PR agencies & freelancers are getting into the podcast game
An obscure niche platform until not long ago, podcasts are now firmly in the mainstream, mostly thanks to their ability to help us all with one of the great challenges of the digital age–saving time in a busy world.
Podcasts go where we go. We can listen in the car, at the gym, on the way to work or just while out and about. In other words, we can listen while doing something else too. It’s the age of multi-tasking and podcasts make it easier to make the most of our day. We can catch up on news, escape into a hobby, learn new skills or experiment and find a new world of fun and entertainment.
One look at the iTunes listing of top podcasts should be enough to convince anyone that the convenience, efficiency and overall appeal of the podcast format has broken through the media noise and found its place in every field and subject area you can think of.
That includes public relations, too. While perhaps not as big as, say, general marketing podcasts, the first pioneers are moving into the world of PR-based content. While it might be too late to be the first, the field is still wide open and there is plenty of room for you to plant your flag with your own PR podcast.
So how about it? Ready to get behind the microphone?
Why you should start your own PR podcast
Starting your PR podcast is a lot more than an opportunity to release your inner performer, although there’s nothing wrong with that. There are a number of concrete benefits it can bring to the business side of any PR agency. Take a look at what starting a podcast could do for you:
- Thought leadership. Expanding your activities beyond the norm to a podcast can help to establish you as an authority in the field. If you have so much to say about PR that you need a podcast, you must be a trusted authority in PR matters, right?
- Stand out from the crowd. Again, it’s too late to be the first but how many PR agencies have their own podcast? Starting your own would be an impressive differentiator in a crowded field. It’s a great way to show your high level of engagement with the larger PR community and commitment to sharing all aspects of what PR professionals do.
- Boost your SEO. Each one of your podcasts will have a separate URL and unique keywords, enhancing your online footprint. When it comes to search engine visibility, the extra dose of variety that a podcast brings can outperform additions you make to written content, like blogs.
- Inbound lead generation. All of this building your credibility and profile leads toward the same goal—converting it into attention, conversations and clients. Clients can arrive at your door in a million different ways, but being active in the online space in a way that many of them may not expect can only help the process of welcoming new business.
- Sponsorship opportunities. You don’t have to regularly attract a massive audience in order to have podcast sponsors. It’s great if the opportunity for paid sponsorship arises, but remember that you can also feature promotional mentions of your own clients or other brands you establish partnerships with.
The benefits are clear—starting a podcast is a unique opportunity to attract clients while building your reputation both online and off. But we can hear you asking, “What am I supposed to talk about on the podcast?”
We’re glad you asked because we have an answer…
Here’s what to put on your PR podcast
They say “content is king” and the same rule applies to podcasts as it does to blogs, websites, etc. You can attract listeners but you need engaging useful content to keep them coming back.
A PR background should give you plenty of inspiration for podcast topics but here are some of the basics that always work out when done well:
- General PR industry news and current events. In a field as large as PR, there’s always something interesting going on. It might be local, national or international but there is always something to talk about. Pick a topic and present it in an accessible way that informs and even maybe entertains. Highlight a lesson it teaches or a rule it illustrates. Try to provide takeaways for listeners that will make them better at what they do or more informed about the world of PR.
- News about you and your agency. You have to be careful not to make yourself the star too often but listeners do want to hear about you, what you’re doing and what makes your work special.
- Case studies. A staple of all business-oriented podcasts. Listeners want to hear about the challenges, triumphs and setbacks that others have experienced and how they dealt with them. Case studies give you a chance to showcase your work, your people and the way you deal with clients. Careful not to make it too self-promotional—make it about the client and PR tactics and strategies.
- Guest interviews. You might be the best host or hostess ever, but listeners will appreciate a bit of variety from time to time. Guests bring their own opinions, experience and knowledge, expanding the value of your podcast. On top of that, remember that guests present an opportunity to connect with a new audience–those who are listening to you because they’re more interested in your guest. Don’t forget to ask for those “likes” and “follows”!
- Listener questions and comments. What better way to engage your audience than to make them the star of the show? Make it clear that listeners are always welcome to contact you with questions about PR or their input on the various topics you cover. Use this feedback to answer them and discuss their opinions on the subjects you discuss.
Don’t let the task of thinking of new content for every episode of your podcast be a barrier to getting started. Again, there is always something to talk about and you’re more likely to experience the opposite problem of having to decide on the best topic among several options.
Instead of worrying about the challenge of filling your podcast with useful, well-presented content, it’s better to focus on achieving the highest level of production you can.
Here’s how to produce a PR podcast
One of the reasons for the amazing growth of podcasting is the low barrier to entry into the field. You don’t need Hollywood-level production facilities or advanced technical skills to create a podcast that sounds great. These days, a typical smartphone has all the essentials for a basic podcast. On top of that, listeners are rather forgiving when it comes to a strictly audio format—clear sound and simple production elements are enough.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should aim low for your PR podcast. Here are some tips for creating a podcast that can sound like you put way more effort into than you really did.
- Get a real microphone. Or two. Search for “podcast microphone” online and watch your screen get flooded with an infinite number of designs, brands and price points. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a microphone that sounds like you spent a lot of money. Since sharing a mic can be a little awkward, get as many as you need for regular hosts and at least one more dedicated mic for guests.
- Record in a quiet place. Sorry to point out the obvious here, but use a dedicated space where distracting background noise can be eliminated as much as possible. Also, smaller rooms do work better—recording alone in a conference room can make you sound like you’re in a canyon.
- Use intro & outro music, at least. This is an easy and free (if you want) shortcut to instant credibility. A simple, ten-second musical introduction is enough to establish you as a podcasting pro and serves as an audio cue for your listeners. Don’t start any podcast episode with just your voice. You can use the same music when you wrap things up at the end. During the episode, use short sound effects to mark a change in subject, the introduction of a guest, etc. Just search “podcast sound effects” online for easy access to large libraries of royalty-free music and sounds.
- Get some visuals. Yes, it’s an audio format but you’ll need things like a simple logo and maybe other visuals for the distribution platforms where you’ll share your podcast. Like everything else here, these can be as basic or elaborate as you want. Use the graphic design programs installed on your laptop or hire a famous artist, it’s up to you.
- Use simple recording tools. This is another thing that most computers will already have installed. If you’re not happy with that, there are any number of free audio recorders online. It’s the same when it comes to editing and post-production.
Even beginners can put together a podcast that will impress listeners with freely available tools, a bit of rehearsal and some simple technical experimentation. But there’s one more step to take before the PR can start applauding all the good work you’ve done.
Here’s how to get your PR podcast out to the world
So you have your podcast recorded, produced and sounding great. Now what?
It’s time to share it, of course. That means you need a platform to host everything and make it possible for listeners to download or stream your work. Once again, there is no shortage of options here.
We’ll list some platforms that offer free plans to start in just a moment. However, it’s best to go into this planning to spend a bit of money on paid plans for hosting your podcast for these reasons:
- It doesn’t cost that much. This is not a break-the-bank scenario. Depending on some of the details that follow, you could spend less than $100 a year on hosting your podcast—quite a deal when you consider everything we’ve already covered.
- Upload / Download limits. Do you really want to keep track of exactly how many megabytes you’ve uploaded or worry that you’re reaching your download limit for the month? We didn’t think so. Free plans are free for a reason.
- Admin access. Depending on how you set up your podcast and how many people are involved, you may need to share access to the admin panel of your podcast platform. Paid plans always include multiple admins.
- Distribution to other channels. A standard feature among serious platforms is the distribution of your podcast to other sites and aggregators, like Spotify, Apple Podcasts and even Youtube. Your choice–spend an extra hour adding each of your podcasts to a long list of other channels or pay a little extra for it to be done automatically.
- Analytic insights. This goes beyond simple metrics like clicks, although of course, that’s important. On paid plans, you’ll be able to learn more about listener reaction to episodes, including things like listen times, shares, download histories, etc.
Let’s just agree that you’ll at least consider going right to a paid plan on a platform like one of these:
We could literally go on for ten more pages, listing even more podcasting platforms but we won’t. Still, that should give you an idea of just how big podcasting has become and every indication is that it will continue to grow even more.
It’s never too late to get in the game, so think about how you could bring a fresh angle to the PR world with your own podcast. Don’t forget us when iTunes ranks you #1 in PR!