Loose talk costs money

Podcasts are reshaping the way that businesses are interacting with their stakeholders. Georgie Russell explains why the format appeals – and why there are winners and losers.

Media interviews can fail.

Sometimes dramatically – if company news gets shared unintentionally or speakers dry up. But more often than not, because the interview proves to be a missed opportunity.

It’s a tough medium; success depends upon a speaker’s ability to simplify their narrative, find distinct and succinct messages and communicate them while responding to a series of unknown questions. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea.

Sympathetic format?

So, it’s perhaps not surprising to see corporate comms teams’ heads being turned by what on the surface appears to be a more sympathetic format – the podcast.

Podcasts have gone mainstream since the start of the pandemic. According to ‘The Infinite Dial UK’ report from Edison Research, 71% of over-16s in the UK were aware of podcasts in 2021 and 59% had listened to one. In the US, the numbers were even higher, although when it came to monthly podcast listening the two countries were on a par.

It’s not difficult to see the appeal. While news reporters must dial-down their personality and reside firmly on the fence, podcast presenters are encouraged to share their views. And with more personality, comes the potential for rapport, intimacy even, drawing the listener in in a way that’s not possible in a five-minute slot on the Today Programme.

Podcasts are more relaxed in pace and tone than media interviews. The clash of agendas is less evident, they feel closer in form to a normal conversation. Speakers enjoy more time to set out their thought leadership and there’s more room for the all-important proof points, where the real communication so often happens. Human brains are wired to remember stories more easily than facts and figures and – dare we say it – corporate messaging. Podcasts enable storytelling. And, as a result, they are re-shaping the way corporates interact with their customers, clients, even investors.

Technical detail

A further selling point, for corporate comms teams in particular, is that podcast audiences can be niche, with a healthy appetite for technical detail. Spokespeople can push into detailed descriptions of their purpose, products and services, differentiating their brand as they go – all in the knowledge that the industry reporters they aren’t talking to directly are probably listening, and may write up their story anyway.

This last point is worth a second thought – journalists listen to podcasts, too.

And the relaxed, non-hostile, chummy atmosphere, sometimes accompanied by cups of tea or rounds of beer, can lead to over-sharing; loose talk costs money.

Podcast success isn’t a given. There is, for one thing, the not-insignificant-challenge of having to hold an audience’s attention over what can be up to an hour or two of audio. And regardless of how well you felt the raw recording went, at the end of the day, you are at the mercy of the sound editor.

So, there’s prep work to be done; there needs to be a plan.

Podcasts can fail, too.

If you’d like support in preparing and delivering podcasts, get in touch.

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Georgie Russell

Associate Director

Georgie delivers executive media and presentation coaching.

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