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Success of a Radio Media Tour Depends on You

By Maury Tobin

During a recent car trip around town, I was channel surfing and happened to hear Frank Sinatra’s classic “My Way.” For most people, hearing the song conjures up feelings of nostalgia. For some reason, it reminded me of the hundreds of spokespeople I’ve worked with over the past two decades.

Looking back, the great majority of these spokespeople excelled during their campaigns, making a strong case for their issues and providing radio stations with interesting content.

But there were a few who didn’t do as well for a variety of reasons. Maybe they missed important cues during their interviews. Maybe they weren’t very interesting and came across as overly scripted. In some cases (and against our advice), spokespeople conducted interviews on a cell phone instead of a hard phone line and the sound quality was poor.

Here’s Our List of Nine Ways to Shine During a Radio Media Tour (RMT):

  1. Get media trained by a professional who has specific experience in radio. Tobin Communications provides complimentary media training as part of its RMT service. Whether you work with us to get trained or someone else, the point is to get it done.
  2. Do radio interviews on a hard phone line. While sound quality has certainly improved over the years for cell phones, hard phone lines provide the best sound quality. In addition, spokespeople need to speak directly into the phone to achieve an optimal voice level.
  3. Don’t speak in acronyms during radio interviews. No one really likes them or understands them.
  4. Who is your audience? Does the radio station reach a conservative, liberal or moderate audience? Is the station focused on straight news or is it a news/talk format? All of these factors make a difference.
  5. Typically, radio interviews come in three forms: interviews that are aired live on talk shows (usually under 10-minutes in length); short taped interviews that air as news stories; and, longer form interviews that air at a later date (up to 30-minutes in length in some cases). The key is to understand how your particular interview is being used and plan accordingly.
  6. Localize your message to the specific audience of the station by using statistics and other information that apply to the station’s geographic area.
  7. Don’t be boring. Be conversational.
  8. Since time is limited during most radio interviews, hone your key message points down to 40-seconds or less.
  9. At least once or twice during an interview, make sure you provide a website where radio listeners can get more information or take action.

Good luck with your campaigns!

Attention PR Industry — Radio Reaches More Americans Than Any Other Platform

By Maury Tobin

The popular narrative that older technologies are destined to die is being turned on its head in the case of at least one type of media — radio.

While reaching consumers on their smartphones continues to be a top priority for PR professionals and other marketers, data from a recent Nielsen report shows why the radio in your car should remain a target for savvy communicators. According to Nielsen, 93% of Americans listen to radio on a weekly basis. TV came in second place and smartphones came in third.

The data in Nielsen’s report makes sense when you consider the amount of time we spend in our cars during our daily commutes to work. There just isn’t that much you can do while driving (other than texting, which is illegal). The question for PR pros is whether they are seizing the opportunity to reach these consumers with their messages and campaigns. I suspect many are not.

LISTEN to a soundbite from our recent interview with Kevin Geddings of radio station WSOS in St. Augustine, Florida, who discusses the staying power of radio.

Learn more about Radio Media Tours.


No Media Relations = Less Credibility for Your Campaigns

By Maury Tobin

Let’s me say it clearly. I believe in the power of social media because I’ve seen how it can propel our clients’ campaigns.

But as traditional outreach (media relations) gets left out of many communications plans and discussions, I’m convinced that a social media-only strategy can be a big problem for organizations that want their messages to be taken seriously. In many cases, social media-only campaigns tend to look, for lack of a better term, “fake,” because these efforts are often self-serving and they lack the authenticity of independent stories produced by journalists.

Since creating believable content is so crucial today, it’s worth considering a tried and true tactic such as a Radio Media Tour (RMT) to gain credibility. An RMT is a series of phone interviews conducted by radio journalists with an organization’s spokesperson. The news coverage generated from interviews is usually more valuable than focusing solely on self-produced content. After an RMT campaign is completed, we glean audio soundbites from the interviews so our clients can share them through their social media channels.

I’ll Leave You with This

Despite all of the new tactics that are available to PR pros, we continue to believe that fostering a dialogue between journalists and the clients we serve is important, not only to our industry and clients, but also to our democracy.

Learn more about Radio Media Tours.

Social Media is Making Good Content and Journalism Rise to the Top

By Maury Tobin

A lot of public relations professionals and communicators discuss how social media opened up a new information frontier, but it appears we still wrangle with how to best utilize it or what it means.

Part of the reason is that social media presents this unfiltered mish-mosh of words and images that occupy the digital sphere, but may not have the same importance at the end of the day. Yes, citizen journalists can now shake up the world by illuminating something the mainstream media isn’t, but think about this reality too: in that content stew may exist your friend’s selfie at a wedding and a powerful editorial from The Wall Street Journal.

