Radio may have lost its luster since Marshall McLuhan made the
scene, but audio news releases, or ANRs, can still be an inexpensive and
effective means to get the word out.
"We did an ANR in May for Amazon.com, and we came up with a total
audience of 10,325,000 for the quarter hour," says Mike Hill, president
of News Broadcast Network. "It only cost about dollars 7,000."
ANRs seldom run more than 60 seconds and generally cost about dollars
5,000, while the typical VNR ranges from dollars 15,000 to dollars
25,000. "You don't have the kind of production time required of a VNR
because it's just an intro, a couple of sound bites and an outtro," says
Susan Macaluso, associate VP of marketing at Medialink.
There's been a lot of consolidation in the broadcast industry, which can
be both a blessing and a curse. "The last ANR I produced and released
got three hits from stations," says Steve Mullen of Slay Public
"Every time we got a hit, they were feeding to between 60 and 80
However, consolidated news efforts also have a downside, according to
Lynn Medcalf, VP at News Generation. "If you get a hit, others pick it
up," she says. "But if you get a 'No,' you'll get a bunch of 'Nos.'"
That aside, radio remains a great way to target niche markets. "Maybe
you're not going to get millions and millions of viewers with one hit
like you would with national TV," says Macaluso. "But you're going to
get a targeted audience."
Like any promotion, be sure to take into account political or
demographic splits within your target audiences - or else the ANR can
backfire. "Take the Spanish-language market," says Tom Sweeney, CEO of
North American Network. "Cuban Hispanic radio in Miami is a lot
different than Mexican radio in Los Angeles or Puerto Rican radio in New
Sweeney also says that understanding relationships between announcers
and audiences can help make your ANR stand out. For instance, when
Sweeney pitches AM radio stations, he looks to female announcers and
"Women are significantly under-represented in AM news radio," Sweeney
says. "It's 85% men's voices across the board. Women are good because
you're more likely to listen up if it's not that dull, droning sort of
The heart of the ANR is the soundbite, or the "actuality." Stations may
re-record an intro or outtro using their own reporters, but they're
bound to use the actuality. So, use actualities to let clients shine by
providing expert testimony.
Making clients sound good, however, requires some work. "You don't want
them reading the soundbite," cautions Hill. "It sounds stilted and
canned." If this happens, try using a Q&A format to coax more authentic,
Hill recommends clipping responses and working them into a wrap before
giving them to stations. "You give them a rundown," he says. "You don't
want to give them a rambling Q&A that they've got to go into and cut up.
Make stories as convenient as possible."
Mullen, a former director at several small stations, says radio news
editors are often hard-pressed for time. "I found myself in a lot of
situations where if I couldn't get something quickly, it was just going
to be rip-and-read stuff. So if the sound quality is good and it fits
into your format, a news editor will at least consider using it."
Of course, it helps to have a meaty news hook. "You need that
statistic," says Deborah Genovesi, director of West Coast operations for
"You need that proof. Try to include third-party experts."
And what about ANR measurement? According to Medialink president Larry
Moskowitz, tracking ANRs is tricky because they can't be encoded like
VNRs. "If you encode an ANR, it has to be audible, and that's not
practical," says Moskowitz. "Even if you could encode it in a way that
wasn't audible, the cost of having receiving units in so many markets is
not economically feasible."
Further, there is no Nielsen Ratings system for radio that allows you to
cover actualities. Although Arbitron rates audience demographics, "a lot
of the 13,413 stations licensed by the FCC are community stations not
ranked by Arbitron," says Medcalf.
Your best bet is to call the stations you pitched to see which ones
aired your ANR. Also, you can use Arbitron ratings if they're available,
although opinions vary as to which ratings are most meaningful.
"We use cumulative figures for the entire week because we feel it's a
more accurate barometer of reach considering that most radio news
programs air produced stories more than once a week," says Alyson
Heller, director of media monitoring and research for Medialink.
However, some dispute this method, preferring to measure audience reach
by the quarter hour. "There's no justification for the weekly cumulative
number," Hill says. "It's all the people who listen to radio throughout
the week, so unless your ANR was used every quarter hour throughout the
week, there's no relationship between the weekly cumulative number and
the audience figure you've got. We put it on our report, because other
companies are doing it, but we tell clients it's not a real number."
Another tracking option is to use a service that allows stations to call
a phone number and download your ANR. "It makes it easier for stations
to get releases, and then we know exactly who took it," Macaluso
"If ANRs are posted on the Web, we can track anybody who comes to listen
Adds Moskowitz: "I think that with continued improvement in tech and the
white-hot need of the music rights industry, an electronic system (to
track ANRs) will be deployed, but there's no way of telling if that's
two or 20 years off."
News Broadcast Network
North American Network
KEF Media Associates
404-605-0009 (x 303)
Planned Television Arts
Slay Public Relations