 30 or even 60 seconds. So always time your scripts by using a stopwatch (seriously). Also, read your scripts out aloud and factor in everything; allow for any sound affects, dramatic pauses, website details, phone numbers and the like. If you’re not accurate with your timings, then the brilliant 30-second script you’ve written on your laptop can end up running 35-seconds in the studio (ooopsy!) Then you’ll either need to make edits on the run, or start all over again with a new script. Either way, it’s not much fun (and it’s kind of embarrassing).
2. Grab your listener’s attention (and don’t be boring)
Ok, let’s assume you’ve got your timings right. Is anyone actually going to listen to your radio commercial? In other words, does it have a ‘wow factor’? A great radio script grabs the attention of the listener from the very start. So think carefully about who your target is (their age, lifestyle habits, aspirations). Think about the consumer problem, the benefit you’re trying to highlight, plus any insights you have on your target audience. Then, and this is the tricky bit, you’ll need to find a way to get across your information in a fresh and memorable way. (Remember, no-one is on the edge of their seat waiting to hear your radio commercial).
3. Go easy on the selling points (and the client’s name)
Another common mistake is trying to include too many selling points, and saying so much that your poor listener can’t process it all, and they simply tune out. Or thinking that good branding is how many times you can say the client’s name in 30 seconds (it’s not by the way). Good branding is making sure your intended target tunes into your message, and remembers your brand as being able to solve a problem.
4. Get creative
This is actually the fun part. Once you’ve got your brief, really push your ideas. Try and write lots of scripts, and then when you think you can’t write any more, have a rest for an hour or so (and then write another couple). The more scripts you’ll write, the more chance you’ll have of writing something great that can cut-through when it hits the airwaves, and will achieve your client’s business objectives.