When creating and producing an audio news release, many communication professionals assume that once they’ve chosen a vendor, they’re home free. And, as important as vendor selection is, as you can see in the example production schedule that follows, it’s only the first of several steps for creating effective audio content. After lining up the vendor, you need to develop a timeline for production with a specific schedule for each part of the process. Only then can you be sure to have the final piece ready for distribution on time.
Work Backwards from Broadcast
Most media companies will be able to edit and produce an ANR to be broadcast-ready in 1-2 business days — but you’ll have to build in time for things like scheduling the spokesperson, the back and forth of script revisions, and the approval process. In order to establish deadlines for each part of production with your vendor, you’ll need to be clear about several things: when your client wants the ANR to be on the air, the amount of time your client will need to review the script, and what kind of turnaround time your vendor requires. Working backwards from your targeted distribution/broadcast week, it’s a good idea to allow 3 – 4 weeks for the entire process, with firmly established checkpoints along the way.
Checkpoint One: First Draft
The project begins with preliminary conversations about messaging, goals and your target audience. This is when you consult with your vendor on what you want to say, who you’re trying to reach and how to craft your message in broadcast style for a :60 second ANR. They’ll help you identify what is most essential in your messaging and if needed, assist with the selection of a spokesperson who will provide a sound bite.
Tip: Key messages should be conveyed right up front, so the scriptwriter can create a first draft that’s as close as possible to the final product. This will reduce the time needed for rewrites. The clearer you are with your vendor during this preliminary step about what you want your ANR to accomplish, the easier it will be to stay on schedule for the entire project.
Checkpoint Two: Script Approval
It’s not unusual for an ANR script to go through several revisions. Most clients need to be coached to think realistically about key messages and how much they can say in 30 to 60 seconds. Often, they want to say too much. If that’s your client, allow plenty of time in the schedule for back-and-forth reviews of scripts and coming to agreement on adding and cutting. It also may take longer than you may think to move a script through the approval process, especially if it has to go through your client’s legal department. Be sure to give everyone on your team a heads up about the production schedule as soon as you can to keep things on track.
Tip: If your ANR includes a soundbite from an expert or a company spokesperson, be sure to include them early on in the script approval process. We’ve seen a few production schedules screech to a halt when a spokesperson, like a physician, finds a factual error in the script that the team missed. Better to catch those things early. (It’s also a great idea to give your spokesperson as much time to practice as possible.)
Checkpoint Three: Production Approval
Once the script is approved, your vendor will line-up a recording session with the voiceover talent and/or with your spokesperson to record the soundbite. Clients should be given the opportunity to pre-approve voice talent where possible. If the client decides after a piece is recorded that they don’t like the talent’s voice, redoing it loses time and additional fees may be charged.
Some clients like to listen in on the recordings so that they can give immediate feedback to the production director, and this definitely makes the most of everyone’s time. A common snag that clients encounter is working around the busy schedule of their spokespeople, especially if the spokesperson is a medical professional, or a company executive. And that’s another good reason for the client to listen in during the sound bite recording and confer on the spot with the production director about which “take” sounds the best.
After the recordings are finished, the vendor will mix and edit the ANR and send it to you for approval. As with script approval, you’ll want to build in plenty of time for your team to listen to the final product so it can be approved in time for the drop-dead production deadline.
Tip: If your script includes medical or scientific terms, unusual names or any word that can be pronounced more than one way (like Carribean or caramel) – be sure to clarify the preferred pronunciation with your vendor before the recording session. It will save the time, hassle and expense of scheduling another session just to re-record one or two words.
Checkpoint Four: Final Report
One more due date you need to discuss with your vendor is when they will send you the final report. It’s a good idea to review the final report with your vendor, to ensure that you’ll be able to communicate the results effectively to your internal and external stakeholders. Getting all your questions answered about radio terms, measurement and methodology improves understanding of the benefits of radio outreach. The more you know about radio, the better you’re able to convey to your client the value and impact of their Audio News Release.
Following these tips and checkpoints will leave you reassured that the ANR development and production process will run smoothly. You will have anticipated possible hiccups in advance and be proactive in clearing them up in plenty of time. MediaTracks Communications offers comprehensive support and guidance for every stage of the audio news release production process. For more information or to request our assistance on your project, visit our website today.
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