Using podcasts to drive earned media

A well-done podcast is a formidable tool for garnering press coverage and growing a brand's public profile.

By now, everybody knows the value of a podcast for cultivating a targeted audience of potential customers. Podcasts are increasingly popular and control an ever-growing share of the content consumption pie.

According to a recent study, 17% of those 55 and up have taken up podcasts, and 40% of those ages 12-24 are listening. However, most organizations neglect the power of a podcast when looking to drive earned media. When done well, podcasts can be a formidable tool for garnering press coverage and dramatically growing a brand’s public profile.

Here are a few tips for employing this strategy:

You must have high-production values. First, the most successful podcasts have a focused niche. It should be clear what the show is about and what listeners will get out of it.

Second, you need strong guests. It isn’t as difficult as many people think to secure high-profile guests for your podcast, especially when you get these other three points right. That doesn’t mean you’ll get Oprah to make an appearance. But shoot for the most well-known people you can reach in your genre and be relentless about booking them.

Third, use professional editing: Don’t skimp on this and have an intern edit your show using a free program. Work with an expert to ensure you have high sound quality and editing for seamless flow.

And finally, use high quality graphics. Again, many people tend to skimp here. Get your show’s cover photo and any episode promo graphics professionally designed.

Leverage guest interviews to make news. This is the most important aspect of using a podcast to drive earned media. The reason you’re creating a show with high production values and high profile guests is so you can make news and create a domino effect that leads to coverage for your brand and syndications for your show.

After each interview, identify quotes or insights that may be thought-provoking, unconventional or controversial. Parlay those into press pitches.

When planning for your podcast interviews, shape the questions around topics or events that are at the intersection of your guest’s expertise and what is currently newsworthy. Sometimes, a highly-coveted guest is enough for a podcast to receive press attention. But more often than not, you want to look for opportunities within the interview itself to make news.

Distribute the podcast in multiple formats. Maximize the mileage you get from each episode by distributing it in different formats. Creating a video recording of your episodes is the gold standard for this and provides many opportunities to publish the show on other platforms, like YouTube. It also gives you the chance to promote the show by posting short excerpts on other social media sites.

Converting each episode to text is also a great way to add value. Publish either a full transcript of the Q & A or a short transcript with a link to the full audio show on your website to capture more eyeballs and to generate additional SEO value.

Secure syndication through contributor accounts. What’s the next best option after feature media coverage? Getting your episodes shown directly on a news website. There are many ways to do this. Some news outlets have their own video networks that you can syndicate to. But with many outlets, it’s done through a contributed article where you’ll embed an episode of the podcast.

If you aren’t already contributing to publications, reach out to the editorial staff to inquire about sharing your podcast with their audience. This is another time when high production values and high profile guests will carry you a long way.

Cultivate surrogates to push your show. Create a circle of influencers that will share your podcast with their social media followers. Even if the group starts out as just employees or close friends, momentum will grow as your show produces increasingly valuable content. Ask your guests to share as well. Try to leverage each opportunity to attract new listeners, who can then be used to help you land higher-profile guests. Rinse and repeat for exponential growth.

The most important tip to keep in mind is to follow these steps consistently. High profile guests are not booked overnight and neither is tier one media coverage. But if you continue to produce quality content consistently and deliver value that is thought-provoking, the momentum almost always builds.

Richard Lorenzen is the founder and CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands, a New York-based public relations firm.

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