Radio is the ideal platform on which to engage with a large audience of listeners.
1. Be prepared
Preparation is crucial. Before the interview is conducted a charity needs to ask:
• Why are we doing the interview and is this the right outlet to talk to?
• Who is the audience and who will actually hear what we have to say?
• Are we clear about our objectives from the interview?
• Is it to recruit more volunteers or to obtain more donations?
As they say in the army: ‘time spent in planning and reconnaissance is never time wasted’.
2. Understand how the medium works
It can be daunting for charity staff to venture into a radio studio or be confronted with a microphone, so it is important to understand how these media elements work.
Radio interviews can be live or pre-recorded and there are advantages to both
• A live news interview is usually about ninety seconds and the audience will hear the entire content of this segment.
• With a recorded conversation, the final edit might not fully convey the intended message as it may be edited and cut, but on the plus side the interview itself tends to be longer at about three minutes and any answers you are not satisfied with can be re-recorded.
Radio interviews can take place in a local studio – a cheaper option for the broadcaster – or on location at a charity event or premises in order to provide more context.
There are also some great opportunities to take part in telephone phone-ins to discuss a particular theme or topic.
3. Tell a story
Radio is a very personal medium and therefore perfect for telling your charity’s story using powerful real life examples. Never be afraid to use your, or your staff’s own experiences as a great case study.
This was a goal for Sue Ryder and their idea scenario was to engage someone sitting in the car and listening to one of our spokespeople on the radio. The listener knows they need to go into the office to work, but what they are listening to is so compelling they must hear the end of our story.
Radio allows us to create something incredibly memorable. It is a great opportunity to talk about real people we have helped, enabling listeners to visualise the impact the charity has had. Radio allows us to paint a picture in people’s minds.
4. Performance is key
Radio interviews can be scary so it is important to understand the importance of relaxing. This can mean taking a deep breath before going on air or slowing down your speech. Trust your knowledge and your expertise.
It is important to sound enthusiastic, and to engage the presenter and those listening to what your charity is doing. Pre-empt just how mentally tiring a radio interview can be because there are so many things to think about.
Anyone being interviewed must keep their voice tone up-beat, and remember to smile because this builds warmth with the presenter and the audience. It is also important to maintain eye contact and to consider your sitting position and posture. If one of your spokespeople leans back, this can indicate that he is trying to distance himself from the topic.
5. Don’t forget to mention the charity’s name
During a radio interview you can get caught up with simply answering the presenter’s questions. But at every opportunity talk about what you do – it must be treated more as a presentation rather than an interview. You should know what points you want to convey and make sure you prioritise these, as well as any events you might want to plug locally. Never forget to mention the charity’s name at least once …of course, don’t mention it too much or you may not be invited back!
Media training is an essential for any charity looking to promote itself to a broad audience and it has been essential for our organisation. So if you haven’t yet taken the leap, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Sue Ryder works with training company Hendrix The Dog Productions, which has also run media, telephone and presentation training sessions with other charities including Cancer Research UK, IFAW and the Refugee Council.
Paul Martin is Manager at Sue Ryder.
Photo: radio mikes by Hrkcrn on Shutterstock.com
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