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The Power that Lies in Podcasts

How podcasts and business can make a recipe for success


By: Hannah Milner


Podcast 101


If you are new to the podcast trend, it is simply an audio platform that is available on various steaming apps and sites where listeners can subscribe or download the content to listen to whenever and wherever they want. Whether you're stuck in traffic, sitting at a coffee shop getting work done, or cleaning around the house, podcasts allow the listener to enjoy entertainment and conversation in the background. They can be stress-relieving, informative, educational, inspiring, or just plain fun.


The number of people listening to at least one podcast a month is expected to reach 125 million in 2022, with 60% of podcast listening at home. With over 43 million episodes available across more than 1,750,000 podcasts as of February, 2021, the growth of podcasts is exponential.



What are the Benefits?


There are many benefits to starting a podcast for your company, the biggest one being building greater brand awareness. People buy into what is credible and trustworthy. And while businesses haven't always had an outlet where they can communicate their knowledge and expertise directly to the audience, podcasts now allow them to do just that.


“If you’re a business in an industry that has a high customer value, then a podcast may be one of your most effective education and marketing tools,” said Spencer Shaw, founder of the podcast production firm PodKick Media in an interview with Forbes.


Podcasts also help you build connections and reach audiences that weren't possible before. Words can go places that an individual cannot, and that is the power of a podcast. Words build connections and connections build loyal customers. In addition, committing to a podcast brings a company more traffic and clicks across their website and social channels simply through consumer engagement.



Who's Done it Well?


So, there are benefits to a podcast and it could be a favorable option for a company, but who is doing it great and has proven its effectiveness?


1. McDonald’s

McDonald's "The Sauce" podcast logo
McDonald's "The Sauce" podcast logo

Once upon a time, McDonald’s launched a limited quantity sauce at select locations throughout the U.S. to pair with its McNuggets. However, after the buzz around the tasty sauce became all the rave, fights broke out over desperation of wanting what they couldn't have.


Here’s what McDonalds had to say about the situation: "Last October, we truly meant well when we brought back a super-limited batch of Szechuan sauce, but it quickly became apparent we did not make enough to meet the expectations of our fans. We did not anticipate the overnight crowds, the cross-state travel, and the amazing curiosity, passion, and energy fans showed."


What started as a PR crisis, turned into one of McDonald’s most successful platforms after creating a podcast around the sauce saga. Titled "The Sauce" the companies podcast follows an investigative format similar to the popular podcast, The Serial giving an inside narrative to the madness that unfolded when demand superseded supply.



2. Sephora


Known for supporting brands that stand for female empowerment and being true to oneself, it is no surprise that Sephora started a podcast called "#LIPSTORIES" that focuses

Logo for Sephora's #LIPSTORIES Podcast
Logo for Sephora's #LIPSTORIES podcast

on celebrating women through a line of lipsticks. With each episode featuring different women sharing their story to empower and encourage other leaders and activists, this podcast has only helped bring stronger brand awareness and connectivity with its customer base.


The LIPSTORIES podcast logo

Hosted by fun and energetic host, Kristina Zias, Sephora Collection partnered with Girlboss Radio Network to bring a platform for listeners to tune in and feel powerful, beautiful, and like the best versions of themselves. Everyone can use an extra dose of confidence, and this podcast does an exceptional job at offering under 45-minute conversations that do just that.


The company also did a social media campaign along with the podcast to create buzz and traffic for all platforms. Encouraging women to share their own LIPSTORIES, women all around the world posted photos rocking the Sephora lip collection and sharing their stories of confidence and beauty.



Shopify


Shopify is one of the most used commerce platforms for entrepreneurs and businesses. To connect with its audience in a more personable and educational way, they decided to start the "Thank God It’s Monday" (or TGIM) podcast. TGIM focuses on turning around

A look at the TGIM podcast on Spotify.
A look at the TGIM podcast on Spotify.

most people’s view of Monday from negative to positive by featuring different successful men and women entrepreneurs sharing their story of rising to success and conquering obstacles they faced. This podcast has expanded Shopify’s audience by attracting ambitious entrepreneurs.

“We would much rather be the content than the advertising … by creating something that people want to consume, rather than interrupting with something they want to ignore,” said Mark Macdonald, Shopify’s content marketing manager.


Shopify has seen great success in bringing business professionals together from around the world using their podcast, while also bringing greater connection and brand awareness for the company.



Ways Podcasts Are Evolving


There are podcasts that follow a scripted format giving a more narrative approach, some are off the cuff and conversational, while one is private and invitation only. This podcast is called Clubhouse and one can think of it as part podcast, part social media, and part conference call. Catching the attention of big business owners like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, this iPhone only app hosts conversations on just about any topic. However, in order to listen in, one must be invited and the most common way to get an invitation is by knowing someone already in the club. Once invited, the user can follow different people that discuss a range of different topics. Both big shot CEOs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, have made appearances on the app, giving the podcast more attention and buzz. Clubhouse serves as a prime example of the endless opportunities and possibilities that podcasts have to offer.



An Outlet Worth Pursuing


It is no surprise that as our world evolves and innovation continues, businesses have opportunities to try new things to build good public relations. In developing an effective PR strategy for business, podcasting has exponential potential. With millions of listeners tuning in to various podcasts a month, businesses can reach a mass audience that they wasn’t possible before. Not to mention, by starting a podcast, the listener grows positive brand association simply because they feel like they are part of the conversation and directly interacting with the host. With a variety of different ways to do it, podcasting certainly a great benefit when done right.



About the Author

Hannah Milner is an up-and-coming public relations professional in Denton, Texas. Hannah is studying journalism with a focus in Public Relations at the University of North Texas and will be graduating in May 2022.








Sources

https://www.girlboss.com/read/lipstories-podcast-sephora-collection

https://backtracks.fm/blog/10-successful-branded-podcasts-4d2179340f67

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2018/02/22/mcdonalds-tries-again-with-szechuan-sauce-hoping-to-assuage-angry-fans/?sh=60a4bf4f3b70

https://www.rossmediasolutions.com/2020/11/25/9-ways-a-podcast-can-benefit-your-businessbu

https://blog.bluewing.co/best-branded-podcasts

https://serialpodcast.org/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_11sXt0O3S8

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/20/business/media/branded-podcasts.html

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10327-how-to-start-a-business-podcast.html

https://podkick.com/

https://www.audacy.com/podcasts/lipstories-21336

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https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2021/02/11/podcasting-has-become-a-big-business/?sh=4aae409d2cfb

https://www.prweek.com/article/1722958/launch-successful-podcasting-campaign