Mar 9, 2021
[Cue Promo VO] Today, on VO BOSS: Two Bosses share their extensive knowledge about your favorite topic - VO! But one of them has a special secret to share… Tune in every Tuesday for new Episodes of VO BOSS! [End Promo VO]
Do you dream of being the "voice" of a show? Anne and guest co-host Kesha Monk will help you rock your promo business #LIKEABOSS! In this episode, you'll learn how to listen to promos, what you need to know before trying to break into the genre, plus take away some innovative networking ideas... Grab, grasp, and open the door to this insightful episode!
It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my amazing, wonderful guest cohost, Miss Kesha Monk.
Kesha: Ladies and gentlemen, she’s been changing the way —
Kesha: — people podcast. She puts the “cast” in podcast since 2015. Ladies and gentlemen, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Ooh Kesha! I love that! Wow! Thank you!
Kesha: That actually sucked, but hey.
Anne: Wow, Kesha, you know, I think you have a little bit of experience. You sound like you have some experience doing a little bit of promo work there.
Kesha: Keyword “little bit.”
Anne: [laughs] Well, I know right now you are doing some steady promo work for PBS, is that not correct?
Kesha: I totally am.
Anne: That’s pretty awesome. That’s a genre that I am not as familiar with, I don’t do much work in. I think our BOSS listeners would love to hear a little bit about that genre.
Kesha: It’s crazy. I actually got that gig because somebody on Facebook saw that I did voiceover, and they saw like a, I don’t know, a want ad somewhere. I don’t know if it was on Craigslist or whatever, but [laughs] you know, they gave me [laughs] they gave me, you know, a lead. And at the time, I really didn’t have a promo demo. So I just kind of faked one a little bit, to just give them a little bit of sample —
Kesha: — and they hired me. And I’ve been doing — this is my like my, I’m going into my fifth season next year.
Anne: Wow, that’s amazing! So, and are you doing one or two series? Tell me what you’ve done in the past.
Kesha: What it is is I am the promo voice for POV. POV is a documentary series that airs on PBS. I think they’ve probably been doing it since like ’88, so I don’t know how long that is, 30 years, 30 something, 30 years? So yeah, they kind of liked what I did. And it’s been interesting. I really had to self-teach though because again I hadn’t had any promo experience. And so you know, I got a little friend, I got a little friends who do certain things in the industry. Peep, peep, Randy Thomas.
Anne: I was just gonna say, did Randy have something to help, help you out with that?
Kesha: Of course. And I try not to be too, you know, heavy leaning on getting help. I really try to self-help as much as possible.
Kesha: Of course I got a coach, and I listened to promos with a different ear.
Anne: You know, that’s, that’s so interesting, because I had Randy guest host a couple of times for my VO Peeps group, and I’ve also had some other promo classes with other guest directors. And one of the biggest things is for you to just listen to, to turn that television on and listen, and listen, and listen, and get to know the show.
Anne: So what would be some important things that you would have to know before you get into promo? Like how, like how would somebody get into promo first of all if they wanted to?
Kesha: Well first of all, just like when you want to get into voiceover, you kind of have to educate yourself and really know what promo is. Promo is a completely different delivery. It’s not like commercial, it’s not like narration, and it’s something that I really can’t explain. I mean you really just have to listen again with a different ear to all of the promos that are on television, and again, just like any other way that you approach copy, is to know what you’re promoting. It doesn’t help —
Anne: Know the show.
Kesha: Know the show. And that’s very important to me, by the way.
Anne: I was gonna say, I would think that the delivery really is dependent on the show and the brand audience that they’re trying to capture. Well, I would imagine they want to capture everybody, but there is a certain audience that they are probably trying to target. And that would have to really have a lot to do with the sound, I would imagine, when you are doing the promo or you’re auditioning.
Kesha: Of course. I wouldn’t read a Nickelodeon promo the same that I would read, you know, an OWN or a Lifetime promo, you know what I’m saying?
