Podcasting isn’t a new medium. In fact, Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times calls it “a slow, steady and unrelentingly persistent digital tortoise.” Today that tortoise is finally catching up to the hare.
Advances in mobile and digital technologies have made podcasts not only easier to create but also to consume, making them a perfect medium for today’s PR pro. Podcasts empower you to tap into a highly engaged and willingly captive audience. Listeners tend to be extremely loyal, meaning they’re likely to share the show—and brand—with colleagues, friends and family.
- Podcasting has been steadily growing its audience over the past two years.
- Almost 20 percent of Americans listen to a podcast at least once a month. Click to Tweet!
- Mobile devices are the preferred way to listen to podcasts (63 percent in 2014, up from 43 percent in 2012). Click to Tweet!
But the podcast medium has some kinks to work out. Fortunately, Cision can offer some guidance about how to get started with podcasting.
Know your audience.
Podcasts cater to the mobile crowd, so start by looking at existing analytics about that data point. Next, dig into your target audience’s demographics and interests. All this information develops the audience persona and determines tone, style and angle.
Always have an angle.
No angle, no audience. Veteran podcaster Jack Wallen says, “Without a unique take on a topic, the signal-to-noise ratio will favor background noise, and you’ll blend in with everyone else gabbing about the subject.”
Decide on a format.
Podcasts require narrators and story arcs, a formula, to establish brand identity and rhythm with the audience. Think about introductions, which can include music, closings and segments—a consideration if wanting to monetize the podcast.
Establish a schedule.
While podcast listeners can tune in whenever they wish, they will expect you to keep to a publishing calendar. If you don’t, they will turn to another podcast, leaving you the unenviable task of wooing them back. Once you hit your podcasting stride, consider creating a few extra episodes about evergreen topics that you can use if time gets short. Click to Tweet!
Invest in good tools.
“Podcasting is all about the sound,” says Tyler Hayes, FastCo Labs contributor, which means it’s all about microphones, headphones and editing software. Software options include GarageBand, Reaper and Audacity. For microphone and headphones, view Dan Benjamin’s lists. He’s been recording audio for years.
Go easy with the editing.
It’s important to produce a quality product, but don’t overdo it. It’s like airbrushing photos. You want to do it just enough to make the product shine.
Invest in a hosting service.
Prepare for success by investing in a third-party podcasting host provider. It gives you a number of benefits, including bandwidth and RSS feed reliability.
Set up a Creative Commons license.
Licenses let people know how your content can and cannot be used. It’s a good idea to use one, particularly if you intend to pitch your podcast to the media or aim to grow your reach through attribution.
Utilize SEO tactics.
Distribute your podcast.
Here’s where an RSS feed and SEO pay off. The RSS feed simplifies sharing your podcast to directories like iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify. The SEO helps with getting the podcast found.
Promote the podcast.
Promotion generally involves two audiences, your already existing one and the new listeners you hope to attract. Draw them in with other content channels, such as email newsletters, social media and visual media.
Launch the podcast.
In addition to building a reserve to cover the times when you lack time, launch with a few episodes already created. Jon Nastor at Copyblogger suggests three at minimum. This bank of episodes will help you gain visibility through iTunes’ New & Noteworthy category. Build additional momentum with the promotion tactics mentioned above.
Keep the audience engaged.
Podcast listeners react to shows via comments and social media. Use both communication vehicles to build rapport and long-term goodwill. Also establish a hashtag for your podcast to drive interest and word-of-mouth on social.
Podcasts are a little difficult to quantify, but don’t fret. Use the number of downloads as a benchmarking tool. Supplement the data with social listening tools to assess audience reception. If using calls to action and tagged hyperlinks, study the effect on website traffic. Try to get podcast subscribers to identify themselves with deeper content offerings, too. See how they pair against the rest of your database. Click to Tweet!
Podcasting may be the tortoises of digital media, but it’s starting to give the hares a run for their money. Use the medium to engage and activate your audience. They want to hear from you.