Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PR and Podcast Radio

PR people have often debated the value of pitching local talk radio vs hard news stations. You can reach a lot of people, but some of these talk hosts can make light of your information rather than objectively report on it. So talk radio pitching always required smart strategy and a consideration of the specifics of each situation.

Now there's a new complication: former talk show hosts doing podcast radio.

Dave Jagger and Geri Jarvis were on West Michigan radio stations WLHT and WHTS for years before leaving the air waves a few years ago. Now they are back--by themselves in the form of weekday podcasts of their musings about West Michigan issues at

On the one hand, this could be a new opportunity for the media relations function of PR people in West Michigan. If the pair get a large following either on their web site or via iTunes subscriptions, it may be a good way to reach a key public. Of course, that's a big "if" and it may be hard to know the size and characteristics of their audience if they don't share it themselves. If they want to monetize the effort, they likely will be gathering such data and sharing with potential advertisers. (Currently there is a space for sponsors but none listed so far).

However, there is also a question about the merits of pitching a podcast. Dave and Geri used to be in an environment where there was limited spectrum and a few competing radio stations in the market. Getting them to talk about your organization or issue would automatically reach a significant audience. Now they are in an environment where anyone--including PR firms and their clients--could do their own podcasts. There are more voices, and smaller audiences. They can't just muse about things the way they did on air in the past--in the online, podcast, subscription environment, they'll have to offer some unique quality that will attract and keep listeners. And PR people will have to weigh who to pitch, if they should pitch, or if they should just reach publics directly with podcasts and other tactics.

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