Making a radio promo stand out, reporting errors, more

A decent amount of radio airtime is devoted to promotions because they're a great way for radio stations to engage listeners and rack up ratings, observes Zcomm founder and CEO Ris' Birnbaum.


How do radio promotions break through the clutter?

A decent amount of radio airtime is devoted to promotions because they're a great way for radio stations to engage listeners and rack up ratings, observes Zcomm founder and CEO Ris‘ Birnbaum. That means they're also an effective way for clients to make an impact.

Promotions are a great way to get a commercial message directly to target demos - including a call to action - without sounding like a pure commercial.

"If you get a popular DJ to endorse a product or hype an event and use elements that are gaining ground like pre-roll video, text messaging, [and] audio and video segments, there's an interactive element that's powerful," she says.

If you target moms, you can find mom DJs. If you target 18- to 24-year-olds, text messaging is coming on strong. "There's something new for everyone," Birnbaum adds.

Radio promotions can be customized by format and market, or syndicated nationally or regionally over a popular show. Cool prizes and a creative contest mechanism also help reel in listeners.

Media relations

What's the best way to handle errors in reporting?

First, determine how serious the mistake is, notes Ken Haseley, senior counselor of The Ammerman Experience. Some errors warrant no action.

In most cases, the best approach is to contact the reporter - not the editor - and point out the mistake. "Your objective is to get the reporter to correct his notes and prevent future or follow-up stories from repeating the error," he explains.

If the error is serious, you might want to request a correction, but understand that it probably won't get the same placement or visibility as the original story.

"Don't try to dictate how the correction should be handled," Haseley advises.

In situations such as errors in high-profile stories or mistakes in a series of stories, consider writing a letter to the editor or its broadcast equivalent.

"In rare instances, you can even place an ad if there's a dispute about what was said in the interview or if the concerns you raise with the news outlet are ignored," Haseley suggests.

Story pitching

What is the advantage of individually pitching stories to stations?

"When media outlets are individually pitched, you are able to get the name of the reporter who accepted the story, as well as note the time of day you pitched that reporter," says Susan Matthews Apgood, president of News Generation.

By pitching reporters individually, they know that they are not part of some blast e-mail or satellite feed alert, she adds. They will also understand the importance you place on media relations and customizing stories to their audience.

"When you individually pitch reporters with specific stories instead of a grocery list of topics, you are better able to gauge interest from the reporter and provide clients with feedback on how well the pitch was received from the onset, instead of waiting until follow up is completed," Apgood notes.

The biggest advantage for individually pitching stories comes when it is time to follow up on whether or not stations used a story. "Follow up is also a great way to find out more about the issues the reporter and the station are interested in for future pitches," she explains.

Send your questions to: Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns. Toolbox is available online at

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