Let me start by saying, “I can’t see some ugly thoughts till she burps.” Wait, I think I got a word wrong. It should be, “I can’t see some PRETTY thoughts till she burps.” Hold on, I’m getting new information... okay, here, “I don’t dig her pretty thoughts because she didn’t clean the windows.” Damn, that can’t be it! Let me check my sources again. HERE we go, “I’m not a patient man when her beautiful windows aren’t clean. I gotta ask if she used the knock-off Windex.” I think we’re closer, but the window thing really has to go. Let’s try, “I’m impatient with her beauty, cuz I can’t see it.” Oh geez, HERE’S the problem!! It’s some guy, not a woman! Maybe it’s, “I’m impatient for his beauty, cuz he won’t show me...” No, that is REALLY wrong!
This is really getting frustrating. If I only had gotten the exact quote in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened. But you see, I was busy, had a meeting, forgot about it till I was out to lunch. When I got back to the office the internet was down, then I had 3 calls in a row, then SOMEBODY forgot to make coffee, so I had to stand in the break room waiting for the pot to fill. By then I had some ASAP’s on my desk that kept me busy till almost 6, so I had to wait until morning to sort it all out.
So what did I mean to tell you? “I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.” Charlie Chaplin, Creative genius said that, and while he wasn’t talking about the art of broadcast communication, we’re going to pretend he was. Hey, if the shoe fits...
“The Art of Broadcast Communication.” Heady words. They conjure up thoughts of sophisticated words spoken by a deep, rich voice, underscored by lush orchestration and punctuated by sound effects so realistic, they could be live, rather than Memorex. There are occasions when audio production achieves this, and it really is magic. Then there are the times when the copy is clumsy, the voice shrill and emotionless, the music over-bearing and inappropriate, and the sound effects muffled, distorted, distracting. But, I digress.
The art of broadcast communication I’m talking about happens long before the first word of the script appears in someone’s computer... at least, it should. I’m talking about communication between the client, the sales rep, and the Creative. Never heard of it? That’s not surprising.
Walk around the block enough times, you see it all. I’ve had orders for Creative appear on napkins, placemats, matchbooks, envelopes, tissues, paper coasters, left hands (try keeping track of THAT), and on one memorable occasion, a sanitary napkin (unused, other than as a Prod order, thank you). I’ve had the hard to decipher voice messages, the shouts down the hall, even conversations through the door of the bathroom stall I was, using. You’d think that as often as I’ve had to deal with these flea market orders, I’d be thrilled when someone actually took the time to use the proper paperwork, but you’d be wrong. Too often the right paperwork was filled out incorrectly, in hand writing that makes my doctor’s look good.
Is it really so surprising, then, that copy is wrong, the client hates the music and/or the voice talent, and commercials go through endless revisions before (and sometimes after) they hit the air?
So, the darned salespeople are screwing up again, wasting your time and making the station a miserable place, right? Maybe. After all, when was the last time you asked to join a sales meeting and talked about the importance of complete production orders and clear communication? At the very least, when was the last time you picked up the phone when something was unclear and asked a rep about it?
Unclear communication isn’t just a frustrating time-waster for you. Despite the rumors, sales reps have work to do too. When they have to take time out of their day to answer questions, approve re-takes, and run down the details that should’ve been clear from the start, it takes away from their day too. Same thing goes for the client. I remember one manager of a lumber yard who got so frustrated by approving re-takes that he finally told his rep, “Haven’t you guys ever heard of measuring twice and cutting once?!”
The art of broadcast communication begins with everyone on the same page, and if that’s not happening, it’s important to take another step back and make sure it does. Everyone needs to be aware of the importance of a complete production order, and the environment must be open enough to allow questions when something isn’t clear. I’m not talking about a love fest between Creative and Sales (I realize that in some cases, that is asking too much), but mutual respect and open dialogue about the work can avoid so many silly little mistakes and extra work. And if you can make it that far, can mutual respect as co-workers be that far behind?
I think that when Chaplin talked about a “thing of beauty,” he easily could have been talking about a clear communication about Creative. Granted, you might can’t hang it on your living room wall, but it certainly serves it purpose, and also eliminates a major cause of the day to day stress in a radio station. And that IS a thing of beauty!
“I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.”
-- Charlie Chaplin