I was recently lucky enough to attend the Next Radio Conference, founded by James Cridland and Matt Deegan, which is an event that’s all about creative ideas for radio. What could possibly be more exciting for someone working in Broadcast PR than a room full of passionate radio people all sharing their ideas and insights? As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can now pass on to you some insights about the main excitement of the day – podcasts! They’re all the rage at the moment, particularly among younger listeners, but how can you use them to your advantage in PR and beyond?
Who’s tuning in?
The first part of the conference focused on the demographics of people listening to podcasts, thanks to data by Edison Research. This was based on American listeners and found a few key pieces of information about the US market:
– 86% of people are listening to music every day, with 41% of people listening to speech every day.
– AM/FM radio is still dominating audio listening – 69% of people are tuning in vs. 11% who choose to listen to podcasts. However, this should take into account how new podcasts still are.
– The main people listening to podcasts are aged 13-34 in America – a sign of things to come as the younger generation ages.
There are several factors that have contributed to the seemingly sudden success of podcasts, and actually the question should really be ‘why not?!’ They’re free, easily accessible, engaging and give both podcasters and listeners more choice. Unlike live radio, it won’t cut out on your morning commute when you lose signal. According to research by AudioBoom, an average of over 5 million people in the UK are listening to podcasts at the moment, with an audience gender split of 39% female and 61% male. Podcasts give you the chance to tune into very niche topics that you’re most interested in, listening to passionate people chat about them. That means you have more choice to listen to people who share your interests and can educate you on those, rather than say a radio programme where it could be anyone speaking about anything. What’s not to love? It’s also a great conversation starter with acquaintances, especially if you find they listen to the same podcast as you!
Use the audio to your advantage
Nowadays podcasts are so much more than simply ‘talk radio’. They can use music and sound effects with a lot more freedom than radio and don’t have any time pressures such as adverts, news bulletins or time checks. One of the segments at the Next Radio Conference was titled ‘What Radio Can Learn From Horror Films’ and it made great points about the effective use of music and sound at key points of speech. When you’re watching a horror movie, it’s the music that often tips you off about how you should feel or what’s coming next, so in an audio medium like podcasts, that should also be the case! Use music to set the tone and enhance your story; after all you want to take your listeners on a journey and that is the beauty of a great audio experience.
It’s all about that thumbnail
One final thought that you may not have realised was so important to a podcast is the thumbnail or artwork attached to it. If you think about it though, this really is the key to getting your podcast noticed as it’s the first thing potential listeners will see when they’re scrolling through podcast apps. Everyone will see different things in the same image, so you need to specifically target your image/thumbnail at the right people. Make design a crucial part of the pre-production process and give your audience a ‘thumb-stopping moment’!
Here at Shout! Communications, we always offer a free podcast recording with every radio day. That way, it can be sold in as an extra piece of audio, as well as kept by the client for internal use. We’ve also seen a steady increase in clients commissioning us to create more highly produced podcasts, so they’re certainly making waves with in the PR community too. Watch this space!
by Kate Fallis, Broadcast PR Consultant