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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Effective Ways to Get an Audio News Release on the Air

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An audio news release is a sixty-second news release featuring a 20 to 30-second sound bite from a spokesperson.  For a sixty-second production, the story must be a straightforward issue, like a survey release.  The issue contained in the piece must have a single message that does not beg a lot of questions or have a multitude of sub-points to explore.  One good rule of thumb for an audio news release is the issue must fit comfortably in a one-page, double-spaced press release.

These news releases are pitched directly to decision-makers in newsrooms of radio stations and networks during morning hours.  This is when the news departments are fully staffed and this direct one-on-one interaction is crucial in order for an audio news release to have maximum impact.  For that matter, so is the follow up, which allows you to find out whether a story was used, why it was or was not used, and how it was used.  All of this is important information in crafting future pitches.

Recent examples of issues that made for successful and effective audio news releases include a back-to-school nutrition information study, a survey concerning the number of uninsured children, and a story about new voting requirements in Ohio.  Despite their varied subject matter, the stories all have several important factors in common: they have a focused message, are simple and straightforward, and are all matters of public interest.

There is a misperception that some radio stations may be reluctant to use audio news releases or in some cases, refuse to use them at all.  We have been producing audio news releases for more than ten years and have seen no drop in their use.  However, we have identified the cause of this misperception.

“Audio news release” is a PR industry term, created by industry professionals, for industry professionals.  It is not a radio term, just as “radio media tour” is not a term that radio stations use.  Stations can associate the term “audio news release” with the ill-fated video news release (VNR), which has taken several nasty PR hits in recent years.

The truth is that when pitching what those in the PR industry may call an “audio news release,” we actually pitch stations with a “story.”  Some stations use sound bites, some don’t, but all stations use information from viable sources to create their news stories, and using stories from outside sources in no way compromises their credibility.

So next time you’re looking to get a straightforward issue out to the largest number of stations quickly and cost-effectively, remember the benefits of the audio news release: it allows for targeted pitching and individualized contact with a large number of stations in a short period of time, gaining awareness of an issue on one of the most mobile and widely used mass mediums available.

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