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The Podcast Medium and Its Use in Communication

Marketing, Research

Podcasts are not a new phenomenon but have experienced a significant increase in both interest and the number of active podcasts over the last five to ten years. This trend is evident both in Denmark and internationally. Along with the increase in active podcasts, the spectrum of different topics has also become much wider, and you can now find podcasts about both fashion, gastronomy, lifestyle and interior, plants, news, and politics.
Because of this increase in podcasts, we at VOCAST have chosen to focus on the podcast medium, collaborating with Søren Brunsgaard, to analyze the communication form and why you should consider podcasting as a means of communication.

Meet Søren Brunsgaard 

VOCAST spoke with Søren Brunsgaard, the chairman of the Center for Podcasting, who provided insights into what podcasts are and how they can be used as a communication form. Center for Podcasting is a non-profit organization that strengthens, unifies, and develops podcasting in Denmark. In addition to supporting podcasting in Denmark, the Center for Podcasting also organizes the annual award show “Podcastprisen”, celebrating Danish audio and podcast production.

 

Why use podcasts as a communication form?

The use of podcasts has risen over the last 5-10 years, with an estimated 3000 active podcasts covering topics such as fashion, self-development, lifestyle, gastronomy, etc. According to Søren, the growing interest in podcasts as a communication form can be attributed to flexibility, not only in terms of what listeners want to hear but also when they choose to listen.

It’s what you listen to when cycling, mowing the lawn, chopping onions, or doing something else. Unlike traditional radio, which is often background listening, a podcast is considered foreground listening because the listener actively chooses whether they want to hear P1 Debat, Mørkeland, or something else“.

In addition to being foreground listening, podcasts also offer more freedom in structuring individual episodes. Unlike traditional radio, where there are typically alternating talk segments, music, and commercials, podcasts have much more flexibility. The duration of an episode, whether it’s 20 minutes or four hours, and the structure can vary depending on the podcast genre and topic.

Contrary to traditional radio, which includes ad blocks, a podcast episode may have a single sponsor for an episode. This allows for more precise targeting of each episode. The flexibility of a podcast episode, according to Søren, opens up the possibility of delving into more niche topics, as there is no need to allocate space for elements like music or news summaries.

Letting your audience “behind the facade”

Another interesting aspect about the podcast as a medium, is that it allows the listener to come behind the facade of whoever is the sender of the podcast. A possible explanation for why podcasts are a good way to communicate with the audience on a deeper level could be that audio storytelling is seen as a more intimate way of communicating. This way of communicating on a deeper level allows learning more about the behind-the-scenes of a brand, such as its production and employees, which ultimately can create a stronger relationship between sender and receiver.
An example of how a podcast gives the listener a behind-the-scenes look at a company or industry is the Danish podcast “Klædt på”, under the auspices of ELLE Denmark (in English, “Dressed”). In this podcast, the host Mads Emil Grove Møller, a well-known Danish fashion stylist and former editor, discusses different topics and trends with renowned guests from the fashion industry. Another example of how a podcast gives the listener a chance to learn more about a brand is Chanel’s podcast series discussing the brand’s history, origin, highlights, and inspiration for their many collections throughout the years. From different perspectives, including Cinema, Haute Couture, and Dance, Chanel brings their creative vision to life through intriguing conversations.

Considerations before venturing into podcast communication

Communication through podcasts has several advantages, including listener flexibility and the ability to structure the podcast medium. However, there are also considerations that podcast creators need to take into account.

Regardless of the platform chosen, it is essential to consider the target audience for the podcast. While the initial target audience for podcasts in the early stages of its popularity was educated individuals aged 25-40 in the Copenhagen area, the medium’s growing popularity has broadened the audience across all age groups. However, the commercial audience, often referred to as the “middle audience”, remains the primary user of podcasts in their daily lives.

Søren believes that the commercial audience’s preference for podcasts over other audiences is due to the availability of content tailored to their interests. He highlights,

“… it’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy that the young, educated Copenhageners listen the most because the content is made for them. There isn’t much content specifically for the older audience or for children.”

Another consideration in podcast usage is the limitations that come with it. Since podcasts are exclusively an audio medium, conveying information that requires visual communication forms can be challenging. It is crucial to keep in mind that communicating information that relies on visual elements may be difficult through podcasts. The absence of a visual element makes it easier to convey messages such as advertising, and it also sharpens the requirements for storytelling skills, as there is no visual support for the message. According to Søren, it is essential to create a podcast that appeals to users if they are to continue listening. 

“If you just made a podcast in the old days, you were a first mover, and if you make a podcast now, you’re a bad mover.

Choosing a host for your podcast

After developing both your concept and message, and partnering with a capable production company to create your podcast, the next step is to choose a suitable host. While it may be tempting to select a random communications employee from your company, it is worth considering whether a more well-known figure should represent your podcast outwardly.

