Community, Alternative and Ethnic Radio: an unused channel

This week, PRWeek UK discusses the opportunities lurking in the tightly focused audiences served by community radio. Community radio stations, in the UK context, "have to meet extremely strict criteria, the core of which is that they exist for social gain, to serve a specific community, whether defined by geography, ethnicity, gender or age." In North America, you might approach universities, low power alternative stations, ethnic stations or pirate radio outfits.

But remember - you can't make a blind pitch to these outlets. They are run by dedicated local staff who know their audiences intimately. They may not be pr-saavy, but they do know how to reach your target audience. Some thoughts:

  • a story is important, because their work is"about communities making radio, not radio broadcasting to communities"
  • while the radio station may not reach millions, it may speak to the thousands in your target audience
  • you have to listen - to be familiar with the station's tone and style - to tailor your pitch appropriately
  • most of these stations aren't commercial, so you're more likely to place public information, health, safety and event-related stories

The kicker? As nation-wide chains move to standard music-only formats, there will be less outlets to pitch and fewer opportunities to place stories. Community, not-for-profit and alternative radio stations actually still schedule public affairs programming - and not at 5am in the morning.