People are at home, running out of things to do, spending a lot of time online, looking for useful information. At least, that’s the premise behind the idea that the time is right for a podcasting renaissance. The prevailing wisdom is that the general public is hungrier than ever for compelling content, especially as pertains to the growing pandemic, related political and healthcare news, as well as the economic impact.
While memes might get attention on Facebook, and quick quips or short video clips trend on Twitter, podcasting offers a format for longer-form conversations, more in-depth discussions and further explorations of ideas and topics that are bigger than a 30-second set on the evening news. Big names in media are investing heavily, with CNN and BBC World News both producing coronavirus-related long-form podcast programming. It’s not just the media companies adding podcasts to their content. Medical organizations such as the Mayo Clinic are also getting involved, releasing informational content in podcast series form.
But podcasts are not just for major organizations. Anyone with the right gear and a developed platform could add a podcast to their communication efforts. Notice both of those qualifiers. It’s not enough just to have a good mic and a decent place to record. To have influence, a podcaster should have a platform, an audience and a unique way to engage with them. This is why many successful podcasts are complementary to and in conjunction with already established PR efforts.
If the prospective podcaster already has an audience, they should already have an idea about what they want to hear. That’s key, because the market saturation on headline-based podcasts can happen quick. Meaning, if people were not already coming to a brand or personality for advice about COVID-19, this probably isn’t the time to start. Instead, brands or personalities should consider what they are known for, and how they can make it relevant to their current audience.
But, just because podcasters should stick to familiar or relevant topics doesn’t mean they can’t discuss ideas that are related to the number one topic on everyone’s mind: life in the time of COVID-19. For example, a business podcast might talk about teleconferencing, both etiquette and tools. An educational podcast could dive deep into remote teaching, and a retail podcast could discuss supply chains, stock management, and the business ethics of limiting purchases when so many are stockpiling.
And, once the topic is there, the podcaster needs to be able to hold their audience’s attention. No matter what the topic is, there needs to be a compelling story behind it. People want to know what, when, where, and how; but they also want to know who and why.