This article is based on facts from our RMTracker(TM) verification services executed over the last 5 years (to keep it timely). We track well over 100 Radio Media Tours annually.
If you are a PR Pro, you know that Media Tours offer a great deal of potential value. The ideal media tour includes interviews by hosts of relevant programming that is highly consumed by those in the target profile. Preferably, segments air during one of the most watched/listened-to time slots. Verification services confirm that the planned interview schedule (potentially provided by a tour vendor) truly aired where and when you were told it would/did. Many assume that all interviews air.
In fact, we have seldom monitored/verified a media tour in which all scheduled interviews actually aired on the date/time indicated by the vendor/stations. Many planned segments never air at all.
The Reality – 3 Common Occurrences
Most of the tours we verify are either entirely radio or a mix of TV and radio. TV interviews are more likely to air than radio due to the production cost around filming TV segments. The same is NOT true for radio. So, here are the primary reasons (in our experience and opinion) that media tour interviews don’t air:
- Failed attempts:
- Vendors will often provide a tour schedule that includes every station that they will be pitching…even if they don’t have agreement from the producer. Even when there is a verbal agreement, sometimes news volume and other issues interfere. That means your interview either never gets recorded…or even if recorded, it simply never airs.
- Vendor relationships:
- Tour vendors establish relationships with radio station producers. Because of this, a station producer may agree to record an interview, but not have set plan of when or how to fit it into the on-air schedule. If the subject of the interview is timely, but their on-air content plan is so robust that they can’t justify fitting it in quickly, it will soon fall in to the “too late to air” category. Even if the interview isn’t a timely subject, after so many days, it simply isn’t top of mind for the station producer or manager. The PR team often listens in to the recorded interview and assume it has or will air…Not true.
- Station miscommunication:
- Most radio station employees have multiple layers of responsibility. Many are interconnected, as when one of their best advertising clients wants on-air time or when ad buys heavy up and they need to figure out how to get all desired spots into the mix. Though schedules are established in advance, things tend to shift on the fly as new priorities arise. When something is initially planned, but gets pulled off because of a new priority, it is highly common for it to get lost in communication around when/how/who is to reschedule an airtime. Often times, the tour vendor will not be made aware of the last-minute change, so may also assume that the interview aired…even though it did not.
The value of monitoring varies for each of these situations.
- Failed attempt: If the vendor is never able to secure an interview time, at least you are not showcasing PR exposure that did not occur. With the awareness you receive from validation, you may be able reduce the cost of the tour vendor services.
- 2 & 3: Vendor relationship/Station miscommunication: For both of these situations, verification is critical. Even if you are sent a copy of the full interview along with some generic metrics for that station’s reach, this DOES NOT mean a segment aired.
We have seen so many variations of situations. For example, PR folks are told that interviews will air during a weekday morning drive slot. It may be recorded at that time, but ends up airing on a Sunday morning public affairs program when a much smaller number of their target audience is listening.
For the PR pros who consistently use our RMTracking™ Service, they great value the awareness that gives the the ability to follow-up measures that increase the chances their segments will actually air…and air at a more ideal time for the target audience.
Have you been involved in efforts around Radio Media Tours? What has your experience been? Did you include third-party validation? IF NOT, please let us know why?