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Commercial Production Manager - Job Profile

About the role

Commercials Producers create radio advertising and station promotions for radio stations. The work requires a combination of high level radio production skills with an understanding of the creative potential of Radio and audio content, in order to market and sell products and services.

In Commercial Radio, Commercials Producers may work for a single station, or as part of a regional or national team. On smaller stations the role may be the responsibility of one of the station’s Presenters, or the work may be contracted out to an external company.

Although there is no commercial advertising on BBC Radio, local stations or national networks employ Radio Producers or Broadcast Journalists who are responsible for each station’s programme trails and promotions. The production of BBC-wide trails and promotions is outsourced.

The job profile which follows mainly describes the role of a Commercials Producer in Commercial Radio. However, aspects of this role are relevant both to BBC producers responsible for creating trails and promotional material for their station, and to Community Radio staff or volunteers with responsibility for commercials or trails.

The specific responsibilities of Commercials Producers may vary depending on the station. The majority of Commercials Producers are part of a small team, although some work for larger regional or national departments. They are based in offices and recording studios, but may also work on location. Commercials Producers work in radio stations throughout the UK.

What does the job do?

Commercials Producers work with a radio station’s commercial clients, interpreting client briefs to create effective radio advertising. They may be expected to manage client briefings; generate and pitch ideas; write scripts or work with writers; cast actors and voiceovers; select music; organise and run recording sessions; and edit and produce finished commercials and other advertising material.

Commercials Producers may also be required to produce trailers to promote client-sponsored events or competitions, or to build the station brand and promote the station itself. They are expected to work closely with colleagues involved in sales and marketing, sponsorship and promotion, as well as programming, to ensure that audience and client expectations are met, and that revenue is maximised for the station.

The job may sometimes involve long hours in order to meet client deadlines. When necessary, Commercials Producers may also be expected to travel to work on location.

Commercials Producers need to use their knowledge of their radio station brand, and their insight into the lives of listeners, to create successful advertising on Radio, and other relevant platforms.

They should know how to access, evaluate and use relevant information sources and, in some cases, image sources. They must also know how to source music or audio archive material, and how to ensure the necessary licences or clearances are obtained. They are expected to understand and comply with media law, regulation and industry codes.

Although Commercials Producers work in collaboration with presenters, performers or other contributors, in order to ensure output meets established production standards Commercials Producers must also be able to give direction when necessary.

They should be able to: operate radio studios; record audio both in studios and on location; and edit audio using suitable computer editing software packages. In addition, some Commercials Producers may be required to create material for websites, or other platforms, and to prepare such material for online use.

Commercials Producers are also responsible for managing budgets, and for ensuring the efficient use of resources.

Typical career routes

Although Radio Commercials Producers may come from radio or advertising backgrounds, there is no particular recognised route into this role.

A degree may not always be essential, but candidates without a degree may need to start at more junior levels – usually in Radio or in an advertising agency – and work their way up to the Commercials Producer role in Radio. Some of the larger broadcasters offer limited places on direct entry schemes, which may include the opportunity to work in commercials production.

Whatever an individual’s qualifications, employers expect to see evidence of interest in, and hands-on experience of, radio broadcasting, particularly skills acquired in community radio, student or hospital radio.

Once in post, career progression for Commercials Producers may involve moving to a larger station, or from a local to a regional or national commercials production department. Some Radio Commercials Producers may make the move into an external organisation providing a service to a range of broadcasters. Some may make the move to TV commercials; while others may use the skills they have acquired in this area to move into, or return to, more general radio production roles.

Essential knowledge and skills

Radio Commercials Producers need the following:
the ability to generate original ideas, and to think creatively about how to communicate them
excellent writing and story-telling skills which they can adapt for different audiences and platforms
knowledge of the Radio market, different station and programme styles, and audience demographics
a strong interest in advertising, and a good understanding of how radio and other relevant platforms can be used to promote and sell goods and services
confidence to interpret a brief, and to pitch ideas to clients
ability to work independently, but also as part of a team
self-motivation and adaptability
ability to work effectively under pressure, react quickly and meet tight deadlines
determination, diplomacy and excellent interpersonal skills
empathy and patience, the ability to build rapport and draw information from people
a thorough knowledge of the law, ethics and industry regulations as they affect radio production and advertising
knowledge of when it is necessary, and how to acquire the relevant clearances and licenses, including copyright and music clearances
knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures

a high level of IT skills – particularly good word-processing and data handling skills
• the ability to learn how to use a variety of recording equipment, and to operate different radio studios
• the ability to conduct effective internet research, use relevant computer software for audio editing, and, when necessary, to manipulate visual images or edit video, and upload all such material for use on websites

Training & qualifications

For graduates, it could be an advantage to have a degree in one of a number of subjects such as: Advertising, Marketing Communications, or Business Management, as well as Radio Production. Other Commercials Producers may work their way up from an entry level role in Radio secured without a degree.

Places on direct entry trainee schemes run by some of the larger broadcasters are highly sought after, as opportunities are limited, and such schemes do not recruit on a regular basis. Although a degree or equivalent may be a requirement for some of these schemes, others may specifically target non-graduates.

For those considering higher education there are a wide range of media courses on offer, but it is important to determine whether a particular course offers a good grounding in practical Radio production skills, has good contacts with the Radio industry, and whether its students are successful in obtaining work in Radio. For those choosing to study other subjects related to this role, it is equally important that courses have contacts with the relevant industry sectors, and that they encourage students to undertake work placements to gain experience of applying the knowledge and skills they have acquired.

Once in post, Radio Commercials Producers are expected to develop their skills on the job. Most employers also offer a variety of forms of training to keep their Producers’ skills and knowledge up-to-date, and to introduce new technologies. This training may be offered in-house, or supplied by external providers, depending on the size and structure of different Radio organisations and employers.

Some colleges and private training providers offer a range of short courses which support professional development in Radio production, which may enable individuals to apply for promotion, or to change career direction. A number of professional associations and awarding bodies offer professional qualifications and short courses for those who wish to develop their marketing skills.

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