what you appreciate when you i-phone breaks

Cracked Iphone 6s Via Cnet

Photo courtesy of CNET

It was a day like any other last week. The kids and I were leaving the Cary Library and approaching the car when my phone, which I was carrying, slipped and fell to the ground.

This has happened many times before with nary a scratch…likely due to the case I have.

This time the entire screen shattered.

As I ran my finger across the screen, I could feel the cracks on the screen and it felt like I might have little cuts on my finger tips at any time.

The phone was not going to be useable. I would have to get a new screen.

Expense was not a concern, time was a little bit more of a concern but getting an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar was a grave concern. This happened on a Wednesday and the soonest appointment they could give me was a Sunday.

That was not going to work.

So I decided to trek (and it is a hike) over to the Apple store and throw myself on the mercy of the Apple court.

And yes, the store is in a big mall and yes, it’s Christmas time and yes, ugh!

But my plan was to be one of the first customers of the day and see how that would go…maybe they could fit me in. Hope is not a plan but it can be an option.

The store hours on the web said they store opened at 10:00 am so I got to the mall at 9:30 a.m. As I walked towards the store, I saw the doors already opened and only a few people inside (Christmas hours, I soon learned).

I was approached by an Apple employee and explained my dilemma (I decided at the outset not to hand in my man card and start crying….yet). They could help me and they would help me now, he said. They would give me a new screen. That day.

#winning

I would have to wait about 90 minutes (a reasonable amount of time for someone with no appointment, I thought). Since I was NOT about to give up my prime, early arriver parking spot by leaving the busy mall and coming back at a busier time, I decided I would get some more exercise by walking the mall.

Realizing that there was almost nothing else besides a broken iphone that could get me to a mall during the Christmas season, I started to think as I walked, taking in all surroundings and the people around me.

Being in the mall, I realized an number of things I was grateful for. Here’s my list that exclude obvious things like family, home, health and job (which I am eternally grateful for everyday).

• A super close parking space

• I am thankful for the employees of the Apple store – their attitude is so positive and helpful almost always; they remind me of two other companies where I get that same feeling: Publix Grocery Stores and Enterprise Rental Cars (I don’t know how these companies profile their employees but they do a great job of finding really customer-centric people)

• I am appreciative of the designers of the Christmas decorations at the Crabtree Valley Mall — the trees and sleighs were really great….maybe it’s the same stuff they do every year but it was new to me and I thought it looked swell (I couldn’t take a picture because of…well, you know)

• It was also nice not having an i-phone and not being connected…if you need me, well, you’ll have to fend for yourself for a while; I’ll survive and so will you

• I am so glad I don’t work in retail for so many reasons, the top 2 being I wouldn’t have the patience to deal with Christmas shoppers and I don’t think sales are going well in many stores which means jobs will be cut

• Similarly I’m glad I don’t work for mall companies…there are so many empty, closed stores inside so many malls because so many retailers are closing their doors…and I think come Q1 2018, more stores will announce they are closing

• On a positive retail note, in my city, Apple is moving their current store within the mall to a much bigger space in the same mall which must bring a major sigh of relief to the mall owners

• I am pleased that there are gentlemen willing to dress up and play Santa at malls….it thrills the children (well most of them anyway) to meet Santa and their excitement is invigorating to the soul

• A super close parking space

My phone was fixed and life went on, with thanks.

with 235 stations, entercom doesn’t need to shout anymore

Entercom Logo change audioconnell

With the announcement on November 17 that Entercom Communications Corp. (“Entercom”) (NYSE: ETM) had completed its with CBS Radio Inc. (“CBS Radio”), the Pennsylvania-based media and entertainment company now boasts 235 radio stations in most of the biggest markets in the country. These include historic stations like WCBS AM/FM & WINS-AM in New York, KROQ-FM in Los Angeles and WBBM AM/FM in Chicago.

So with all these new stations, Entercom decided it needed to tweak it’s branding, in part, by redesigning its logo.

