By Arthur Perkins
Shout! played host recently to Sky News Radio and Independent Radio News (IRN) Editor David Terris for a Small Talk to find out all about the inner workings of both. David became Deputy Editor for IRN in 2013, but has worked for Sky News Radio for over 10 years. He is now Editor for both radio news providers.
Sky News Radio began in 1999 and has been supplying news to IRN since 2009 (IRN previously was tied to ITN). More than 300 stations make up the network, including well-known brands such as Absolute Radio, Capital, Classic, Heart, Magic, LBC, Smooth and talkSPORT, and between them they have a weekly audience of more than 34 million.
However, these figures are constantly changing as the landscape of commercial radio shifts with stations merging and media groups forming on almost a daily basis. It still remains that there is a huge appetite for commercial radio, with recent RAJAR figures scoring a huge victory for commercial radio by having more audience share than their BBC counterparts.
The expansion of commercial radio ties in with the growth of multi-platform entertainment. These days commercial radio is far more in tune with various social platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and others. The increase in the use of these platforms has led to the growth in listenership and their target age range average is now looking at the 30 somethings.
That said it still caters for all ages, it’s news offering trying to offer something for everyone.
This makes Sky News Radio a huge fillet for clients as it covers such a broad spectrum but also has such huge reach. If your client is able to secure an interview pre-recorded with Sky News Radio the day before the story, they will send out edited packages of the story as well as the clean interview audio to all their stations. This means the chances of your key messages and brand mentions making it to air are much higher than if the story is sent out as a couple of lines of radio copy read later in the day.
Like the PR industry, Sky News Radio struggles to monitor which of its 300 plus stations have used the content. We tend to say that at least a quarter (hopefully more) will run the story and will use it 3 or 4 times a day, so the reach of a good story on Sky News Radio is huge. David did go to pains to stress that although potential reach can be huge, it is out of their control when a story is sent out into the stratosphere. It is also up to the station how much, if any, branding they use. Better practise is to encourage your spokesperson to drop brand mentions into the interview in as relevant way as possible. When it comes to research it is the quality of that research that will determine whether it is credited or not.
What are they after? Well, to put it bluntly, they want grabbing stories. The stories they are after tend to be the slightly lighter stories at the back end of a radio news bulletin, going back into the slightly lighter hearted radio shows. That’s not to say that they don’t take hard hitting news stories too but these are less likely to be PR generated.
The stories they favour most are stories that would be good for the school run, catering for children and parents. In practise that often means and as a result they love celebrities backing a campaign or a case study that makes the story relevant to everyday life.
In terms of the interviews that they take, they need quality audio. So it is always worth getting your spokesperson prepared the day before the story so they are available to get quality audio. They’re unlikely to take audio they haven’t recorded themselves. For quality audio they can use ISDN lines, Skype, Voice Notes on a mobile or even an app called Report-it. They can also facilitate spokespeople going into their Westminster studios at Millbank or the main newsroom at Osterley. It is very rare and highly unlikely that they will take a phone interview.
How to pitch to them? Your email to them needs to grab their attention. The top line needs to be concise and punchy and you need to explain the story very quickly at the top, preferably using bullet points. They get hundreds of emails daily and the person planning on the day will be very busy indeed, so they say they’d prefer not to be chased with an email. They need to know who you are offering and who they need to contact to get hold of them. Despite offering national news they also like regional statistics and will pass these on to interested stations. As a general rule in terms of planning, they tend to plan the day before for embargoed research stories and won’t take any research stories of less than 2,000 people, unless the story or spokesperson are too good to turn down. More than 2,000 and you stand a much better chance of being used.
As you can see from its reach and network of stations , Sky News Radio is a great opportunity for your PR Campaign. If you can get your client an interview it is a huge vehicle to boost your coverage and achieve a successful broadcast opportunity, resulting in happy clients and bosses. It is important to get the story to them the day before and make sure you can get it into the early morning planning meeting. Make sure your spokesperson is ready and available on quality audio. Friday’s seem to be a great time to pitch your story to them, as the weekend requires extra content and there’s often less competition from PR generated stories. Shout! will always target Sky News Radio as part of a broadcast PR campaign and we have an excellent relationship with them.. To find out more about Radio Days here at Shout! and all our other services please go to what we do