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Talk Show Host Name Withheld Upon Request Case Study

Overview

In 2001, a client with a PhD in Education had important contributions to make and her voice deserved to be heard on important issues, such as youth violence and parent/child relationships. Research indicated that this client had the ability to create a powerful niche and speak to women – an audience that surveys suggested was ready for a positive, family friendly and informative voice. This is the story of how an award-winning strategic communications program, relying exclusively on public relations for support, introduced the world to this client and successfully distinguished her from a crowded field of wannabes, establishing her as a multi-media force who hosts talk shows on television and radio, regular chats on the Internet and an advice column in newspapers.

Note: This work was conducted by DPK Public Relations staff prior to establishing DPK Public Relations

Execution

RESEARCH

We conducted an analysis of secondary research data, including the review of results from a quantitative survey of 1,060 female Arbitron diaraykeepters between the ages of 18 and 54 that had been conducted by Joint Communications. This survey, “What Women Want: Five Secrets to Better Ratings,” found the following:

  1. Women will turn the dial if they hear programming that is not “family friendly.” Sixty percent of respondent strongly agree that they tune out a radio station because there is something they don’t want their kids to hear.
  2. It is critical that radio keeps women informed. Respondents said that with time pressures, they rely on radio to keep them up to date with what’s going on in the world.
  3. Women continue to be optimists and American dreamers. Seventy-nine percent of female Arbitron diarykeepers strongly agree that hard work brings success and 68 percent believe they can be whatever they choose to be.


These findings suggested that the client was in the right place at the right time. The content and tone of her show was in tune with the spirit and desires of her audience.

We examined the “Talk Radio Research Project,” conducted by Talkers Magazine. It is drawn from interviews with listeners of general talk radio across the United States, supplemented by input from talk radio programmers, hosts, sales personnel and radio station in-house research. It determined that females make up approximately 48 percent of the talk radio listenership and that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was the only one of the top 25 syndicated talkers who focuses on issues related to relationships and juvenile development.

Relating to the Arbitron data, we determined that Dr. Laura’s program has become increasingly negative, opening an opportunity for a positive voice in that space.

We then sought to learn as much as we could about our ultimate audience: media decision makers. To do so, we used the Internet to see how related experts had achieved their success.  We conducted a systematic qualitative survey of a targeted list of local and national print and broadcast media, book authors, television producers and syndicators, media experts and other talk show hosts to get input on our client and to help establish messages and strategies to reach our client’s goals.

Our qualitative surveys taught us: 1) The client's field of expertise – childhood development – was too broad; 2) National reporters want to see published materials, research, endorsements or actual media clips before working with an expert source; and 3) Before she could approach television stations about producing her show, the client needed to develop a resume of television appearances.

PLANNING

Based on the research findings, we worked closely with the client to establish the following objectives:

  1. To secure a weekly television talk show or features segment featuring the client as the host by the end of 2001;
  2. To establish the client as an authority in her field among regional and national journalists.


The research findings drove our creative strategies, which included:

  • Repositioning the client as an expert in juvenile development and behavior;
  • Focusing messages on the client's positive, informative and family friendly style; and
  • Launching an aggressive proactive media relations program designed to establish the client as a leader in that field.


Our target audiences consisted of broadcast programming decision makers; parents of children and teens; and educators.

To facilitate the planning process, refine our strategy and build consensus, we held several working planning sessions and created a living document that captured thoughts and ideas. We also worked informally with local media decision makers to keep our ear to the ground for ongoing developments and opportunities.

EXECUTION

  • Press Kit:  We developed a press kit for the client that featured her photo and logo for her radio show on the cover.  The press materials included a biography, samples of her articles, impressive list of endorsements and a list of suggested interview topics.

  • Aggressive National Media Relations: We created a national media list that included editors for lifestyle, parenting and educational publications as well as producers for television shows that regularly feature guests who discuss issues affecting children. We sent press kits with tailored cover letters to each editor and producer and then contacted them about possible media opportunities for the client.  If there was no interest at the time, we placed the contact on our schedule to follow up at a later date. If there was initial interest, we continually sent our contacts updates and story ideas, especially if there was breaking news involving teens.  We also registered the client as a resource on key services that media use to locate experts.

  • Opportunistic Regional Media Relations:  We created a regional media list for Texas.  We sent press kits to education and youth reporters at daily newspapers and family and parenting magazines, and to producers of daily feature shows in the top media markets in Texas.  Throughout the year we sent media advisories informing the media in Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio that the client was available for interviews on such topics as September 11 and the terrorist threat against Texas public schools.  

  • Speaking Engagements: We secured opportunities for the client to speak at schools and large conferences to further enhance her credibility and offer us opportunities to arrange media tours in cities where she spoke.

  • Internet Chat:  We approached United Parenting Publications, publisher of 120 family and parenting magazines throughout the U.S., about the possibility of publishing the client's articles, adding her to their speaker’s bureau and hosting a live chat on their website.

  • Newspaper Column:  We distributed copies of articles written by the client to our list of family and parenting magazines and to daily newspapers across the country with a cover letter explaining that the client was available for a weekly parenting advice column.

  • Web Site: We advised the client to redesign her website to include a link to her media materials and samples of her published articles.

  • Face to Face Meetings:  After interest in the client was generated through print and television, we approached a list of television producers about producing a show for parents and children that would feature the client as the host.

Results

Relying exclusively on public relations tactics, the communications program achieved both program objectives and exceeded the client’s wildest dreams.

Objective #1: To secure a weekly television talk show or features segment featuring the client as the host by the end of 2001.

  • As 2001 ended, we successfully negotiated with KUHT-TV (PBS) in Houston to secure a weekly segment on children and education that will vary from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on guests.  The first segment aired on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 with Sharon Bush as the guest. Future segments included Quincy Jones, Former First Lady Barbara Bush and US Secretary of Education Dr. Rod Paige.


Objective #2: To establish the client as an authority in her field among regional and national journalists.

  • She was interviewed by more than 30 local and national publications including Good Housekeeping, USA Weekend and The Dallas Morning News.  She was interviewed on a total of 31 television and radio newscasts and feature programs including Good Day Dallas and Wisdom Radio.
  • The public relations team negotiated a regular guest appearance on FamilyNet TV and the client taped a pilot program for Radio Disney.
  • In Houston, she has been established as an expert resource during high profile events that affect children such as the September 11 terrorist attacks and the recent terrorist threat against Texas public schools. The client is on the immediate call list for CNN, KTRH-AM Radio, The Jenny Jones Show, Iyanla Van Zant and KPRC-TV (NBC).
  • The client was also hired by Vermont Family News to write a monthly advice column for parents, her articles sporadically appear in newspapers in the northeast and on various websites.
  • The client was retained by United Parenting Publications to host a live weekly chat on Parenthoodplace.com (FKA Parenthood.com) that had one of the highest number of participants compared to other chats on the website.
  • Due to her increased visibility in the media, the client was selected to speak at the National PTA conference in June 2002 in San Antonio, Texas with over 20,000 attendees expected.

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