Companies and organizations that are trying to reach a targeted demographic with a complex message can use radio media tours (RMTs) to provide a cost-effective means of additional insight to their story.
But, it's important for PR pros to remember that a sharp news hook and a prepared spokesperson are the keys to a successful interview.
Pitching issues that are tied to breaking news, health stories, the economy, and the environment are popular with radio stations right now, says Richard Strauss, president of Strauss Radio Strategies.
Localizing the story is also important if a PR pro is pitching to regional outlets, especially considering that regional radio can target not just a media market, but also a segment of the market, like reaching soccer moms through an adult contemporary station.
Susan Matthews Apgood, president of News Generation, says that when one of her clients, the American Federation of Teachers, sought to explain how President Barack Obama's stimulus package would affect teachers and students, it decided an RMT was the best option.
“It wasn't really something we could put out in a statement to stations,” Apgood notes. “If you still feel that you can't communicate the story in that amount of space, then you should probably do a radio media tour because [the topic] warrants discussion between the reporter and the spokesperson.”
Radio can also play an important role in providing context to a breaking news story. Strauss says that he can get a client on the air in 15 minutes if he has a prior relationship with the news station.
And, unlike a TV interview that might require makeup, equipment, and scheduling, a spokesperson can talk about an issue from any landline.
“There's a time and cost factor,” says Dan Lyons, president of Lyons Public Relations. “The cost compared to a lot of other PR techniques is fairly moderate, so it's not going to break the budget for clients.”
He says that an RMT could only require three to four hours of a spokesperson's time, but still deliver widely to 15 to 25 markets in the US.
“You want to make sure the story is newsworthy, interesting, compelling, and warrants an extended discussion,” Lyons says.
Localize your story to fit the station's demographic
Prepare and train your spokesperson and make sure he or she is comfortable with the topic
Make the interview a commercial for your brand or products
Forget to create a relationship with a station prior to a breaking news story