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Top tips for radio part 2: Ceri Thomas

The Editor of Radio 4's Today programme, Ceri Thomas passes on fascinating facts about its flagship morning programme and some top tips about how to approach Today and what their listeners are looking for when they tune in to the programme each morning

Ceri Thomas

  • Today currently has 7.2 million listeners every week
  • Today's key target audience is 35 – 50 years old but in reality only a quarter of their listeners fall into this group
  • Today was the first BBC programme to launch a Twitter account. The producers use Twitter to research stories and see listener's feedback. Find them @BBCr4today
  • The Today Producers receive over 2,000 emails a day so it is important to pitch a story about a week in advance to enable them to plan the story
  • Today's agenda is much wider than politics and they rarely have politicians on the programme. It includes science, the arts and lots of UK news
  • A high percentage of their listeners are London based so they are always keen to have spokespeople or case studies on the programme that are outside London. This can take some organising to get their presenters off site so PR's need to contact them two – three weeks before to forward plan these kinds of opportunities
  • Think about whether your story is a Today story before you approach the programme
  • Work with the BBC correspondents who specialise in each topic such as Health producers as they can give you feedback and pitch your story internally. They want to get noticed so want to bring good stories to programmes like Today so they are good people to get to know!
  • The Today programme is happy to receive direct pitches too. The best way to do this is building relationships with producers by approaching them with what you can help them with. For example offering relevant, strong case studies and asking for feedback when your story isn't used

Top tips for radio part 1: Steve Leavesley

The CIPR's Fifth Estate group welcomed Steve Leavesley of Radio Lynx and Ben Jones, presenter on Absolute Radio, to provide some insight into the world of radio. Members learnt some top tips for conducting the most effective radio campaigns which we've shared with you below:

  • Record 'down the line' interviews in the morning. You'll have the most chance of getting coverage across more shows.
  • Listen to your target stations for cue points which you could link your campaign to. Or ask a work experience person to do this to help you develop a database.
  • Ask for your call to action (donation, signing up to a campaign) to be displayed on the radio player feed as it streams through the internet.
  • Who should you approach? For commercial stations, approach the producer for breakfast shows, and presenters for all other shows. For all BBC stations, approach the producer.
  • Statistics are effective on radio so use them where you can. Strong regional stats will help you gain cut through in the regions too.
  • Case studies in the regions are also great to add a human interest element to your story.
  • Advertise in your press release that broadcast quality soundbites are available. You can record these via your smartphone using a free app, AudioBoo.
  • If the story isn't right for one show, ask the producer if they know anyone else it could work for – everyone likes to be flattered and asked for their contacts!
  • radiotoday.co.uk provides all the detail you need to know on radio stations – check it out.
  • Aim to start a conversation – your story needs to stay with the listener and help the show create content through phone ins etc. The more debatable your story, the more likely it is to be covered.