There’s no doubt that social media has become the favoured flavour of the PR and marketing community’s month.
As mentioned in a recent post the demand for social media consultancy is on the rise as well as the search for people with the right skills in the field.
And brands are getting their fair share of flack when retro-fitting traditional marketing methods for the social media domain.
So is there anything left for PR and marketing in the channels looking comparatively long-in-the-tooth? Take radio: is it merely what writer and broadcaster, Garrison Keillor describes as (and I paraphrase) “the thing that sits in the corner giving you a warm feeling and makes you think of your Mum”.
Well, not so fast it seems.
The latest RAJAR figures for UK radio (covering changes in radio station audiences) show that commercial radio – said to be in terminal decline only a few months ago – suggest it’s gaining more listeners from the BBC and achieving its highest ever levels of reach (ie, the number of people tuning in for longer). Unsurprisingly, the figures are welcomed by the media buying community.
So, what does this mean for PR and marketing people?
Independent radio buyer for On Air Promotions, Shehnaz Sirkhiel, says the time has never been better to buy into commercial radio: “Stations are enticing listeners back to local radio by streamlining their programming, making it a lot more accessible and giving their output a national sound with networked shows while holding on to a local feel.”
According to Sirkhiel, this means there’s a great opportunity for brands to stand out from the on air clutter and reach enlarged audiences via sponsorships and promotions, which sit more in the editorial than advertising sections of programmes.
And if companies are looking for a good radio deal the time is now, as they will – until the new RAJAR figures are implemented on station planning systems – pay radio rates based on the previous figures, while obtaining a higher listenership.
Meanwhile digital radio, once considered the white elephant of the medium, is also gaining more “ear time”. Sirkhiel says this is another boon for businesses wanting to ride the radio wave: “Brands should be taking digital radio more seriously, especially those stations integrating their broadcasting with commercial activity online.” She cites Jazz FM as a digital-only station whose programming “doesn’t shout, but excites” and which provides a currently cost-effective way of reaching a targeted audience.
Keillor’s book title “WLT: A Radio Romance” suggests there is still love to be had with the old “wireless telegraph”. The investor who said in the 1920s, “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular,” might just have been wrong.
Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.