As media budgets tighten, those of us working in the radio industry have noticed some interesting trends as they relate to both on-air broadcast and those seeking to earn airtime.  While there continue to be opportunities in news, talk show and public affairs programs through media relations work, other on-air opportunities can provide novel ways of reaching radio listeners.

From the station standpoint, with advertising budgets tight, many stations are running short on radio ads to fill airtime.  In most cases, that means filling in those timeslots with public service announcements.

In fact, since the early spring of 2010, we have seen the usage rate of public service announcements approach that of news items that we pitch.  What used to be a secondary focus for stations has now become an increasingly important element of their on-air programming.

For non-profits and associations with a community-oriented message, this is an opportunity to provide stations with well-produced 15 and 30-second public service announcements to fill available air-time.  Stations appreciate PSAs that are both accurately timed and well-produced, because they don’t have to take additional production time, staff and effort to make these PSAs fit their programming needs.  So sending them ready to use audio files is key to your success.

Another opportunity for companies that may not have large advertising budgets to buy time is to use their goods and services as a giveaway.  This keeps their names on the air and affiliates their company and image with a fun and exciting promotion.  The benefit for stations is that it provides extended listening as they promote “listen to win” promos and rewards loyal listeners with valuable goods and services.

Two promotions we completed this summer include a laptop giveaway to college oriented stations over the span of a week – a value of more than $4,000 for the weeklong promotion; and a week of free, family-friendly travel to more than 2,000 hotel destinations across the county – a value of more than $2,000 for the weeklong promotion.

As you make plans for your media outreach in coming months, consider some of these alternative and creative station programming opportunities to expand and enhance your media reach.