This Is Why to Use Podcasts for Digital PR

This Is Why to Use Podcasts for Digital PR

Podcasts and Digital PR Go Hand-in-Hand. Here’s How.

With podcasts now cemented as a staple of many people’s media diet, it’s easy to forget how young this medium really is. The word podcast first appeared in print in 2004, and for the next five years, this new form of online radio appealed primarily to a niche audience of early adopters. A 2009 survey revealed that only 43% of Americans were aware of podcasts and audience growth remained slow for years until 2014 when the podcast Serial* became an overnight cultural phenomenon. Suddenly, podcasts were big business, and listenership doubled to 90 million over the next five years. Today, more than two million active podcasts exist, and American listenership stands at more than 100 million. Those eye-opening statistics are enough to make any public relations (PR) pro take notice. 

*Admittedly Serial was the first podcast I ever binged…it is so good!


The Same Principles Apply

While the podcasting medium is relatively new, the techniques PR pros use to leverage them are not. PRs learned how to harness the internet’s insatiable content appetite for their client’s benefit long ago. The same principles apply here. Not only are podcasts always hungry for new content, but many also include valuable link opportunities that support broader SEO efforts. What’s more, Google is now indexing and featuring podcast content, making these shows a critical component of every digital media list. So how do PRs begin accessing the large new audiences this medium can reach? They can start by booking podcast appearances for their clients.


Booking Clients on Podcasts

The most common way of leveraging the power of podcasts is by positioning a person from a company to share their opinions or insights into a relevant product, service or industry. PRs create these opportunities in the same way they do with other mediums: by building a media or target list.


Building a Podcast List

The audience should be your first consideration as you begin to build a list. To start to segment, I’ll put podcasts into a few broad categories: 

  • Entertainment: These podcasts cover a variety of topics and appeal to a broad group of listeners. Sports, celebrity entertainment, news, history, how-to, food & drink, etc., etc. 
  • Industry or Trade-Specific: This podcast category generally features smaller audiences. However, they’re typically more targeted and highly engaged. From a PR perspective or media relations perspecitve, think of the trade outlets or industry publications.
  • Media-Hosted: These are newsy podcasts produced by media organizations. 
  • Traditional-First Podcasts: Some organizations syndicate their radio and television programs in podcast feeds.

Once you’ve selected the categories you want to target, it’s time to find specific opportunities. We start this process with a media database search (we use Muck Rack), use podcast specific tools like Podchaser, and/or search Google. We also discover new opportunities by asking our clients what podcasts they listen to or are interested in pursuing. 

After you’ve identified several possibilities, refine your media list by asking a few critical questions:

  • Does the podcast follow an interview format? If not, there’s probably no role for your client to play.
  • How does the podcast publish? Do the episodes live on a website, or are they only hosted through one of the popular podcast syndicators? If the podcast is not hosted on a website, there is less opportunity for a valuable link or mention.
  • Do they offer an episode write-up that includes links for the guest? If so, are they follow or no-follow links? What is the podcast website’s domain authority? 
  • Is the podcast well established with a high and/or engaged audience? Are they still publishing? There are many podcasts that you will find that are no longer creating new episodes, you don’t want to pitch these.
  • Does the podcast host have a strong and engaged social following? If so, do they share podcast episodes on their social channels? 

With the answer to these questions in hand, you’ll be in a more favorable position to select the opportunities that best match your objectives. Now it’s on to the pitch.


Creating a Podcast Pitch

Pitching guests to podcasts can be different from pitching story ideas to the media. Sometimes you need to send an email to the host, and some podcasts have online forms you need to fill out. Other times you might pitch a producer. Each podcast approaches its booking process differently, and you’ll need to do some legwork to figure this out. 

Before sending out pitches, we often create podcast bio pages for our clients with their social media links, a short bio and topics they’re interested in discussing. You could also include links to other podcast appearances or keynote addresses they’ve given. Make sure you include the company URL in your client’s biography so when the interviewer copy-pastes that information into the show notes, you’ll get some added SEO value.

As you begin drafting your pitches, come up with a few general topics your client can talk about. Then turn those topics into specific ideas that will resonate with each podcast’s audience. Current event content is always highly desirable. Make sure to include the URL for your client’s website bio page. This cannot be a set-it-and-forget-it process. You must put thought into every pitch you send out if you want to get your clients booked.


Other Considerations

After you’ve booked a client and they’ve completed their interview, don’t forget to send the host or producer an after-interview thank you email. Within this note, be sure to include links to your client’s social handles, key company links and the desired headshot. Not only will these messages convey your genuine appreciation, but they’ll also serve as subtle reminders that you’d appreciate a link opportunity in return for providing valuable content.

