Platform: Riding high on the radio waves of the future - Amid a plethora of new techonologies the personal nature of radio as a medium offers unique PR opportunities, says Howard Kosky

It is ironic that the medium that was developed such a long time before TV should be the element of broadcast media which has such innovative options to offer marketers.

It is ironic that the medium that was developed such a long time

before TV should be the element of broadcast media which has such

innovative options to offer marketers.

The PR industry has flirted with radio for some time but as a whole it

appears a little distrustful of its power because with the freedom of

content comes what can be perceived as lack of control over the messages

it communicates.

This can be the case if you do not know how to effectively work with the

medium to broadcast desired messages in the most ’radio friendly’ way.

Those messages must be of value to the station, the listener and the


It should always be remembered that radio is a secondary medium. A lot

of people within the PR industry interpret this as meaning second class

but what it really means is that people listen to the radio while they

are doing other things: getting ready for work, driving, cooking,

brushing their teeth or lying in the park on a hot day. This allows

brands to market their services while their target consumers are doing

those things that will make them more receptive to the message.

No other medium has such a hold over its audience or can hold its

attention for so long regardless of the output at any one time.

Radio is a very personal medium with the majority of listening taking

place while people are on their own. Monday to Friday, without knowing

it, each individual has a regular listening habit - radio has a brand

loyalty that is second to none.

As the relationship between station and listener is one of trust, so

must it be between station and organisations that intend to work their

programming, whether it be for a half-hour or for a year. Only with that

trust can you ensure that everyone is getting the most from radio.

What is most misunderstood is the fact that radio can create a brand’s

character, not just a brand image. The value of having a presenter talk

in a positive manner about something is immeasurable. Radio allows us to

use our own imagination to form a deeply personal visual image and

perception of a brand unmatched by any creative.

There are over 240 radio stations in the UK, each with its own viewpoint

on the world. Relationships have to be built with presenters, producers

and programme controllers, so that the resulting impact of a story or

promotion is maximised.

Most PR Week readers will know about ISDN interviews, outside broadcasts

or audio features and will certainly have been introduced to the highly

charged world of promotions, but all of these things are subject to

constant change as the industry develops at high speed, making it

essential to keep up to date with developments.

’Insert your brand here’ marketing does not work on radio anymore. In an

increasingly aware and crowded marketplace you must not pigeonhole radio

into interviews, competitions, promotions or sponsorship, but embrace

radio as a whole to develop the most effective strategy for the brand in

question. In order to do this it is becoming increasingly necessary to

consult with experts within the industry.

There are a plethora of opportunities within radio that the PR industry

has not yet been exposed to and this is an issue that must be addressed

if PR is to take full advantage of the medium - the challenge is to

maintain the knowledge of the changing industry and to be prepared to

move forward with it.

Howard Kosky is managing director of the Market Tiers.

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