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VOICE OVER CAREER
Putting A Voice To 'Interesting Times': Think
Now About The Post-COVID-19 New Reality
April 6, 2020

By Rob Reed
Voice Actor

With the Covid-19 global pandemic dominating all our lives, the phrase "may you live in interesting times" comes immediately to mind. We are all, absolutely, living in interesting times, and they're going to get even more interesting.

I'm trying to envision what my world will look like when this is all over. We should all be taking this seriously, and beyond that, planning for our new reality once Covid-19 is in the rear view mirror.   

Setting economics aside - difficult to do, I get it - I find myself asking in what ways my life will be altered.

Isolation has slowed the frenetic pace of most of our lives, reconnected us with immediate family as we share space, and proven the efficacy of a more remote and technology-driven work environment.

I've even heard anecdotal evidence about the significant lowering of pollution during this mandatory slowdown. And I've heard anecdotal evidence linking homeschooling with higher alcohol consumption. The latter seems very likely to me.   

SHIFT IN MARKETING MESSAGES

I also couldn't help but notice how companies have shifted their marketing messages.

Think about the number of "we're here for you" and "we are living in unprecedented times" messages sitting in your email inbox as you read this.   

Insurance companies, banks, and cell phone providers are offering to waive fees, or make changes to your packages that ease this new reality we're all wading through. Some banks are even considering offering complete deferments. The message being conveyed is they understand things are getting tough and they're there for us.   

Restaurants and grocery stores are responding with offers of curbside delivery. I've seen medical providers reassure consumers that they're still able to care for other conditions. Plumbers, electricians, and even construction companies, are all communicating that they understand, they empathize, and they're going to be part of the solution.  

VO OPPORTUNITIES: IMMEDIATE & URGENT

There is a burgeoning response messaging market, and much of it needs to be voiced. That's where we as voice artists can step in and realize additional income from not -so-obvious and new sources and industries, as well.   

The opportunities for voice work are immediate and urgent.

A number of colleagues have told me demand for voice has increased exponentially as companies formulate their responses to Covid-19. Voice performers with home studios are incredibly well positioned to take advantage of this.  

Aside from the obvious work opportunities like eLearners, PSAs, explainers and corporate videos, companies are seeking new ways to keep themselves TOM (Top of Mind). New ways of staying top of mind mean new ways the voice community can profit.

BEWARE THE PITFALLS

Part of our future planning needs to be about identifying and taking advantage of what's new.   

However, while we as voice performers are seeing all kinds of opportunities, we need to also be aware of the pitfalls. Companies are walking a fine line with marketing around Covid-19.
  • A simple message of unity can be construed as insincere.
  • A totally factual message relaying important information to customers can be interpreted as "business as usual" and insensitive.   
In his article, Inside Google Marketing: 5 principles guiding our media teams in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Joshua Spanier explores the way Google has experienced that changing reality.   

Google, according to Spanier, is constantly reevaluating their market. The market is changing so rapidly, they need to be nimble and adept at pivoting with those changes. Google is needing to carefully consider all creative elements-tone, copy, visuals, key words, placement.   

But mostly, Spanier concludes, the message is all about contribution:   
"If there's ever been a moment for us to come together and help one another, this is it...We're asking ourselves how we can help our consumers, our customers, and our partners -" (Spanier, 2020*).  
OUR VO PARTNERS

As voice professionals, our partnership with advertisers and marketers is long and established.

Studies have shown that the takeout of an adverts message is twice that (44%) when voice is used, to takeout when only the written message is used (17%) (Milward Brown, 2012*).
 
Understanding our partner's challenges in these times, can only guide us as how best to support and convey their messages.   

In these times, misinformation can potentially do more damage than anything else, and marketers need their messages sent clearly and comprehensively.

The potential here for eLearning and explainers is self-evident. Public Service Announcements, internal corporate videos around working at home and eLearning videos as training moves from face-to-face to in-home, are all opportunities for us as voice over professionals.

Add to these known entities the possibility of new, out-of-the-box ways of messaging and planning for the future becomes imperative.   

Like marketers, we need to be able to adjust to these times, reflect on our abilities and keep our relevance high.

It's naive, I think, to keep believing that once the isolation restrictions are lifted that our reality won't have changed, that we won't be looking at a "new normal."

There's a whole new reality on its way, and we need to be ready for it.    

* Sources:
How Should Voiceovers Be Used in Ads? Brandreportblog, Milward Brown, 2012, www.brandreportblog.com/wp-content/uploads/
MillwardBrown_KnowledgePoint_Voiceover.pdf.
Spanier, Joshua. Inside Google Marketing: 5 Principles Guiding Our Media Teams in the Wake of the COVID-19 Outbreak. Google, 29 Mar. 2020, www.thinkwithgoogle.com/
marketing-resources/covid-19-media-principles
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ABOUT ROB
Based in Austin, TX, Rob Reed has been a voice actor for 10 years and voicing full time since 2017, following a 30-year career as a radio pro (on air/production, sales and management). His voicing today specializes in commercial voice overs, narration and radio imaging.



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Comments (1)
Bobbi Owens
4/6/2020 at 2:01 PM
I NEVER comment on these articles- and I usually read most of them - but THIS ONE I thought felt NON-Self-promotional (as most are as we know!). This was interesting, thoughtful and especially the TWO sentences in the "Pitfall section" I am glad you addressed - as I have been screaming at the Computer EVERY TIME I get those - AS EVERY TIME there is a crisis - perceived or not - All the companies do something like this - SAME WORDINGS - and it is driving me CRAZY! (I just watch Cartoons now - Adult Swim - nothing else!!) - So thanks for this - Continued Success to You!
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