Anne: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Kesha: Know the audience. And you know the other thing, Anne? Don’t be afraid to — well, once you get your feet in — don’t be afraid to ask questions. Because even though I have a little bit of experience, whenever I do get the opportunity to do a promo, I’ll ask them. I’ll say, you know, “can you send me the instrumental that you’re gonna use under my voice? Are there any pictures that can help me visualize exactly what I’m — it really, really helps me to know what I’m promoting. And that’s really how I’ve been able to succeed at it.
Anne: And so what you’re saying to me, Kesha, is that you don’t necessarily need an agent to get promo?
Kesha: Mmm I ain’t sayin’ that at all.
Kesha: I’ve never… well, PBS is different, because that’s like listener-supported tele — listener, listener supported! — viewer supported television.
Anne: Yes, and I say that because I had a commercial on PBS, and the way that I acquired it was very, very different, was —
Kesha: Of course.
Anne: Yeah, and it ran… so you deal with different people, and they’re not necessarily working through agents.
Kesha: Right, right.
Anne: So I guess it depends then on the network?
Kesha: It totally does, but here’s this, check this out. Because we’re in this age of streaming, there are promos that are created outside of network television. There are all kinds of programming, you know, online programming, that need promo voices. So it’s not impossible to go after that kind of work. The network stuff is probably what you won’t get exposed to unless you have an agent.
Anne: Right. And so, but now what isn’t being streamed these days?
Anne: There’s a question.
Anne: And so, you know, how important — and I’m — look, I love my agents, and I would never dare to think that they aren’t important in my voiceover career. But what’s so interesting is with this digital technology and with the streaming technology, and especially now during the pandemic, all the — all, tons of streaming, like content is coming out. And so how do you think you would approach if you didn’t, if you didn’t have your agent to help you out? How would you approach getting work in promo, let’s say, something that was streaming?
Kesha: Ok, so I just want to preface this by saying that I am not a know-it-all. I can tell you how I would do it. It’s not, you know, my word is not, you know, in stone here, but research, research, research. What you’d do is you watch a particular show. This is how I would do it. I would watch the credits. I would figure out who is producing the show. I would get a name. I would LinkedIn. I’d find out how to contact them, and I would just basically introduce myself, just introduce myself. But again, I don’t know, that’s a little iffy, Anne. But you know, but I have used that approach for some of my work. I just figured out who are the guys behind the production board.
Anne: You know, networking is such a wonderful thing, and I know that we have another podcast on this, but I will bring up. I’ll say the word, and I want you to just take a deep breath, Kesha, because I know how excited you get, but let’s just say Clubhouse… could be an amazing way to network with people like we were just talking about. There’s some heavy hitters there. It could be an amazing way to network, and what I really like about it, and I know you’re gonna be able to go off on this, what I really like about it is that it can be such an authentic platform to get to know someone. And it’s so not — like right now it’s, I think it’s in its infancy, and it’s in that stage where it hasn’t been spoiled by marketers. And I say that with the most love in my heart for marketers, because we all market our own businesses, right?
Kesha: Of course we do. Yeah.
Anne: What we don’t want is that platform to all of a sudden become spoiled by, all of sudden, people are going to be marketing on it, or people are going to be completely selling things on it, which is what everybody laments about on social media, is like “here come the ads.” Right? While this is an unspoiled platform right now, this is an amazing opportunity to really network with some heavy hitters. Like you told me before, you got a contact at NBC that was like, just reached out to you and boom. I mean, it was, it was, it didn’t seem to take a whole long time. [laughs]
Kesha: So you know, this is what I actually would do. [laughs] This is kind of crazy. You get a name. Right? You hear a name, you’re watching a program, and you’re like, “oh my God, I would totally love to do promos for this network.” You wait for the credits, you grab a name. You take that name and you plug it into LinkedIn. You look at their, look at their resume, and not only that, see who your common contacts are. Reach out to your common contacts. “Hey. Do you know Joe Schmo from, you know, Lifetime? Do you think he would be interested — I mean, can you introduce me?” So forth and so on.
