In 2019, many of us take for granted the fact that we can watch any TV show, movie or YouTube video, or listen to any audiobook, song or podcast at any time of day, 24/7, 365. You might think that if we had been offered the opportunity for this kind of on-demand entertainment 15 years ago, we would have jumped at it, right? Well, we were offered that opportunity in 2005, when Apple first debuted podcasts two years before Netflix began streaming shows.
Fast forward to 2010, five years after we first had the opportunity to walk around with podcasts on our ipods wherever we want—less than a quarter of Americans reported having ever even listened to one. While it may seem crazy that we did not latch onto podcasts right away, on-demand audio/visual entertainment was simply not a staple of our culture yet. But the last ten years have brought the rise of Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Spotify, and an army of other streaming services offering on-demand entertainment, creating a wave for podcasts to ride right into the mainstream of American life. As of earlier this year, there are more than 30 million podcasts episodes, and more than 50% of Americans report having listened to at least one in their lifetimes.
What do these statistics mean for the media landscape? Well, last year, news podcasts pulled in more ad revenue than any other podcast genre. People are listening to podcasts.
With this in mind, should pitching clients or company leaders to podcasts be a part of your media relations strategy?
I’ll admit it, as a PR professional, podcasts can be a scary proposition. The first time I had a client express interest in one, I was skeptical. Long-form, unstructured, recorded conversations do not necessarily create a breeding ground for tight, concise messaging and talking points. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s infamous weed-smoking incident on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast is a stark reminder of what can go wrong when stepping behind the podcast mic.
However, despite their risks, podcasts offer tremendous publicity advantages, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the success many of my clients have found in them.
For those who have found success as podcast guests, I’ve observed a common theme: successful podcast guests know their story and stick to it.
As with any media interview, you must know what you are going to say before you say it. Podcasts offer the ultimate opportunity to tell your story in a long-form setting, but conversely, offer ample time to put your proverbial foot in your mouth. Knowing your talking points and not straying too far from them will help protect you from saying something you’ll regret.
Once you know your messaging and are confident sticking to it, podcasts will open up a whole new world of targeted messaging.
One of the biggest goals (and often one of the largest challenges) of any brand is getting their story/product/brand in front of the right demographic. Podcasts offer a unique opportunity to reach a niche group of people who you know are interested in what you have to say, by virtue of the fact they are listening to a specific podcast. For example, a client of mine was recently featured on a show titled “Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever.” Can you guess what industry the client is in and what demographic of people listen to that show? I’m guessing the answer is yes. Not only is a feature on an industry-specific podcast like this a sure-fire way to get your story in front of the right people, but it also builds credibility by proving you’re an expert in your field. For the most part, podcast hosts do their homework and won’t just bring anyone on their shows, so know that if they chose you to bring value to their listeners, it’s a validation of your expertise.
Now that you have the ear of your target audience, you will have the ability to really tell your story. While traditional media outlets allow for concise soundbites and snippets of information, podcasts allow you to dive deep into your company’s history, culture and goals. While this may be scary, remember that in today’s fast-paced, increasingly digital world, consumers are longing for a human touch. Showing your company’s humanity through in-depth storytelling will go a long way in building trust with your current and future customers, and podcasts are the perfect medium to give them a taste of your story.
Because of the depth that they allow for, podcast interviews can be a treasure trove of content. Once your company or client has a few under their belt, use them to gather information for future media opportunities as well as fodder for social media and web content. If you are featured on a podcast, link to it on your company’s website! This cross pollination will help bring your company more publicity and will boost SEO for your website.
Another way to extend the life of your podcasts is to transcribe them and post the transcription to your website along with the link to the audio. A transcribed interview will not only double as great web content for your company, it will also help prospective customers find you via keyword searches of the content in your interview.
So what are the next steps if you are looking to leverage podcasts to tell your brand story? A simple place to start is to begin listening to podcasts if you don’t already. Ask a trusted colleague or mentor what podcasts they enjoy, and give them a try. Not every podcast will be appropriate for your brand, so you’ll need to do some sifting to find out where you best fit before diving in head first.
After you find the right fit, be confident in the story you have to tell and don’t forget to stay on brand. When your interview is over and your podcast is released, share it far and wide!