By Keren Haynes and Sam Munton, from Shout! Communications
Since it first appeared in its current form around 2005, podcasting has grown exponentially. Fuelled by the US, it’s a fast-growing phenomenon that has seen over 6 million listeners in the UK tuning into a podcast each week – almost double the audience in 2013. It’s a trend that is showing no sign of slowing down.
Content has evolved from mere repetition of radio programmes and extensions of these programmes to stand alone series, be they feature led, comedy, talk shows or drama documentaries. In PR terms we can exploit the opportunities offered by podcasting in a number of ways:
A branded podcast series
So why would you consider creating branded podcast?
Whilst the pickings are still rich in terms of opportunities on television and radio, the audiences they target are broad. That means more niche or sensitive subjects can be squeezed out. Podcasts allow you to narrow that audience down to the clients or customers you really want to attract, ultimately building a loyal connection with your audience.
TV and radio programmes have to adhere to a very strict timetable and, conscious that audiences can have very short attention spans, there is often not much air-time allocated per story. A podcast however is not restricted by such constraints and a story can be considered in greater depth.
With your own branded podcasts editorially you are a free agent. Whilst you still wouldn’t want to over brand, in case your listeners get bored, there are none of the hurdles of radio and television to overcome.
Then there are the listeners. As younger generations increasingly choose on-demand media over live content, broadcast audiences will inevitably decline further. Podcasts therefore are a perfect format for meeting the needs of this evolving demographic. Labelled as loyal, affluent and educated, what brand wouldn’t want the typical podcast listener?
Successful podcasts are easy to consume. Easier than reading a blog or even watching a video. Podcasts have a proven track record of listeners engaging more than any other platform, including print and online. That means, uniquely, podcast listeners are more likely to listen to the full duration, than they are to turn off.
Mapping the content of a podcast series to a particular audience can generate significant returns. According to research by Adobe, 60% of people say they researched a product, with a view to buying it, that they’d heard mentioned in a podcast. This figure rises to 70% if they’ve listened to the same podcast series for more than four years.
If you can talk passionately and knowledgably about an issue affecting your sector then a podcast series can help position you as a leader in that market. In terms of brand reputation, it can put you on the fast track. A good example of this, in our view, is whiskey company Jack Daniels’ podcast, called Around the Barrel. Instead of focusing solely on drink, the content is very mixed – interviews with authors, journalists, comedians, you name it and they’ve talked about it. References to the company are subtle, such as an interview with the Armed Service YMCA about how Jack Daniels paid for armed forces personnel to fly home for holidays.
Shout! Communications Case study
We have supported the PR agency WE one of their clients to produce a branded podcast that focuses on latest industry trends and features interviews with some of the biggest players in their arena. Content strategist at WE, Jay Stephens, explains why he thinks the branded podcasts worked:
“Podcasts work because they give a human voice to what the brand is trying to say”, he says. “Adding real people into the conversation humanizes topics and lends expert advice to our point of view. By giving a name, in the form of a resident expert or a visiting participant to the podcast, listeners can identify with the topic as a whole. It’s not just a blog or a post, it’s real people talking about real things, taking it out of the ether and onto the human level”
Other people’s podcasts
A second way to benefit from this growing trend is to feature on someone else’s podcast episode. Broadcast media have well and truly embraced the podcast medium, using it as an opportunity to extend content beyond their airwaves. Radio 4’s Today programme, for example, has a podcast called “Beyond Today” which takes a more in-depth view of one story each day, for around 20-30 minutes. Hosted by Tina Daheley and Matthew Price it features interviews with other journalists and spokespeople alike.
Commercial stations have followed suit, with Global and Bauer for instance, employing professional podcast production teams.
What’s most significant for the PR industry is that as broadcasting audiences contract, the opportunities for on-demand content expand.
Want more information on creating your own branded podcast? Give us a call on 0207 240 7373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org