The BBC recently announced that planned cuts to local radio budgets had been scrapped. Cuts of £10m were discarded as BBC director general Tony Hall spoke of the growing importance of local radio and its role in fighting against the problem of fake news.
The announcement coincided with the 50th anniversary of the creation of the corporation’s first local radio station, BBC Radio Leicester. Since then audiences for local BBC radio stations have fluctuated but we now see about 6 million listeners tune in each week across the country. How can we as PR professionals take advantage of this U-turn? When looking at a PR story it’s always important to think of the best platform for it.
Too many PR professionals (including myself) go into press release mode when looking at a story – automatically reverting to using a press release for every story and primarily targeting print and online media. As signaled by the BBC announcement, local radio (including non-BBC stations) is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. When thinking about a story, therefore, it should now be second nature to think whether it is suitable for local radio and how you can get the best possible results from it.
Not all stories will be suitable for radio but here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself when thinking about what media platform/s you should be targeting:
Is your story suited to radio?
Not all stories are suited for radio - at the start of your planning always think of which platform is best for each individual story. For radio, you need a strong story that can be summed up in a couple of minutes (that’s usually as long as you’ll get) alongside a couple of possible interviewees who can bring it to life. Importantly for local radio stations your news needs to be local or at the least be of importance to people in the area. This could be anything from creation of new jobs in the area to a cultural event being held locally.
Does my story have to be local?
Not necessarily. A useful PR tactic is to take a national issue and regionalise it – people are likely to be more interested if it has relevance to their day to day lives.
Do you have an engaging interviewee?
It’s all well and good securing a great opportunity for a radio interview but you need someone who is capable of speaking confidently and coming across well. Your spokesperson needs to be well-informed, coherent and passionate about the subject. A bad interview can be even worse than no interview at all! Make sure that whoever you put forward is properly media trained – read our thoughts on the importance of media training.
Will radio coverage give you the desired outcomes?
As with any PR story or strategy, it’s important to start with your objectives. For certain objectives an interview on a local radio station will not help you achieve it. Always think of the end objective when thinking about where to place your story.
What are your thoughts on the renaissance of local radio stations? Are you making the most of local radio in your media relations strategy? If you want to discuss your media relations strategy and how to make the most of local radio stations, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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