Content Overload Dilemma – Or – Why Podcast

By Tracy Schario, APR, and Meredyth Jensen

We’ve been talking a lot about podcasts over coffee this summer. Meredyth produces The 10-Minute Mentor, an executive management conversation series for Merryck & Co. Tracy regularly consumes Dear Sugars (one of whom is Cheryl Strayed, best known for her memoir Wild), Dinner Party Download (DPD) and The Splendid Table, among others. We muse about what makes a good podcast. Finding women’s voices in the audio stream. The myriad of marketing podcasts that are somewhat lackluster, yet popular. Creating podcasts that offer distinctly different content rather than merely another distribution channel for content. The challenges of marketing and distributing a podcast. The possibility of creating our own PR/Marketing mavens series.

A few facts that inform the deliberation.

pexels-photo-347700-torsten-dettlaff

Courtesy: Pexels/Torsten Dettlaff

With more than 42 million weekly listeners, according to The Infinite Dial 2017, an annual trends report by Edison Research and Triton Digital, podcasts have proven their staying power. In fact, it is their power of connection that makes the medium so effective. The listener chooses the topic that speaks to his or her need for information, education, entertainment or inspiration. Dear Sugars may bring one to tears but the Icebreaker on DPD most always brings a chuckle.

Podcasts also appeal to a wide range of listeners – nearly equal thirds for Ages 18-34, 35-54 and 55 and older. The Edison Triton researchers conclude, “The audience for podcasts continues to be predominately 18-54, and leans slightly male.” If you are considering launching a podcast, understanding your audience is a critical first step to developing content, length, format and frequency.

With today’s smart phone driven culture, it should be no surprise that 81% of subscribers listen on a mobile device. While many download podcasts and listen immediately, 41% download for later and 27% subscribe. Not only are podcasts convenient for on demand consumption, you can multi-task while listening, while driving or working out, for example. Stop. Start. Rewind or fast forward in 15-second increments. Pause and continue later.

One of the most essential findings from the Edison Triton research is that 48% of monthly podcast consumers follow company brands on social media. That number is sure to increase. Podcasts are an opportunity to build your multi-channel content strategy and utilize social media for promotions.

Why podcast? An ROI case study illustrates the business value.

For Merryck & Co., the catalyst for developing a podcast series was a way to build their brand position as a global leader in executive advisory and leadership development. Their unique value proposition is having a cadre of experienced C-suite executives who provide 1-on-1 mentoring services to Fortune 250 senior leaders. We started with an audio storytelling strategy on a topic Merryck knows best: leadership in the age of disruption. By featuring authentic, pragmatic, and thought-provoking conversations between Merryck’s CEO and top business executives, each episode uncovers crucible moments that defined them as leaders.

Whether the discussion dives deep into managing through crisis, leading through transformation, or dealing with activist investors in the boardroom, Merryck has put a content stake in the ground with subject matter experts that have helped countless listeners accelerate their own leadership impact. And the return on the investment speaks volumes. The series has driven a 10X year-over-year increase in web traffic, while the dedicated podcast page of Merryck’s website is consistently one of the top three most visited pages on the site since it first launched last November. Additionally, two new (six-figure) clients who listened to The 10 Minute Mentor were inspired to hire Merryck based on topics that resonated with their current leadership challenges. Another outcome is the increase in executive visibility – not only for Merryck’s CEO, who has doubled his public speaking engagements this year – but a surge in client inquiries for each Merryck mentor who has been featured on a podcast.

Conclusion?

By now, if you haven’t considered creating a podcast, it’s time to contemplate this compelling distribution channel for content, brand management and as a potential new revenue driver. It requires skill in audio recording and editing, a vision for how you can advance the conversation in an increasingly crowded space and the ability to engage an audience through dialogue. Sounds easy, right?

As you explore the pros and cons of podcasting, here a few good reads to help develop your business case for the investment.

As for our coffee chats, perhaps we’ll soon be podcasting to test out our hypothesis that there is space for more women’s perspective on the happenings in our industry. And you can bet we’ll be scouting for more great podcasts.

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Podcasting: Beyond the iPod

If blogs can transform people into journalists, does podcasting transform them into TV or radio personalities?  It sure looks that way, based on a presentation by Richard Harrington of RHED Pixel at a June 4 lunch program of the Independent Public

Mary-Jane Atwater

Mary-Jane Atwater

Relations Alliance, a committee of PRSA-NCC.

Several at the meeting were podcast veterans, including Mary Fletcher Jones of Fletcher Prince, who has created PR Conversations in Public Relations, a podcast featuring what Mary says are “DC’s most interesting public relations professionals.”  Others at the IPRA meeting have just begun to create podcasts.  But the majority of us were podcasting rookies, eager to learn about how podcasting technology can be used to benefit our clients.

If anyone thinks that podcasting is tied to iPods and Apples, think again.  Rather, podcasting is a highly targeted, syndicated series of video or audio shows available online to people who subscribe to them (usually for free and through an RSS feed).  And unlike videos posted on YouTube, podcasts can be downloaded from host sites to all types of consumer electronic devices (TVs, computers, mobile phones, gaming systems) to watch when it’s convenient.  That means no more email blasts or expensive postage to ship DVDs.

A quick check of the podcasts available for free download from the iTunes directory shows that there’s no limit to podcast topics:  action sports, arts, crafts, cooking, the environment, how-to, hi-tech, parenting, world news and more.  Since 85% of all Americans can now get online whenever they want, and 82% of U.S. homes with Internet now have broadband, the market for podcasts is enormous.  According to Richard Harrington, 35-44 year olds are the largest groups of podcast subscribers.

With an opt-in audience and the ability to target niche markets, it would seem that podcasts are a smart move for many businesses and nonprofits.  But Harrington cautions that podcasts are not for everyone, especially those who don’t have the time or resources to create new episodes and add new production features.  Podcasts can’t stand alone to establish your brand (but they can help extend your brand), and they certainly aren’t for those who like to keep things private.

Still, podcasting appears to be a great, relatively low-cost way to grow an audience and provide information, including showing how a product is used or describing a service. As PR professionals, we need to know when podcasting should be part of a PR plan and be comfortable explaining this technology to our clients.  IPRA’s program helped move us in that direction.