The Rush to Radio: How broadcast relations is responding to covid-19

Comment By Fran Chalmers

 Like for most, the last few weeks have tested our wills and our ways. It has been a whirlwind of reassuring nervous clients, adapting stories on the fly and navigating an unprecedentedly fast-moving media landscape.

However, in the midst of a global pandemic, radio stands strong, with the airwaves becoming more crucial than ever to reach audiences quickly, which is proof enough that regardless of the economic climate, broadcast public relations, still has an important role for every business.
For us, securing radio coverage is the core of our business. We specialise in Audio News Releases and Radio Days and have continued to generate extensive radio coverage for our clients in the last eight weeks. We feel that we’re well placed to share some of our learnings and why we now more than ever believe that businesses need to be on air!
The way Australia consumes their media is changing
We received some feedback from a client, that “people aren’t driving to work anymore so no one is listening to the radio, right?”. WRONG!
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen enormous increases in Australia’s broadcast media consumption as Aussies remain at home. Loyal listeners are continuing to engage with their favourite programs, radio live streams have doubled, catch up radio podcasts are up 66% and we’re seeing millions of podcast downloads.
Normal peaks in breakfast and drive times on radio have smoothed across the day, as people are tuning in to their favourite stations and listening all day long. No longer having to adhere to the social etiquette of an open plan office, those now working from home are able to listen to their preferred stations all day at whatever volume they please, without receiving a passive aggressive email from Karen in Finance…
Print is on pause
With many of Australia’s print publications temporarily suspended, now is the time for businesses to make the switch to radio for their advertising and editorial needs. We’re being told that these print closures are indeed a temporary measure, but with online news readership up 57% we have to ask the question, will there still be a place for local and regional newspapers when this topsy turvy world returns to normal?
For decades we’ve been hearing that ‘print is dead’ and while we’ve never really had reason to close the coffin on the beloved local rag, could COVID-19 be calling time of death? This is something for those still advertising in print to seriously consider, and in the meantime, reallocating advertising spend and editorial efforts to broadcast just seems like a logical progression.
Creativity, adaptability and community spirit is thriving – and that’s a story worth telling
Government restrictions and social distancing practises are challenging the way that some of our favourite businesses operate. However, some are taking this opportunity to be agile and running with it by reinventing their offerings, going digital and exploring new ways to service their customers.
Brands that are adapting the way they do business truly have something to say during these crazy times. My favourite local café, known for their fairy floss French toast and unique coffee blends have introduced a Make Your Own Pizza hamper – complete with ready to go dough and enough toppings to make three normal pizzas and a dessert pizza. If you’d told the owner two months ago, that in April he’d be selling balls of raw pizza dough and takeaway containers of pepperoni, he would have laughed you out of the café but here we are! This café could have closed their doors but instead chose to rally and reinvent their offering and the community have gotten behind them in a massive way!
We truly feel that all businesses, big and small, can benefit from radio right now. Local business owners can be sharing their stories with the community, reassuring their customers that they’re still there and letting us know the ways they’ve introduced social distancing measures to keep us all safe.
Similarly but on a larger scale, national organisations can be using radio as a platform to communicate key messages around recruitment or updated operating hours, the launch of online stores and digital platforms, and key updates for customers in regards to their corporate social responsibility during these times.
We recently helped one of the big four banks communicate some really important changes to their branch hours via an Audio News Release distributed to national, metro and major market stations. Radio was essential to reach audiences that are not online or on social media as these people are the most likely to be affected by the changes.

There really is something for everyone on radio 
We’ve seen a huge shift in the demographics that radio is reaching across the board, and this is something that we’ve been actively promoting to our clients. Not only are more people listening than ever before, but the age range of people tuning in has widened dramatically.
As the news cycle is adjusting to a new normal, we’ve gone from hearing ‘we’re only focusing on COVID-19’ to ‘we want to give our listeners a break from COVID-19’. While we’re still able to work a coronavirus angle into just about anything if required, we’re also enjoying providing stations and presenters with stories to give listeners a much-needed reprieve from the constant virus coverage.
Now starts the education process between stations, agencies and clients, on why now is the perfect time to be focusing our attention on radio. Despite the pause in radio surveys, engagement with radio is at an all-time high and throughout this pandemic, radio has remained a constant and reliable medium for keeping us informed, entertained and connected.
Let’s work together to steer businesses in the right direction and start the rebuild, one media release at a time. They need our support now, more than ever and truth be told, we need their stories.

About the Author
Fran Chalmers is the Creative Director at MediaCast
About MediaCast 
MediaCast is the only broadcast PR agency in Australia. Working with some of Australia’s biggest brands, our clients love working with us because of our commercially creative approach to delivering the results they require. We truly understand the power of radio to communicate key messages to a targeted and engaged audience. We work across a number of industries from healthcare to finance, non profit organisations to manufacturers. No matter the brief, we pride ourselves on delivering editorial content tailored specifically for the airwaves and guaranteed to incite interesting conversations on air. We offer quality interview opportunities and knowledgeable talent to ABC, commercial and community radio via live, in-studio or phone interviews. Our popular Audio News Release service gives newsrooms, hosts and producers quality content able to be used as ‘grabs’ or complete interviews. Our Newswire service gives journalists access to all of our most up-to-date campaign information, media packs and audio.


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