What is Radio PR?

Are you considering whether radio PR could work for you? Maybe you've already decided on using it but are unsure what it actually involves. Never fear: we've put together our 50+ combined years of experience to develop this beginner's guide to what radio PR is and how it can help your business. 

Why radio?

With new technologies connecting us directly to audiences, exposing us to more information, and keeping us entertained, you’d think radio would be heading the way of the VCR. The internet, smartphones, smart speakers, and apps allow more people to listen to the radio. Instead of being tethered to a box, people can now listen wherever and whenever they like, even if they missed the initial live radio show.

A massive 89% of us listen to the radio weekly, with the average time increasing to around 20 hours. This is down to the sheer accessibility of radio today, with people listening at home, in the car, on the bus, or train, while walking, or at work, and doing so both live and on demand.  Unlike reading a newspaper or watching a TV show, you can also listen to the radio while doing other things – and it’s this passive way of listening that stops us from switching off or over that makes radio PR so valuable.

Of course, radio isn’t without competition; there are other things to listen to, such as music streaming or podcasts, which are gaining more popularity as the years go by. But the difference is that they require the listener to know who or what they want to listen to, to queue it up, and in many cases, to skip through the ads. Then there’s the phenomenon of DJ and station loyalty, which plays a massive part in what we choose to listen to.

People love being told stories, and this is the crux of radio PR:  taking your latest assets and turning them into a newsworthy story with an enticing hook. The challenge is that – as overt promotion is not allowed on the radio (outside of adverts) – it takes careful planning to balance newsworthiness and brand mentions. The story will always be the most crucial aspect, as stations simply will not give airtime to things that don’t provide something beneficial to their listeners or are not something that they will be interested in listening to. 

Why do people trust radio?

Over the years (especially the last two!), the public’s trust in traditional media outlets has been eroded, with some simply no longer believing anything they see on TV or read in the papers. This has not been the case with radio, with 67% of adults in the UK saying it is the most trustworthy of news sources

Radio stands apart from the rest in an era of fake news, easily shared false information and biased reporting. This is primarily due to the strict broadcasting and Ofcom rules preventing speculative stories from getting airtime and stringent advertising regulations.  It is Ofcom who provides a radio show with its licence to run, and if the rules are broken, the show may lose its licence – which is one of the reasons it can be so hard to get featured on them! 

It’s not impossible, however. After all, there’s the other side of the coin to consider. Radio shows are constantly looking for interesting content to feature on their shows, especially around current events –  and Broadcast Revolution can use our many years of experience and contacts to help you achieve this. 

The uses & benefits of radio PR

Let’s start by correcting a popular misconception: radio PR is not radio advertising. Compared to advertising, radio PR lends more credibility to your brand, and while it does not pay back instantly as an advert might, it can help with the long-term image of your company. This can be especially good for campaigns that don’t rely as much on visual factors, such as information-heavy ones.

There are three main campaign types: proactive, reactive, and competitions. Whether your campaign is proactive or reactive depends on what you promote and what messages you want to convey. A proactive campaign generally shows off something new about your company, while a reactive campaign reacts to something already in the news. In some scenarios, this may be a negative story that directly involves your company, making it especially important for you to control the discussion. 

Conversely, reactive campaigns can be used to put your establishment at the forefront of a news story, either by supplying input such as your industry expertise or opinion or by offering help of some kind. This sort of PR can be hugely beneficial but must be done well and with a light touch, to avoid looking like you are jumping on the bandwagon for publicity. 

Both proactive and reactive campaigns can take various forms. These may include interviews (either live or pre-recorded), radio days, phone-ins, thought leadership pieces and features, or ‘talking head’ industry experts giving their opinion on a recent news story.

Another radio PR trick is to run a competition. While overt promotion and advertising are not allowed on radio shows, giving something away will encourage the listeners to imagine their lives with that item and their experience. This may lead them to research your products further and – depending on the campaign – to engage with your brand on social media. Even if they don’t win, they will still remember your name. 

This is also a good way to get your company associated with the station hosting the giveaway, as it acts as a form of implicit endorsement by them. Given how loyal listeners often are to their radio personalities of choice, that alone can lead to heightened brand awareness and trust.

Radio PR isn’t just used for brand awareness; it can also be used to build or fix credibility. As well as being seen as a trustworthy brand, a radio interview can engender trust in your business and reinforce your brand positioning. If your appearance goes well, you have the possibility of becoming known as an expert in your particular field and being called up for future news stories. 

Top tips for getting the most out of radio PR

The type of radio PR plan you go for depends on several factors specific to your needs. Before embarking on a campaign of your own, read on to learn a bit more about the process and some of our recommendations for great radio PR.

Manage Expectations

Don’t go into radio PR with the expectation of quickly increased sales: that is what advertising is for. Instead, outline some sensible goals you want to achieve from your campaign, and fashion it to meet them. As not all results are measurable – such as people now knowing who you are and what you do – think instead about the best ways to present your brand.  

Good starting points include the type of coverage you want, how many interviews you want if you wish to associate your brand with particular stations, or whether you’re looking to encourage some form of listener feedback or action.  The campaign can then be tailored to meet these goals. These are the sort of questions a PR agency such as us would ask you during the initial consultation to decide what kind of radio PR would work best for you. 

Know what you want to communicate

What are the key messages you want to communicate? Try to aim for three at most so that the takeaway for the listener doesn’t become muddled. Once you’ve settled on these, look to build a compelling news story around it, with a hook that will get both stations and listeners interested. 

This could be the results of the research you’ve conducted, a new initiative, some information you want to convey, a stunt your company is doing for attention, or something you are giving away as part of a competition. Think about how you wish to come across to your audience, especially if it is part of a reactive campaign.

Knowing what you want to convey and how it is an effective tool for creating the perfect campaign. For example, you can gain a positive association in a listener’s mind if you provide a solution to a problem they are currently facing.

Think carefully about your spokesperson/brand ambassador

While the person working on a product for your company may be able to answer all the technical questions related to it, they may not be the best person to appear on the radio. This can be true of every person in your organisation, from the CEO downwards, and it is essential not to let personal feelings influence who acts as the spokesperson. 

Regardless of who you choose, they will need some form of media training and a thorough briefing on what to expect. Preemptive answers to complex questions are highly recommended, as are notes on how each audience and station vary. While you want to be consistent in your messaging, the means of communicating it may vary depending on who you are talking to.

Will the campaign be single channel or multi-platform?

It is important to know from the start of your campaign will purely be on the radio or if it will be cross-channel, featuring on live streams or in print media advertising. Not only will they all have to convey the same messaging, but you’ll also need to ensure they do not contradict each other, which could be a risk when doing live interviews.

This is why thorough briefings for the spokesperson beforehand are so essential. As well as adapting your approach to different platforms and marketing channels, it also helps to plan for any feedback you receive on these various forms of media afterwards. Knowing how you will react or handle this is an integral part of planning a big campaign, especially when it comes to social media.

Final thoughts

Whether you have a concrete idea of what you want to share or need our help formulating a stellar campaign, radio PR can help get your brand out there. 

Broadcast Revolution can help you every step of the way: from concept creation to media training and third-party features, right through to the recording and studio time for live broadcasts. We can even help with podcast creation if that is something you want to branch out into.

Get in touch now to start your very own radio PR journey!