|RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Why Repeated Promotion Phone Calls Are Necessary
For those unfamiliar with how radio works, it may sometimes seem strange that a booker (or publicist) will call the same radio stations week-after-week, trying to book you for an interview. After all, "If the stations like the topic, then my publicist should only have to ask once." We all wish it were that true.
In the music business, repeated phone calls to stations are called "promotion". Entire careers are set up to do just one thing: Get stations on the phone, and get them to play the music. And the same stations are called week after week after week.
In the radio syndication business, repeated phone calls to stations are called "clearance calls", as in to "obtain clearances", i.e., new affiliates. The same stations are called time and time again, sometimes for several YEARS, before they sign on.
In radio publicity, repeated phone calls are needed just the same. In the PR world it's known as "pitching", but we call it "interview promotion". It's how all PR firms work, especially with bigger stations/shows.
Some kind of way must be used which will tell the stations that you, for some reason, will be a better guest than all the others that surfaced that day by way of fax, email, and phone. After all, if one contact were all that were needed to secure an interview, then a single mass fax/email to every station in the country would get you what you needed in just a few hours, and, there would be no need for public relations firms (or bookers.) So, here are the areas where repeated phone calls make the difference:
BUILDING THE STORY: Radio stations, being part of the mass-media, live and die by being part of "big stories", i.e., something which is happening "all over the place." By definition, before something is big it must be small. So a station understands that when it hears about you for the first time, a lot of things might not be happening. But when the station is later informed that "more" is going on, they can be sure that you are getting attention, and that people are listening. And that's exactly what the station needs... more people listening. But, if the station only hears about you once (no matter how much is "going on" at the time,) the station will have no chance to see things grow beyond that point. And the station will thus assume you are not catching on. (Not good.)
FEEDBACK: With repeated phone calls, a PR firm (or "interview promotion firm", or "booker") can find out what a station thinks about you, and then feed this back to you. After you make some changes, the station is re-contacted with the updated angle. This is ongoing.
PENETRATING THE STATION: Most stations have several on-air hosts which make their own decisions about guests. After the first or second contact with an initial person at the station (so they can get a feel for you,) your publicist may be referred to several different people at the station whose "personalities" lend themselves more towards you and your topic. Contacting and following up with these individuals, who currently do not know you exist, requires extensive additional phone calling.
CALL TIMES: With radio, many hosts and program directors only take calls on certain days, and for only a few hours. During those hours, every publicist (and record promoter, and syndicator) tries to get them. The bigger stations / shows many times have the fewest calling hours (and of course, the most people calling), so it may take several weeks or months just to get them to take a look at you.
RAPPORT: Also very important, it is the rapport with the stations that, initially, allows them to take you seriously. And rapport can only be developed through repeated calls.
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