The podcast industry has continued to grow strongly over the past year, and I think a lot of people don’t appreciate what a good opportunity it can provide for a whole range of business leaders and industry thinkers to demonstrate expertise, and raise profile to a motivated audience. I was recently able to go behind the scenes to watch the recording of the BBC’s biggest podcast, Newscast. It is produced daily, with a TV version broadcast on Thursday nights on BBC1. It gives BBC correspondents and guests the chance to have a long-form conversation about what’s behind the headlines – rather than just having to stick to the top-line points, which is all they have time for on the main bulletins.
Precise podcast listening figures are notoriously hard to pin down, but I was surprised to be told that even without the TV audience, “hundreds of thousands” of people listen to Newscast every day. While specialist podcasts can have quite small audiences, they will be highly motivated and strongly interested in the topic, so are well worth investigating. UK podcast listenership hit over 21m last year, covering almost any topic you can think of, from sport and history to angling and motoring. (We even produce our own for a client, The Property Exchange). Ofcom statistics show listenership is typically male skewed, with the majority of listeners aged 25-44 and abc1. More than a third of UK adults listen regularly.
A lot of the big podcasts are now put out by mainstream broadcasters who see them as a key way to attract younger audiences, which are far less likely to watch or listen to traditional news programmes. They are attractive to these audiences because of their typically relaxed style, and the fact they can be consumed at a convenient time, such as when on the way to work. BBC News now publishes a whole range, including the Today Programme podcast, Conflict (on the current Gaza conflict), Americast and so on. Meanwhile Global, which owns LBC Radio, puts out the high-profile News Agents podcast every day, featuring BBC escapees Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel. New podcasts continue to be launched to take advantage of the growing opportunities.
The numbers are not to be sneezed at, so how best to take advantage of the opportunities? If (and only if) you are sure you have something interesting and relevant to say to your target audience, you could approach the producers of on-topic podcasts – they are always looking for new ideas and content, so long as you can perform in a lively, jargon-free manner – the rules are the same as we would cover in our radio/TV media training. If you think there’s a gap in the market you could even start your own podcast – again as long as you think you have sufficient content to produce enough episodes to build and maintain an audience. Either way, they are becoming increasingly influential, and the potential market is only likely to grow.
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