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Last week I was back in the studios of markettiers4dc to record a podcast all about podcasting. It was my thirteenth show in the series that I produce for the CIPR’s Social Media Panel, so would number 13 prove to be unlucky? Well, listen right up until the final minute to find out!
I was joined by three fellow podcasters: Neville Hobson, who, after over 800 shows and 10 years of podcasting, had just recorded his final Hobson & Holtz report the week before, a podcast that is a key part of the FIR Network that he launched with Shel Holtz.
My other guests in the studio were Tom Ollerton, Marketing and Innovation Director at We Are Social, and Alastair Cole, Chief Innovation Officer at Partners Andrews Aldridge, who together, produce the Innovation Ramble, a podcast that only launched a few months ago but that has had the backing of The Drum, and is one that I am a big fan of.
The aim of this episode was to investigate how brands and organisations could use podcasting as part of their communications mix, be that sponsoring existing content or creating their own.
I have to say, this was one of my favourite episodes to date, although perhaps that was because it was on a topic that I am heavily involved in!
There were a number of take outs from the show and tips that were provided.
Firstly, I agree with Tom’s view that podcasting is a long form format, something you can listen to on a walk or the commute, although Neville stressed the fact that you can, of course, listen to podcasts whilst doing other things, unlike video or the written word. In that respect, it’s no different to radio, which as the latest RAJAR figures will show, is listened to more than ever in the UK.
The link to radio is something we also covered in that podcasting would appear to be far more popular in the US than in the UK, which, in Neville’s opinion, is because the UK has excellent radio programming, but that’s not the case in the US, which drove the popularity of podcasting there as people looked for alternative audio content to listen to.
With regards to the question of how brands can get involved in podcasting, Neville believes it all comes down to what the goals are. For example, is it simply to generate brand exposure or perhaps be seen as a subject matter expert? However, one of the issues that may arise, is that many brand owners may have unrealistic expectations due to the huge exposure that Mailchimp gained from sponsoring the incredibly successful ‘Serial’, which has arguably created a resurgence in podcasting. In the show, I referred to an article that I had read in VanityFair by Sarah Ellison, where she wrote that the co-creator of Serial, Julie Snyder, hoped for about 300,000 downloads when they launched and as the CPM for the sponsor slots were sold to Mailchimp before they knew how valuable they would be, they believe they may have lost out a huge number in terms of unrealised revenue as the podcast has since been downloaded over 97million times.
Tom was quick to point out though that Serial is an anomaly and was a year’s work with some of the top radio people putting it together, and he felt that brands are missing a trick if all they are looking for is a ‘killer’ CPM. He thinks the opportunity for brands is to innovate with the format, rather than stick their advert at the beginning, middle or end of the format. He suggests brands should concentrate on creating their own content, particularly given it is relatively cheap to do and therefore recommends finding an opportunity, producing a pilot, and if no one downloads it, to pivot, iterate, change and do it again. Tom said that you can roll out ten different podcasts on ten different subjects, look at the data and see what is connecting with people.
Neville added to this in that he believes what it comes down to is having compelling content, telling a phenomenal story and ensuring there is something different about you to other podcasts. For him, podcasting is not about mainstream media type numbers, but instead, it’s about the small niche audiences that are interested in a specific topic. Neville therefore thinks that brands would be more satisfied if they thought like that about the medium rather than thinking about ‘mega’ numbers.
Alastair agreed and said that the right way to go is for brands to be looking to ‘scratch their own itch’, i.e., find something that they are genuinely passionate about.
We covered off a number of ways to help promote podcasts, which included:
- Ensure you are on iTunes
- Host your podcasts on your own site or social community where you can drive listeners to and encourage further engagement and discussion
- Ask listeners to rate and review you on iTunes, which will help your positioning in the iTunes charts
- Encourage guests (if you have them) to promote the fact they were on the show to their own email databases
- Share your content across social media
- Use enterprise sharing tools such as GaggleAMP
Rachel’s five key tips for organisations looking to produce content for internal communications purposes were to:
- Create your own content, that doesn’t have to be a big ‘polished’ production
- Make it for employees by employees
- Encourage your employees to get involved by using their own devices
- Have real conversations
- Experiment with frequency and see what the appetite is for the content
Finally, some other podcasts we mentioned that are worth checking out, if nothing else, just to hear how others do it and how varied podcast content can be, included:
- The Moth
- The Football Ramble
- The Spurs Show
- Wag The Dog FM
- The Engaging Brand
- Hard Core History
If you are interested in getting involved in this series, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch with me directly. You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #ciprcsuite.