Who doesn’t love a podcast? You can be educated, informed, inspired, or entertained while you're driving to work, walking the dog, or doing the laundry.
And podcasts are growing in popularity. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2021, 41% of people over the age of 12 in the U.S. listened to a podcast in the past month, almost double the percentage reported five years ago. More than a quarter of the survey’s respondents reported listening to one within the last week.
That’s impressive growth for a new medium, but it’s even more compelling when you drill down into the demographics: regular podcast listeners skew towards the affluent and well-educated. Per recent audience research, of those who have listened to a podcast in the last month, 66% have a four-year college degree and make more than $75,000 annually.
Podcast listeners are an audience that many B2B PR professionals want to reach, but there are so many to choose from. There are over 1 million podcasts right now with over 30 million episodes. Finding the right show to tell your story is no simple task.
Finding a podcast that matches your brand messaging strategy
The first place to look for specific podcast ratings is on the platforms themselves. Right now the top two platforms in the U.S. are Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Pick your category and look for each channel’s top podcasts.
Another way to go is to Google “best [category] podcasts.” This will lead you to lists that helpful people have curated of their favorite shows.
Tips for matching podcast to brand message
Finding the lists of top podcasts is just the start. You’ll need to vet each podcast before reaching out to them. Here are six key areas to examine:
1. Activity/episode schedule:
Start here! Look at the episode release dates to make sure the podcast is still active, and that a new episode has appeared recently. You can’t assume that a show is alive just because it’s on a top 100 list. Podcasts with relevant, useful content can rank high even if they haven’t put out new content for a year. Don't waste time checking anything else if the podcast isn't currently releasing episodes!
Also, check to see whether the podcast releases new content on a regular schedule. Episodes appearing randomly or infrequently is not a good sign. The best podcasts stick to a predictable schedule.
Ratings can give you a rough idea of a podcast’s listenership, but it’s not a perfect indicator of audience size. About three-quarters of podcasts have fewer than 11 ratings, so more than that may indicate a significant audience.
Now look at the average rating. Unless the show’s content or host is political or polarizing, most reviews will be positive. (If a listener doesn’t like a show, they will just move on to the next podcast without investing any more time.) Recent analysis of podcasts on Apple Podcasts shows that the average rating for shows that have ratings is 4.6. If a podcast has more than ten reviews and an average rating significantly below 4.6, something may be amiss.
3. Social media presence:
Podcasts have to market themselves. If they’re on the ball, they’ll have their social profiles listed on their website. If the show and its host(s) have large Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn followings, it’s a good bet that their podcast does, too.
4. Prior guests:
Not all shows interview guests, but if they do, check out who has previously thought it was worth their time to be on the show. If you see that competitors or executives from well-known organizations have appeared, you should probably add the podcast to your target list.
5. Production quality:
Sound and recording quality matter. If the show sounds like it was recorded in a garage, it’s not going to reflect well on your company. Also, poor production quality may not draw a large audience.
Take a look at the topics the podcast has covered. Do they make sense for the brand you’re promoting? Listen to several episodes. Does the tone seem like a good match for your brand?
Once you’ve identified the podcast(s) that fit your marketing messaging strategy, tailor your pitch and then contact the podcast to get on their schedule. With a date on the schedule, you can do the work of preparing for the show.
As the podcast industry grows, tools for finding and evaluating shows will emerge to help communications professionals. Until then, you’ll need to do your own work to identify the best targets. But given podcasting’s large and growing audience, there’s no doubt that podcasts have an important role to play in spreading a brand message.
Interested in how we can help your company break into your favorite podcasts? Let’s talk!