Why isn’t more PR effort focused towards broadcast media? From their behaviour it would seem that many PRs and their clients believe that broadcast is not a worthwhile medium. But the reality is that broadcast media dwarfs print media in terms of audience size and breadth. Around 65% of UK adults rely on TV news as their primary source of news, BBC One’s 6pm News and ITN’s 6.30pm News have 10 million viewers each night between them, and around 2.2 million people are listening to BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme at 8am each morning. Compare this to the circulation of the Telegraph (around 800,000 at the peak of the MPs’ expenses coverage) or Financial Times (around 400,000 and falling) and you begin to wonder why more PR teams are not focusing more effort on broadcast than on print.
There are many TV and radio programmes with large audiences that have financial content which requires expert commentators to appear as guests on the show. The most obvious is the 6.15am markets report on the Today Programme each morning, where a leading fund manager gives his or her view on the company news of the day – around one million educated, home owning, people mostly over the age of 40 are listening. If you could sell advertising during this slot ads would cost a six figure sum, but perplexingly the BBC find it difficult to find a pool of more than about 20 fund managers able and willing to speak for free. Wake up to Money (Five Live from 5.30am to 6am) has a similar slot and around 250,000 financially minded listeners tune in each morning to hear Andrew Verity and Micky Clarke’s dulcet tones.
So how might PR teams go about taking advantage of the largely undervalued medium of broadcast? Clearly a different approach to print media is needed as press releases become largely redundant and the whole process really revolves around having a good expert commentator available for all those guest speaker slots. For this it is necessary to have a spokesperson who is articulate and able to explain complex issues in a way that the layman can understand. Once chosen specialist broadcast media training must be undertaken to fully prepare them. Equally important is that the spokesperson has to be willing and able to do any slots, anytime, at short notice – starting on smaller programmes before progressing to flagship ones and being aware that turning down opportunities (even at a few hours notice) means that they are unlikely to be offered a second opportunity.
If this can be achieved then you are ready to start putting them forwards and finding opportunities for them to appear on the TV and radio. It can take a little while to gain some initial momentum, but once underway you will quickly begin seeing and hearing your company name appear on the airwaves and reaching large audiences.