|RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Why The Topic Does Not Matter
When PR firms (or especially, clients) try to secure radio interviews, they many times come up against the audio-wall of radio: Radio producers many times do not care what your topic/angle is, and thus they give you no booking interest. The publicist is often taken aback by radio personnels' lack of enthusiasm for what the publicist (and client) thought was a killer topic/angle. After all, the print media (and even TV folks) responded, so the angle can't be all that bad, can it? How can radio be so different? Isn't the topic (especially when promoting authors) the prime driver for radio press? Answer: No. Because:
Radio does not like to read...
o Radio does not respond to printed press releases the way the print media does; radio requires phone calls, because that's how radio lives day-in and day-out.
o Describing your topic in your printed press release will fall on deaf eyes, that is, until the stations can be assured that your guest will sound great!
Radio people are audio people...
o If your pitch is working in the print media, then yes your topic/angle is good. If your TV is working too, then you probably also have great visuals, or, the presentation can be carried-along by the host. (TV can present the host and the guest together, and thus it can show the host WHILE the guest is speaking, thus the host can make up for lack of guest performance.)
o In radio, only one person at a time has the attention of the audience; thus radio's worst fear is that when your guest has this attention... he/she will be a dud.
o Radio producers need to be assured (or shown) that your guest can "carry" the audience with his/her voice, before the topic/angle itself will be dealt with.
o If you are pitching radio for the first time, the producers are not going to believe you when you say that "the guest is great". Stations will need to have worked with some previous guests of yours, or they will need referrals from other stations (regardless of topic).
Any topic can be interesting and/or controversial...
o Interesting/controversial is what radio wants, regardless of topic.
o Even sad (death in the family) or generic (lawn mower repair) topics can be made interesting by a good guest, by relating the topic to a personal experience, or by telling how the topic affected another person of stature (say, an actor).
o Any topic can be found to be controversial, by just finding someone in society that uses the topic in a controversial way (there is always someone.)
o If you and the guest are unable to find anything of radio PR value, then create a side-topic from scratch that does have this value. Then, near the end of the interviews, segue (..."by the way") into your product/service that you really want to push.
Listeners respond to the personality, not topic...
o The grand proof of this is the talkshow hosts themselves; they have no particular topic, but they go from day to day accumulating listeners, by CONVERTING regular topics into interesting, controversial, or funny presentations (just the way your guest could.)
o If your guest's personality is liked by listeners, the listeners will follow the directions of the guest (i.e., listeners will go to a site, call a number, etc.)
o It's been long known by people in the ad business that the proper person talking about a product (celebrity endorsements) makes all the difference in the world in sales.... even though the product (i.e., topic) itself stays the same.
Mornings: It's a laugh...
o "Morning Drive" in radio is usually from 5am to 10am, and it is a prime daypart for anything that can be construed as being funny.
o Even boring topics (lawn mower repair), when mixed with incidental anecdotes by the guest ("The things I saw when repairing mowers"), can be very funny. The anecdotes have nothing really to do with the topic, but the point is that the name of the author (and name of the product/service) are mentioned again and again.
Radio really works...
o Even though it may seem difficult to pitch, radio is still the best medium for getting the personality of a guest out to the public.
o Unlike TV, radio allows it's guest to promote a site or a phone number.
o Since the site or phone number is spoken by the guest, it has a personal touch; listeners will feel more inclined to call or log-on, since it's less likely that there will be an office or a corporate site to navigate through.
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