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Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing media of the modern age. With more people than ever tuning in regularly to stream or download their favourite shows, there are huge opportunities for businesses and brands to leverage the power of podcasting for branding and public relations.
So what is it about podcasts that makes them so effective for PR - and how do you start one? In this post, we’re going to look at the many reasons why your business needs a branded podcast, some of the beginning stages of setting one up and how a broadcast PR agency might be able to help.
A podcast is essentially the Internet equivalent of a traditional radio show - a regularly-published series of downloadable or streamable audio files with spoken word content. Today, there are podcasts on just about every subject imaginable, from politics to entertainment, business, hobbies, and everything else in between.
Unlike a traditional radio show, which is subject to broadcast rules and quality standards, there is very little restriction on what can be published in a podcast. The majority of podcasters are essentially able to upload whatever they want for publication via iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast distribution platforms.
The lack of curation and oversight for podcasting as a whole means that the audio quality of shows can be variable. A business looking to get into podcasting may therefore want to invest in high-fidelity audio production and top-class mixing as a way of standing out from the crowd of hobbyist efforts - or perhaps embrace a lo-fi and unpolished approach in the name of authenticity.
The benefits of podcasting for boosting business public relations and branding may not be immediately obvious, but there are numerous very good reasons to think about it.
For one, podcasting is an excellent way to humanise your brand. In today’s social media connected world, many customers care about authenticity and connection more than anything else. If your business might otherwise be perceived as a faceless logo or an impersonal corporate monolith, a podcast featuring some of the company’s key personalities could allow listeners to connect with your brand on a more personal and empathetic level.
Unlike other forms of branded advertising, podcasts aren’t confined to a small banner ad, a 30-second TV spot or a single billboard. Many podcast episodes can be 30 minutes to an hour long (or more), and contain multiple breaks and segments.
This means that podcasting offers a unique opportunity to sit the customer down for an extended period of time and absorb them into your world in a more in-depth way. And of course, publishing podcast episodes on a regular schedule allows the business to build an increasingly detailed connection with listeners who return for each new instalment.
Many customers today want to know who’s behind the business and what those people believe in. Through a programme of PR podcasts, a company can pull back the curtain and let customers get a glimpse behind the scenes - giving you the means to showcase the likeability and trustworthiness of your team.
Podcasts are also very effective for tailoring PR and brand messaging to particular groups or demographics. Rather than mass marketing strategies (which often look to simply blast a generic message to as many people as possible), podcasts are an opt-in proposition for the listener. This allows for the production of content with niche appeal, targeted to those people who are truly and specifically interested in the kinds of things your business has to say.
Podcasting is also a very cost-effective PR and branding approach. Depending on the desired level of production value there may be an initial outlay to acquire and set up all the necessary equipment. Once you’re set up for podcasting, though, the costs from this point onwards are minimal; in many cases, this might only include the cost of lightly editing the recordings and hosting the finished audio files for download. Distribution of the content via iTunes and other platforms is generally free.
If the potential setup costs seem too daunting, there is a secondary option in that some companies now offer rented professional podcast studios with very affordable rates. This means you can just book out a day in the studio once every month or so, and record a large batch of episodes all in one go. Some of these companies also may offer additional support in the form of audio engineering and podcast editing.
Depending on the level of production quality you aim to achieve, setting up a podcast can be a relatively simple matter, requiring only a few pieces of equipment.
In general, a standard setup might include:
Distribution via iTunes, Stitcher and other networks is usually a matter of simply submitting a link to an RSS feed that you update each time you add a new episode. This may sound complicated, but it’s really just a list of all the podcast episode files on your web hosting - along with a little extra information such as the episode titles and so on. There are also paid podcast management platforms that are designed to streamline this process for those who may be unsure of the technical stuff.
Overall, brand podcasting is a great tool for improving public relations and trust. By recording honest and in-depth interviews and conversions with your team, you can let customers get to know your business on a more personal level and pull back the curtain a little.
A branded podcast can allow your target audience to gain a new level of understanding about your company and its people - and you can be sure that they’ll think of you when the time comes to make a purchase.
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