Gone is the stylized small “e” in the diamond and the all caps, italicized word mark, replaced by a diamond-less small “e” and a very basic sans-serif in upper and lower case. Purple is the main color now.

So what does this all mean?

Well in the grand scheme of things, not much. Except I think Entercom is changing its branding message.

Prior to the CBS merger, it feels to me like the old logo was saying “we’re a player, we’re a company that’s working to be a truly major player in media, specifically radio.”

Now, with all of these major new stations, totaling a whopping 235 radio stations across America, the simpler – actually more boring logo in my opinion, says “we ARE a player and we don’t have to shout from the roof tops…if you’re advertising in radio, you’re going to need (not want) to speak with us.”

Finally, just for some perspective, your gentle writer remembers (and worked in radio when) a broadcast ownership group could only have 7 AM stations, 7 FM stations and 7 TV stations…total! Times have changed and change is scary.

a braggadocios dust collector

audioconnell trophyI was talking today with a fella who submitted to The Voice Arts Awards and came home with an award.

I was congratulating him, he said thanks and he asked “where do you stand on this whole award thing for voiceovers?”

Laughing, I said my thoughts don’t really matter.

But he pressed me for an answer, saying he was a little self conscious about the whole thing of talents having to pay for an entry, pay for the travel to get to the awards if nominated, food, lodging, tuxes et al. It can be an expensive trip. Oh and you have to pay for the trophy.

All of these statements are true for most award shows, by the way, big or small.

Then he noted how people in the industry can rightly or wrongly perceive someone who participates in such an awards program as a ‘tool’. Are they doing it for ego, praise and recognition? Are they using the possible nomination and award for marketing purposes? A little of both?

First thing I said was to knock off feeling self-conscious about the whole thing. Enjoy the win and enjoy the recognition. I knew this guy wasn’t an egotistical schmuck like some in the voiceover industry are.

It's all about meWait, like ALL in our voiceover industry are. We’re actors…we want to pretend, we crave praise for our pretending, we want applause for our pretending and then we want to be paid…for our pretending. Then we want publicity for all that again, confirming for the world how great we are at pretending.

‘But enough talk from me about how great I am, why don’t YOU tell me how great I am!’

Actors are among the most needy of the needy. That’s in our DNA as performers. You’re not above it as an actor and neither am I.

Sure, some folks go too far with the neediness because there are extremes in every business. But there isn’t a voice, stage or screen actor on the planet without an oversized ego. (Except me of course…have you read my bio? Have a bucket nearby, you’ll get queasy. Search engines love it, though).

When these VAA’s first came out (it was crazy expensive to participate back then, it’s gotten more reasonable since I’ve been told), I was like ‘this is the dumbest thing ever, what idiot is going to pay for this stuff?’ Turns out, by year four, there are plenty of idiots.

But they are not idiots…they are doing what they need to do for themselves and/or for their business. It’s OK to want to submit to be nominated for awards (and by submit, I mean like 2-3 submissions — if you’re an individual submitting more than that ((way more than that by some counts)), I am not buying the ‘marketing’ excuse….you ARE just an egotistical schmuck and not in a good way).

I’ve submitted and won for other awards. Such participation had a marketing benefit, which I executed and the award ultimately helped my business.

Other folks, as I have read on social media, get indignant and self-righteous about not ‘paying to play’ for award. I don’t have that kind of free time nor the energy to enter into such a useless debate. I’ve got work to do.

I have chosen not to participate in the VoiceArts awards because I don’t see it having much marketing benefit for me. It may as time passes, who knows. That is the beginning, middle and end of that story.

But just because it doesn’t work for me does not mean The Voice Arts Awards (or any other awards you pay into for consideration) are necessarily bad. Awards are basically a business tool, a means to a marketing end.

audioconnell award winner's marketing plan

What IS bad is if you submit yourself for nomination, get nominated, travel and party, come home with the hardware and then DON’T have your marketing plan ready for how you plan to squeeze every ounce of marketing juice outta that gold foil tin cup you just paid how ever many dollars it cost you.

