Playing with the big boys: Tips to get your story on the radio

If you’re marketing yourself nationally, then don’t be scared to go and play with the big boys.  Yes it can seem more daunting but with careful planning and the right contacts, if you have an exciting story to tell, go ahead and dip a toe in.

So said Catherine Warrilow, the owner of Publicity Oxford, in her latest blog post.

I agree and I want to talk about radio because it’s something I know a lot about. I worked for 15 years for the BBC in news and at Five Live.

I am going to share with you what it feels like to be on the inside looking out, which may help.

When you are working on a show,be it Five Live Breakfast or the Today programme, you have to attend a meeting for the next day/ day ahead. You are required to come to that meeting with ideas and they had better be good !

Every journalist who suggests a story is putting their reputation on the line with both colleagues and bosses. A weak suggestions will be hunted out and maybe even ridiculed, so if you want your tale put forward then the journalist in question needs to know as much about it as possible and how they are going to treat it, ie who they can get to talk about it.

By the time this meeting is happening there is probably less than 24 hours to get everything together. Contacts provided by you need to be available at short notice to travel to a studio; telephone interviews are really only a last resort and are acceptable for only the strongest items.

As with so many things, having a  niche for your story can really help.

The BBC Business Unit has slots to fill across all networks on a regular basis and needs stories that won’t tread on news’ toes, so it might help to find a good contact there. Likewise a show called ‘Up All Night’ on Five Live is always looking for stories that the ‘bigger’ programmes will not be covering. You can guess why from the title!

You will automatically think your story is brilliant, but that won’t always be the case with the cynical journos who have seen it all. You may think doing something for charity is enough but believe me they have seen thousands  of press releases from charities and compassion fatigue sets in.

Charities score best when they offer an interview with a big celebrity. It offers the network a chance to interview someone they might not normally get. One good example is when the Catholic charity Cafod put up Bianca Jagger. She does not normally talk, unless it is for a pet cause and the radio and TV networks are happy to pile in.

Knowing someone personally is a big bonus, so always make use of your connections in the media. If your business or company gets a reputation for coming up with great, timely angles and relevant guests, then they will want to work with you again.

Finally, remember how stressed these people are. They are trying to deliver the impossible against horrible deadlines over and over again. Sometimes they are rude! Don’t take it personally.

Good luck!


3 responses to “Playing with the big boys: Tips to get your story on the radio

  1. catherinewarrilow

    What a great look into this and thanks for the credit too.
    I think the charity point is a really important one and the same applies to big media stories – don’t try and piggy back onto the volcanic ash story for example, unless you have a strong link, an interesting perspective to give and some value to add.

  2. Great article! I have had some PR training in the past and this ticks all the boxes and then some. Very helpful 🙂

  3. Thanks for the comments. I am glad the post was useful.

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