We recently had the pleasure of hosting Dave Terris, Editor of Sky News Radio and IRN, at our latest Shout! Communications Small Talk networking event. Dave gave a fascinating insight into a how the national radio newsroom works, and the prevailing power of radio, as the industry changes.
Dave became Deputy Editor for IRN in 2013 and has worked for Sky News Radio for over ten years. Sky News Radio has been supplying news to IRN since 2009. Now, more than 280 stations make up the network, including well-known brands Capital, Heart, and LBC, and between them they have a weekly audience of more than 34 million.
During his time in the media industry, Dave has seen TV and print decline as social and digital media becomes increasingly popular. Despite changes in the way people now consume news, Dave says radio is resilient. People still love radio, with 90% of the population listening to it every week.
Dave explained there are no ‘TV stories’ or ‘radio stories’ anymore; often a camera will be sent down for a radio interview to be used on TV, and quotes will then be used by the digital teams. He believes “radio is the train that carries it all along,” so getting your story on the radio could be a catalyst for digital and TV coverage too.
As for what stories they’re looking for, Dave says news bulletins can’t be all Brexit, so “there’s always the desire to get the light and shade.” However, people are at the heart of their output, so whilst there’s a home for quirky talking points, human-interest stories that resonate with the audience are more likely to be run. Dave highlighted that stories with case studies will always be chosen over a spokesperson, even an authoritative figure, so getting a great case study is vital to ensure coverage!
Sky News are also keen to use diverse voices. Gone are the days of only middle-aged men in suits being heard, there’s now a push for regional dialects and a fair representation of men and women. In the last 12 months, 41% of guests have been women and 19% BAME, which is paving the way for better representative content.
So, now you’ve got the perfect story, how do you get it on-air? Sky News operates by planning the day before, instead of far in advance, so when you pitch your idea make sure you’re fully prepared and ready to go on-air immediately.
Dave also explained how PR stories can fit into their news agenda; he says they are often best suited for the breakfast shows, before organically generated, hard news stories get underway. He pointed out that the summer and weekends are good opportunities for PR content, as they tend to be quieter.
If you get coverage, your story may also be featured on one of their podcasts. To stay current with the popularity of podcasts, Sky News produces daily 12-minute podcasts, as well as weekly round-ups and fortnightly entertainment podcasts. Podcasts don’t just feature soundbites like a news bulletin, they are more conversational, allow breathing space and utilise more audio.
Dave’s top tips to get your PR story coverage:
- Human interest stories are always a clincher- don’t underestimate the power of case studies
- Good quality research, with 2,000 respondents minimum, is always required
- Always send over regional statistics
- Have a good top line
- Sky News interviews are pre-recorded, so make sure you have access to an ISDN line as they won’t take phone calls. Alternatively, your spokesperson can use the Report-It app on a smart phone.
In summary, there’s a place for PR-generated stories in the radio news agenda if they are pitched at the right time, have a great case study and most importantly resonate with the audience.
Radio remains strong despite TV and print suffering the effects of the digital age, and securing radio can mean your campaign reaches millions. As Dave says: “radio is strong, powerful and here to stay.”
To find out how we can secure radio coverage for your campaign, read about our radio days here at Shout! Communications (link to: https://www.shoutcommunications.co.uk/what-we-do/radio/)