And if you are someone like me who has a personalized newsfeed gleaned from a range of platforms, it’s easy to understand how news and content junkies embrace the appeal of social media. Nonetheless, it is increasingly becoming clearer that consumers want and need credible information and context from good journalism outfits.

In Tobin Communications, Inc.’s latest PR Podcast, TALKERS magazine publisher Michael Harrison discusses the factors behind the ever-shifting news and information paradigm. Harrison says, “We’re already seeing signs of people wisening up to the distinction between something that’s good and something that’s half-baked.”

So that means we’re all going to have to be clever about how we feed the beast.

“Newest” Tactic to Grab Journalists’ Attention Isn’t New at All

By Debra Zimmerman Murphey and Maury Tobin

Several weeks ago, we watched the news media gush over Hillary Clinton conducting telephone interviews with TV networks and, as longtime PR ninjas, we found the analyses somewhat amusing. In every election cycle, there are always stories about the inside mechanics of campaigns and what strategies are being used to reach voters.

In this case, wall-to-wall coverage of The Donald – who has trumped many a candidate’s zeal for airtime – motivated Clinton to call CNN and other media operations to gain better control over the media narrative.

But there seems to be a gap in how this story is being told and what it means. Clinton’s move typifies how savvy communicators work. Indeed, while the options for news dissemination and distribution might be as vast today as Anthony Bourdain’s insight into a plate of food, one-to-one conversations with news opinion-leaders still matter.

And the Clinton campaign gets what Tobin Communications, which has been producing Radio Media Tours (RMTs) for two decades, consistently sees: Even in the social-media frenzy (when messages can be delivered unfiltered with a quick click), speaking to journalists is always relevant.

Listen to our recent interview with Chris Krese, a PR executive with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, who points out that continually bypassing the news media is prickly. TCI reminds that social media is important, but so are traditional methods and organic media relations.

Edelman Exec Discusses Michael Deaver in PR Podcast

By Maury Tobin

As someone with more than 20 years of experience in public relations, watching this sometimes-bizarre presidential campaign gives me pause. The race has turned on its head the various ways American politics plays out, heightening the lightning speed of how information travels today.

Years back, I had the pleasure of working with the late Michael Deaver during a Radio Media Tour (RMT). The campaign was for Deaver’s book, “A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan.” Deaver was an Edelman executive who was also the deft creator and image finishing man for Reagan, turning him into a political brand through stagecraft and media engagement.

Our firm was hired by Edelman Vice President Craig Brownstein, who I interviewed for TCI’s latest “PR Podcast.” Despite the shifts political marketers face, Brownstein recalls that what he learned from Deaver still stands.

But the Deaver era, it seems to me, required a more subtle art. Because of social media and a constant ticker of news dished up by talking heads, there isn’t as much time for the credible and calculated work someone such as a Deaver did. The current deference to brash spontaneity has rejiggered how politicians act and are viewed, and also impacts how ideologues become digital go-tos.

Yet history also provides a compass. I reflect on handlers who didn’t want Americans seeing Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a wheelchair or the well-known retrospection of how John Kennedy prevailed in a 1960 presidential debate because of how a sweaty Richard Nixon came across via television.

Based on this, one would think Donald Trump’s tantrums and tweets could do irreparable damage, yet what we see instead is a phenomenon that may linger long after the November election. But context, such as that from Brownstein, reminds us that managing a political persona or brand requires more than posting a puzzled Emoji or a late-night tweet.

Media Relations — Is it Still Relevant?

By Maury Tobin

Chris Krese, a PR executive with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, has a simple message for those who say that because of social media, outreach to the news media is no longer necessary for brands and organizations:

“I think it’s a real mistake to go straight to social through an unfiltered mechanism because it’s your perspective solely being put out there.”

Krese says the process of having journalists and news organizations ponder your stories and “come at it from [a] variety of perspectives” adds credibility to your organization’s messages and campaigns.

We agree.

Listen to the 1-minute podcast.

Visit our website to learn more.

Do PR Pros Suffer from Flavor-of-the-Month Syndrome?

By Maury Tobin

As the owner of a firm that produces written content, audio and video podcasts and Radio Media Tours (RMTs), I believe many PR professionals look for the magic bullet, which can get them stuck on certain tactics.

But effective PR shouldn’t just be about embracing the latest fad.

Social media, enter stage left.

Our profession is hyper-focused on this medium, but we’re like giddy teens on a first date as we’re trying to figure out how to act and what to do.

Public relations should be about developing a range of skills and tactics to help you communicate in a variety of ways and situations. Sometimes it’s a time-sensitive campaign. Other times, it’s continuous, as in the case of managing your organization’s reputation.

The reality is there is no reigning method of the moment.

Read more …

Tackling Ebola in 2015: Better PR is Needed to Help Manage Crisis

By Debra Zimmerman Murphey

I have both a professional and personal interest in the Ebola crisis. As someone with journalism and healthcare public relations (PR) experience – and as the daughter of a career foreign service officer who lived in Western Africa – I’ve watched as the world has cumulatively crawled toward a response.

When I was a year old, my family moved to Nigeria and lived outside Lagos. It was the 1960s and my father’s first tour with the State Department. During that time, taking an antimalarial medication was a routine part of our lives. We also lived in Nigeria when the Biafran War began. As a child, I had no way of knowing that the latter would end up being one of numerous conflicts, not including many public-health challenges, that would plague the world’s second-largest continent.

Now, decades later, I am mindful that the thousands of Ebola victims in Western Africa, and the comparably few in America, crystallize that there are times when mankind should think globally, act locally, and speak with one compassionate voice.

Read more …

Why PR Pros Shouldn’t Neglect Audio

By Debra Zimmerman Murphey

Listen to our “PR Podcast”

Welcome to Tobin Communications, Inc.’s new “PR Podcast” series. Through these audio interviews, we’re asking experts to provide compelling viewpoints that we hope will get you thinking differently about how content and communications are leveraged in today’s competitive – and often time-sensitive, cyclical or trend-affected – information environment.

Today, we focus on the impact of audio, which takes on so many definitions and applications for the au courant media consumer, from the ubiquitous streaming tune and NPR’s Weekend Edition, to iHeartRadio, an effort so successful it inspired Clear Channel’s recent rebranding to iHeartMedia. Audio is convenient (the eyes may be doing other things) and a jumping-off point for many ways that consumers interface with brands, companies, organizations, people, newsmakers and opinion-leaders. Even the popular TED Talks are available in both video and audio.

In Maury Tobin’s podcast interview with veteran media strategist, Mark Ramsey, you’ll find out that the takeaway for those in public relations is to stay mindful that listening to audio programming of all kinds, particularly through smartphones, now dominates much of the activities of a mobile-centric society. In fact, eMarketer predicted that U.S. adults will spend 23 percent more time with mobile devices on an average day in 2014 than the year prior.

Read more …

Joan Rivers’ Passing Is Personal For Many of Us

By Debra Zimmerman Murphey

Joan Rivers’ face may have defied gravity, but, sadly, her body did not defy mortality. In what still seems like a shocking turn of events when you consider how vital and mentally fit Rivers was at the age of 81, we are reminded that trailblazers eventually leave us and we owe it to ourselves to understand what they taught us.

Many colleagues and friends might be interested to learn that my husband Maury Tobin’s deceased mom, Ellen, was the first cousin of Sandy Arthur, who was half of the former talent-mining and development duo Irvin and Sandy Arthur, a husband-and-wife team. The entertainment entrepreneurs extraordinaire lived in Beverly Hills, Chicago and New York at various points. They cumulatively managed bookings and clubs and ushered in new talent, particularly comedians and musicians. Irvin represented greats such as Steve Allen, Ellen DeGeneres, Dick Gregory, Peggy Lee, Bill Maher and Barbra Streisand.

But what’s noteworthy now is that Rivers once worked as a secretary for Irvin while she was striving to jettison her career. Irvin, however, found her sense of humor off-putting. He knew she was determined, but there was little means of forecasting that her tenor of jokes would ensure her comic fame for decades, spanning bouffants to extensions. Years ago, Maury conducted some interviews with Irvin and after Rivers’ death, he dug through his audio archives and found an interesting bit from Irvin about Rivers. LISTEN to it here.

Read more …

8 Things To Know About the Role of Radio & Multimedia Today

By Maury Tobin

Many of you may not know that I started my career in politics. My first gigs included organizing student events for the nonprofit, The Washington Center, at the 1992 Democratic and Republican national conventions, and at the 1993 inauguration. I remember massive media rooms, bulky computers, and outreach that consisted of phone calls, faxes, press releases and simple emails. There was a lot of adrenaline.

It was clear then that broadcast and print ruled. But I couldn’t prophesize how many powerful princes would follow, forcing these monarchs to rethink their business models, which, in turn, would also influence PR and marketing.

Indeed, real-time technologies and PR had yet to intersect in the way they do today. The information world had yet to really open up to this ever-increasing kaleidoscope of how to make an impression.

