Podcasts are an impactful platform for thought leaders to communicate their ideas with an engaged audience, but they are often overlooked. At Diffusion, they make up a key part of our campaigns as we’ve seen the authority and listenership of podcasts increase dramatically during the pandemic.
As part of brilliant The Pros Winter Series, we tuned in to a webinar hosted by Harriet Small Okot, Internal Communications Officer at Hackney Council and Co-Host of Have You Got 5 Minutes? In it, she recommends the six podcasts that PRs should check out and explores common podcasting mistakes to avoid.
Harriet co-founded her podcast in reaction to her observation that the podcasts she listened to often featured older and less diverse voices and afforded far fewer chances for others to speak about their passions and campaigns. She missed the ‘watercooler moments’ of the ‘old normal’, not being able to ask people in person about interesting developments she was seeing in her industry.
Speaking from her own experience, Harriet outlined some mistakes she has seen guests making before – and during – podcasts:
- Some don’t understand the show they’re going onto – It’s key to ask why someone is being invited onto the show to understand the value they are adding and what the host wants to get out of them
- Technical mistakes are more common than you think – Mistakes often include not having the right kind of apparatus or understanding what is needed in terms of recording.
- Preparation is key – Asking for any questions in advance is useful to plan talking points and key messages.
- Guests must be themselves but have boundaries – Guests must be aware that they need not relive trauma or negative experiences or become a reluctant spokesperson for an issue they do not want to speak about. The topics they bring to the show should be authentic and ones they have a genuine interest in.
Harriet also outlined some mistakes that PR and comms professionals can make when pitching their clients for podcasts. She says that they must beware of choosing the wrong show and have listened to it before pitching a client. It’s also important to have a pitching schedule to eliminate the chance of landing all your key industry podcasts at once. Harriet says to try metering them out instead.
Another takeaway is to prep clients ahead of time, taking the opportunity to share talking point with the host and learn their presenting style. It’s also advisable to map out soundbites which will be used to promote the show on social media, and make sure they are pithy and interesting.
In this informative session, Harriet provided six podcast recommendations for PRs:
- PR Moment, the longest running of the industry podcasts which features lots of guests and does a good job of exploring people’s stories
- Gov Comms, hosted by David Pembroke (PR comms advisor for English rugby captain, Eddie Jones) which interviews guests from all around the world
- Candid Comms, hosted by Rachel Miller which offers interesting and actionable insights for in-house comms professionals
- Think Fast, Talk Smart, hosted by Matt Abrahams of Stanford Graduate School of Business, which offers practical advice unheard on other podcasts. (I had the pleasure of working with Matt and can wholeheartedly recommend this one too!)
- Calm Edged Rebels, hosted by Jenni Field, Advita Patel and Trudy Lewis and explores business issues like imposter syndrome, hybrid working and meaningful diversity initiatives
- Fearless Creative Leadership, hosted by Charles Day who interviews leaders in the marketing, advertising and comms sectors about creative thinking
All great recommendations, but what are the Diffusion team listening to?
HBO’s ‘Succession’ is a popular choice with many members of the team tuning in. Also loved by our culture listeners are ‘Who? Weekly’, ‘Death, Sex and Money’ by Anna Sale and ‘Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster’.
For those with an interest in socio-political events, the team recommends ‘The Intelligence’ by The Economist, ‘Today in Focus’ by the Guardian and ‘The Slow Newscast’ by Tortoise Media.
For something a little bit different, why not try ‘Renegades’, a series of conversations between Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama?