Tim O’Brien: The Biggest Mistake You Can Make with Your Branded Podcast (and how to avoid it)


In my work in public relations and as a podcaster, one of the more common mistakes I have seen is when the organization decides to “do a podcast” before fully thinking it through. More to the point, they see a podcast as the next big thing, just another communications tactic to add to their already active program of blog posts, publicity, social media posting and maybe even YouTube vlog program.


What they don’t realize is podcasting is different. Just how different?


Not Everyone Listens to Podcasts


Before going through the process of buying the equipment, budgeting for the process, and allocating staff or external resources for the podcast, do you know how many of your key stakeholders already listen to podcasts or are likely to listen to your podcast? This is probably the most important question to consider.


If your targeted audiences aren’t already podcast listeners or aren’t likely to listen to podcasts just because you will have created one, you could be setting the podcast up for failure before it even launches. Without knowing the likelihood of listenership, it won’t be long before you start to question the amount of time, money and resources you’re investing into the podcast, and you may end up pulling the plug on it before it has a chance to succeed.


Talk to Your Stakeholders About their Listening Habits or Receptivity


Find out from your key stakeholders if they may have an interest in listening to a podcast. Learn from them what are their most important issues, so you know in advance that they will invest 20, 30 or even 60 minutes into your podcast episodes once they go live. In short, make sure that before you record that first episode, you know you will probably have listeners, and your audio content will meet their needs and match their interests.


Don’t be Too Literal, But Do Be Engaging


Too many podcasters assume that a podcast must be a tutorial or how-to podcast when coming from a business. To be sure, this can be an effective format. But you may have other objectives in mind, like simply trying to keep your company top-of-mind among those already familiar with your organization. Or, you may want to expose your targeted audiences to many thought leaders within your organization to give them a sense of your multi-faceted company. In any event, your objectives would allow you more creative latitude than you may initially realize, so that you can serve up a podcast that is truly engaging and maybe not what anyone expects.



Don’t Assume Longer is Better, or Shorter is Better


In my experience as a podcaster, I’ve seen that my podcast listeners, on average, stick around to the end of most episodes whether those episodes are 30 minutes or 60 minutes in length. This is a departure from video viewers or blog readers, who are known for notoriously short attention spans. Podcast listeners often consume audio content while commuting or driving, working out or walking, or just doing chores around the house. In other words, they can do two things at once, and podcasts enable them to do it. Once a podcast listener hits “play,” they’re usually with you to the end, so long as it’s good.


By Tim O’Brien


Tim O’Brien is a veteran corporate communications consultant, the founder of Pittsburgh-based O’Brien Communications, and the creator of the Shaping Opinion podcast, which is available on all major podcast channels. To reach Tim, call 412.854.8845 or email him at timobrien@timobrienpr.com. Twitter: @OBrienPR


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