Unfortunately, radio can often be brushed aside or added to a PR campaign at the very last minute. Given the power of the radio to influence opinion, it is a grave mistake to simply ‘whizz the press release’ over to the local radio to ‘see if they might be interested’! There’s no ‘might be interested’ news for radio. It is clear when you have an opportunity to go on air, and here are a few pointers:

By far, the majority of radio stations are local. They are interested in hearing about stories that have an impact on the local community. Time and time again, the news desks at radio stations receive numerous ‘generic’ press releases not specific to that particular area. If your company has a product that could impact every household in the UK, it is no good just telling a local radio station that. You need to find a way of relating that ‘fact’ to their target audience. It might be that there is a local body that recognises the problem your product is designed to overcome or you may have conducted a survey that proves people in that area need to take action. Be careful though, radio journalists have very little ‘air-time’ to play with and even the slightest hint of product promotion will stop them from even considering your story! They are interested in straight-forward news.

It is no good sending a press release aimed at newspapers and magazines over to a radio news desk. It is always advisable to prepare a radio advisory story. Basically, it is a much shortened version of your initial press release and is much more colloquial in its tone. If you are not sure whether it is right for radio, try reading it out aloud – if it sounds like there are too many words and you stumble when reading it, go back to the drawing board and have another go. Make your sentences are short and ensure that each one links with the next so that it reads more like a story. Always try to summarise your story in the first paragraph though, making sure it takes no longer than 30 seconds.

Before you approach the news desk you need to think about exactly who is capable of going on air. They need to be able to speak clearly and confidently and about your company and be unflappable when questioned by a reporter.

It is always best to take note of all the times when your spokesperson is available and if you are aiming to appear on to a live show, you need to be able to tie-in with their schedule.

Consider a third party spokesperson. Somebody willing to talk objectively about the issues you wish to be broadcast will go a long way to making your points more credible. Make sure this person is fully informed about the content of your radio advisory and that they know what you intend to say. Again, you will need to know their exact availability in advance.

Remember, if you cover all these basic rules all that’s left to do is pick up the phone and speak to the radio station. If your story is not time critical, consider asking to speak to the radio’s forward planning desk. They are quite often the best place to start!
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