It’s time for PR to find its podcasting voice

There are blind spots in the data that PR technology companies can provide, but that shouldn’t stop the profession from diving in.

PRWeek's Sean Czarnecki
PRWeek's Sean Czarnecki

At least five major PR technology companies offer podcast monitoring on their platforms, a stat that may have induced some head-scratching a decade ago.

In only a few months, Cision, Meltwater, Burelles and Intrado have launched podcast-monitoring services, which are powered by TVEyes’ technology that rolled out last October.

This flurry of activity in what was once a niche space highlights podcasts’ rise in not only the mainstream but also the toolkit of the PR pro. 

Podcasting is poised to become a $1 billion industry by 2021 with more than 850,000 shows. Sixty-two million people listen to podcast episodes on a weekly basis. Ninety-three percent of fans listen to most of a podcast episode, and 52% listen to the entire episode.

These figures paint a picture of a captive, passionate and educated audience, not the chaotic and cluttered wilderness of social media. This space is defined by a relatively controlled environment and strong content, whether that be true crime, Dungeons & Dragons play-throughs or local news. 

Podcasts are a medium that PR pros have worked on for years, but now it’s one they can’t ignore, especially when they’re backed by technology. In some cases, one PR pro noted, a podcast activation can be the entrée of a campaign.

While the entrance of more PR tech players is welcome, these platforms do have blind spots.

Cision, Meltwater, Intrado and Burelles all rely on TVEyes’ technology, but it only monitors 25,000 shows. This is a tiny figure compared to the 300,000 offered on Spotify. TVEyes does not capture Spotify data, a company spokesperson said.

A Spotify spokesperson didn’t return a request for comment on what types of data it provides for earned media.

The metrics these platforms offer on podcasts, as one PR pro noted, are fairly rote. Just as communicators want to know how much time a reader spends on an article, they also want to know how long listeners tuned into a podcast. They want to know how a podcast episode changed the listeners’ view of a company.

This is not to say that PR pros shouldn’t work in podcasts, just that their insights will be limited. 

As listenership increases, PR tools will grow more sophisticated. My advice to PR pros is they should ask communications technology providers how they’re planning to improve their podcast-monitoring tech. 

Sean Czarnecki is a reporter at PRWeek and editorial lead on Dashboard. Reach him at sean.czarnecki@prweek.com.

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