Podcasts are all the rage right now. Sure, they’ve been around for roughly 10 years, but in the last three years or so, they’ve really taken off with 50% of households reporting that they are “podcast fans” at the end of 2017. Podcasts have become a prominent medium for experts, fans and enthusiasts of all kinds to come together and share opinions, conduct interviews and take deep dives into topics across all industries. Similarly, topic-specific radio shows are a great way to drive awareness among target audiences. Understanding them can take time, as the lines between these shows and podcasts are often blurry, i.e. a program that airs live on the radio might also be posted online as a podcast series. As more niche programs are launched and gain momentum, they are a great outlet to explore to establish yourself and your company as thought-leaders in a particular industry.

Identify your spokesperson and define their expertise

Unlike an interview that will be transcribed and quoted in a written article, in a podcast, the spokesperson’s voice is heard by the audience. This may seem like a rather obvious fact, but it should be noted to emphasize how important it is for your spokesperson to be comfortable with public speaking. Even if the podcast or radio show is being pre-recorded to air later, it will still be their voice that listeners and subscribers hear. Guests with a dynamic attitude and captivating tone can go a long way. Not only does this keep up the energy level for the host conducting the interview, listeners will pick up on their passion and expertise and be more likely to research your client and their organization after hearing the interview.

Most Marketing and PR professionals can likely can think of some client spokespeople right off the top of their head who fit into the category of a dynamic interviewee. Once you have an idea of who will do the talking for a possible podcast or radio interview, you need to figure out what they will be talking about. When it comes to these shows, even those that are focused on a particular industry, the broader your spokesperson’s knowledge base is, the better. While it’s great that they can talk in-depth about their company and any current announcements or initiatives, it’s likely that the host or producer of the show won’t bite on an idea that seems too promotional or self-serving. A wider knowledge of the industry or ability to comment as an expert on a current trend is incredibly helpful. It’s good to always keep an eye and ear out for any breaking trends within the industry and discuss internally to see whether or not it’s something your company is able to offer commentary on. An expert opinion or hot take on something newsworthy can often be your foot in the door!

Search high and low for podcasts and shows

 I know I began this post by saying that podcasts are everywhere, and this is still true! However, not every one of the many shows out there will be a fit for your spokesperson’s expertise. If you are dealing with a particularly niche subject matter or industry, finding the premier, most-trusted programs will require a little research. As I mentioned before, having an expert that can comment on broader issues, even if they aren’t directly related to your company’s current initiatives, goes a long way. Let’s say your company works in veterinary oncology, can they also talk about other veterinary topics? What about general animal health or tips for pet owners? The more topics they are comfortable with, the more options you have when it comes to shows to reach out to.

Start with a simple Google search. Begin with the most specific, niche search terms your corporate leadership can speak on to see what’s available. Once you’ve explored those results and flagged any relevant targets, widen the topic and repeat the process until you’ve gotten to the broadest subject matter your expert is able to discuss. Be sure to thoroughly vet the targets you find, as you don’t want to waste time reaching out to a program that hasn’t posted a new episode in two years!

Another place to look is social media. Check in on relevant hashtags for the client’s particular industry to see if anyone is talking about a popular podcast or radio program. Follow industry reporters and other thought-leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn. You never know when they might drop a reference to a new podcast or show that would be a fit.

Make the introduction

Once you have a solid list of podcasts that you believe would be a good fit for your spokesperson, it’s time to focus on approach. You want to make an introduction as personal as possible, so the host or producer clearly understands why your spokesperson belongs on the show as a guest.

After justifying your reasoning for reaching out, share a bit on the expert and why they’re uniquely qualified to be a guest. When pitching media around a trend, any specific expertise you can offer that will set them apart is crucial. When pitching a more general introduction, highlight a unique perspective they might have that would make for a good discussion on an upcoming episode. Like with any pitch, try to keep it brief and put all your important info upfront, you only have a few precious moments to capture the target’s attention.

