by Tracy Johnson
You have the ability. The talent is there. Now the trick is to get the attention of decision-makers. Or at least avoid screwing up a shot at a dream job. What is the best way to Get That Gig when there are more available personalities than great positions? It starts with the demo package.
Every personality has been through the pain of sifting through hours of audio in search of awesomeness.
Finally, the tedious searching, skimming, and editing are complete. The perfect demo. IYou send it off and wait.
But here’s a quick primer:
Do: Keep introductions short and to the point. Nobody has time to read your life story. A long one just gets in the way. Send a short paragraph – two at most. Ideally, they already know who you are. If not, the audio is an entry point to attract interest.
Don’t: Make it generic. Every detail matters. Each word said and written makes a statement about your personality. A great introduction can build anticipation. Put a decision-maker in a great mood to look forward to hearing the demo. And dress up the resume. A resume looks that looks like all the rest gets lost in the clutter. Use color and emphasize highlights of the important steps in your career path. Details here.
Do: Make the first contact a personal introduction. Take a minute to find the station name (not just call letters), and know a little (at least) about the station’s history. Demonstrate you are not sending a million applications hoping something sticks.
Don’t: Start the email with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Program Director.” That is lazy and suggests you just want a job, but not really this job.
Do: Make it easy and fast to get to the demo, featuring YOU. Attach a small mp3 file or link to an aircheck online. Send the single best material, but not a break that’s perfect.
Don’t: Send multiple audio files. It’s too many hoops to jump through. Make it easy for the decision-maker to hear a single, short aircheck, like it, and get to know you.
Do: Send an aircheck between two and four minutes long. No matter how good it is, chances are the PD won’t listen to all of it. And if they see it’s long, they may not listen at all. Think about your response to a long video on YouTube. We skip long videos.
Don’t: Send a full show. Or even an aircheck tightly edited to 6-8 minutes. The initial contact is to make the initial cut. Nobody wins the job on the first audition tape. That’s just an introduction.
Do: Send a series of breaks showing a range of abilities. It’s like a sample at Costco.
Don’t: Send a narrated version of career history. It’s boring and boring air checks cause PD’s to think you’re a boring personality. There’s nothing wrong with a video on a personal website, but keep it out of the demo package.
Do: Start the aircheck with the very best segment. If buried deeper, the PD may never hear the best moments. And, when she (hopefully) plays it for other decision-makers, they’ll be even less patient to get to the “good stuff”.
Don’t: Begin with production. They’re not hiring a production director or imaging person. A job worth having will be from a PD who won’t be tricked by slick bells and whistles.
Do: Follow up. But give it a day or two before becoming a pest. You may not get this gig, but it’ll make points with the PD and it could lead to a great recommendation. And you may learn something.
Don’t: Email the next day and ask “Did you get my stuff?” That’s pointless. Have a plan to discuss the audio, not the job. Ask for help, advice, and feedback. It will flatter the PD and stand out among the others calling to say, “Did you get my stuff?”
So this is the dream gig, and it’s a perfect fit! The demo package is in place, and it feels great. Don’t stop promoting. Don’t sit back and wait for it to magically happen.
Do: Campaign for it. This is marketing. In most situations, nobody stands out above all others. Usually a few are close. The most likable, top of mind candidate has a huge advantage.
Work to impact the GM, promotions department, the APD, MD, and consultant. Even the DOS. Just don’t go behind the PD”s back. That’s a sure way to get on the “naughty” list. Do it the right way, and the campaign will build a groundswell of support. That can be an important tie-breaker at crunch time.
Do: Ask this question. It’s one of the greatest questions of all time.
Ask and insist on an answer.
What does it take to be successful here?
If they give a thoughtful answer with guidance, the decision-maker will become invested in your success. They become an unofficial mentor.
The demo package is a critical first step. Invest time in it. Then follow up with a creative campaign to Get That Gig.
Start prepping materials now. Don’t wait until the job is posted, then scramble.
Now get out there and get that gig.
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