Satellite radio serves as national link to niche audiences

Though its audience still trails terrestrial radio, satellite radio has become an important part of many PR campaigns.

Though its audience still trails terrestrial radio, satellite radio has become an important part of many PR campaigns.

"It's truly a national radio network," says Richard Strauss, president of Strauss Radio Strategies. "I don't think the PR industry is aware of all the opportunities that exist because of satellite radio."

The two major satellite providers - XM Radio and Sirius - have more than 10 million subscribers, and even that number is double what it was 18 months ago, notes Roberta Facinelli, director of the radio division at Medialink.

Even as satellite radio allows clients to reach listeners on a national scale, there is also an opportunity to reach niche and fringe audiences who traditionally shut off the public airwaves.

Moreover, as conservative talk- show hosts still dominate terrestrial radio, liberal clients are finding a more receptive audience in satellite subscribers, Strauss says.

Facinelli notes that as a group, today's young people rarely listen to terrestrial radio. They download content online or listen to their favorite programs through cable, satellite, or the Internet.

Therefore, she says, firms should not ask how many stations their clients reach, but rather how many platforms.

Clients should still send their ANRs to terrestrial radio stations because most satellite programs want live content, like RMTs, Facinelli notes. But even campaigns that are targeted toward traditional radio can be extended if the program is rebroadcast on satellite. "They're dying for content," she says. "They want to hear from you."

Lynn Harris Medcalf, EVP at News Generation, agrees that satellite campaigns can reach national audiences, as well as young and hip consumers. But she adds that terrestrial radio is a better fit for local, more geographically targeted campaigns.

Clients should also be aware that satellite radio isn't Arbitron rated, she says, which makes it harder to track who is listening to a segment and what the ad equivalency is.

Yet Strauss notes that there has been progress made in creating measurement tools for satellite.

Key points:

Satellite programs allow clients to reach more targeted audiences than terrestrial

Program managers generally get fewer pitches and are thus more open to them

Satellite stations still draw most of their content from reformatted terrestrial programs

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