Kesha: I also do the same with Facebook, just plug a name in, pull up their profile, see who my common friends are. And then see if they’re on Clubhouse! And then that way you can hear them talk! You can hear them speak.
Anne: I think you hit the nail on the head there, is find the common contacts, because a friend of a friend, or you know, a contact of a contact is a great kind of way to get your foot in the door without coming in with a cold call, so to speak —
Anne: — or a cold, you know, connection.
Anne: Which I think is so difficult. And I know that myself, when somebody just reaches out, I’m like, what do they want? You know? [laughs] What are they trying to get from me? It immediately kind of, I repel. But if you have a contact of a contact — I love how you said LinkedIn, because that’s a great way to see your common contacts, as well as Facebook, your friendships, as well as, well I always say, you know, Google is so simple.
Anne: And the more that you, I would say, do your searches in Facebook and LinkedIn first and maybe more in-depth information about them, and the company, the network that they’re working for, and then you can plug that into Google and maybe get some more in-depth information.
Kesha: That’s how I would do it. And it totally works. I’ve done it many, many, many times. Certainly!
Anne: I think that’s, that’s just a really great, out of the box —
Kesha: No, no, let’s call it what it is. It’s genius. Call it what it is! Call a spade a spade.
Anne: There you go, I love it! [laughs] I love it. It is genius, it really is genius, because I don’t think you’re gonna get this type of work from, let’s say, a pay-to-play. Although you did say that it was some ad somewhere along the line. Now Kesha, I’m gonna bring up a thought [laughs] because of, you know, this day and age, we have younger people obviously that are getting into, working and doing creative endeavors and possibly hiring us. And so is it possible that maybe we can reach out to them on those platforms to try to understand how we might get in front of them and present them with our services without, you know, making it be annoying? [laughs]
Kesha: Well, you know, using social media to contact, it is really in a sense untraditional. Remember back in the day when we were young chaps, you know, we would have to, you know, write a letter and put a stamp on the letter.
Anne: Absolutely. Send a print, send a print, a CD, our demo CD out in the mail.
Kesha: Absolutely, yes.
Anne: That’s right. We don’t do that anymore.
Kesha: Yeah. And so I’m sure many of my colleagues would frown upon that, I embrace that, and the reason why I embrace that, Anne, is because I’ve done it. I’ve done it and it has worked. Now I’m not saying get crazy. You know, you really still need to figure out a professional way to approach them on social media.
Kesha: You know, I wouldn’t go, you know, commenting about somebody’s husband. “Hey girl, your husband sure is a cutey!” You know, I wouldn’t do that, but — “oh and by the way, are you hiring? Are you looking for voices?”
Anne: Oh yeah, and by the way. What about those platforms that tend to have high search engine optimization, like, I’ll say it, Fiverr, or Upwork, or you know, Freelancer, or those? You know, you said before, it might have been posted on Craigslist or something.
Anne: People do — it’s rare, but I have heard of people getting really good jobs from a posting —
Kesha: Here, here’s my thing —
Anne: — postings on those platforms, and so —
Anne: — why not?
Kesha: That’s the reason why I don’t, I would never discourage someone from doing that. Because you know, it’s not impossible, but for me personally, I do better in, in… in spaces that aren’t so crowded. It’s easier for me to stand out if I’m not in a room with 500,000 other voiceover artists. If you have that type of patience, absolutely go for it. But I tend to fill voids. I tend to — I sneak in a lot of backdoors.
Anne: I think what I’m learning about you, Kesha, is that really it does — like first and foremost, your relationship is how you start to strategize getting work. And that’s really unique. I mean, gosh, we’ve been doing — I’ve been doing this for so long, and we always talk about relationship and networking, relationship and networking. But a lot of times we think of that networking as networking with ourselves, like at a voiceover conference. Nobody really thinks about it as networking for your potential client. Like you know, a lot of times people say, “well I’ve done LinkedIn, and I’ve tried to contact people through LinkedIn.” But you really look for that additional way in, like let’s find the friend of a friend, or the contact of a contact —
Kesha: So here’s the thing —
Anne: — and get in this way.
