I was given this as a joke by a friend for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and although I saw the funny side in it – I wondered if it did have any insights inside its bright yellow cover.
I have purchased a few of the ‘Dummies’ books over the years and found them well researched and well balanced with actually factual and useful information – I was not holding out great hopes though when I looked through the contents page though…
Direct mail, website copy, and hold on – there’s a section on radio copy in the “Writing High-Powered Ads For Your Business” chapter!
You could have knocked me over with a feather!
So, I quickly turned to it and read through it, okay…
Agency or Station produced – fair call and comments from Jonathan.
In “Composing your radio spot’s copy”, I have to disagree with some of the things that he says, but I understand where he is coming from and if you are a business owner (who the book is really pitched at – not someone in the industry who is already a Copywriter), then sure – it’s a great place to start with.
Yes, yes, yes with ‘Use short words and short sentences”, “Read your work aloud” and “Time yourself”.
That’s some good, very basic advice and something that I have even said to clients at one time or another.
And then… wait?
That’s it – 5 pages for radio?
I went through the book and the word radio is said some 53 times – most of those in passing when talking generally about radio AND TV, or radio AND Newspaper or Radio and… blah, blah, blah.
Okay, to be fair – this ‘Dummies’ book is very general and trying to cover everything from web copy to press releases, and while Jonathan Kranz is a repeated guest on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ I feel that radio got the short end of the bargain (but TV didn’t even get 5 pages, so I suppose I can’t complain too much).
It is pitched at people who own a business or run an organisation that needs to get some coverage and copy ‘out there’.
It is not pitched at someone who works in the media industry and avoids drilling down on a lot of the technical aspects and the legal issues that may be part of what they are trying to do.
So yes, if you are a business owner and want some very basic ideas about how to write copy, any copy from postcards to brochures, web copy to radio ads – then this book is a good basic start – but I advise you to read it, then talk to someone in those industries who knows EXACTLY what you can do.
This will give you a good foundation to start building your skills up from.
But avoid it if you work in any media outlet – unless you want to know what clients could already have been told, if they have bothered to do any research before they reach out to you.