The Not-so-secret Way Brands Are Creating Podcasts (Without Exhausting Internal Resources)

by Arik Hanson July 18, 2016
July 18, 2016

These days, you can’t read too much in the digital marketing realm without running into someone talking about how hugely popular podcasting has become.


Forrester and Edison Research seem to come out with a new study each quarter telling us how huge podcasting is with consumers.


But, have all those numbers and charts translated into more companies producing podcasts as part of their marketing mixes?


GE The Message


Not really.


In fact, if you do a few quick searches for popular (or effective) corporate podcasts, you really won’t find much.


What you DO find is a bunch of tech companies/startups (Slack, Basecamp), a very small number of Fortune 500 companies (General Mills, locally), and a few others that have globbed onto a trend I see accelerating in the months and years ahead.


Take a peek at what GE, Prudential and Umqua Bank are doing with podcasting.


Each isn’t necessarily producing their OWN podcast, as General Mills, Slack and Basecamp seemingly have. Instead, they’re SPONSORING (or, essentially co-producing) podcasts with a third-party vendor.


In this case, the third party vendor is Panoply, an arm of publishing giant, Slate.


Why do I think this is a trend that will take off in the next few months? I see four big reasons:


Easier to outsource than produce internally


General Mills recently started producing a solid podcast under its blog banner, A Taste of General Mills. The podcast is produced by my podcasting partner-in-crime, Kevin Hunt. Makes sense for GM since Kevin also oversees the blog and other corporate social accounts. Except, here’s the thing: Not every company has a Kevin Hunt. Kevin’s unique background of media production coupled with digital and PR experience make him a perfect candidate to put together a regular corporate podcast. But, that skill set is not easy to find. Which is why you see companies like GE and Prudential outsourcing production of their podcasts to a third-party vendor (and why you see audio/video production among the most sought-after skills on the agency side).


Hire a specialist vs. relying on your generalists


Umqua Bank Soundcloud


Panoply is a “podcast network that connects sophisticated listeners with top publishers and thinkers.” Read: they probably know what they’re doing when it comes to putting together a podcast that people will actually listen to. They’ve done it many times. And, most likely they’re much better at it than any person within your organization. So, why wouldn’t you hire a specialist like Panolpy to create a podcast than rely on a generalist in your organization that might have a fleeting interest in podcasting? I’d probably take my chances with Panoply, too (given I had the money :).


Connections and talent matter


40 40 Vision Soundcloud


Prudential has public radio host and actress, Faith Salie hosting its 40/40 Vision podcast. Umqua Bank has former MTV personality, SuChin Pak hosting its Open Account podcast. Without Panoply’s connections and know-how, Prudential and Umqua Bank most likely aren’t connected with those hosts. And, hosts like Salie and Pak count for a lot. First, folks like Salie and Pak bring in listeners. I’m not talking about millions of listeners, but Panoply chose those two for a reason (Salie, most likely, because she’s more well known about the 40+ audience). Second, people like Salie and Pak who are experienced broadcasters have actually hosted shows before. They know the drill. They’re seasoned. They’ve been through this before (vs. the communications manager at Prudential, who probably hasn’t). Talent matters in producing a podcast. And, in this case, the connections Panoply (and vendors like them) brings to the table matter, too, because they’re the conduit to talent like Salie and Pak.


The podcast network doesn’t hurt either


Panoply Soundcloud


One of the big questions–and challenges–brands have when starting a podcast is a fundamental one: How do we acquire listeners? Sure, most brands will promote their podcasts via their own social channels, which in some cases, may be quite large. They will probably host the podcast somewhere on their site, too. But, how much traction will they really see from that? In many cases, it takes a lot of time and patience to build a following. Much like it would when starting a blog. But, in partnering with a vendor like Panoply, who already has a built-in network and audience on Soundcloud (to the tune of 300,000 followers), Prudential, Umqua Bank and GE have access to ears they might not otherwise have. And sure, maybe not all those people would fall in Prudential, Umqua and GE’s “target audience”, but when you’re building something from the ground up, it always helps to have momentum from the get go. Panoply’s podcast network provides that.

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