coffee-holiday-300w

Correcting Client Copy

Hey, there!

One of my favorite people in the world, and a VO2GoGo Pro member, Carol Herman, wrote me about a sometimes sticky issue: correcting the grammar in the scripts provided by our VO clients.

Here’s what she wrote.

David,

You get copy. Sometimes it is obviously written by non-English speakers and has its own problems, but sometimes it just “needs editing;” the sort my HS English teacher would have done.

Ex: “They want to see what it does to their life.” (their lives.)
“…to the person that does it best.” (who does it best.)

What’s the policy here? Follow the copy religiously–even with glaring grammatical errors? FIX those errors and then add a note to the client, explaining that you’ve done so? (Do you risk sounding exactly like your English teacher, and it really is NOT your business to edit–OR educate?)

Thanks.

Carol

So. What’s the secret to handling client writing mistakes?

First off, I’m a stickler, personally, for being correct. I don’t want my clients to sound stupid on the air or on the phone or wherever my voice is going to be heard. And in both of the cases you offer, I’d probably voice it correctly, but NOT write them a note about it, letting THEM tell ME I missed a word when they listened back, and THEN having the conversation. But that’s your cases. Others can be different.

The problem?

Advertising has had a long and illustrious history of playing with words and getting them wrong – on purpose.

A famous example is Apple’s positioning statement Think Different (versus the properly constructed Think Differently) – it just sounded better to the copywriters, and despite entire websites dedicated to the grammatical error in that slogan, Apple didn’t change it.

Here’s my rule of thumb: defend the success of your client’s campaign, but not at the expense of embarrassing the client.

As an example, I teach clients and students to watch for IVR copy that lists hours of operation from an opening time to a closing time as “Eastern/Central/Pacific Standard Time.” I drop the “Standard” (or “Daylight” if they use that) and write a gentle note explaining why I did it, like “…some nerd amongst your customer base is sure to point out that for six months out of the year, you’ll be technically wrong about your hours.”

I also make sure to correct copy that insists on spelling out URLs, when copywriters mistakenly use the word “backslash” (the “\” character) when they must use the word “slash” (the “/” character). And I don’t think a moment about offending the client by doing so.

Why?

Because a backslash used in a URL simply won’t work, and if the client wants to risk giving listeners or viewers a URL that won’t reach their product’s website if typed in to a browser verbatim, I’m going to help them not make that mistake. And I’ll be persistent about that, because it’s defending the success of their campaign.

Slight issues of grammar aren’t all that important to me if the conversational nature of the copy dictates to leave it alone. But if the copy is selling an intelligent product to intelligent people, I’ll probably help the client out and be gentle about informing them. I almost never mention it in auditions, because it’s not necessary. I’ll wait to get booked, and then diplomatically ask if they’re sure they want that wording.

Hope this helps.

David

10 Responses to 6 Steps to a Perfect VO Demo

  1. Kelli August 18, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    I feel really good about my demo. It is a quick and fun process, even for someone like me who gets very self concious. :)

  2. David Britz September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    The demos are great. Superb quality. Why go anywhere else?

  3. David Britz October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to record my Narration VO Demo!! :))

  4. Mike Brang December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Having a well-produced demo is one of the most important things in the VO business. I had a number of demos made from other producers in the past and they all had one thing in common — that manufactured, cookie cutter sound!
    What sets David apart from the rest, besides his affordable price and tremendously fast turn around time, is that all of the clips you record with him sound unique. Each spot sounds like an actual commercial you recorded for a job.
    My agent loved the quality and even asked who produced it to refer his other talent there!

    Thanks again, David for producing such a great, high quality demo for me. You made the process relaxing and enjoyable. I urge anyone reading this unsolicited reply to listen to David’s student demos to hear the difference for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to work with him

  5. Kristy Liles February 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I can not thank you enough. I worked so hard on 15 page IVR project, one day I cryed, look for answers, pull my hear (not really) but I was about until another VO send me this great tool. Thanks!

  6. Frank June 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    David

    When v123 indicates the audition is for a student/ nonprofit are we to assume it is for $0. If so, why does the audition ask for an amount to be entered?

  7. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    David,
    I did get this scam through Voice 123. In our discourse, they offered me the gig and they gave me the name of a legit local place to record and the same runaround with the money. I didn’t send anything, but instead, I called the studio to make sure the booking was for the day we set up, and lo and behold, the people there had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried to call back my “contact person” who was setting this up and there was a fax machine beep on the other end. I immediately contacted Voice 123 and told them what had happened. You know what they say…if it sounds togaed to be true, it probably is. Thanks for the reminder!
    Shirley

  8. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    …too good…not togaed.
    The one time spell check didn’t work!

  9. Bernard Prame July 1, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    extremely helpful demo. Thank you!

Leave a Reply