What brands need to know about podcasting, especially amid a pandemic.

January 26th, 2021 | Kiran Rana, Executive Producer, Podcasts, Globe Content Studio

Image of sound equalizer in rainbow coloursCOVID-19 has been a media disruptor, but podcasts have emerged as a relatively pandemic-proof way to reach a Canadian audience. As audio continues to explode in popularity, brands are eager to get into the space. But how do you know if a podcast is right for your company? How do you achieve your brand objectives without alienating listeners? And how do you pull it off during a global pandemic?

Here is what you should consider if your company is thinking of creating a podcast this year:

Know your audience. Do they listen to podcasts?

As a brand, who are you trying to reach? Is a podcast the right way to reach them? If they do listen to podcasts, what do they listen to? What are their interests and hobbies? And how can you create something that adds value to them?

What is the story you want to tell, and can it be told remotely?

Journalists and creatives are storytellers by trade – and always put the “story first.” Think carefully about what that story is – outline what would make it compelling, episode by episode. A big part of your story is who will tell it. Pick a capable host who can engage your audience.

And think about how this story can be told amid COVID-19 restrictions that may limit the ability for in-person recordings. Only after all of these steps should you consider how your brand fits within the story. This isn’t the medium for a 25-minute commercial.

Authenticity is key

There are more than 800,000 active podcasts available globally. We live in a world of never-ending content. And with major players stepping into the podcast space, it’s going to get more competitive. Respect your audience’s time because you are competing for it. If they don’t like what they hear, if they feel like the facts are disingenuous, if it feels like a commercial, they will tune out. And they’ll certainly let you know how they feel in the review section of Apple Podcasts.

This isn’t to say you should avoid integrating your brand into a podcast– it means finding a level of brand integration that serves the story and feels like a natural fit. And there are different ways to find the right fit – it could be host-read ad copy, a custom podcast ad, featuring relevant guests or simply connecting the podcast theme to the ethos of your brand.

Know your strengths and limits. Think about how COVID-19 will impact them.

Podcasts are more time and resource heavy than other mediums in the best of times, but COVID-19 adds another layer of challenge to production. Usually, the preference is to have the production team in the same room, with the host and guests in a recording studio where the producer can easily instruct and control the audio. Remote recordings look a lot different: from blanket forts to experimenting with different remote recording platforms – you need a team of patient experts who can get creative.

Has your team created a podcast before or is this your company’s first foray into podcasting? Assemble a team of experts – both internal and external. Empower the people in your organization who can help and partner with external vendors to fill your knowledge gaps. Be prepared for it to use up a significant chunk of time and money to meet the quality standards that are expected in the industry for a professional recording.

Podcast listeners will listen to your ads. Make sure they fit the medium.

Recent data shows that podcast listeners are less likely to avoid ads than in any other media. On top of this, nearly 60 percent of podcast listeners recall taking action as a result of a podcast ad, with one in four saying they found out about a product or service they hadn’t heard about before.

People are actively listening, so make use of the 15 to 30 seconds you have to make an impression. Don’t reuse ads from other broadcast mediums. If you choose to run ads, or if this is your only brand integration in the episodes, take the time to make them fit.

Think about your rollout schedule and stick to it

Make your podcast habitual for your listeners. Whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, stick to a consistent rollout schedule for publishing. Podcasts are a long-tail product – even with proper promotion, you build an audience overtime. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t see the results after a month.

Be open to the process

Podcasting is relatively new creative terrain. There’s a lot of room for experimentation, but there also may be hiccups along the way.
Embrace the journey – remember these steps and at the end you’ll have created something that your brand can be proud of.



Kiran Rana is executive producer of podcasts for Globe Content Studio, a division of The Globe and Mail. She oversees end-to-end production for Globe-branded and advertiser-branded podcasts. For more information about audio storytelling, contact her by email.