One of Søren’s points is that a host with a more recognizable face can be an effective way to spread the word about your podcast to consumers. When discussing the importance of a good match between the host and the message/company, Søren Brunsgaard mentions the collaboration between comedian Christian Fuhlendorf and the prison system on the podcast “Fuhlendorff i fængsel.” Another successful collaboration between a company and a podcast host is the partnership between the company Bedre Nætter and podcast host Peter Falktoft.

In these two examples, Søren highlights that the podcasts were successful for both parties due to a well-produced podcast, a good match between the host and the company, and significant marketing of the podcast on both the company’s and the host’s social media. The choice of hosts for the two podcasts was also a good match because the messages of the podcasts were something the hosts agreed with or could speak well about.

Tips & Tricks

Are you still unsure about how to use podcasts for future communication? Here are three pieces of advice from Søren:

Focus on the listener's interest

Be aware that there are people who will listen to your podcast. Therefore, plan and consider how to structure your podcast in a way that captures and retains the listener’s attention.

Get help with the production

Collaborate with a production company that understands how to structure and edit a podcast, as well as a host who can effectively communicate your message, possibly even becoming a brand ambassador.

Don't forget about marketing

Pay attention to the marketing of your podcast, so it doesn’t end up being forgotten among all the other podcasts.

View the Top Podcasts 

Browse through a selection of some of the top-ranked podcasts across several markets, available through VOCAST’s curated lists:

Denmark

To The Moon, Honey’ is an honest community for women already in or on their way in to motherhood. The two women behind the website, Bea Fagerholt and Liv Winther, believes that women become stronger if they aim to be honest with each other and themselves.

Norway

 

fÆb is a podcast hosted by Jenny Skavlan, Mari Nordén, Ingrid Bergtun og Ingrid Vik Lysne. The girls shares their everyday life experiences through weekly colums revolving fashion, relationships and personal affairs.

Sweden

In this podcast, the two hosts Hanna and Lojsan talk unfiltered and honestly about everything including travel, friendship, dating, relationships. They share embarrassing stories and their strong opinions to solving the listeners’ problems.

Finland

Nonsense is a popular podcast by Finnish fashion influencers Alexa Dagmar and Linda Juhola.The podcast discusses both, light and deep topics, such as family life, worst fashion fails, self-confidence and lack of physical desire for sex.

Germany

Stilgenuss is a podcast hosted by Shirin Seyed, who works as a personal stylist and offers recommendations and advice to men specifically in regards to what to wear.

The Netherlands

Geuze and Gorgels os a Dutch podcast hosted by Monica Geuze and Kaj Gorgels. During the podcast listeners send in problems in their life, can be anything from relationships to friendships. Monica and Kaj talk about the problems and try to give advice or share similar situations they have been through in a humorous way.

Belgium

The podcast Four Real is hosted by four Belgian influencers such as Liandra Sadzo, who will be your newly proclaimed “digital big sisters” by talking about topics such as lifestyle and relationships.

France

Anna Rvr is a French YouTuber and Influencer. Her sense of humour and honesty allows her to be very close to her community. In the summer of 2022, Anna launched her lifestyle podcast “Contre soirée”, which is now one of the most popular podcasts in French-speaking countries.

Italy

Caffè Design is a podcast hosted by Giuliano, Nanni and Riccardo, which aims to be “a chat between three designers, without too many words”. The place is their “internet bar”, where every Monday and Thursday the three boys discuss design, marketing, innovation and the future in an informal way.

The UK

The Girls Bathroom is a podcast hosted by the two influencers, Sophia Tuxford and Cinzia Baylis-Zullo. In this podcast the two hosts discuss topics and dilemmas from the listeners, mostly around relationships, dating and everyday life of being a woman.

The US

The Papaya Podcast is a weekly show where the host, Sarah Nicole, dishes out some sweetness mixed in with some seeds of wisdom. Get ready to get inspired, get candid, and get real, because we are all in this digital space together.

References: MediaWatch: Podcasts rammer flere unge ugentligt end tv. hearHEAR: Dyk ned i en verden af podcasting. MediaWatch: Danskernes podcastfeber giver lydbranchen stor fremgang. Chanel: 3.55-Chanel-Podcasten. ELLE: Mads Emil Grove Møller er vært i ELLEs nye podcast: “Moden skal være et frirum, men den skal også kunne snakke om nogle større ting”.

Image Credit: Copenhagen Fashion Week, Noor-u-Nisa

Mia Maria Jensen Miller is one of the Danish News Media Researchers and has worked at VOCAST since January 2023. She is currently studying for her bachelor’s degree in Film and Media at the University of Copenhagen.

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