Think Outside the Talk

An interview podcast might not be the right choice for your audience.

We’ve heard it many times.

“We’re going to start a podcast. Our CEO is going to have really important conversations with key leaders in our industry. It’s going to be great!”

Of course it is.

Public affairs podcasts are dominated by interviews and discussions – the “talk show format” – where someone from an organizations talk to one or more guests about an important topic. That’s not surprising, since this format feels familiar and is (usually) relatively easy to produce.

The question people often don’t ask is, what are the alternatives? Is there another format that might work better to achieve your goals and optimize your resources?

The answer is often “yes”. There are other podcast formats that can efficiently communicate your key messages and generate measurable responses from the audiences you care about most.

Don’t get us wrong, talk shows can provide great value. But they fulfill a specific purpose for a specific type of audience. Too often, we find communication and advocacy executives default to the talk show format without being clear on why it’s right to achieve their goals.

In this article, we’ll focus on one specific alternative, the podcast series, and explain when it can be a better option for your organization to reach target audiences.

What is a podcast series?

Everyone knows the talk show podcast. There’s usually a single host who interviews or has a conversation with one or more guests, occasionally with other segments as well. The topics vary from episode to episode but usually focus on a single subject (in public affairs, usually a profession, industry, or interest). The audience listens to episodes in any order, sometimes skipping episodes. New listeners don’t need to play older episodes to dive into the content.

A podcast series, however, covers a specific topic in a limited number of episodes. Each episode may tell a specific story or explain an aspect of the topic, and the series itself usually tells a more complete story, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

In general, the audience for a podcast series listens to the episodes in order, from first to last. One additional and very important characteristic of a series is that new listeners can start listening and gain value from the show weeks, months, or even years after the production is done.

When is a podcast series the right format?

A series lets you go in-depth on a topic, diving into details and utilizing several storytelling techniques to engage the audience. This format typically works best for the content that will be relevant to new listeners for many months or years in the future.

Whenever your goal is to educate or inform an audience about the big picture, a podcast series can be a good solution.

A podcast series can be a particularly effective alternative to an “explainer” video. A series will give you the opportunity to provide enhanced information in a more personal, potent way.

There are many ways to use a series. Here are some of our favorites:

A history of your organization or some important aspect of what you do. Example: Flying The Line, from the International Air Line Pilots Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specific conversations edited into narratives that offer diverse perspectives on a topic. Example: The Science of Mentorship, from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A guide to a topic with each episode focused on a specific component of the topic. Example: A History of The World in 100 Objects, from the British Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the benefits of podcast series?

There are a number of perks to a podcast series. Here are a few.

A Long Tail

A well-planned podcast series can bring in new listeners long after production and distribution are done. People always appreciate high-value content, so you’ll get value from your investment over months or years.

Great for reaching new audiences

An interesting podcast series can often engage people outside of your usual audiences and make them aware of who you are and what you do. Your podcast can be a gateway to your other content and opportunities to engage them.

No long-term commitment for listeners

Since a series has a set number of episodes, listeners know up front what their investment will be, whether they choose to listen to an episode a week or binge-listen to the whole thing in a single weekend.

No long-term commitment for you

Because there are a set number of episodes, a podcast series also has a discreet budget. Once it’s produced and released, the costs of maintaining it drop to practically zero – except any resources you choose to invest in continuing to promote it.

Plenty of information at a relatively low cost

In general, a professionally produced podcast series with ten 30-minute episodes will cost about the same as a professionally produced five-minute video, meaning you can engage audiences with five hours of content instead of five minutes.

When to think outside the talk

Overall, you should consider a podcast series when you want to reach a different or larger audience than your typical communication campaigns, or if you have the opportunity to go deeper into an important topic or issue.

A podcast series can provide significant value to you and your audience – far beyond other content formats – and can provide that value for a long time.

To learn more about all the different formats for podcasts, schedule a quick all with one of our podcast experts. We will guide you toward the right format to engage your audiences, fit your budget, and achieve your goals.