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RAJARs and the importance of broadcast in PR

RAJAR. The very word strikes fear into most radio types. Released every quarter, the RAJARs are THE metric by which broadcast outlets up and down the country, commercial and publicly funded, measure their success month on month and year on year.

All over the country on RAJAR results day, news and production teams are gathered into a room where the results are explained and – in some cases – celebrated loudly or sugar coated to keep spirits up. I always got the impression that, with the general curve for radio listenership being very slightly downward, not being mentioned in the online industry news summaries that follow each announcement was a good result.

We’ve just had the Q4 figures for 2016, and it’s fair to see the results paint an interesting picture. Listener numbers for the wonderful BBC local radio, for example, are up 122,000 – bucking a perception that it might not be doing so well – and the ever-popular Today programme recorded its highest ever numbers.

But these numbers are not just for internal radio station use. If you work in PR or media relations, you should pay special attention to them. Let me tell you why.

Why RAJARs are important in PR

Firstly, think about what RAJARs are and what they measure. Weekly reach – the number of individuals listening to a station for at least five consecutive minutes in an average week –  and weekly hours – the number of hours spent listening to a station in an average week – are quite self-explanatory. But that’s not all RAJAR measures. Think about the following measures when you target a certain outlet for a story or a broadcast opportunity:

  • the number of unique listeners that will be exposed to a certain slot.
  • the average frequency with which each listener will hear that slot
  • the socio-demographic profile of the listeners it will reach

Yep, RAJAR measures all of that too. All of a sudden it seems a bit more relevant doesn’t it?

Broadcast? It’s all in the numbers

And that brings me nicely onto why radio – or broadcast in general – is still a vital avenue for PR companies to pursue.

Think about the size of the numbers. Here at No Brainer we pay very close attention to how our stories and campaigns could translate into broadcast because in one fell swoop, you can hit millions of people. These RAJAR figures tell us that if you secure a slot on, for example, BBC 5 Live Breakfast, there’s a good chance that more than two million people will be listening.

And let’s not forget some of the smaller, regional stations. A key area for one of our clients is Oxford, where Jack FM now reaches 89,000 listeners – up 7k year on year – while Jack 2 was up 5k to 64k.

If you still need convincing, think about some more of the figures from the latest Q4 RAJARs.

How about if I told you that the average UK listener tunes in to some kind of radio for more than 21 hours every single week? Or what about if I said that the total live radio audience recorded across the UK in Q4 2016 was the second highest ever, with 48.68 million listeners tuning in every week?

Now think about some of the accepted metrics used by PR companies. You can’t even start to realistically measure the impact of five minutes on a programme like 5 Live Breakfast or Today. Arguably it’s “money can’t buy” stuff.

Achieving a good slot on a target broadcast outlet will also make you look like a rock star in the eyes of your client, whoever they might be. Seeing a piece in print or online is always great, but adding broadcast to the mix can take it to another dimension. It’s not to be sniffed at, as when your story is on the radio, that is THE focus of every listener’s attentions.

Don’t forget TV

Of course, broadcast is not just radio. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to recall messages received through an audio-visual format such as television than print. And while respect for certain national publications might not always be as high as those publications would like, people seem to be more trustful of the word of the BBC or ITV.

You could argue that radio and TV have an ability to connect with a customer more than any other medium. I spent many years working at BBC 5 Live and I can tell you that to many listeners, a good radio presenter feels like a good friend; the engagement and interactions that you get through text and social media tell you that. And that trust and familiarity can exponentially increase the value of other media or channels in a fully integrated campaign.

So there you have it. A compelling case for placing broadcast media right at the heart of any integrated campaign. The numbers don’t lie.

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