The media landscape continues to rapidly evolve, and you may sometimes feel as if you’re barely keeping up. With the wide variety of media devices available ‒ TV, smartphones, radio, Internet, smart speakers, podcasts, multiple social media outlets, and gaming ‒ learning to make the most of your media planning budget is essential. A recent study by Nielsen demonstrates that the mean time spent on media by the average consumer is approaching a mind-numbing figure of 10.5 hours per day. Yet in a crowded field of choices, it’s harder than ever to grab attention for your message. As a result, both advertising and public relations professionals are focused on finding the most appropriate media outlets to maximize their budget, reach and delivered metrics. Assisting in this effort is a full suite of technologies to help procure the targeted audience, providing control and an impressive depth of insight during the campaign, while ultimately furthering the value of their media budget.

This same Nielsen study reveals, perhaps surprisingly, that among all media choices, radio reaches the highest percentage of people in the United States: a whopping average of 92 percent of the population. In some demographics, that figure rises to 96 percent. In fact, as Adweek notes in a March 2018 article, “Radio alone has a broader reach than TV and smartphones, reaching 228.5M adults.”

Here are some ways that brands are utilizing radio to maximize their reach and achieve improved campaign results.

The Right Audience and the Right Content
A successful radio campaign starts with getting your message in front of the right audience. Radio provides the opportunity to cast a wide net, but it also boasts the ability to target specific demographics. Some campaigns are national in scope and simply want to achieve the highest overall listenership. Others need tailored outreach targeting the right age group, gender and even geographic location. Listener preferences are important too. For example, your health-related message will intersect with its prime audience if it’s aired within the environment of a health or science radio program. If your story is pitched and lands in a newscast, you won’t have control over the time of day in which it airs but you’ll likely receive multiple airings for it during the news cycle. Paid content is another option to consider, particularly for branded messages. This approach insures your message will be heard exactly as you’ve developed it. Paid content also allows for a greater range of placement options including a choice of program environments, dayparts, and geographic distribution opportunities. Knowing these options and using them wisely can make or break the success of your radio campaign.

Are You Targeting Millennials?
The spending power of millennials is not something to be overlooked. According to Nielsen, millennials already spend more on fast-moving consumer goods per trip than any other generation, with an average basket size of $57. But should brands be targeting millennials via radio? As one of the most powerful buying demographics, the actual statistics on radio and the millennial market are rather surprising. The Nielsen 2018 Total Audience Report shows that millennials spend, on average, nearly the same amount of time with radio as do all other demographics. All adults 18+ spend on average a little more than 12 hours a week listening to radio, whereas millennials 18-34, average just under 10 hours per week. To put these figures into perspective, that 10 hours per week is nearly half the time that millennials spend watching all forms of television–live and time-shifted–about 22 hours per week. This suggests that radio is indeed an appropriate media vehicle for reaching millennial listeners with branded messages. When developing broadcast content that will appeal to millennial listeners, keep in mind what’s important to this group–authenticity, social responsibility, love and passion for real-life experiences, quick and easy access to information, growth through knowledge, and humor.

Radio’s News/Talk Format
According to the Nielsen Tops of 2018: Radio report, in the past year, radio’s news/talk format garnered the largest share of total radio listeners. This comes as no surprise, given the current political climate and the many major breaking stories that have been in the news. Driven by coverage of the Supreme Court nomination, political discord, natural disasters, social media fallout, the women’s movement and cultural debate, radio’s #1 format increased its overall share of listenership. So how can organizations and brands find their way on the air in a crowded field that competes for air time? Start by thinking “news.” You must have a story that’s newsworthy, compelling or at least generates a, “gee whiz, I didn’t know that” response. A survey with meaningful results can help drive content. So can a brand with breakthrough technology or a drug that’s the first of its kind. Finding an angle that you know hasn’t been reported on in the past is a proven way in the door. Then, keep your pitch short and to the point. Have a compelling subject line and if there’s a local angle, include it. Newsrooms are busy places with fewer staffers than in the past. You have likely one brief shot at winning the attention of a news producer, so make the most of it.

Tips for Your Next Radio Campaign
Radio is an important and sometimes overlooked vehicle for communicating your message but using radio for outreach requires much more than just high-quality audio. Is your story news or entertainment? Begin by determining your target audience, preferred environment, and geographic preferences. Then develop a newsworthy or feature story concept, and compelling messaging. Your script should be succinct and news-driven. A high-profile spokesperson can also help the momentum of a broadcast story. Finally, working with an experienced provider of radio broadcast services will help insure the success of your next campaign.

Shel Lustig is President and Co-Founder, MediaTracks Communications in Chicago. MediaTracks produces and syndicates national radio programming, and provides radio outreach services to public relations professionals. He may be reached at slustig@mediatracks.com.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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