PR TECHNIQUE ANRs: How to use audio news releases - ANRs are alow-cost and highly targeted approach to publicity. If only there werean effective means of measuring them. Matthew Arnold reports

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, 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,

off-the-cuff responses.

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

DWJ Television.

"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

or download."

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

Mike Hill



Jeff Sindone


Monica Jennings


News Generation

Susan Matthews


North American Network

Tom Sweeney


KEF Media Associates

Kevin Foley

404-605-0009 (x 303)

Planned Television Arts

Rick Frishman


Slay Public Relations

Steve Mullen


DWJ Television

Cynthia Boseski


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