Major news organizations will NOT be reporting on The Voice Arts Awards. Networks were not on the red carpet asking who you were wearing. Any media push or public relations benefit that you might get from such an award has to come from YOU, the winner. YOU, the nominee. You, my friend are the publicist on this gig.

What’s your plan???

The award was just the beginning of the work ahead. My guess is, from a marketing perspective, the trophy is going to be nothing more than a braggadocios dust collector for some of Sunday’s winners.

Those folks simply wasted their money on a nice party because they don’t have a focused marketing plan to back up their award investment. That’s a missed opportunity and a senseless waste of money.

Don’t be like those folks.

movember 2017 – here I grow again

Peter K. O'Connell Movember 2017

The first of November is both a happy and sad day in my house, none of which has anything to do with Halloween candy.

With the return of Movember, most of the people in my house are happy that I am whisker-free for one full day. Everyone in my family hates (underline h-a-t-e-s) my facial hair. However, I was also told numerous times by that same group that I look weird without my whiskers.

They are also sad to know that for the rest of the month I will be growing it back.

Movember logo_250But the shaving and regrowth come with a purpose. Movember is celebrating its 10-year fundraising anniversary in the U.S., bring attention to and directing funds towards critical men’s health issues including: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

I only participate in one charity event per year and this is it.

If you would be willing to donate, that would be great.

Here is a link to MY MOVEMBER PAGE.

Thank you for your generous consideration.

death of the voiceover blog?

Death of the Voiceover Blog?Sometimes we as voiceover business owners are so focused on the operations of our business, the business of doing business, we neglect to paint our stores and sweep our steps.

The ‘stores and steps’ references our web sites. We often look at our sites from the back of the house instead of standing out front and looking at what the visitors see.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about checking out what your web site looks like by going to electronic retailers and calling up your web site on various computers, tablets and phones.

While that applies to web sites, that advice also applies to blogs.

I’ve had a blog since 2005 and in those 12 years, I’ve written a lot about voiceover, marketing and advertising (over 1,300 posts). That’s why I named the blog voxmarketising. In all those posts there are some real golden nuggets and some absolute crap. Trial and error, baby!

But one of the areas of blog management I had fallen way behind in was managing all the links I had listed on my blog to all my fellow voiceover bloggers. It was my way of sharing the blog love by listing their blog link, in the hopes that they would do the same. Some did, some didn’t.

But recently, I did a complete review of all the blogs I had listed on my site to see what blogs were still active and what blogs had given up the ghost.

Over 80 (EIGHTY) voiceover blogs were just cut from my web site because they hadn’t published in 3 or more years or because their bloglink just went nowhere any more.

There were probably 10 or so links that needed to be updated and they have been.

But 80 dead blogs was an amazing number.

Why so many? Based on what I saw and what I know, here are my theories

  • Some folks started blogging about voiceover because they thought they were supposed to for better web traction – they had no desire to blog and no point of view in their writing so they just quit
  • Some people clearly didn’t not make it in the VO business — so why blog about voiceover when one is now selling life insurance?
  • Some folks just got bored with the process of blogging

Sure there may be a myriad of other reasons and all of them are legitimate. Blogging is not mandatory in the voiceover or any other business (unless you’re in the blogging business, then I suppose it’s pretty mandatory.

But does blogging help or even impact a voice talent’s business? That depends.

From a broad perspective, blogging should help a voiceover talent’s business for SEO. If one is blogging about their industry, using a widely accepted blogging platform like WordPress (either as a blog or as part of an overall web site), that alone should generate attention from search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Digging down a little further, if a blogger’s content gains enough interest from a targeted audience and the blogger builds up a dedicated readership, that subsequent attention also generates positive SEO notice and builds the credibility of their brand and reputation.

So SEO is the only reason to blog? No, but it’s a big one because depending on what you write, you may enjoy some unexpected organic word search success. Sure you can buy word search, but organic is less financially cumbersome.

