How podcasts help brands tell their story

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The podcast has come a long way since iTunes partnered with producers to create a native support platform to host them. The number of people listening has increased as more and more shows are added each day. On average, 29 million minutes of podcasts are being produced yearly with individuals and brands shifting their content to the medium.  

A podcast provides a storytelling platform not just for popular content such as sport, music or pop culture but for brands to engage an audience through a unique channel. Already we are witnessing a host of brands move their content into the audio format. But it is not a sales pitch the audience is listening to. It’s the incredible stories brands are producing for an audience they know it will resonate with. 

On the Brand Storytelling podcast this week, Andrew Chugg from Panoply drops in to discuss the future of the podcasting world and how brands are building their personal audio platforms.

Panoply is the audio arm of Slate and producers high-quality audio content for brands such as GE, The Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated

Once you get to know the host, once you get to know the content, it’s easy to keep an audience

— Andrew Chugg

Topics and Segments: 

  • How they built the wide-successfully GE podcast, The Message.
  • Why brands are starting to shift their content into an audio production.
  • How Panoply assists with the ideation and creation of shows for name brands. 
  • …and of course….. The Mad Minute! 

5 lessons from Andrew Chugg: 

1. People are consuming on average, 4-5 podcasts per week. These shows are essentially booking an appointment with an audience, an engagement brands can only dream of. 

2. Don’t just talk at your audience, take them on a visual journey through your storytelling. 

3. Building an audience is tougher than keeping it. Don’t be afraid to keep mixing it up and keep your listeners guessing. 

4. Listeners often discover new podcasts through ones they frequently listen to. Get mentioned and build those subscribers. 

5. Always seek feedback from your audience. Keep raising the benchmark of the quality of your content and how you deliver it. 

Here’s a sneak preview of the show: 

Rakhal Ebeli: It is one of those plans that you need to put in place for a long time. I was listening to Joe Pulizzi talk about a sponsored show which was a great podcast play, but it was a 6 week, essentially, campaign. How disappointing is it when you actually realize the penny drops that this is literally an audio sponsored content piece that’s only being put out over a 6 week period of time. You build up an audience and then you just let it all go. To me, that seems really crazy and I know the podcasts that I love and enjoy, it is a journey and you kind of evolve along with the podcast and you hear how it develops and how, I certainly can speak from the experience of this show, what the focus and the lens of the show start to evolve into. That is largely determined by the audience and what they’re asking for and certainly for us what we wanted to try and deliver to add value. Hopefully, we’re doing that through this show.

Once you’ve got that definitive plan laid out practically, where do most podcasters start and where should they look to try and create the podcast and then get it out there?

Andrew Chugg: There’s a number of resources out there and this is, on a personal level why I love podcasting. It can be done with a smartphone. It can be done very, very cheaply and I think that’s what’s so great about it is a very democratic medium. Podcasts are free. There’s a lot of ways in. But you want to be very mindful of why you’re doing it. Are you doing it to just have another piece of media that you want to push? Are you doing it to inflate your own ego and to get your voice out into the world? It’s important to speak to 1 listener at a time and kind of be their guide through the listening process. With that, moving into production, you kind of want to think about length and sort of tolerance of length and things of that nature.

Rakhal: When you talk about amplification of your podcasts, and this is a big, big thing, as a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? You can be bashing away at a podcast and have one of the greatest shows in the world, but if you don’t have an audience it’s pretty frustrating. How do podcasters find an audience and keep them?

Andrew: Building is a little bit tougher than keeping. I find that once you get to know the host, once you get to know the content, it’s easy to keep an audience unless you really kind of screw up. I think building an audience for a podcast is quite difficult. Of course, I’m very much focused on content and filling gaps within the podcast space but of course, there are other, more practical ways to build a podcast audience. We know from listener surveys that podcast listeners primarily hear about new podcasts through other podcasts. Part of what the Panoply network does is promote other shows on our network via the network so you may hear an advertisement for a custom podcast, a branded podcast on one of the editorial podcasts because we know that these folks are listening to podcasts. We know that they listen to, in fact, upwards of 7 different podcasts per week on a regular basis. That’s one of the best ways to build an audience.

Another way, of course, is testing things out. We’re so early in this but we’re testing out advertising within other networks. We’re testing off-site promotion towards a landing page. We’re testing auto-play functionality to see if we can get people interested very quickly. We’re testing all types of things and some of them are massively successful and some are miserable failures. We’re really learning a lot through that process. I would say the key thing is patience because it takes several episodes to get people interested from an emotional perspective, let alone best part of a larger marketing plan. It takes about, I would say, 6 to 10 episodes minimum just to get to know idiosyncrasies of the host or sort of like the regular segments within the podcasts. I think this podcast here is a good example of that. I’m sure if you surveyed your listeners, by the 6th or 7th episode they would really start to look forward to that 60-second hot seat. I think patience is key and dedication is extremely key.


Podcast Intro music: 

Serial Podcast

GE Podcast – Produced by Panoply

Startup Podcast – Produced by Gimlet

Hamish and Andy Podcast

Podcast statistics:

From 2003 to 2016: The Astounding Growth of Podcasting [Infographic] 

Other links: 

How podcasts have changed in ten years by the numbers

Listening to podcasts in Facebook is about get easier

How did the GE-branded podcast The Message hit No.1 on iTunes? 

Everything brands need to know about podcasts (but were afraid to ask) 

About Panoply: 

Panoply is the audio arm of Slate and producers high-quality audio content for brands and publishers. 

It has since become one of the world’s foremost podcasting networks with clients such as Netflix, GE, Sports Illustrated and the Wall Street Journal. 

Connect with Andrew & Panoply



Twitter: @Panoply

Other podcasts you may enjoy: 


Photo credit: cfiesler via Visual hunt / CC BY