By Robert Johnson, Award-Winning Podcast Producer & Senior Consultant, RIESTER Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.
Digital audio delivered on-demand in the form of podcasts and other streaming content is poised to take over the internet. As public relations professionals, if you’ve not yet found a way to budget for production of a show to push your agenda to target audiences, what are you waiting for?
Since the very first podcast series I produced for a client three years ago, the monthly audience for podcast content has grown by 23 million people, to 90 million this summer. It’s likely higher now, with audience growth predicted well into the future.
Also during that time, smart speakers burst onto the scene, with just over one-fourth of U.S. adults currently owning one. Looking ahead, some analysts predict 8 billion digital voice assistants will be in use by 2023, only three short years from now!
The complete market saturation of mobile devices, combined with the invasion of Alexa and her followers, Google Home and Apple HomePod among them, is fueling society’s insatiable appetite for on-demand news and information audio.
But if those trends don’t have your attention, and you’re still not sure whether to budget your money for more news release placement or a podcast, consider these ten reasons why on-demand audio content must be part of your PR plans in 2020!
1. Podcasts help build closer, and impenetrable, relationships with target audiences.
2. Podcasts train audiences to come to you first for information and commentary.
3. Podcasts provide an online news presence regardless of the media’s frustrating disinterest in your pitches.
4. Podcasts allow you to break your own news and build digital audiences.
5. Podcasts generate actionable content you can share with journalists, allowing them to hear your messages and follow, or even report, your news.
6. Podcasts result in content that audiences, including employees and customers, can like, follow, and retweet.
7. Podcasts are an effective way to meet today’s never-ending demand for fresh content about your organization’s work, industry, or positions on issues.
8. Podcasts boost website and online SEO through the posting of regular audio content.
9. Podcasts fill the information vacuum that may be occupied today by your competitors, critics, or opponents.
10. Podcasts are a more personal medium for communicating with internal audiences, such as a corporate workforce or association membership group.
If your target audience is in the Washington, D.C. area, then podcasts make even more sense, with Nielsen reporting in its 2019 “How America Listens” survey that our area leads the way in podcast listening nationwide at 46.5%. The same report notes almost half of all people Nielsen surveyed here own a smart speaker. I have two. How many do you have?
When I speak with clients about podcasts, most are quick to say they’ve considered producing a show for their organization or cause. But they’re also unsure how to get a podcast produced and online. It’s not easy, and honestly, the task is better left to broadcast-trained pros who know how to use this 21stCentury tool in a public relations context. Shows that sound good, bring relevant voices to the table, and are worth listeners’ time require a lot of planning and expertise to launch and maintain. There’s more to it than simply plugging in your Yeti mic and hitting record on your laptop or smartphone.
There is good news, however. If you don’t yet have a podcast that doesn’t mean you’re too late. The new year is a great time to bring new life to your PR tactical mix. As you set your 2020 communications budget, keep these ten points in mind and consider the energy and benefits a podcast can bring to your earned media, social media, internal communications, and proactive messaging strategies. Then, once you’ve found a partner to help you conceptualize, develop, and launch your own show, you’ll be on your way to telling your story, your way, every time.