I think in voiceover, there are primarily two types of bloggers – thought leaders focused on SEO (and listening to myself, ‘er, um THEMSELVES speak) and then coaches who want to sell services and also enjoy some SEO love. Neither is bad. Blogs are a marketing tool…just decide what you are marketing what your audience wants to hear.

But what if you aren’t a coach and you don’t think you have a thought that worthy enough to lead anything? Should you still blog?

That’s a personal question.

Blogging requires some sort of commitment. Obviously time but, maybe more importantly, thought.

For bloggers, I think the smart foundation for having a blog should not be ‘what CAN I write about’ but rather ‘what do I WANT to write about?’. Because if you don’t have a real desire to write about something at least about 6 times a year, then blogging is not a tool for you.

Don’t worry, there are other marketing tools, but blogging will not be one of them for you. 80 of my voiceover peers, many of them well known to voiceover community, found that out the hard way. It was not the end of their careers, it was just the end of blogging….for them.

For the rest of us…full steam ahead.

P.S. If you check my blog page and see I’ve gotten the wrong link for your site, you can contact me at peter at audioconnell dot com. Of course, you DO have a link to my page on your blog site, right?!

P.P.S. If you have a voiceover blog that I do not have listed on my blog site and you would like it listed there (and you’re going to offer me a link to my blog as well) please let me know.

of elevator speeches and making mistakes

Elevator Speeches

Oh yes, elevator speeches.

You know why I sometimes question people who absolutely KNOW they are right and have the correct answer?

Because, at various times in my life, I was absolutely certain I knew the right and correct answer. Except after some time and upon further review, I was wrong.

You want to know when I was wrong? Or maybe you already know when I was wrong…there have been many examples.

Here’s one.

This weekend, I was again clearing out moving boxes (oh, there are so many more to go still) and I came across some old USB sticks. Not knowing what was on them, I plugged them in and came across a file that said “Elevator Speech”. It was written in 2007.

I knew what an elevator speech was and what it was supposed to convey. And evidently, at that time, I had an idea for a dandy elevator speech.

It read: “For my clients, I turn their marketing confusion into cash by taking their branding message, service proposition or educational objective and producing professional audio productions that cut through the clutter of any marketing channel they choose. This can include audio for commercials, corporate videos, the internet, message on hold or any other marketing vehicle that uses audio.”

Two things immediately happened when I started reading what I wrote in 2017.

First, I heard in my head the words blah, blah, blah. I was critiquing my own prose and I hated it. I also realized that I am pretty sure this quote never saw the light of day because I never remembered saying it to anyone (thank God!).

Second, the following phrase popped into my head like a lightening bolt.

The phrase was: “I use my voice to make money for people who use any kind of audio in their marketing.”

Evidently, the correct answer for my elevator speech had been gesticulating in my head for 10 years, picking this weekend to emerge.

Why do I tell this embarrassing story on myself?

First, the older I get, the less embarrassed I get.

Further, I am not so unique or special that I could be the only voice-over talent (or even small business owner) that this sort of thing has happened to….in fact, we all make marketing mistakes. We come up with ideas that we think are brilliant or at least perfect at the time but upon review, we realize the idea was mediocre or just bad.

Combining the following truths – many voice talents specifically think I know ‘so much’ about marketing along with the fact voice actors are so intimidated by doing marketing – led me to the conclusion that I wanted to show that mistakes happen to everybody.

The example here is about an elevator speech but that is not the focus of the message. The focus is this:

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, be assured you will make a mistake…but know you’ll also come up with some great stuff too along the way. Success, I think, is being able to tell the difference.

We have evolved over our history (in big ways and small ways) because we tried new ideas, because we had faith in our ideas and because we had faith in ourselves. My 2007 elevator speech looks to be a bit of stinker now but it’s poetry compared to those who didn’t even make the effort to better communicate their business message to their consumer.

Make the effort, take the risk. The reward is not only in the succeeding but also in the trying.