Guest Post by Tracy Schario, APR
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” ~Doug Kessler, Co-founder & Creative Director, Velocity Partners
I’ve been exploring the synergies of public relations and content marketing. This quote simply defines the purpose of content marketing. It is also the public relations corollary to PR’s role in engaging stakeholders to build mutually beneficial relationships with corporations, politicians or non-profits. Bottom line for both disciplines: successful communications is two-way. It always has been. However, until the explosion of social media over the past decade, marketing, and to some extent PR, has been mostly directed at target audiences.
Content marketing is about value and telling stories focused on the audience’s need for information – or entertainment. The brand is secondary, if it’s mentioned at all. Thus, a successful podcast is also about value to the listener.
Podcasts are exemplar content marketing for two key reasons.
- The good ones provide useful information and become a go-to resource.
- The good ones establish brand loyalty by providing useful information and engaging the listener.
- Bonus – It’s two-way content. Listeners can email or tweet questions and feedback, for example. Often, podcasts will reference this input in future episodes as well.
I’ve recently subscribed to This Old Marketing podcast from the Content Marketing Institute’s Founder Joe Pulizzi and Chief Content Advisor Robert Rose. (H/T Meredyth). Joe and Robert celebrated the 200th episode on Sept. 11, 2017. After a lengthy exposition on gratitude, they turn to a discussion on why they started the podcast and shared a few seminal moments from the past 4 years. Their listeners hail from 200 countries with 53% from the USA. Now that’s reach. If you have 30 minutes, listen from about minute 15 to minute 39. If you’ve been thinking about creating a podcast, Joe and Robert will convince you that it’s hard, time consuming and oh so rewarding. As they explain, if you’re just going to do podcasting a little bit, don’t do it.
My marketing colleague Meredyth Jensen and I wrote the article below on Why Podcast for the PRSA National Capital Chapter Blog on August 16, 2017. It’s a quick read of a few stats and resources, along with a case study of the Merryck & Co. podcast, The 10-Minute Mentor (a great listen on leadership from top CEOs).
Content Overload Dilemma – Or – Why Podcast
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.
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.
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.
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 are a few good reads to help develop your business case for the investment.
- Please, Please for the Love of God Do Not Start a Podcast, Ryan Holiday
- The Future of Podcasting is Strong but the Present Needs to Catch Up, Nicolas Quah
- 10 Reasons to Start a Podcast, Leslie Samuel
- Podcasts for PR Pros, Launch Squad
- Top 50 PR, Marketing, Social Media Podcasters to Follow, Cision
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.
About the Authors
Tracy Schario, APR, is a communications and media strategist and a PRSA Assembly Delegate.
Meredyth Jensen is Vice President of Revenue Marketing at RGP, a global management consulting firm.