From wordplay to consecration
Intimately linked to the emergence of the Internet at the dawn of the 21st century and the democratisation of new technologies, the podcast quickly found its place among Americans and is now taking a leading role in Europe. In Switzerland, podcasts, although timid, are gaining momentum by reaching more and more listeners. According to a Statista study, the rate of podcast listening is still far behind other countries: 22% of the Swiss population listen to podcasts occasionally1 . And according to a study by SRF at the beginning of 2019, 12% are avid listeners and 22% are occasional listeners. But the pandemic has certainly benefited this medium and future studies will surely show different statistics.
Podcast is a contraction of the words "iPod" and "broadcast", a term coined by Guardian journalist Ben Hammersley to describe online radio stations that could be listened to offline and downloaded onto a portable media player. The term was even voted word of the year in 2005 by the New Oxford American Dictionary. The advantage? No longer being dependent on live broadcasts and being able to listen to the programme of your choice whenever and wherever you want, a sort of radio on demand.
After the term was coined, Apple took it up by including a 'podcast' category on iTunes in 2005. Since then, many independent platforms have taken over such content, but it is the Swedish platform Spotify that is leading the way in terms of distribution. It even signs exclusive contracts with major podcasters such as Joe Rogan and his The Joe Rogan Experience. Radio stations have now taken up the concept by offering their programmes as a deferred podcast, a type of catch-up podcast that contrasts with the term native podcast, whose content is created exclusively for online broadcasting, without being broadcast on FM.
Finding your place in the podcasts jungle
Cultural chronicles, history, analysis of current events or even philosophy and comedy, podcasts’ genres are flourishing and spreading rapidly. Many audiovisual pioneers took the plunge very early on, such as the Franco-German channel ARTE and even Radio Vatican. In Switzerland, public channels have been developing several concepts over recent years: debate programmes, short news format or even fiction. Not to mention the amateurs who have formed associations to create shows to talk about their favourite subject.
Since its rise, many brands have taken up this medium. It is, in fact, a good complement to other direct communication channels (blog, videos, etc.) and thus fits perfectly into their communication strategies. In addition to the possibility of sponsoring a podcast, brands can also produce one. But to stand out from the crowd, it is important to propose an original concept. Cosmetics brands have seized this opportunity by instilling self-confidence through interviews and honest testimonials: this is the case of Sephora and its podcast #LIPSTORIES, as well as Clarins with « Mon corps, ce héros » (My body, the hero).
But first, what are the benefits of producing a podcast for a brand?
1) Easy to produce
In addition to the flexibility of listening and ease of access for listeners, the low barriers to entry also make it easy to make your own podcasts: all you need is recording equipment, a topic/theme that fits into several episodes, an internet connection and some editing skills.
2) An existing core audience
Companies and brands know their audiences, so they are well placed to know what will catch their interest. Through interesting topics, it is possible to reach its core audience, build loyalty, but also increase reach by attracting newcomers and playing on word of mouth. This is the case with Slack and its podcast, which has gained 2 million listeners in 15 episodes.
3) Stay top of mind
Podcasts are a great way to stay on top of things, especially if the concept is original. The British toothpaste brand Zendium has created a two-minute podcast on dental hygiene: to be listened to every evening while brushing your teeth! By involving speakers and wellness experts, the brand invites its audience into a meeting that is both hygienic and fun. We can also mention IKEA's brand new podcast: after announcing the end of its print catalogue, the Swedish giant is offering an audio version, along with an online PDF, describing the products and decorating tips. A perfect way of including visually impaired customers.
4) Community engagement and awareness
Interactive formats can be developed by, for example, giving space to questions from its listeners and thus creating engagement with its community (interviews, opinions, testimonials). It is also a way to increase brand awareness. According to a BBC Global News study in 2019, a podcast produced by a brand would increase its awareness by 89% 2. This is due to the intimate and conversational nature of the podcast. The mattress brand Casper developed a podcast called In your dreams where listeners were able to tell their weirdest or sweetest dreams by leaving a message on an answering machine. These were then analysed by the two hosts. An original way of exchanging with the community on a subject that intrigues us all.
The future of audio
This year, PRfact supported the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in the creation of its podcast. So are ready to produce one for your brand? To find out how we can help you, please contact us. Together we can discuss how to maximise your brand's potential through this additional channel.
Last but not least, we are happy to share our list of favourite podcasts: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1VHytK11E6t9pFvMbxgVK8?si=3aQoETRyQ5W7QPrBl9TleQ
1 Statista Podcast listening intensity in selected countries 2020: https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1114213/podcast-listening-intensity-in-selected-countries
1 BBC Global News Study: https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/worldnews/2019/audio-activated