Kesha: I don’t mean to interrupt, but I will forget because I’m an old lady, and my memory is —
Kesha: Here’s the difference. I’m just being honest! Here’s the difference. [laughs] For, you know, for those who are on Fiverr, those, that space is for people who prefer opportunities to come to them.
Kesha: I am the opposite. I like to go for the opportunities, if that makes any sense.
Anne: Sure, absolutely.
Kesha: Because on Fiverr, you make a profile, and you kind of tell them what you cost, and you kind of sit there and you wait for people to contact you. I ain’t got that kind of time. I’m 50 years old. Like I only got a good 50 years old — 50 years left on this, on this earth. I do not have time for the BS. I have got to grasp, grab, and sneak into as many backdoors as possible.
Kesha: You gotta be a go-getter. You gotta seize the moment.
Anne: The backdoor is — and the backdoor is important, I’m just gonna say that.
Kesha: Oh yeah.
Anne: The backdoor is important because if you try to attack it the front way [laughs] a lot of times, that comes off as cold calling, cold emailing. And that is, I think, much more difficult, I think. I think I really love that you try to find the backdoor and the commonality, the commonality of the relationship to find an entry point or a way in. This is why I’m so excited about Clubhouse, and I know that’s why you’re so excited about Clubhouse. When I, and literally, when we talked about it the other day, when I was on it, I literally just said “let me just enter a room,” like with my shaking, you know, index finger, because it was my first time in a room. I didn’t know if my microphone was gonna be on. I said, let me just try it. And the second I heard what was going on in that room, I was like, “oh my God, this is brilliant.”
Kesha: Your antennae went up, right? Your antennae went right up.
Anne: Why have we not had this before? What a brilliant platform, and you need to hop on board while it’s, while it’s fresh. [laughs]
Kesha: Do we have time for a really, really quick story?
Anne: Sure, absolutely.
Kesha: As we’re talking about backdoors. So if you’re familiar with Clubhouse, you know, you can kind of like just be a regular old person on Clubhouse, or you can be the founder of a club. Right? We all want to try to, aspire to get that VO BOSS club, right?
Anne: Yes. Oh, we’re absolutely doing it.
Kesha: But the way you do that is you have to submit an application, ok? And so I submitted an application for a club, and I waited, and I waited, and I know they’re overwhelmed. And I’m like, gosh, nobody is going to ever get to my application, so let me tell you what I did. I researched the owner, and then I found him on Twitter. And then I saw that —
Anne: And then you followed him.
Kesha: I didn’t even follow him. I’ll tell you what I did. He, he has another page that deals with hereditary disease. And I’m kind of familiar with hereditary disease, so I approached him on that page.
Anne: Absolutely! There you go.
Kesha: Where everybody is hanging out on his main page, I, I sent him a message on his hereditary disease page. And I said, “hey, kudos for you, you know, finding this page. Oh by the way” —
Kesha: “I heard you have a little something to do with Clubhouse.” I say, “hey listen, I have this application. I don’t know if you can nudge somebody,” ‘cause he’s the owner. I’m sure he’s not approving applications. I said, “I would really appreciate it. Clubhouse has made such a tremendous difference in my life,” and girl, the next day, my application was approved.
Kesha: He never responded.
Kesha: I don’t know if he had anything — I’m sure he did. I don’t believe in happenstance, but you’ve gotta find a backdoor and slip in it.
Anne: Let’s kind of come back to your acquiring work for promo work, tell me about — like I guess if you were selected as the voice, right, of a particular show, then it would seem to me that it would be fairly steady work. And is it a — I guess depending on the show, is it work that you do every day, is it work you do once a week? I imagine that the workload is different for a show than it is for me doing e-learning or corporate narration or commercial.
Kesha: Right, well the programs that I’ve done particularly have been just for like one-shot deals, for like a special on OWN or you know, a one-time viewing party for something or the other. That’s just been my experience. Of course I’m going to pounce on my agents to try to get me more promo work this year, but that’s just been my experience. And then of course with PBS, that’s season work, so I just get scripts every couple of weeks.
