PR Tactic: The Podcast


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What is it?

A voice broadcast, originally devised for the ipod in 2001. It can be executed a number of different ways:


 Interview format 

Two people in discussion – an interviewer and an interviewee. This is very popular because it is the most recognised form of audio conversation.


Pros: It is cheap, it can be warm and engaging, it is an audio format that the audience understands.


Cons: Quality can depend on the guest and the format is not very original. A poor interviewer can render a podcast unlistenable. Don’t underestimate how difficult it is. It’s cheap that’s why loads of people do it.


A great example of this format is “How I built this” By Guy Raz.

Discussion Show

A group of people having a discussion on a number of topics.


Pros: It can be lively and engaging and there will always be a fast tempo with the correctly chosen guests. It is also cheap to do, and a well understood audio format.


Cons: It is often overdone and lazy. It is how many newspapers ‘do podcasts’ by getting some of their correspondents around having a discussion. I often feel they do it because it’s easy at first. It needs to be well researched and produced.


A great example of this format is “How I built this.” By Guy Raz


Narrative Podcast

This is a single story told like a movie. It is interspersed with interviews, sound effects and a story arc.


Pros: Done properly, it is very compelling and engaging. If it follows the rules of storytelling – you will have a hard time resisting.


Cons: It is expensive and takes a lot longer to do properly.


A great example of this format is “Media Moments” By Jack Murray (OK I’m biased!)


Magazine Show

This is a mixture of interview, discussion and maybe even a bit of narrative, or regular items.


Pros: Variety is good in audio and this format has it, in built.


Cons: To get it right can take extra production. Individual items have to be good.


Why do I do it?

Here is a mad statistic – there are over 1 billion blogs in the world. There are only 1 million podcasts. There is a massive opportunity with podcasts. Digital consumption has moved from reading time to attention. That is why there has been a huge move to video and audio. Audio consumption has the benefit that it is a passive activity, and that you can listen in most places. This gives it much more power. It is also more affordable than ever before. The right equipment is now inexpensive.


How do I do it?

With podcasts quality is everything. Because it seems easy, essentially it’s talking, people think it’s easy to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are two aspects to getting the quality right. They are:


  1. Show/Concept Production
  2. Sound Production



  • Show/Concept Production


Whatever podcast format that you take on it is essential that you execute it the right way. This means that you spend time researching and planning. For example if it is an interview you do your research and plan your questions. Some shows will do format items each week where they ask interviewees the same questions. This builds a rhythm with the audience and people know what to expect. If it is a magazine or narrative show there is even more planning. What music do you use? You have to write scripts, you have to pick sound clips. This all takes time but it is essential preparation. You must have a plan and you must have the work complete before you go into the studio. 



  • Sound Production


A podcast is an audio format. Sound quality is everything. This is a job all of its own. It’s really important that you get someone talented to do the sound supervision. I’ve always employed a sound engineer to oversee any podcast we’ve produced. It’s very difficult to be on top of content and sound quality. It’s like rubbing your head and patting your stomach at the same time — almost impossible.