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Is broadcast radio PR’s forgotten media platform?

By Martin Palin

I love broadcast radio. As a consumer I’ve listened to some form of radio most of my adult life and have carried a portable radio around with me (more recently via apps) for a lot of it.


Radio is also a great medium for PR war stories – about the talent that goes missing just as the interview is about to go live or the sharp negotiation with producers about why they should have your person on air.


In fact, radio was the source of one of my most embarrassing PR episodes when the confused presenter of a Sydney radio station thought they had the Professor of Medicine on the line (rather than just the junior PR hack – me –  on hold, waiting to confirm some logistics), and flicked me live to air with the introduction “Joining us now is Professor Martin Palin to discuss these latest medical developments….”


Not surprisingly the next words out of his mouth were “Ah we seem to have lost the Professor…”

Radio room

In Australia, 16 million people are regular radio listeners (more than half of the population) and one in four get some of their news information from the radio.


The influence of radio is often downplayed in the constant focus on TV, content marketing and social media. The obsession to go viral or appear on the nightly TV news sometimes over-rides the common sense of going targeted via earned media on the radio.


There’s a real skill in integrating stories and themes into the daily flow of radio programming and news. You have to be a consumer of it to know how to do it. Especially in healthcare storytelling, where good earned radio content is driven by talented spokespeople, progress at pace and a keen sense of medical news.


The process of delivering content into radio newsrooms and negotiating with producers has definitely changed a lot. It won’t surprise you to know it’s much more automated and digitised. Which allows us to deliver full packages of interviews, content, talent and grabs to time-poor producers looking to fill out their radio programs and hourly news bulletins.


As an example, we’ve worked collaboratively with our friends at MediaCast, who help turn your news into an audio news release and compile it in easy-to-digest cues for radio newsreaders. All six campaigns we’ve run so far in early 2024 have had a strong radio focus.

These campaigns have delivered news about a whole range of health-related developments – from flu jabs, to meningococcal disease and drug-resistant epilepsy. These efforts have secured over 1,100 items of earned media coverage with over 56 million cumulative impressions (based on the latest radio stations audience figures). Not bad going for radio-focused campaigns that are being delivered very cost effectively.


So, when you’re thinking about driving great value for earned media campaigns, don’t overlook the programs and news bulletins run by literally hundreds of radio stations around the country.

Chances are that your target audience is listening to one of those, absorbing the latest health-focused news while commuting to or from work or going about their daily chores.


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