On Monday, January 10th the team at News Generation devoted the day to the people of Haiti – bringing their stories and needs back to the forefront and reminding Americans that the job of rebuilding the island nation is far from over. More than 51 million listeners heard the message through radio media tours and an audio news release carried on seven radio networks: Associated Press, Fox News, Metro Source, American Urban Radio Network, USA Radio Network, Bloomberg News, and Wall Street Journal Radio; and scores of the top news, news-talk and talk stations in the country.
Haiti, as you may remember, was the victim of one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time. The earthquake hit on January 12, 2010, killing more than 220,000, injuring more than 300,000 and leaving more than one million of its citizens homeless and fighting diseases like cholera.
Two days before the one-year anniversary, we offered radio stations across the country two separate radio media tours: one, with the president of the international relief organization Oxfam America; and the other, with the director of a film premiering on the PBS series Independent Lens called “Children of Haiti.” We also pitched a news release for stations wanting a capsulated version of the latest from Haiti, due to the brevity of their newscasts.
The response from stations was overwhelming for several reasons. First, the interviews and news release were made available two days before the one-year anniversary of the quake. News and news-stations like to book interviews ahead of an event, preferably not the day of and definitely not the day after an event. Second, the direction of the interviews about Haiti was diverse enough that two of the networks, American Urban Radio Network and Metro Source, scheduled both interviews.
Oxfam America’s perspective was from the outside looking in at the country, giving listeners a status report on the progress of rebuilding Haiti, on the humanitarian aid that has helped keep millions of Haitians alive and on the current needs of the people for access to basic services like water and health care. The “Children of Haiti” interviews took another approach with the story of Haiti being told from the inside looking out. The documentary focused on three out of thousands of orphaned and abandoned children who shared their perspectives on their country, and on their lives past, present and future.
Lastly, the pitch was straight forward – the purest form of a public relations effort. It was the type of pitch radio stations and networks are looking for: information that will advance a story and make it timely, a meaty topic that listeners can identify with and get personally involved in. Interviews with substance keep the American public coming back and tuning in for a daily dose of education, enlightenment, empowerment, and entertainment.

posted by Martha Sharan

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