“I was listening to this podcast…” You’ve probably heard this (or said it yourself) if you’re part of the almost 40% of Australians who have listened to a podcast in the last month (Media Week), and even if you haven’t, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice the massive rise in podcasting in the last few years. 

But is this trend a flash in the pan, or one that PRs should be taking a serious look at? If the luxury fashion industry’s willingness to jump on the podcasting bandwagon, and the success of new social media platform, Clubhouse, is anything to go by, then plug in those headphones ASAP!

We’re taking a look at why podcasting is the next big thing for PRs, how to pitch guests to podcast hosts and whether you should be launching your own.

Why Podcasting for PRs?

Podcasts allow for a unique, in-depth look at the people behind the brands that simply isn’t available on fast moving, image based platforms like social media. In addition, younger audiences are moving away from highly curated feeds towards raw, real-time platforms like snapchat and tik tok, in part because they feel more authentic than their overly produced counterparts. Podcasting fits into the camp of channels that offer realism, as well as deep-dives into topics that just can’t be covered on the ‘gram. According to BOF, “ Longform audio serves as another platform, like video before it, for these brands to speak directly to their most loyal fans, offering what’s positioned as an authentic glimpse behind the scenes.”

Kate Oldham, SVP and General Manager of Beauty, Jewellery and Home at Saks, says “podcasts tell a longer, more intimate story and… have the ability to connect with guests on a very personal level.” This view is shared by Caitlin Judd and Anna Mackenzie, founders of Australian entrepreneurial podcast, lady-brains, who told Flaunter, “a podcast is such an incredible way to share the stories and the depth behind women and the brands and businesses they are building, much more than a quote in a print magazine or an image on instagram. A podcast really allows listeners to get to the heart of who that [brand] is.”

PWC’s latest research shows that the Australian podcast market is growing, with monthly downloads up to 48.7 million in September 2020 compared to 13.2 million in October 2019. In the States, people are listening to an average of 7 different podcasts per week and the medium is most popular with people aged 24–54 (BOF). And while the reach of niche fashion podcasts isn’t as high as something like the Joe Rogan show, they provide an opportunity to forge deep connections with their followers.

The podcasting trend is not slowing down any time soon, which means it’s time for PRs to make sure podcasting is a serious part of their strategies.

How can PRs include Podcasts in their PR Strategies?

According to Judd and Mackenzie of lady-brains, “podcasts are such an important channel for brands to consider when they are thinking about their PR strategy. They are a channel that can really connect with the consumer… they are the most amazing way to connect with the audience, connect with the consumer and get buy-in.

So, how can you add podcasts to your suite of PR tools?

  • Determine who will best represent your brand as your talent – they obviously need to be able to string a few sentences together, as well as tell a decent story and encourage the audience to empathise with them. The ability to open up and share deeply is also vital.
  • Identify podcasts that speak to a similar audience to your brand or clients. The goal is always to ultimately raise brand awareness and positively impact sales, so you need to ensure the podcasts you’re pitching to are speaking to your ideal customer.
  • Ask for media kits – good podcasters will know who they speak to, and how large their audience is. Even if you’re not planning on advertising, the effort that goes into a speaking gig is considerable, so you need to know your audiences align.
  • Know how you’ll measure the results of your activity. Are you just trying to get on as many podcasts as possible (hello, vanity metric) or are you trying to drive website visits and sales? How will you track the results of your interviews? Knowing this from the get-go will change who and how you pitch.
  • Craft your pitch. Read on!

How to Pitch Clients to Podcasts

Pitching your brand to a podcast is not that different from pitching to a traditional media outlet:

  • Consider the audience the podcast is aimed at, and show that you understand that audience when pitching to the host. Listen to a few episodes to make sure that the podcast actually features guests, and make sure your proposed topic hasn’t been covered recently.
  • Make it super clear what your guest will be able to teach the podcaster’s audience. What can your podcast guest share a really deep knowledge of?
  • What unique angle can you offer this podcaster, particularly if the speaker has been profiled elsewhere? Just like editors, podcasters don’t want content that’s been shared on a hundred other shows – what exclusive can you offer to really get the host over the line?
  • The same rules of email etiquette apply – make sure your subject line is clear, don’t be vague, and give the podcast host all the information they need to make an informed decision. And don’t call to follow up!

Should you launch your own podcast?

  • Test the waters. Tools like Clubhouse allow you to try out audio by creating low-fi content to see how your market responds. But as with any testing, don’t just do it once and give up – you’ll need to put in a few months worth of work to see traction.
  • Commit to consistency. The best podcasts are built on a regular posting schedule, ensuring your audience knows when and where they can hear from you next.
  • Prep. The team from lady-brains shared that about a week worth of work goes into each podcast, from thorough research to pre-preparing questions to recording and editing the show. 
  • Have something to say. Truly successful podcasts are built on vulnerability and rawness, and your team has to be prepared to share part of themselves to make a connection with the audience. If you’re going to have to pass every episode by the legal team before you hit publish, a podcast might not be the right tool for your brand.
  • Have a strategy. As with any marketing or PR activity, there needs to be an overarching goal behind the tactics you employ. Do you want to connect with your audience? Expand on your brand narrative? Help people understand more about a particular aspect of your business? Know why you’re podcasting before you plug in the mic.

