Public relations has come a long way from Eduard Bernays, political propaganda and even the press release. We’ve watched it take on the role of social media manager, integrate with marketing, advertising and other communications, as well as dive into the rise of influencers. Today, PR primarily focuses on digital over print.
We have been living in the digital age for some time now, but there is always something new. A new app, a new trend, a new dance. It’s getting harder and harder to fight against the new digital trends. There’s no room for resistance in public relations. You have to hop on the next wave in order to keep your clients relevant and to grow your own brand.
Now we turn to the podcast, the next step in the evolution of public relations. I’m a huge music person — I always have something pulled up on Spotify when I’m working, cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, driving or literally doing anything that typically involves silence. Eventually, even music was not enough to fill the void, so I decided that listening to people talk would be the next best background noise.
Once you start, you can’t stop. There are podcasts about everything, TV shows, sports, chess, crime, finance, mental health. Anything you’re interested in, you can find someone who makes a career out of talking about it. Every week after I watch The Bachelor, I listen to at least five different podcasts recapping the episode. I’m addicted — I feel like there’s never enough content for me to consume.
The craziest part of it? Anyone can start one. You don’t need thousands of followers and you don’t need brand deals. All you need is a recording device. Having social media followers will definitely give you an audience, but it’s not a determining factor in whether you’re allowed to start one.
Now, this is just the next step in social amplification for something or someone that needs to be publicized. After covering your ground on Instagram, Twitter, maybe Pinterest and of course Tik Tok, give your brand a podcast. It can cover topics about absolutely anything relevant to it, as long as it has a catchy name and cover art.
In 2020, over 155 millon people listened to a podcast each week. Podcasts typically cost nothing for the listener, but it’s not that easy for the creator. To offset production costs, creators tap into sponsors, which is where advertising comes in. Brands will pay popular podcasters to talk about their product.
I’ve gone from downloading a podcast every once in a blue moon before taking a flight, to anxiously awaiting the arrival of new episodes of my favorite shows, to recording my own show. I had the amazing opportunity to host an episode of PRSSA Podcasts and loved it so much that I started a podcast at my own Chapter. Now every week, I co-host Caffeine & Comm with UF PRSSA, interviewing my fellow Chapter members and sharing their experiences with a whole new community. I love having a platform for myself and being able to inform others as well. Be sure to listen to these shows when you can and then take this opportunity to create a podcast for your own PRSSA Chapter. Speak out to your audience of PR majors and young professionals now when this form of media is so relevant.
Get your brand some earned media by landing them a spot as a guest star on an episode relating to its industry. From there, start brainstorming ideas for a spin-off with your client hosting a series of their own. Dive into the daily news, give professional advice, inspire a young high school senior or college freshman. When working on a campaign or trying to grow a brand, a podcast can help you level up.
Kimberly Hurd is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. She’s a member of the UF Chapter of PRSSA and the PRSSA National Publications Subcommittee. Aside from PR, she sings in UF’s all-female a cappella group, The Sedoctaves. Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn.