The podcast is dead. Long live the podcast

The podcast is dead. Long live the podcast

Firefly HQ

Firefly HQ

Almost ten years after being named New Oxford American Dictionary’s ‘Word of the Year’; the ‘podcast’ has carved out a niche in the media spectrum, not just as another medium but as a unique way for businesses to communicate with stakeholders.

A billion subscriptions

Originally named ‘podcasting’ because listeners downloaded audio shows to iPods; the medium was touted as the ‘next big thing’.  Today, some argue that the term ‘podcasting’ is defunct. The rocketing adoption of smartphones has all but killed off the iPod, yet with iTunes announcing the 1 billionth podcast subscription this year (and remember that’s just one publishing platform), the term is unlikely to go anywhere soon; cemented in the same way as we ‘Google’ things rather than search them.

The name remains but the medium has changed and the potential audience has grown. 

Why put your message across with a podcast?

For starters, it’s the power of the human voice. There is no better way of conveying a strong sense of personality, expertise and ability in order to reassure listeners that you’re someone they can do business with.

And because podcasts are regular (or should be) then podcasters have an opportunity to build up a relationship over time. We’ve noticed that some of the best podcasts extend this via social media, with Google+, LinkedIn groups, or through Twitter.

Podcasters, from well known media companies to amateur enthusiasts, are recording shows and blurring the lines between the broadcasting elite and citizen journalism.

Competing for… ‘dead time’

In a world where people want ‘on demand’ services, podcasting has been accommodating for over a decade. Once downloaded, they’re ready to go. Today’s podcast can be downloaded anywhere (through 3 and 4G), and effortlessly synced between devices, meaning unlike social media, which requires an internet connection, podcasts can be consumed anywhere.

When media is vying for people's attention, podcasting can reach those in otherwise ‘dead time’.  From the driving to long haul flights, podcasts are a way to educate and inform without reliance on internet connection. While we don’t necessarily advocate 90 minute podcasts (although there are people that make these work), there aren’t many media that hold their audience’s attention for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

With the average UK commuter spending around 41 minutes commuting a day (56 minutes if you live in London) such time is not to be underestimated. Think how many people you see with headphones on throughout the day, many will be listening to music, but some will be listening to podcasts.

Whereas radio shows are listened to, podcasts are chosen

Watching TV or listening to radio can be passive. Many switch them on to have background noise. Podcasts are chosen; they have been searched out and subscribed to, meaning the listener has already made the commitment to the show and will listen from the beginning. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll listen all the way through but does put the power in the hands of the show producer to keep them interested.

Perfect for niche interest groups

If, like many of our clients, you serve a niche interest group, then producing your own podcast is a perfect way of reaching your audience. There are podcasts for topic areas as diverse as cloud computing and weather forecasting – from personal finance to personal fitness. But the best news is that there are lots of niches still to be filled – or just to be better served.

Low cost – to broadcast and consume

The investment required to produce a show is minimal, expecially when compared to video or other multi media. It pays to buy high quality recording equipment, but we’re talking hundreds of pounds to set up.   The true investment comes in the form of commitment to produce a show on a regular basis, scripting the running order of the show and ensuring the content is compelling to keep people coming back for more. Even then, it’s still less time investment than going down the video route.

And we mustn’t forget that podcasts are free to download. iTunes clearly segments ‘audio books’ (paid for audio programmes) and free podcasts and therefore they are very attractive for those looking to find out as much as possible about a certain subject.

Firefly’s podcasting service for 2014

Firefly has refreshed its podcast offering to match the medium’s evolution and now offers a full service that enables businesses to position their spokespeople as experts in their field.

More details can be found on our podcasting page.

If you’re interested in adding a podcast to your campaign, please contact us via Firefly offers weekly, bi-weekly and monthly show packages.

Listen to our show 

My colleague Phil Szomszor and I currently have our own personal podcast, PR True or False, where each week, we take a myth/preconception about the PR industry and decide whether it’s true or false.  Have a listen and let us know your thoughts!

Other essential listening…

The podcasts above are a few of mine and Phil’s favourites, but let us know if you’d like more recommendations for your area of interest.

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