Podcasts. You can’t turn around for hearing about them. It’s the word of the moment, on everyone’s lips (and in their ears!).
Already 7 million adults in the UK listen to podcasts each week. Listenership keeps building, and those listeners (and potential customers) are both loyal, and eager to learn. And with Google aiming to ‘double global podcast listenership’ within two years, now is the time to start considering podcasts as part of your wider PR strategy.
To take things back to basics, a podcast is an on-demand digital audio file downloadable onto your phone, tablet or laptop. Or to put it another way, it’s a form of radio show which needs no radio station, nor radio set to listen to it. Anyone can record them and publish them. Listeners can search for a topic they want to hear more about, download a podcast on that topic and listen to it. Wherever they want. Whenever they want. For free.
Up until now, podcasts have been the domain of media companies and individuals with a story to tell. But with the help of experienced audio production companies, brands and businesses large and small are getting in on the act.
There are three different types of ‘branded podcast’, and each has its own PR power. The first type aims for brand awareness by allowing the brand or business a space to show off their area of expertise. For example, Tinder has its own podcast dating show, whilst Mumsnet shares baby stories with brand new parents.
The second type of branded podcast aligns the subject matter to a company or client’s values, rather than expertise. For example, an American bank and brokerage firm based in California has a podcast called Choiceology. It explores whether or not we as humans can learn to make smarter choices in life, by looking at stories of irrational decision making – from major historical blunders to everyday errors. Meanwhile, eBay‘s podcast provides inspiration for individuals starting up their own business.
The final type of branded podcast is perhaps the most philanthropic – this is where a business lends its name – and money – to the creativity of others. The reward? A chance to get into the ears of that podcast’s listeners. A good example of this is audio drama provider, The General Electric Theater; the sponsorship is a logical throwback to the US company’s role as a TV drama sponsor in the 1950s.
And, one of the best parts of a podcast is that people can find your words of wisdom weeks, months and even years after you first publish that episode, so your podcast carries on working for you even after you’ve long put it to bed. It’s the brand-building campaign that keeps on giving.
The beauty of podcasts is that they are relatively easy to set up. At the most basic level, a hosting site like Spreaker (other sites available), a mobile phone with headphones, and a free piece of editing software, like Audacity, is all that’s needed. As with anything, this kit bag can expand with additional items, like microphones and recorders; to suit circumstances, budgets and production level. Whatever you use, make sure the audio you capture is of a decent quality; with most podcasts being listened to on headphones, bad audio can be seriously off-putting as it’s playing directly into your listener’s ears.
The key to creating a great podcast is making sure to plan the content well in advance – having a store of content ready to release before launching is usually recommended. Think about how much time you will realistically be able to dedicate to it, and decide on your publishing frequency accordingly – the most important thing is to be consistent. Make the podcast part of an existing marketing and communications strategy, which complements your other activity, and you won’t have to double up on much of the work. For instance, if you’re already interviewing someone for the company blog, why not record it for the podcast at the same time?
And finally, a robust marketing campaign is essential – because people won’t listen to your podcast if they can’t find, or have never heard, of it.
If committing to producing and managing a branded podcast seems a bit much to manage at this stage, there are other ways for brands and businesses to piggyback on the podcasting boom.
Seeking out existing podcasters in your brand or client’s sector is a great way to find out what else is going on in the industry. Approach the editors in the same way as a media outlet; there may be opportunities to feature a relevant spokesperson as a guest. One word of caution, though. Try hard to avoid making this a sales tool. Podcast listeners love a good story, so be sure to make what you have to say worth listening to.
For more info about podcasting for business, check out our recent blog post about the good, the bad, and the ugly.