AM, FM and online radio remain prominent channels for reaching consumers – and important outlets for PR departments and agencies to place business news stories.
Radio is one of the most powerful mediums in the US, with a weekly reach of almost 90% among adults. More than 10% of those listeners tune into news/talk programs. An estimated 57 percent of the U.S. population listens to online radio on a monthly basis. In addition, 32% of Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month, according to Edison Research.
An audio news release (ANR), also known as a radio news release or RNR, is a potent tool for reaching those listeners. An audio news release is a 30- or 60 second segment about your product, service, company or brand, or the organization’s reaction to news or a current issue. Usually, the recorded news releases feature voices of the organization’s spokesperson or representative. Sometimes a paper copy of a wrapper (open and close) to be used by the newscaster accompanies the ANR. Sometimes the wrapper is pre-recorded.
By sending out PR-focused, broadcast-quality video and audio news releases with your written press releases, you can provide journalists and other radio personalities with ready-to-use content and significantly increase the chances of getting your message broadcast and heard. Audio news releases are also an effective technique for convincing radio personalities to interview your client on their programs.
Leading organizations often include audio messages in their PR toolbox that also includes social media promotions, blog posts and videos. AARP, the advocacy group for senior citizens, used an audio release titled “Family Caregivers Provide Staggering $470 Billion in Unpaid Care.” The release was played by 21 radio stations.
How Audio News Releases Differ from Regular News Releases
ANRs have several significant differences from standard news releases.
Radio news releases are written for the ear. They emphasize strong, short sentences averaging about 10 words that listeners can easily understand.
They are more concise and to the point. A standard one-minute ANR is about 125 words. Timing is critical because broadcasters must fit their message into a rigid time frame that is measured down to the second.
ANRs are more conversational and partial or incomplete sentences are acceptable. Standard news releases are more formal and use standard English grammar and punctuation. Sentences often contain dependent and independent clauses.
Instead of delivering text copy, you send a timed-script and a link to an MP3 audio file. That allows on-air personalities to either read the news to listeners or segue into the audio clip interview.
Vendors for Audio News Release
Radio stations will only accept audio news releases that meet professional broadcast standards. If your department or agency does not have experience or skills in producing broadcast-quality audio, then the first step is to select a vendor with broadcast journalism and public relations experience, says Shel Lustig, president/co-founder of MediaTracks Communications. In a LinkedIn Pulse article, Lustig recommends researching three areas about vendors.
Service. Find out precisely what their services include. Do their fees cover writing, revisions, recording, producing, distribution and reporting? What about studio costs and voice-over talent? Are there add-on fees, such as charges for last minute changes?
Placement and reach. Determine what distribution platforms they offer. Do they offer guaranteed placement? Can they target specific geographic markets? Do they have outreach options for Spanish-language or urban-focused ANRs?
Reporting. Ask how they measure listenership. How do they obtain their data and how recent is it? How do they track and report results? What kind of information is included in the ANR final report? How will they interpret and communicate these results?
After selecting a vendor, the basic steps for creating the ANR include: writing, editing, review, approval of the script, and the final recording. “Writing for audio is a specific skill – be sure to take advantage of your vendor’s expertise for your ANR,” Lustig advises.
And look for opportunities to include audio that isn’t just a talking head. Appropriate use of sound effects enhance realism.
Tips for Audio News Release Scripts
Divide the ANR script into three segments, each 10 to 20 seconds, advises Rodger Roeser, vice president at Justice & Young Public Relations.
- The Introduction, where you explain why the topic is interesting and newsworthy.
- The Actuality, the body of the release, where the client reads text as if giving an interview.
- The Voiceover, the close, which summarizes the main points.
Roeser also recommends:
- Include the amount of time allotted to each segment, following standard radio protocol.
- Put “audio news release” in your subject heading.
- Start with a news peg, not a sales pitch. For instance, cite a national trend or issue first, then say how your client can fulfill a need.
- Include a link to two different audio versions: the entire package (both voiceovers plus the actuality) and the actuality alone.
- Use a professional studio to record the audio portion of the release.
Radio Monitoring Solutions
Monitoring is essential for measuring the effectiveness of the news releases as well as overall PR campaign. Some radio monitoring services perform speech-to-text talk radio monitoring in the top markets, deliver overnight alerts of radio clips via email, and store the text of radio clips in an online database within a full-featured analytics dashboard. Clients may also order high-quality audio clips delivered as downloadable files.
The ideal monitoring solution offers comprehensive monitoring of social media and traditional media, including broadcast media. A leading monitoring and measurement service can also integrate all data sources into a single dashboard for easy viewing and comprehensive analytics.
Bottom Line: Audio news releases (ANRs) can be one of the best ways to reach your audience and promote PR and marketing messages. The most effective ANRs are concise, focused messages with compelling news. PR pros need specialized skills to write quality scripts and a radio monitoring tool to prove the releases’ effectiveness.
This article was first published on Jan. 25, 2017, and updated on Jan. 20, 2020.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.