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Writing for Radio and Television. Chapter 9. Radio and TV’s Importance. PR values radio and television’s mass and specialized audiences Radio reaches 94 percent of adults 18+ daily; total audience about 225 million

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Writing for Radio and Television

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radio and tv s importance
Radio and TV’s Importance
  • PR values radio and television’s mass and specialized audiences
  • Radio reaches 94 percent of adults 18+ daily; total audience about 225 million
  • Radio particularly strong among Hispanics, the U.S.’s largest and fastest growing minority
  • Teenagers are also big listeners of radio, primarily through online sites
  • 33 million Americans 12+ listen to a radio station over the Internet during the average week
  • Local television attracts about 150 million Americans on a daily basis and the average U.S. family still spends about 7 hours daily watching TV
pr access to radio and tv
PR Access to Radio and TV
  • Writing and preparing materials for broadcast outlets require a special perspective
  • Must understand how to write for the ear
  • How to integrate audio and visual elements into a script
  • How to harness the power of satellite and digital communications to conduct media tours that can reach a global audience
  • Getting spokespeople on broadcast programs
radio s strengths
Radio’s Strengths
  • While radio may lack the glamour of TV and the popularity of the Internet it is, especially on the local level, a cost-effective way to reach large numbers of people in various age, ethnic, and income groups
  • Radio remains the only mass medium that can reach millions of Americans as they commute to and from work and elsewhere in their cars
  • Its portability, due to transistors, expands radio’s reach to workers on the job, people doing exercise, people working in yards, at the beach
study the stations
Study the Stations
  • A PR pro should study each station’s format and submit material suitable to it
  • Determine the demographics of a station by listening to it, by consulting radio directories or by contacting the station’s advertising/marketing depts.
  • Resources include “Radio Marketing Guide and Fact Book for Advertisers” and “Bacon’s Media Directories”
radio news releases
Radio News Releases
  • Radio station staffs often have to rewrite print releases to conform to b’cast style
  • But the most effective approach is to send news releases that are formatted for the medium
  • Radio is based on sound so every release must be written so that it can be easily read by an announcer and clearly understood by a listener
radio news release characteristics
Radio News Release Characteristics
  • Standard practice is to write a radio release using all uppercase letters in a double-spaced format
  • Also give the length– Example: RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT: 30
  • The timing is vital because broadcasters fit their messages into a rigid time frame that is measured down to the second
  • Writing is more conversational, can be OK to have incomplete or partial sentences as you would in normal conversation
  • Radio releases can be emailed, faxed, mailed
  • See tips, “How to Write a Radio News Release” on page 212
audio news releases
Audio News Releases
  • A more effective approach is to send a station a recording of the news announcement
  • An ANR can consist of someone reading the 60 seconds of copy or it can have someone reading plus one or more soundbites from, say, a satisfied customer, a celebrity, or a company spokesperson
  • The second way gives station staff the option of just using the entire recording or just the soundbite(s)
anr steps
ANR Steps
  • Production- process starts with a carefully written and accurately timed script; then record the words; make sure sound quality is the best it can be; add music, effects
  • Delivery- in a survey of 305 news-talk stations, 75 percent preferred to receive e-mail notifications about ANRs, 20 percent wanted to be notified via news network feeds and 10 percent preferred fax notifications. Radio stations prefer to receive actualities by phone. They can also be delivered via satellite networks, CDs, and MP3 formats
anr use
  • ANRs are considered a bargain compared to producing material for television (p.214 examples)
  • Important to monitor usage—many organizations send a return postcard on which the station can report use (low response rate); can also call to ask if and how many times ANR used, then use Arbitron ratings to determine the estimated audience
  • Monitoring services can scan radio and TV stations in major markets and give a report within 24 hours of something being aired
success in radio tv story placement
Topicality– news is about issues that matter to the majority of our listeners and viewers

Timeliness- strive for “now, today, tomorrow” not “yesterday” in stories

Localization– If it’s not local, it’s probably not news

Humanization- Show and tell how real people are affected

Visual Appeal- Provide vibrant, compelling soundbites or video footage the subtly promotes, but also illustrates and explains

Success in Radio/TV Story Placement
public service announcements
Public Service Announcements
  • PSAs are another category of material that PR writers prepare for radio and TV stations and networks
  • Defined by the FCC as an unpaid announcement that promotes the programs of government or nonprofit agencies or that serve the public interest
  • As part of their responsibility to serve the public interest, radio and TV stations provide airtime to charitable and civic organizations, although there is no longer a legal requirement to do so
  • A 2008 survey found that less than 1 percent of air time is dedicated to PSAs. As a result, some nonprofits negotiate with stations to actually buy time to ensure their PSAs are aired
psa topics
Local community issues and events

Children’s issues



Service organizations

Breast cancer

Other cancers and diseases

2008 study confirms topics:

Health- 26 percent

Fundraising- 23 percent

Family and social concerns- 12 percent

Community organizations and events- 8 percent

Volunteerism- 6 percent

PSA Topics
tv s irresistible appeal
TV’s Irresistible Appeal
  • Television’s visual element sets it apart from other media– the combination of color, movement, sound, and sight on a screen in your own living room is hard to resist
  • TV remains the primary source of news, information, and entertainment for most people
  • Local TV news attracts 150 million viewers daily; network news reaches 30 million; prime-time national cable, 3 million; and regional cable, 31 million
tv station organization who s who page 223
General manager

Program director

Producers and director

News Director

Assignment Editor



Public affairs or public service director

Promotion director

TV Station Organization-Who’s Who(page 223)
getting attention from television four approaches
Send same news releases you send newspapers

Prepare a media alert or advisory, stressing the strong visual appeal of the story or event

Phone or e-mail the assignment editor or program producer to make a “pitch” to cover a story or have on your guest

Write and produce a VNR– video news release

Getting Attention from TelevisionFour Approaches
video news releases vnrs
Video News Releases (VNRs)
  • VNR is, essentially, a television release converted to a finished tape that can be broadcast
  • The standard length is 90 seconds, the length preferred by the overwhelming majority of TV news directors
  • VNRS are much more expensive to produce than ANRs– on average $20,000 to $50,000 for production and distribution
  • So you’ve got to decide if the cost is worth the results
vnr disaster prevention
VNR Disaster Prevention
  • Use outside experts to give credibility– A VNR with only corporate spokespeople is not a good idea.
  • Don’t clutter with excessive number of corporate logos
  • Avoid commercialism and hype- a VNR is a news story, not a corporate ad
  • Avoid overproduction- slick dissolves and flashy effects are great for music videos, but news producers equate it with advertising
tv video jargon lingo




On cam








TV/Video Jargon/Lingo
fake news controversy
“Fake News” Controversy
  • TV watchdog groups have complained to the FCC that stations using VNR content without telling viewers the original source are presenting “fake news.”
  • At issue is whether PR firms and VNR producers are adequately labeling VNR packages with the sponsor and the client
satellite media tours smts
Satellite Media Tours (SMTs)
  • SMTs are widely used in the broadcast industry
  • SMTs are essentially a series of prebooked, one-on-one interviews from a fixed location via satellite with a series of TV journalists and/or talk show hosts
  • SMTS can be used by CEOs, celebrities, sports figures, authors and others
  • Is a time-efficient (but expensive for satellite time) way of giving interviews
  • See Guidelines for a Successful SMT (p. 237)