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Say Whaaaat?! Podcasts: An Important Niche in Public Relations

Published on March 8, 2021, at 8:50 p.m. 
by Kris Scott.

Computer? Check. Microphone? Check. Headphones? Check. Recording Software? Check.

What once was an anomaly in public relations is now an important niche.

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

As traditional forms of media decline in popularity, podcasts have evolved into a popular medium of communication. Due to this ubiquitous trend, podcasts have become go-to solutions for PR professionals — especially those looking to cultivate relationships with their target audiences.

Lauren Reed, president and founder of REED Public Relations, described the influence of podcasts.

“While podcasts are often viewed as a form of one-way communication, they can actually be extremely effective in allowing you to connect with niche audiences and gain devoted followers,” explained Reed. “Podcasts are also mutually beneficial as they give you a platform to share your expertise and provide your listeners with information about topics that interest them.”

Whereas podcasts were previously used as a mobile means of entertainment, today they fulfill a more strategic purpose. In fact, PR professionals utilize podcasts to complete a number of objectives. Of these objectives, disseminating relevant information and garnering increased press coverage are most apparent.

Even still, podcasts offer a number of latent benefits to PR professionals. Through the unlikely combination of entertainment and information distribution, podcasts give them the ability to connect with fellow experts. Additionally, podcasts allow PR professionals the opportunity to deliver pertinent information in a relatively efficient and inexpensive manner.

The president and CEO of Durée & Company, Durée Ross, offered further insight into the advantages of podcasting.

“Podcasts are a great tool for storytelling and starting the conversation about a brand,” said Ross. “They also allow the podcaster to become a thought leader in their industry, because listeners are hearing information and current trends straight from the source.”

Ross further attributed the “ease, accessibility and likability found in podcasts” as important benefits. She stated that podcasts aid PR professionals in their ability to communicate with key stakeholders. In doing so, PR professionals “create a quality connection that will last.”

Katie Adkisson, partner and co-founder at REED Public Relations, described how podcasts are not subject to the same restrictions as traditional forms of media. “Podcasts allow you more time to speak on your talking points,” Adkisson stated. “Where you might get two-three minutes on radio or TV, you can get 15-30 minutes on a podcast.”

Beyond these advantages, podcasts are an important media relations strategy. Dubbed podcast relations, podcasting, like other PR tactics, can increase awareness for a brand. Perhaps more noteworthy, when utilized alongside other existing forms of media relations, podcasting significantly influences a brand’s call to action. Notable brands such as General Electric, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson are testaments to this feat.

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

Ross adamantly agreed that podcasts are an important form of media relations.

“Including podcasts as part of a PR strategy opens up a whole other viable channel of communication,” expressed Ross. “Podcasts often have a loyal following who tune in daily or weekly and even further engage on social media. Omitting podcasts from a public relations strategy means losing that loyal following and any potential media opportunities for a client.”

Adkisson expressed similar sentiments. She believes that podcasts’ widespread interest as a form of media relations is attributed to two generations. “Podcasting has virtually replaced radio and broadcast news for millennials and Gen Z,” said Adkisson. “They are getting their human interest and feel-good stories from podcasts, along with hard news.”

Like any PR tactic, podcasting is a strategic form of communication. In this sense, it is important that PR professionals understand their target audiences and how diverse communication channels can help or hinder the message conveyed to them. Without an understanding of each audience’s receptiveness to specific communication channels, effectively reaching them becomes more difficult.

Reed advised PR professionals to be cognizant of their use of podcasts. She emphasized that all PR tactics are dependent upon the client’s needs.

“As PR professionals, it is our role to determine the best strategies for our clients to reach their stakeholders,” explained Reed. “It’s important to remember, though, that like any marketing and PR tactic, it is not for everyone, and it is critical to be thoughtful about how and why you choose to distribute content. If podcasts make sense for your client, it is vital to include content that is unique enough that they will choose to listen to you amid the rest of the noise.”

Ross, summarizing the evolution of podcasts in PR, predicts that the functionality of podcasts will continually increase their popularity.

“Podcasts often pull in a higher level of engagement, due to audience captivation,” she asserted. “There is a podcast for every topic, so it’s easy to find one that resonates with your brand, product or persona. Podcasts can be a great resource and should be considered for any public relations strategy.”

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