Show 34 – The Power of Radio

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Show 34 was on the topic of the Power of Radio in terms of PR & Communications.

It was timed to coincide with the release of the Q3 2016 RAJAR figures of UK Radio Listening – now up to 48.2m adults across the UK tuning into the radio every week.

Russell Goldsmith’s guests were:

Topic areas covered off included, but were not limited to:

  • RARAR listener numbers and their relevance as a reporting tool
  • Radio beyond audio broadcasts
  • Radio PR & the impact of local Radio
  • Influence of Presenters

RARAR listener numbers and its relevance as a reporting tool
RAJAR provides the benchmark for audience measurement in Radio, but in Howard’s opinion it underestimates the total reach as well as power, influence and impact radio and its presenters can have on the behaviour of the listeners.  For example, in the case of LBC, where Ian presents, the station is no longer just for London, thanks to their online and digital output.  However, it’s also not restricted to being a National station either, as Ian’s audience includes international online listeners, which of course won’t be registered by RAJAR.  The other issue in terms of measuring reach is that radio is no longer just a live audio platform, and so shows have podcasts and video clips that are shared across social media.

Radio beyond audio broadcasts
Russell referenced a talk in September by Ben Cooper, Controller of BBC Radio 1, who said he wanted the station to become the “Netflix of Radio” and who has started to achieve this by commissioning programming that will be available on-demand and therefore not broadcast on the station in the traditional way.  Howard summed this up by saying that Ben is looking to serve an audience with content that they can consume, when they want, how they want and in what format they want and he doesn’t see any reason why Ben can’t achieve his aim for Radio1.  However he feels it’s also a huge opportunity for anyone to do the same, as there are no 24/7 airtime restrictions for the amount of content that can be produced for a broadcaster.

Howard used Radio X’s website as a classic example of there being lots of ways you can engage with the content, be that to listen live, listen again, watch the best bits, or subscribe to the podcast.

Ian added that, like many stations, LBC is now set up for visual broadcast as well as audio and his radio studio is now set up looking like a TV studio.

Ian Collins - on Radio or TV?

Ian Collins – on Radio or TV?

He said clips of the presenters get uploaded to Facebook and can reach two or three million views within a couple of weeks – a whole other audience, which as Howard reminded us, is not measured by RAJAR.

Of course, this being a podcast, the topic naturally moved on to how podcasting complements radio and how Ian’s own podcast, ‘Ian Collins Wants a Word’, was sponsored by Mitsubishi.  As Ian explained, whilst podcasting is still arguably in its infancy, some brands are happy to try and test the medium out even though, whilst you can get download figures, it’s still quite hard to get real depth of data in terms of profiles and locations of listeners.

As Howard explained, the challenge for presenters like Ian producing their own podcasts, or stations podcasting part of their shows, is that the brand, by tapping into their own huge followings on social media, can themselves become the broadcaster with podcasts.  This wont then necessarily fall under the same Ofcom regulations as traditional broadcast does.

Radio PR & impact of local Radio
Despite the increase in channels and programming output through digital radio, internet and now podcasting, Howard doesn’t believe the job of a PR has got any harder, so long as you invest the time in understanding where the audiences are, what content they are consuming, on what channels and platforms etc., and that you serve it accordingly.  Of course, this takes time and resource, which is why, as Howard explained, agencies like markettiers exist.

Lucy then explained how important radio was for her PR campaigns at Direct Line group and that quite often, her campaigns will start by carrying out research, split regionally across the country.  This then helps from a Radio perspective when her spokespeople are talking about the findings in a specific area, as she believes listeners relate to it much more.

Lucy went on to talk about a recent campaign called ‘Churchill Lollipoppers’ that she had worked on with markettiers, where local radio was a vital part of the strategy and resulting outcomes.

The aim of the campaign was for Churchill Insurance, part of the Direct Line Group, to provide extra funding for Lollipoppers around the UK.  The reason they did this was that since it became no longer necessary for local councils to provide the funding themselves, Churchill had found that the numbers of Lollipoppers had been diminishing in particular areas.

To highlight the issue, Churchill researched child pedestrian accidents around school areas, and found that those areas with fewer Lollipop people had a higher rate of accidents.  Therefore to raise awareness of the issue, they carried out a series of radio interviews with their Head of Claims, Kelly Cook, who had first-hand experience of seeing the number of claims coming into the company about accidents in those particular areas of the country.

Lucy believes that, whilst it was an integrated campaign that included TV and radio advertising together with traditional PR, by engaging local radio listeners, and highlighting the stats in each area, Radio PR became a key factor in its success.  Therefore, when the next stage of the campaign launched, which was asking the nation to go online and vote for their local schools that they felt needed the support of a new Lollipopper, Churchill received over 50,000 votes.

Both Howard and Ian backed up the importance of local radio up.  Howard explained that to try and mobilise the behaviour in a particular region, you want to engage with the local station, as the national stations never rank higher than those in their local areas, although the ideal is a combination of both.  Ian added that in his experience of presenting on local radio, where as a presenter, he’d turn up to local events with the local station, they’d be treated as huge celebrities!  He added that now, as a presenter of a national station, he was recently asked to talk at a student radio festival in Cardiff alongside the breakfast show host on the local Capital station.  However, everyone in the room knew the local presenter more than they knew Ian, despite Ian being the national presenter.

Influence of the Presenter
The conversation covered in depth how influential the presenters are, across all stations, national and regional, to their listeners, which comes down to the trust the listener has with them.  Of course, those presenters now have even more opportunity to influence beyond their few hours on air each day, as their loyal listeners will also follow them on social media too.  Due to that influence, it’s no surprise that PR’s are now approaching Ian directly, bypassing the station researchers and producers, in the hope he’ll give their stories coverage either on air, on his podcast or across social media.  He explained that as a presenter, whilst he is currently full time at LBC, he is still freelance, and so has never been more aware of being his own product/brand, which he feels a lot of his peers in the industry haven’t necessarily explored.  He believes it’s vital to be able to take your ‘product’ as a presenter onto Social Media, although bringing it back to how we started in terms of measurement, he’s not sure how that will all be achieved, particularly in terms of RAJAR.

All previous shows of the series are available on Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn.  If you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

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