In 1996, I started TCI by concentrating on Radio Media Tours (RMTs). Now, my work also includes email marketing and writing, managing integrated campaigns, public affairs and grassroots education, and producing and distributing audio and video podcasts. This week, I traveled to St. Louis to help conduct interviews and shoot footage for a video campaign for a national trade group promoting its accomplishments in 2012.

Radio provided me with the background to understand how various audiences, and media professionals, access and use information, but it also made me think about being an early “adopter and adapter,” versus a PR professional merely reacting to trends.

I’ve learned a lot since the ’90s. Because I believe this is the most significant era of media consumerism to date, I want to share with you some observations.

1. Podcasts are revitalizing interview, storytelling and communication models.

2. High Definition (HD) and internet radio are re-energizing the radio industry.

It’s Not Your Mama’s Multimedia Anymore

There is no question that unique and credible content triggers public interest and people are accessing information in fresh ways. This is turning savvy communication professionals into information pioneers and the public into gadget “geeks” and miners of information and entertainment.

“The Podcast Consumer 2012,” for instance, reveals that “one in four podcast consumers plug their MP3 players or smartphones into their car audio system nearly every day.”

3. Additionally, eMarketer predicted several years ago that the total U.S. podcast audience would reach 65 million in 2012. Findings from Edison Research and Arbitron last year showed that 29 percent of Americans have listened to an audio podcast and 26 percent of Americans (12 and over) have viewed a video podcast.

Multimedia content production and usage is on the rise. This has become increasingly evident through the work I do with national clients and trade groups, as well as for small nonprofits I help on a pro-bono level as part of my interest in community building and public service.

4. Today, an interview (radio or podcast) with an organization’s spokesperson can be used in multiple ways and on multiple platforms: internal reports, campaign/digital wrap-ups, client website features, in email newsletters, and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This maximizes our clients’ budgets.

The Place of Radio in the Multimedia Mix

It’s clear that the radio of our parents’ heyday isn’t the radio of today. Plug-in devices, HD and internet radio, Wi-Fi (radio waves provide wireless high-speed internet and network connections) and streamlined programming redefine what radio means and how it’s used.

5. While some continue to forecast the end of radio, the facts just don’t bear this out. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tallied 13,120 licensed AM and FM radio stations as of Dec. 31, 2001, and 14,952 as of Dec. 31, 2011.

A Pew Research Center survey of 2,251 adults conducted in January 2011 showed that 51 percent of adults use radio – broadcast and/or web – at least once a week for local information. [Source: The Washington Post]

6. I never discount the power of radio because I realize that because America is a nation of commuters and information seekers, radio remains one of the primary ways people access news, weather, educational programming and talk-show formats, and also learn about public-awareness efforts. Nearly 93 percent of consumers aged 12 and older listen to radio each week, according to Arbitron.

Radio is still an important media outlet, especially when the message and campaign require grassroots execution, social marketing and locally-honed information. I certainly understand the appeal of social media, but the reality is that good communications requires a mix of strategies.

7. The takeaway is that companies and organizations can no longer solely view communications and content creation as brand enhancers. Good content and PR have become the brand.

The Dog Days Are Over

While walking my three dogs, I listen to my favorite radio shows on my iPhone either via podcast or through streaming audio. I now pick the place and time I want to hear these programs. I also fully understand how this handy, small device fits into my life and allows me to both multitask and be ever-present.

Smartphones and internet and (HD) radio are redefining what radio is because they’re changing how people learn, become part of a larger dialogue, make decisions, and find information that impacts their work, lives, choices and the family and social structures of which they are a part.

8. Radio is still a highly engaging, cost-effective and personal medium that is regionally significant, but now it’s also more portable and customizable.

But don’t just take my word for it. Consider what Digital Syndicate Network (DSN) News reported about HD Radio after the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: “These units (HD radio receivers) are also picking up steam as automobile makers are including them in new models, and standalone versions. This new concept takes a bite out of the satellite radio edge, and brings things back into the hands of local broadcasters.”

Here are some final facts to consider when you’re planning your next PR/marketing project and thinking about multimedia:

• “Eight-four percent of (business-to-business) marketers say content production is on the rise.” [Source: B2B Content Marketing Trends 2012 Survey, sponsored by Optify]
• “Video in email marketing has been shown to increase click-through rates by over 96%. In response, the number of marketers planning to use video in email campaigns has increased 5x (times) since the beginning of 2009. — Implix 2010 Email Marketing Trends Survey” [Source:]
• “Time spent on mobile apps and the mobile web account for 63 percent of the year-over-year growth in overall time spent using social media. Forty-six percent of social media users say they use their smartphone to access social media.” [Source: Nielsen Social Media Report 2012]