We know that podcasting is really coming into its own as a powerful way to communicate with your community: customers, influencers, stakeholders – whoever it is you’re trying to reach out to and deepen the level of connection with.
Here are some quick statistics to remind us of the power of podcasting, and why it should be top of mind for companies and organisations keen to differentiate their brand in the marketplace.
According to Edison Research’s 2019 study The Podcast Consumer, 90 million Americans, or 32 percent of the population over the age of 12, listened to a podcast “in the last month.” This is more than double the 2014 figure, according to the research. Comparatively, 22 percent or 62 million Americans listened to a podcast “in the last week.”
A similar picture is forming in both the UK and Australia.
According to Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, podcasts are booming, with nearly six million adults tuning in each week. The number of weekly podcast listeners has almost doubled in five years – from 3.2 million (7 percent of adults aged 15+) in 2013 to 5.9 million (11 percent) in 2018.
In Australia, the Podcast Intelligence Report 2018, produced by NOVA Entertainment in partnership with Acast, found that podcasting has become the fastest-growing on-demand audio medium, with 3.5 million podcast listeners from the ages of 16- 64, representing one in four Australians in that age bracket.
Different podcasting formats
So you like the idea of podcasting but not sure how to go about it?
One of the things you’ll want to decide on early in the piece – aside from confirming your goals for doing a podcast in the first place and then defining the audience you want to reach – is choosing a format to go with.
Podcasting allows for numerous formats. Here are some of the most popular:
1. THE INTERVIEW
A solo host interviews a guest. This is probably the most enduring of all podcast formats and can be very effective. When done well, listeners feel as though they’re sitting in on a conversation between two interesting people. For the podcast host, it’s also a great way to develop professional networks and influence as you build relationships with expert guests.
- Classic examples: Six Pixels of Separation (Mitch Joel); Think Big, Act Small (Tristan White); and The Extraordinary Business Book Club (Alison Jones).
2. THE SOLO RIFF
This is when the host simply talks to the audience about a particular topic. If you’re interested in the subject and the presenter is an expert who has interesting stories and insights to share, this format can work extremely well. If the goal is to build the personal brand of the presenter and position that person as a genuine expert in a field, you could do worse than opt for this format. That said, it requires considerable preparation by the presenter because it isn’t easy to speak at length into a microphone in a focused way without waffling.
- Classic examples: SpinSucks (Gini Dietrich), Akimbo (Seth Godin), Online Marketing Made Easy (Amy Porter- field), FomoFanz (Brian Fanzo).
3. TWO-UP DISCUSSION
This is when two hosts discuss a particular topic. If the pair can maintain a conversational banter and a genial rapport while getting into a meaty discussion on a particular topic, it can make for compelling listening. If you decide to interview an expert guest, this format also works well for that.
- Classic examples: Marketing Companion (Mark Schaefer and Brooke Sellas), The Science of Social Media (produced by Buffer) and Content Sells (Suzi Dafnis and Michelle Falzon).
4. PANEL DISCUSSION
This is a discussion among three people. Here’s the thing: It’s a little difficult to produce unless all three participants are recording at the same time and in the same room. If the topic under discussion interests you, and there is a bit of to and fro among the participants, it can make for compelling listening. The key to making this format work is solid chemistry between the hosts. It doesn’t mean they have to play happy family. Indeed, a bit of tension and differing points of view keeps things interesting. But if they don’t have a conversational rapport, it can be hard to listen to.
- Classic examples: Brand Newsroom (James Lush, Sarah Mitchell and Nic Hayes) and Inside PR (Gini Dietrich, Joseph Thornley and Martin Waxman).
Audio content can be produced in creative ways, such as the style of narrative storytelling popularized by NPR’s This American Life. This format takes a lot of extra work in terms of writing and production, so if you were considering going down this track, it might be more appropriate to do so in seasonal short runs.
- Classic examples: Unthinkable (Jay Acunzo), Masters of Scale (Reid Hoffman) and StartUp (Alex Blumberg, Gimlet Media).
It takes a lot of effort to launch and maintain a successful podcast.
On the plus side, it can be a very effective way to build a sense of familiarity with your audience, and so it’s important to ensure you pick a format that’s going to work for you and your brand, and then stick to it. This doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up as you go along, but I definitely recommend erring on the side of consistency, both in terms of podcasting format and output, wherever possible.
I cover podcasting in my book Content Marketing for PR: How to build brand visibility, influence and trust in today’s social age. Check it out here!