Arthur Perkins
Arthur Perkins
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Broadcast PR advice: Why PR’s shouldn’t dismiss community radio stations.

When it comes to promoting a story using broadcast PR, community radio stations are often considered to be the poor relation and may not be as valued compared to national stations such as BBC Radio 2 or Sky News Radio because of a smaller audience reach.

Fuelled by the hard work and enthusiasm of volunteers, they reflect a diverse mix of cultures and interests. But dismissing them is a mistake. Local stations have fewer commercial pressures than their larger counterparts such as Global Radio who run brands such as Heart, Capital and Classic FM. This means they’ll be more willing to take PR generated stories.

Typically a celebrity or personality always goes down well but they’ll spot a blatant PR puff and the story has to be relevant to their listeners. Their listener profile is also interesting – typically more like 25-55 so a good fit for many campaigns with an audience not as young as larger commercial stations, but not as old as BBC’s.

Their quality has been recognised by the industry. Local stations regularly feature as finalists in the Radio Academy Awards – formerly known as the Sony Awards and widely regarded as the “Oscars” of the radio industry.

Typically community stations spend more time on a story as they don’t have to devote a certain amount of air play to music.  The interviews are long,  five to ten minutes is quite common and they are usually live or as live. This allows spokespeople to have enough time to work in key messages and URL’s in an unforced way and effectively take control of the interview. In our experience the quality of the interviewing is also excellent. It can rival the BBC for insight and engaging listening. A word of caution though if a regular is off then it becomes more unpredictable.

They are also happy to interview a corporate spokesperson alongside a third party or with some shows just your brand spokesperson – giving them free reign to plug more than on BBC or mainstream commercial stations.

The interviewers are always generous in allowing a spokesperson to guide listeners to find out more information on a story.
A further advantage of local stations is that they are more flexible when booking in with your spokesperson

They’ll often agree to a phone interview and are more understanding if you offer them the slot the day after or even later after the embargo. They are also more flexible if an interview has to be dropped at the last minute and rescheduled. Local stations are also willing to accept a pre-recorded podcast with your brand spokesperson particularly if the interview contains local stats and angles.

Finally as well as running the story more than once on their station – potentially community stations will often put a podcast on their website. This adds to the audience reach for the campaign’s coverage, giving users an alternative way of accessing the interview. Also, it is a chance for people to listen back to the interview if they missed it the first time.

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