We attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver this year to connect delegate members of the American Federation of Teachers with stations and networks back in their home markets and states. The topic for discussion was the importance of education in the upcoming presidential election, and why education needs to be at the top of the agenda for policymakers. Politics aside, on-site event coverage has a number of advantages for both spokespeople and reporters.

The most important benefit is connection. Radio is the perfect medium to allow local spokespeople to talk with local reporters from a timely event. Reporters get a local focus from a national story, providing them with the content they seek to connect with their audience, and spokespeople get to share information on the impact of the event they are attending and what it means for people back home.

When a member of an association is attending an event and representing a group from his or her local market, it provides a great opportunity to relay the feel and atmosphere of the event to those back home and gives listeners information about how their local interests are being represented. Whether they are in Washington DC to fight for particular legislation or at a convention to release their latest research, on-site radio recordings and interviews help to position spokespeople as ambassadors for an issue. And it helps provide insights into an issue for constituents back home.

There are some important things to keep in mind when managing an on-site project. The logistics can mean a lot of coordination in terms of scheduling and timing, but the investment is well worth it. And, working with so many different spokespeople and trying to relay the same consistent messaging can make media training a challenge. But what outweighs the hard work going into it is the quality results coming out of it. Whether doing interviews or feeding sound bites back to home markets, usage rates for local projects tend to be about eight to ten percentage points higher than other national stories. And, spokespeople love the interaction with the stations and are proud to be the conduit to their home market on important issues impacting members of their local communities.

Posted by Susan Matthews Apgood