Radio & Online Communications: High-value PR

There can be no doubt that radio and online media are increasingly recognised by PR professionals as offering solid broadcast PR opportunities. But has the industry's strategic approach towards radio and online changed much over the past five years?

Technology in broadcast media continues to advance quickly and the PR industry has to respond and keep pace. Ofcom's recently published annual communications review shows healthy growth in radio. There are now 130 commercial digital radio stations, of which 32 are available only on digital sets, and the number of analogue radio services has risen to 324.

The report, which shows a six per cent increase in radio listening in the period from 1999 to 2003, also states that the average amount of time spent online has risen eight-fold in four years, from two hours a week in 1999 to 16 hours a week in 2003 (in households with high-speed broadband connections). Recent developments in hardware, such as the advent of SkyPlus and radio sets that allow you to record programming to play back at a later time, are also beginning to make it possible for consumers to take control of their media diet.

Cut-through for brands is therefore in the content, and while PR focus is already based on delivering editorial, there is now greater opportunity for the industry within broadcast media, where it is possible to become your very own commissioning editor, producer and director all in one.

New techniques such as live presenter reads, webchats and brand-funded programming have grown the possibilities in broadcast, and evaluation of radio and online campaigns has become more efficient.

Through what is a relatively straightforward process, editorial contributions will deliver desirable information to the audience, good programming for the media owner and campaign messages for the brand. All three parties are achieving what they require and demand, with PR the driving force. The challenge for PROs is to own what is an emerging sector, ahead of the larger media agencies, and realise an exciting opportunity to secure business prospects in an ever-competitive environment.

Howard Kosky, managing director, markettiers4DC.

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