What do real life podcasters say?

Brooke Burns PR Podcasts Australia

Brooke Burns, Founder | The PR Pod

F: Why did you decide to launch your own podcast?

BB: The PR Pod podcast was a Covid-baby…. I am a hospitality PR specialist and run my own one-woman-band PR agency, Savannah PR. My clients are new restaurants and bars so when Covid hit, I knew I’d be out of work for at least eight months. During that downtime I did some research and discovered there were not many podcasts dedicated to those in the early stage of their PR careers.  It felt like a great opportunity to develop a resource that would help navigate emerging PR professionals through common PR tasks or challenges while providing insight from an experienced collection of PR specialists from around the world.

F: Why should PRs be considering podcasts as part of their PR strategy?

BB: When you’re developing a strategy you should be considering all the different touchpoints the brand’s target market will engage with. If they are a demographic who is likely to listen to podcasts, then you should be considering how to integrate podcasts into your strategy, whether it’s having your client or company featured on one or creating your own podcast as a platform to communicate directly with them.

F: What’s the best way for PRs to pitch guests to your show?

BB: When you pitch for anything – television, radio, online, print – you should always be tailoring that pitch to that outlet. And it is no different to podcasts. If you want to put forward a guest for The PR Pod, then do the same due diligence you would have done if you were pitching to a media outlet. Which means, be familiar with the episode content. Even if you’ve not listened to the podcast, you’ll get a good feel from The PR Pod website, or the podcast summary on whatever podcast platform you’re listening on, as to the purpose and theme of The PR Pod. You’ll see the episodes I’ve put to air previously and who the target listeners are. Keep that in mind when you’re putting forward some episode suggestions featuring your guest. I’ve had plenty of people pitch some episode angles which weren’t quite right but I could see how they could be tweaked to make a strong episode, and we’ve worked together to develop that. I’m always open to suggestions of topics as I think it’s so important to have PR voices from all over the world contribute their experiences and insight, but just take the time to pitch effectively.

F: What makes a great podcast guest?

BB: Ooooh, great question! For The PR Pod, it’s someone who lets their personality shine through and clearly seems passionate about the topic they’re discussing. Sharing personal examples relevant to the topic really helps drive connection with the listener. Whether it’s a circumstance where you failed miserably and can share your learnings, or it’s a great example of the steps to success, people want little nuggets of gold they can take away with them. And, if you can deliver that with some humour, a laugh, and some raw honesty, then it’s a win in my books.

F: What kinds of brands / people should have their own podcast?

BB: I think there is space for podcasts dedicated to any theme or topic, but you should really think about what your broader business goals are. Podcasts take A LOT of time to execute. I do every single element of my podcast, from writing the questions to editing the episodes, creating the social media graphics plus, writing the social media copy and show notes; it is incredibly time consuming. You can easily outsource some elements of this process to a production company or producer if you have the budget to do so but, if you’re on your own and/or don’t have the budget to outsource anything, consider whether a podcast is the best use of your time to achieve your business goals.

Mel Robbins The Lot Co on Podcasting

Mel Robbins, Founder | The Lot Co

F: Why did you decide to launch your own podcast?

MR: I myself love listening to podcasts and find that they are easy to consume while doing others things (driving, exercising etc….). It is a great way to connect with someone and really hear their point of view.  You also get a really great sense of them as a person and whether you like their style or not. Hearing someone’s voice is a very personal connection as opposed to just seeing still imagery or reading a blog post.

F: Why should PRs be considering podcasts as part of their PR strategy?  

MR: In regards to content creation they have a really long life span. You may record an episode and it have reach people months and years later, as opposed to lots of other content. It is also a way to humanise brands like never before.

F: What’s the best way for PRs to pitch guests to your show?  

MR: Be very specific in terms of what the guest can bring or offer that is a point of difference. Why is their story unique and also how it works as a collaboration. How can it help bring exposure to new audiences for the hosts?

F: What makes a great podcast guest?

MR: Someone willing to share their story, their specifics (their process or growth strategies for example), get personal! But also someone where the conversation flows and their answers are not just stale and short but lead on to other topics or tangents.

F: What kinds of brands / people should have their own podcast?  

Those in the service based business could definitely benefit. Anyone where your service or products are being purchased or considered based on your expertise, background and connection. It acts as an introduction to you and your knowledge base and whether you explain things in a way that people can relate to, or be inspired by.  t showcases your background and allows people to connect with you in a way that no other medium can.

Image from Saba via Flaunter.

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