Effectively using gimmicks in a broadcast pitch, identifying unique radio opportunities, and more

Effectively using gimmicks in a broadcast pitch, identifying unique radio opportunities, and more

Are gimmicks an effective way to get stations to air a broadcast segment?

A message that creates a lot of buzz is something all PR pros want for their campaigns, but messages involving a gimmick have to be crafted very carefully, says Pier Paolo Piccoli of PLUS Media.

"It's important that you not only know what your message is," he says, "but you also need to make sure that you're keeping your target audience in mind - no matter which broadcast tactic you are implementing."

Piccoli advises asking yourself, "Who are we talking to? Will they get it, or will we leave them just scratching their heads?"

When used judiciously, gimmicks can be an effective way to get stations to air your segment. A segment hosted by a character like "Mrs. Claus" can be fun and effective, but proceed carefully. "While stations may like the concept," adds Piccoli, "clients can be wary of using them out of fear of positioning their product in a different light."

Piccoli recommends consulting a media placement agency to determine whether or not the media will be receptive to a gimmick.

"There is an art to weaving a segment idea out of messages without losing sight of the media climate," he says. "When utilizing a gimmick in broadcast PR, work to ensure the products don't get lost in the premise."

What are some often-overlooked radio opportunities?

PR pros often forget to use news headlines to help them secure radio coverage, says Sean Amore of Strauss Radio Strategies. "For example, the CIA's use of phone taps might allow for a client dealing with personal security and privacy rights or the history of people-monitoring to get booked on top-level radio outlets," he adds.

The recent New York City transit strike could lead to radio bookings on topics involving unions and business, government budgeting, or even mass-transit problems in whatever local market you're trying to book, adds Amore.

"Stations might even be willing to discuss the merits of telecommuting, creating a virtual workplace, or the possible global impact on New Yorkers' work woes," he says.

Topics can dominate the thousands of on-air slots to be filled nationally in the 24/7 news and talk-radio environment, and a quick radio-outreach strategy can easily put your client in the mix and on the air. "Monitoring local radio stations, networks, and the nationally syndicated shows will allow the PR pro to provide a different and unique perspective to the public debate," Amore notes.


How often should we revise our company's CSR plan?

Before discussing how often a company should adjust the plan, it is important to stress that the CSR strategy must be integrated into the overall business plan development and execution, says CSRwire's Greg Schneider. "A CSR plan that is not aligned with the business plan or operations won't work," he notes.

If such an alignment has already been established, Schneider says that the CSR plan should be updated as the financial and strategic initiatives of the company are adjusted.

"Once the company has accepted that CSR is an integral part of the business operations and has recognized a competitive advantage, the revision of the plan will develop in accordance with the traditional planning process," he says.


Is it wasteful to go to 1,000 TV stations with my PSA?

Annette Minkalis of West Glen Communications says it's wasteful for two key reasons. "That number is a heavy saturation of the universe," she notes. "Also, there is a consolidation trend where one public affairs director schedules the PSAs for another station in the market."

Minkalis says this practice of consolidation is even more prevalent in radio, where one public affairs director can program for as many as three to five stations in the market.

The good news is that non-profits can reach more stations with fewer pitches. "If you mail your own tapes or if you have a distributor handling shipments, make sure you take advantage of this consolidation and aren't wasting effort," Minkalis says.

PR Toolbox is edited by Erica Iacono, New York-based reporter for PRWeek. Submit questions to her at Also, please contact her if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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