Why PR Pros Shouldn’t Neglect Audio

By Debra Zimmerman Murphey

Welcome to Tobin Communications, Inc.’s new “PR Podcast” series. Through these audio interviews, we’re asking experts to provide compelling viewpoints that we hope will get you thinking differently about how content and communications are leveraged in today’s competitive – and often time-sensitive, cyclical or trend-affected – information environment.

Today, we focus on the impact of audio, which takes on so many definitions and applications for the au courant media consumer, from the ubiquitous streaming tune and NPR’s Weekend Edition, to iHeartRadio, an effort so successful it inspired Clear Channel’s recent rebranding to iHeartMedia. Audio is convenient (the eyes may be doing other things) and a jumping-off point for many ways that consumers interface with brands, companies, organizations, people, newsmakers and opinion-leaders. Even the popular TED Talks are available in both video and audio.

In Maury Tobin’s podcast interview with veteran media strategist, Mark Ramsey, you’ll find out that the takeaway for those in public relations is to stay mindful that listening to audio programming of all kinds, particularly through smartphones, now dominates much of the activities of a mobile-centric society. In fact, eMarketer predicted that U.S. adults will spend 23 percent more time with mobile devices on an average day in 2014 than the year prior.

We know that people and cultures that are reliant on mobile devices are increasingly on the move and multitasking. Research continues to show that Americans listen to radio and/or audio on a daily basis, whether it be in their vehicles, at home on a computer, or on their smartphones.

This means PR practitioners need to drill down on how they reach target audiences in their respective universes and spaces. These include stores and coffee shops, and in airports and on public transit. It means while they’re entertaining friends or making dinner at home. It also requires knowing that they’re listening to audio while heading to business functions, to pick up their children from school, and especially in cars on long commutes.

Yet it’s disconcerting that audio programming isn’t always utilized in PR campaigns. This is surprising because audio can serve multiple purposes and is cost effective. It can be repurposed in different ways to meet your publics through different formats and on various platforms.

For instance, TCI always seeks to maximize the use of digital content and audio. The effective utilization of audio for a PR campaign can mean posting an interview from a Radio Media Tour (RMT) on an organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or it could mean producing a timely podcast that is promoted through an e-mail newsletter, a multimedia news release, and other web platforms. You can also integrate specific ROI benchmarks or metrics from the outset.

Four Things To Know

1. Good audio can represent the best of storytelling and positioning.

2. Traditional communication channels will always matter. Smart communicators should consider that audio – whether delivered via radio or through a well-cultivated podcast – can meet and streamline a client’s messaging and objectives.

3. Be aware of the disconnect between what audiences want and what PR pros actually deliver. Don’t become enamored with the bells and whistles of one approach or overly influenced by groupthink or skeptics.

4. It’s irrefutable that social media offers an unfiltered way of connecting directly with consumers, but it’s not a panacea. It is still an extension of a conversation that relies on ongoing communication and relationship-building.

In today’s digital world, PR strategists need to continually answer this important question: Are you producing enough compelling and relevant content that is delivered to audiences in the varying ways they interact with multimedia to extend the reach, impact and life of campaigns?

Raising the level of what we do as communication professionals should be the goal as we close out 2014. Listen to the podcast, enjoy, and don’t forget to embrace the PR power of audio.

Debra Zimmerman Murphey is a VP with Tobin Communications, Inc. and a former senior editor of PR NEWS.