Podcasts: Lend me your ear

What you should know about this audio phenomenon

Author
Portrait von Desiree Haselsteiner. | © punkt & komma
Desiree Haselsteiner
Content editor

Just imagine: When driving from Salzburg to Mongolia, you have time to listen to about 147 podcasts. If you’re doing a road trip this summer, you will probably cover several thousand kilometres. You have done a long-distance drive in the past and are bit annoyed with yourself because you spent it counting license plates and fridge-sized potholes instead of listening to interesting, funny or informative podcasts? We’ve all made the same mistake – and are determined to do better next time!

Read on to find out what’s so great about podcasts, what advantages they offer and how to start your own podcast!

Streaming providers: facts and figures

iTunes offers about 525,000 active shows. In total, this makes a whopping 18.5 million individual episodes. Spotify also features about 12,000 podcasts on different topics, including interviews, monologues and reports on anything from Lifestyle & Health to True Crime, Business and Technology. A couple of years ago, radio plays, audio books and audio-only interviews were still somewhat unpopular – until their entertainment factor reached a peak, with maximum interaction in a really short time. 

Focus on only one sensory organ

Only a couple of years later, we’re virtually flooded with online offers. Not an hour goes by without interacting on social media, WhatsApp and other media. Sometimes we long for an escape from this sensory flood – and that’s where podcasts come into play. After all, we only need one sensory organ, our ears, to listen to a podcast – which lets us give our other senses a short break.

What is a podcast?

Do we really need to explain it? After all, podcasts are not only hugely popular but also here to stay if we believe what opinion polls and industry experts are telling us.

“A podcast is an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that a user can download to a personal device for easy listening.”  Wikipedia

In other words, podcasts are a form of “audio blogging”. For instance, audio recordings are popular with people who have something to say but are not keen on writing. Plus, podcasts are a perfect way to convey humour and get your message out there in a precise way.  

But let’s get back to our road trip example: Considering how popular podcasts are and how many of them are out there, you would have to drive about 850 times from Austria to Mongolia to listen to just the first episode of every podcast out there.

Why are podcasts so popular?

Because they are easy to consume. Simply pick your favourite and listen to it on your smartphone – no matter where you are. All you have to do is put in your earbuds – and your “personal radio station” entertains you while …

  • … shopping,
  • … cooking,
  • … walking your dog,
  • … baking a cake for your favourite colleagues,
  • … taking a bubble bath,
  • … or driving to Mongolia.

There are countless opportunities to listen to podcasts. Some even like to listen to the voice of their favourite podcast host while exercising.

If podcasts are so popular, do we still need blogs?

The answer is easy: YES! Why? Because generally speaking, “old” media are not replaced by new ones. More likely, they are forced to change their purpose – at least that’s what renowned media experts say. The same will probably be true for podcasts and blogs. Podcasts will not replace blogging, they will simply add to it, accentuate and reinforce it.

Puk expert opinion: Blog posts and podcasts perfectly complement each other as one offsets the weaknesses of the other. We all do it: Instead of reading a blog article from start to finish, we only skim over it to find the paragraphs we’re truly interested in. And that’s perfectly legitimate! After all, that’s why content marketers like us structure articles the way we do, working with subheads and web-optimised formatting to make skimming easier for you.

Try doing this with a podcast and you’ll see that that’s not really possible. After all, you don’t want to keep fast-forwarding the whole time.

What’s more, blog articles usually feature images and charts – and our brain can process illustrations about 20 times faster than words.

They often also contain cross references and links to related or helpful topics and offer the possibility to copy and share individual paragraphs or quotes on social networks. 

To sum it up:

  • Podcasts are a great way to complement a blog article.
  • Blog articles offer a quick means of information because you can skim over them, while you usually listen to podcasts as a whole.
  • Blog articles can be “loosened up” with images and charts. Podcasts are focussed on one sensory organ only.
  • Blog articles can be shared, copied and linked to other relevant topics.

What does it take to create your own podcast?

“Level up” your company and offer your target audience a new source of information! Podcasts are something like your brand’s very own radio station and it doesn’t take much to get started. 

Creating a podcast involves two stages: planning and production.

Planning:

  • Draw up an editorial calendar: What do I want to say to my listeners?
  • Develop a theme-based concept for every episode.
  • Come up with a good name and a SEO-optimised description for your podcast episode.
  • Create a cover, ideally with Canva (square with a minimum of 2,500 px).
  • Create an intro and an outro.

Production:

You should be able to summarise your core message in three sentences. Before starting your production process, define what you want the added value to be for your listeners.

Come up with a strategy: Define your approach, your target audience and the topic you want to cover. What’s your promise? This helps you get to the point at the end of each episode.

Create an arc of suspense: Like every good movie or book, your podcast needs an arc of suspense. Think about your podcast episode as an engaging drama with a beginning, a build-up, a climax and a spectacular ending.

Focus on your core message: Especially for longer episodes, it makes sense to include several preliminary conclusions summing up the previous section. This allows you to communicate complex topics and makes them easier to understand for your listeners.

Bring in your personality: Your personality is an important part of your podcast. Your listeners should be able to conjure up a mental image of their host. Recurring elements, phrases and sequences help to make your podcast more memorable.

Ensure high production quality: A good microphone and a room without reverberation and background noise make it a lot easier for your listeners to hear and understand what you have to say. You can find a vast selection of moderately priced or free recording tools online. As far as the microphone is concerned, we recommend using a digital condenser microphone. However, for a quick try, you can also use the recording function of your smartphone. 

Last but not least, think about distribution: Where can I reach my target audience? Think outside the box! Platforms like Spotify and iTunes may have massive reach, but who do YOU want to reach? Plus, if your podcast is about content marketing, you might also want to consider tools such as influencer marketing, blog articles or cross promotion on other podcasts.

Our tip: Generation Z is particularly active on social media. If your podcast is relevant for this target audience, it makes sense to run a teaser on platforms such as TikTok.

As you can see, doing your own podcast takes a bit of preparation and creativity. But we’re sure that our tips and tricks will help you get started with your first episode in no time at all. We can’t wait to hear from you!

P.S.: From the punkt & komma office in Salzburg to Ulaanbaatar, capital city of Mongolia, it’s about 8,344 kilometres.

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