Getting valuable airtime on local radio doesn’t require shelling out big advertising dollars. With a smart strategy and community-focused content, your small business can harness the power of radio for free.
It all starts with crafting an irresistible press release that will catch the attention of producers seeking local stories. Go beyond a standard announcement by showcasing an event or initiative tied to your community. This gives radio stations fresh content that engages their audience.
However, it takes more than a great press release to truly capitalize on radio publicity. You need to offer additional value — whether it’s coveted giveaways, event partnerships, or your unique expertise. By providing radio stations with more than just an advertising fee, you become an invaluable resource.
Radio thrives on community connections. If you can authentically tap into those while meeting the needs of producers and personalities, airwaves will readily lend their voice to your business.
Crafting an attention-grabbing press release
Begin by selecting a community-related event or initiative that resonates with your local audience. Radio stations are always on the lookout for stories that have a local angle and are of interest to their listeners. Whether it’s a charity event, a community partnership, or a local project your company is involved in, make sure the chosen topic has a strong connection to the community.
When writing your press release, follow these key principles:
- Engaging headline: Create a concise and compelling headline that encapsulates the essence of your story and grabs the reader’s attention.
- Captivating opening: Craft an opening paragraph that provides a hook to entice readers, including radio station editors, to continue reading. Address the fundamental journalistic questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how.
- Concise content: Keep the press release concise, typically around 300-400 words. Avoid unnecessary jargon, and ensure the language is clear and accessible.
- Local relevance: Emphasize your company’s local ties and its positive impact on the community throughout the press release. Highlight specific ways your company contributes to the local area, such as job creation, support for local charities, or participation in community events.
- Quotes and human touch: Incorporate quotes from company representatives or community leaders to add credibility and a personal touch to the story. Humanize your company’s involvement in the community.
By crafting a well-targeted and community-focused press release, you increase the likelihood of capturing the attention of radio stations eager to share stories that resonate with their local audience. This press release will be your key tool for gaining free publicity on the airwaves.
Sending your press release to local radio stations
Once your attention-grabbing press release is crafted, get it into the hands of local radio stations. Target both mainstream and niche stations with community-focused programming matching your audience and brand. Research their contact info, schedules, and shows relevant to your release.
Before submitting, build relationships with station personnel through calls, emails, or meetings. Introduce yourself and emphasize your community commitment and shared interests. Send the professionally formatted release by email or their preferred method. Include contact information for easy follow-up.
After submitting, follow up to confirm and gauge interest, and offer additional info or interviews as needed. An enticing press release is useless unless it actually reaches the right people at local radio stations.
Offering free samples for on-air giveaways
Giving radio stations promotional items to use as on-air giveaways is an extremely effective tactic for free publicity. Start by sending an email pitch to station producers and DJs, offering to provide products, branded merchandise, gift cards, or gift baskets as prizes for their contests, call-ins, social media engagement, or listener rewards programs. Be sure to highlight the appeal of your prizes and mention how they align with the station’s audience.
The radio hosts will be able to organically work your business name into their shows whenever a listener wins one of your donated prizes. Even small items like t-shirts, pens, or product samples will rack up brand impressions from repeated mentions. For higher-value giveaways like large gift baskets or hot ticket prizes, you may be able to negotiate an on-air interview, product endorsement from the DJ, or live remote broadcast from your business in return.
Radio stations depend on engaging content and compelling prizes to attract listeners, so providing giveaways is a simple, mutually beneficial way to gain significant publicity so long as your business is clearly promoted when the prizes are awarded. Getting your brand name effortlessly woven into radio broadcasts is an incredibly effective free marketing tactic.
Becoming a vendor or sponsor of community events
Partnering with popular community events as a major vendor or sponsor opens the door for radio publicity. Start by researching upcoming local concerts, festivals, fundraisers, and other events that attract large crowds and media attention, then identify which ones align with your target demographic and brand image. Reach out to the event organizers about becoming a premier sponsor or securing a high-profile vending booth to establish your business as an important partner for the event.
Once you’re locked in as an official event sponsor or vendor, leverage this status to get on the radio. Many stations have on-site broadcasts and conduct live interviews with event partners, which provides perfect opportunities to share news about your company or products while gaining exposure to attendees. You may also be able to negotiate additional promotional considerations like free event tickets to give away on-air or cross-promotional social media posts.
Making your business integral to a community occasion gives you credibility that radio producers will recognize. Don’t be shy about pitching interview opportunities that highlight your event participation.
Engaging radio personalities for interviews
One direct way to get your business on the radio is to proactively pitch yourself as an interview guest. Research popular local radio shows that align with your target market and expertise, then make a list of programs, hosts, and producers to contact. Familiarize yourself with the topics and segments they cover to identify where you may best fit.
Draft and send a customized pitch email explaining why you would make an ideal interviewee. Offer to provide insights, tips, expertise, or an insider perspective that listeners would find valuable. Time your pitch to upcoming shows or segments where your perspective is especially relevant, and follow up politely if you don’t hear back right away.
The key is establishing yourself as a subject matter expert. If you can provide informative commentary that engages listeners, producers will take note and keep you in mind as a reliable go-to source for future radio interviews on related topics.
Getting your business on the radio without paying for ads takes creativity, persistence, and an understanding of what makes for engaging radio content, but the key is offering value to both stations and their listeners. If you can provide stories, insights, or experiences that resonate with your community, you’ll become a partner rather than simply another advertiser.
Radio provides a personal, community-oriented megaphone that money can’t always buy. With some strategic effort, the airwaves can become an invaluable publicity platform for your business.
Dave Purdy is a publicist at Otter PR. Purdy specializes in getting great radio and podcast interviews for his clients. His clients have been featured on ABC Radio, Westwood One, Bloomberg Radio, and many more. Purdy calls Tampa Bay home and in his free time, he enjoys bike riding, kayaking, camping, stand-up comedy, and enjoying the great outdoors.