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Dave Terris, Editor of Sky News Radio and Independent Radio News (IRN), joined Cicero Group for an exclusive ‘in conversation’ event discussing how businesses can best engage with radio news.

Chaired by Executive Director Mike Robb and hosted on 14 February (Valentines Day), the session provided an opportunity for Mr Terris to outline the inner workings of Sky News Radio, and how its stories are syndicated out across IRN’s network of over 300 commercial radio stations, including Absolute Radio, Capital, Classic, Heart, Magic, LBC and talkSPORT, reaching over 34m listeners a week.

He also discussed the types of stories that work best for radio and the most effective times for PRs to pitch stories, noting that PRs will generally focus their efforts on placing stories at the beginning of the week, missing an opportunity for stories to be covered over the weekend when radio audiences tend to be larger.

In terms of scheduling, he noted that there is a key difference between radio news and its television equivalent. Where Sky News (television) will look to operate 2-3 days ahead, Sky News Radio never works more than one day in advance – with the exception of special reports and the Government’s political and economic calendar (Autumn Statement, General Elections etc).

The current news agenda continues to be dominated by Brexit and the Trump administration. Sky News Radio is no exception to this, however, stories that Terris noted as playing particularly well to his radio audiences are those that provide regional data, due to the broad mix of regional stations that IRN provides news coverage for. He also noted that stories with a strong human angle are also received well with radio audiences keen to hear a combination of harder hitting and softer news stories.  He added that there is no guarantee that most corporate-led news stories will be covered across the entire IRN network, with the interests and demographics of a KISS listener varying wildly to that of Magic FM.

He also cautioned that stories based on surveys must include a minimum of 2,000 respondents to be newsworthy. Terris noted that PRs are not expected to do all of the running in terms of guest-finding – citing numerous examples where his team have sought additional guests to add depth to their coverage.

Interestingly, though he acknowledged the rise of social media and its growing influence on newscasting, he believes radio news has been largely (if not entirely) unaffected. The unique ability of radio news to interrupt programmed broadcasts to break news means that Twitter has had less of an impact than their television counterparts. That said, he did wax lyrical on work coming out of Sky News’ digital team – and their ability to convert news to their Snapchat channel in particular.

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