Anne: How is the market in promo? Do you feel that there is a lot of opportunities, is there a lot of work? I mean, I guess it’s dependent on — I mean, I like the specials, and I think now people are really concentrating on the entertainment value while we’re all deep into the pandemic here, because it’s our one, it’s what we have while we’re here at home. I think that they’ve been doing, they’ve been really doing a lot of good work for television in bringing content out. So I think, I would hope that that would increase your opportunities for promo.
Kesha: Well, as long as there’s programming, there’ll always been promo. And because of the climate that this country has experienced over the past year, I’ve seen an uptick in promos because there’re a lot more specials, and a lot more, you know, programming with regards to the pandemic, and the racial up-rest, and the, the, come on, the election and stuff like that.
Kesha: And so —
Anne: Very much specialized content.
Kesha: That’s what I’m trying to say, a lot of specialized content. So there’ll always be work. As long as this world keeps going bat-butt crazy, we’ll always have work outside of the regular, you know, SNLs and the Dancing with the Stars stuff.
Anne: So then if you get a job, if you get the gig for a particular show or special, is it you know, 24-hour turn-around time? Is it “I need it yesterday?” Is it multiple sessions that are directed, you know, three days in a row?
Kesha: It really depends.
Anne: Does it depend?
Kesha: It’s all of that plus more. Again when it comes to the specialized content, they definitely need it yesterday. And somebody could want to do a directed session, but also what I’ve noticed is a difference in how, because of, you know, things are needed yesterday. A lot of times, they don’t even have time to dial in, so they trust you as long as —
Anne: They’re just like “you do it.”
Kesha: Yeah, as long as you have a good space, and a good mic, and they know you. And they have to get to know you with regards to the kind of content that you’re able to produce. But yeah!
Anne: That was my next question. So let’s just say you get in good with, on a show. Maybe it’s not a special, but it’s a show that’s continually running and with a good network. Do you stand a better chance of getting more work with that network because they’re familiar with your voice, and you’ve been employed doing that?
Anne: Ok, I was just gonna say —
Anne: So then you don’t necessarily have to audition? They might say, “you know what, Kesha? You’d be great for this new show that we’re gonna be promoting,” and boom.
Kesha: That literally just happened to me.
Anne: Yeah. I was gonna say, that would be a nice way to get work. You know, I feel like, you don’t have to — I love it when you don’t have to audition all the time. And if you become like a, you know, this is, “Kesha is our voice” maybe for the network, then you might have multiple opportunities.
Kesha: Right, exactly. And being accessible and available at all times, it certainly helps. Because I like to think sometimes that oh I got this gig not because I have this great voice or not because I’m super talented. It’s because when they said “we need it now,” I already did it. Before they can even finish their sentence, it’s already in their inbox.
Anne: Oh my gosh, Kesha, there’s so much to be said for that. I mean, I want you BOSSes out there to understand what we just said. Sometimes it’s not about, “oh my God, Kesha has the best voice in the world for this particular show.” It’s so much more than that. It’s the fact that you have, you know, you have come through for them. You’re dependable, you’re accurate, you get the work done, and you’re a pleasure to work with, which is a big, big, big thing for all voiceover work. It’s not just for promo work, but any client that you can, you know, get on board, and they love you because you’re dependable, you’re fast, and you just get the job done, that’s just a wonderful feather in your cap for —
Anne: — additional work coming up.
Kesha: Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. For sure.
Anne: Wow, so the exciting, the exciting world of promo. Well, Kesha, the best of luck in getting more shows. I want to be able to hear your voice all over the place.
Kesha: Thank you! Thank you so much! I appreciate you. It’s good to have good cheerleaders in your, you know.
Anne: There you go. I am a fan. I am a fan, for sure. So I’m gonna give a big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can learn about ipDTL and connect and network like a BOSS. Find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have a great week. And we’ll see you next week.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to Coast connectivity via ipDTL.