Podcasts from brands: here are four worth listening to
It’s the revival that no one was expecting. Podcasts, which first excited online listeners around ten years ago, are highly popular once again with recent figures claiming that as many as one in five Americans have tuned into one in the last few months. The ‘old’ format has received an enormous boost across the world – as we’ve previously discussed – thanks in no small part to the excellent and utterly addictive Serial.
Its is hard to find similar figure for UK listeners, but clearly the BBC podcasts are streamed and downloaded thousands of times, and they have been joined by audio experiments from media brands like Monocle.
With the medium expanding so quickly, brands are starting to jump on board and some are producing audio that’s really worth tuning in to. Such high-quality content can become a big asset (although it’s expensive to create), so if brands can find the budget, this trend is set to continue and there will be more and more offerings to choose from.
Where they work so well is in engaging the listener. If you can persuade someone to listen to half an hour of audio from your brand you have attained incredible levels of customer loyalty. Inevitably then most branded podcasts tend to be fairly subtle in their approach, offering insight, advice and, sometimes even, humour in a very light way. Branded messages are low-key and intelligently placed.
Podcasts might not suit every brand, but here are four that are making the format work very effectively.
GE’s Energy Connections podcast, released around twice a month, smoothly fuses energy issues with current affairs to set up engaging discussions. Interviews with experts on subjects such as powering the Rio Olympics, the increased use of renewables in Europe, and the growth of the Chinese electric power industry unfold in 20-minute episodes. With an international outlook, this podcast is worthwhile for anyone with an interest in the energy market and the future of power in our globalising world. Like most of GE’s content marketing output the podcast is intelligently constructed, highly engaging and subtle in its approach to pushing the brand.
Slack is a messaging system that has been adopted by many far-sighted companies who recognise that internal communications needs to move beyond the email age. The company’s team whose internal mantra is apparently “work hard, go home”, presents the Variety Pack podcast, which recently celebrated its first birthday and has racked up thousands of listens on Soundcloud. Presented with a chatty tone and good dose of humour, Variety Pack covers a range of subjects centring around the modern office, and using a storytelling style which is very easy on the ears. From innovation in the workplace to the correct use of the comma, different attitudes to work/life balance to why meeting someone in a lift is so awkward, this is an all-round fun podcast which turns passing thoughts into well-crafted anecdotes.
Although it finished in December 2015, Prudential’s four-part series, 40/40 Vision, is well worth going back to. Presented by the affable Faith Salie, its premise is to explore different aspects of life in your 40s. With a refreshing, feminist twist, it’s a modern take on a decade that tends to go unnoticed – the assumption generally being that people have their lives sorted by then, when in fact it is increasingly a time of big changes in career, parenthood, and outlook. All this and more is discussed with a good range of male and female guests, who give their take on topics such as having children later in life and passing on accumulated wisdom. It would be great to see Prudential create a follow-up series like this, perhaps about life in your 50s! It is also an excellent blueprint for other brands who wish to target the tricky to reach 40 plus female audience.
Ecommerce software brand Shopify presents the Shopify Masters Podcast – aimed at entrepreneurs, each episode features interviews with business owners about particular methods used to generate profit and brand awareness. Unlike the others on this list, the Shopify brand is more “visible” on this podcast: each episode begins with a brief introduction to the brand, and the topics are a close fit. Past episodes have included discussions around using Pinterest to drive sales, viral Reddit posts, and using Tumblr to build an audience. The friendly fusion of accessible discussions with niche techniques is bound to be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about using technology to help their business.
Commissioned by The CMA