RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Why You Leave A Message
When authors or public speakers (i.e., clients) hire a PR firm or promotion company for the first time, they are often taken aback by the large number of "messages" that the firm leaves with radio stations. The clients view the situation as, "Hey, why are you just leaving messages, and not promoting me to them?!"
Well, there are several answers here. The first is: Messages ARE promotion. What has happened is that the client assumed that (1) the firm is not including the client's info in the messages, and (2) that messages are of absolutely, positively, no use at all. And let's not forget the "receptionist" factor (also known as the "assistant" or "producer") factor: Anyone who thinks that leaving messages with these folks (and thus warming them up to the idea of having the client as a guest) is a waste of time has obviously never had to work their way through business situations in the past.
Suppose you loaned your next door neighbor $500. You did not know him that well, and now you hear that he might be moving out soon. You want your money back, so you knock on his door, and you call, but no answer. So what do you do? You leave a message. But wait.. why would you leave a message if messages are so useless? Then, you hear he might be moving out as soon as tomorrow, so you try again but can't reach him. So you leave ANOTHER message. The chances of you getting your money back are based on how many times he hears your messages, of course.
But some clients still just don't like messages. Some PR firms skirt this issue by changing the words "Left Message" to "Pitched" (giving the impression that a phone conversation about the client occurred,) or, by not putting the messaged-stations on the report in the first place (waiting instead until there is human-human contact), or, by not giving reports at all, and just letting the client see the end results. The advantage to this is that a client won't complain of all the messages, since the messages are invisible. But the disadvantage is that the client does not know what is going on with these stations either, or, that the firm is doing any work at all.
Also hidden in some reports is the fact that many people (especially at talk stations) are involved in the possible booking of a single client. Matter of fact, if the client is a general-topic client, there are some talk stations that have over THIRTY separate hosts and producers (not to mention the assistants and receptionists) that need to be pitched individually, by phone. But on the report, it may only appear as "Left Message" for that single station. This type of report is easy to read, but it does make it look like there is less going on than there really is.
One client made our point for us; he said "I've booked myself before, and I had a 70% success rate AFTER I GOT THEM ON THE PHONE." Yes, of course... and how do you think he got them on the phone?.... Messages! And that's how we do it.
Messages are especially important with the only non-visual medium: Radio. Radio people work best with sound, and they are just not going to react as well to visual press releases.
Depending on how much you are paying your firm, they might try to reach each station once, or they might try twice (this would cost twice as much,) or they might not try at all, as is the case with some lower cost campaigns. With these, they just send a press release. Point is, the more attempts and messages that are left, the more responses are obtained, and the more people are spoken to (as a result of the messages.) And thus, there are more results.
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