Podcasts and radio programs are great tools for tapping into niche audiences and building your corporate reputation as an authority on a particular subject matter. As PR and Marketing professionals, the process of researching and pitching these types of programs needs to be approached a little differently than other media relations outreach. However, by developing a keen understanding of your company’s knowledge base, keeping an eye out for industry trends and news and a solid introduction, you can lock down a great interview opportunity that will likely lead to more as your organization becomes a well-known voice in the industry!

 

Erin is an Account Manager at FischTank, working with clients across a variety of industries including renewable energy, healthcare and marketing technologies. Erin also has experience executing media relations and marketing campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations. Erin grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania and graduated from Hofstra University on Long Island. She enjoys corgis, Peanut M&Ms and classic rock. 

FischTank provides crisis communications for a number of public and private companies

While no one ever wants to think about the potential for negative or controversial news, many businesses often encounter challenges that result in an unwanted spotlight. It’s imperative that  the company’s marketing and public relations professionals take the time to prepare messaging that is simple and targeted to the audience at hand for when controversy arrives. As one of the Founding Fathers (allegedly) said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. When preparing to address media questioning ahead of time, be sure to think about the audiences below.

Stakeholders.

If you’re a public company, it’s extremely important to maintain transparent communication with those who have invested in your success (or struggles) as a brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean over sharing – you shouldn’t put out news releases just for the sake of doing so – but instead for important milestones that show the growth and trajectory of the company. Unfortunately, not all news that you share will be music to investor ears, which is why you must have a crisis communications plan in place to address issues so your shareholder base isn’t left feeling angry and confused.

You can also be sure that investors will ask questions of your colleagues and partners, especially those listed as a contact on press releases. Since a media relations professional isn’t always an investor relations contact, nor at liberty to discuss certain information with investors, you have to prepare for next steps. Ensure a set protocol is in place for how all members of your team address investor inquiries, and be sure that that you can refer investors to the appropriate contact. What may seem like a simple question (i.e. how has a certain part of the company grown?) is not always something a media relations or marketing professional should disclose. If your company doesn’t focus on the investor relations aspect of marcomm, be sure to educate your colleagues on the dos and don’ts of working for a public company.

Customers.

Building positive rapport with customers is crucial for any company, especially in the age of social media where someone can share a rave review – as well as an unfavorable one – to the masses with the click of a button. You must actively work with your public relations team to share out pertinent information to customers in a timely fashion.

Social media is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reach key audiences, but it comes with the expectation that your company must also respond quickly to inquiries from the public, including those who may not be happy with the company. Anticipate common questions and concerns based on previous interactions but also common sense. For example, if you launched a new initiative, it may take time for people to fully understand its objectives, and naturally questions will follow.

Journalists.

For the reporters that express interest in your company and who have invested time in covering your milestones, it’s important to be honest and straightforward about less than ideal news. It’s understandable that you may not be comfortable discussing negative news with the press, but ultimately in order to maintain transparency and an honest relationship with reporters, you have to make yourself available.

Look within your organization to identify the right person to speak with the media, which is something your public relations colleagues or partners can assist with. Most likely the best spokesperson will be someone who is already media trained and will understand the way press inquiries work. Even with that in mind, discussing potentially damaging news is a different animal, and requires further approval on messaging and a candid conversation with both internal and external partners to make sure everyone is prepared for the worst-case scenario. Be sure to be realistic based on the media inquiries at hand; if your pick for an ideal company representative has never been in front of a camera or on a live program, now is not the time to test their skills.

Obviously, you will not always be lucky enough to prepare for a crisis before it strikes. For news that you are privy to in advance, whether it be missed revenues, downsizing, or another issue, take ample time to formulate a communications plan that clearly outlines the role of reach team member (from both your company and your agency partners), correct messaging, and a spokesperson that is ready to address all issues tactfully. After you’ve made it through to the other side of a crisis, be sure to review your process and address what went well and what could be improved. Getting your crisis communications plan organized ahead of time can make the process smoother for all involved .