Radio Ga Ga: Don’t Dismiss this Vital Media Channel when Developing a PR Strategy

vgharris
Account Director
Punch Communications
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As new media channels and digital PR become increasingly more important as part of a PR company’s campaigns, it is easy to forget the value of traditional media, and in particular, radio. Whilst new media is undoubtedly the future, and the area where younger consumers garner information, it is vital to still remember radio as an outlet that can reap significant rewards. The baby boomers in particular, a generation that grew up with radio as their main media channel, are a useful target for many PR campaigns, particularly in the consumer arena, as they are the sector likely to have the most disposable income.

The latest figures released from RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research Limited) from October 2011 found that 90.7% of the UK population tune in to radio every week, and that total listening hours were up 2% on the previous year. When I started working in PR about ten years ago, securing Radio 4 ‘The Today Programme’ was the holy grail for news (and still is in my opinion), but with more emphasis placed on online and social media these days, many new recruits to the PR sector may be unaware of the huge influence of this vehicle. New technology also means that it is easier than ever to enjoy the radio – not only in the car, in the back of a taxi or at home, but you can ‘listen again’ to your favourite shows online, or through your smartphone.

BBC Radio 4 boasts listener figures of over 10.5 million a week, a figure that newspapers can only dream of. The audience is often more captive – until digital radio is installed in all cars, many commuters are limited to BBC and a few local commercial stations on their way to and from work. It’s not just Radio 4 that offers PR opportunities as well. BBC Radio 1 recently announced an increase in age of its key demographic – its average listener is now aged 32, which shows that the audience is no longer young people and students, but young professionals. Although the BBC has strict rules regarding product placement, Radio 1 has opportunities such as its regular Newsbeat show. The other main BBC stations also have openings for PR – Radio 3 is not just classical music; its Nightwaves show covers art and culture, as does the Radio 2 Arts Show. There are also vast opportunities on BBC Radio 5 Live for comment and opinion – and on the commercial stations such as TalkSport and LBC. Also don’t forget to contact the radio agencies that syndicate stories out to a number of commercial stations. Local radio continues to be a great target for stories that are relevant to their listeners, and BBC local radio stations – which are unfortunately facing cuts – saw huge increases in listener figures last year.

Whilst there is no denying that the face of media is rapidly changing and that young people have different attitudes to radio consumption, it is still a vital medium and one I fear that public relations consultants dismiss too quickly. It’s easy (and free) to research programmes in order to pitch appropriately, and whilst it won’t result in glossy looking coverage, it will reach a large, and possibly brand new audience.

 Victoria Harris is an Account Director at integrated public relations, search and social media agency, Punch Communications. With nearly a decade of experience, Victoria specialises in media relations. To find out more about Punch's integrated services, please visit www.punchcomms.com or call the team on +44 (0)1858 411600.

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