You’ll also find many pay-to-play opportunities in the podcast world. You can evaluate these opportunities the same way you’d consider a sponsored content post. How much does it cost? What’s the reach? Will you receive a link? If so, what kind of link?

Now you have a framework for pursuing all the opportunities other people’s podcasts can bring you. However, there’s a whole other side of this media modality that can serve PRs and their clients in big, big ways. 


Creating Your Own Podcast

While creating your own podcast takes a lot of time and money, it also brings plenty of advantages from a content marketing perspective, particularly for link building. For starters, all the leading players like Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon and Google provide descriptions that can point back to your website when you send them your podcast (only Google actually has a link, which is no-follow). However, getting the most out of your podcast from a digital PR perspective requires a few essential things.

  • You must have a place on your website to house podcast content. Otherwise, you won’t get the value of any links or mentions your podcast earns.
  • You also need to include a write-up of each podcast episode. That way, when you promote your podcast, it generates traffic and links back to your website. However, this adds another layer of time and cost to podcast content creation.


Booking Guests for Your Podcast

If you’re creating a podcast for digital PR purposes, you’ll also want to book guests so there will always be someone else to share the content. But booking guests brings another set of questions. Do you target big names? Or do you stick with up-and-comers?

Both approaches have their pluses and minuses. Well-known guests add credibility to your podcast and may bring their own audiences to your show. However, they’re also harder to book and may be less likely to share your content. On the other hand, up-and-comers may be more excited to appear on your show and more excited to share, but they don’t always have an existing audience you can co-opt. 

One way to solve the sharing problem is to follow up with your guests after the interview or when the podcast launches, asking them to share it on their social feeds. You can also include suggested post copy to make the sharing process as easy as possible. Sometimes that soft extra nudge is all it takes.


A Tool You Should Learn to Use

Podcasts are an incredibly effective tool to share your client’s message with targeted and engaged audiences. They can also play a critical role in link-building strategies for PRs who want to help their clients leverage every possible benefit from these hard-won opportunities. As the popularity of podcasts continues to grow, PRs everywhere should become podcast experts. If not, they risk missing out on valuable opportunities and exposure for their clients and themselves.

What You Need to Start a Podcast

What You Need to Start a Podcast

Technical Elements

You don’t need a lot to get started podcasting, but there are a few crucial technical elements including:

Hosting (where you drive people and the actual hosting of the podcast files

How to host in general (where will it live)

    • On your website or stand-alone (create a site just for the podcast, e.g.
    • Embed or host on-site (most people will embed a player, maybe website development firm will host the actual audio files themselves)
    • Can just use where you host the podcast files, but that is not a good idea (building their value/authority, not yours)
      • Quick aside – same goes for blogging. Do not use blogger or medium or LinkedIn as you primary or only blog host.

We embed on our site – see our podcast page

    • Have a section with a description of the podcast and a player, plus pulls all the blog post episodes.
    • Podcast blog posts are also part of our blog

Host + syndication via RSS




    • Check your levels and not record feedback

PRO TIP – if you have guests, ask them to use a usb microphone and headphones


Audacity (free audio editing software)

    • find your perfect (or almost perfect) settings for every episode

Zencastr (free VoiP podcast recording)

    • Send your guest a link, record your interview, both audio tracks are saved to cloud (DropBox, etc.)
    • Records on separate tracks to you can edit the audio (the voice levels at the very least)

Want to add video?


    • Adding video takes your podcast to another level
    • Edit your settings to record two audio tracks so you can edit for your podcast

Video editing software

    • Likely already have one on your computer, we only trim video, no other editing

Check-list for each podcast episode

Each podcast episode requires some specific elements. Some elements may not apply depending on the format of your show, how produced it is and if you have guests and/or sponsors.

Each Episode (some only apply if you have guests):

    • General Intro – this tells the listener what the podcast is about (same every time)
    • Intro Music – use original music, rights-free or purchase rights (with snippets, same every time)
    • Custom Intro – this tells the listener what the episode is about (can just add to the beginning of the podcast, or create custom after the interview if you have a guest)
    • Episode content
    • Optional break(s) during the episode for sponsor read or CTA
    • Outro Music – use original music, rights-free or purchase rights (with snippets, same every time)
    • Sponsor Read (could be within outro and/or intro too)
    • Outro Validation – third party accreditation (same every time)
    • Outro CTA – subscribe, rate & review, share, etc.
    • Outro Music (same every time)
    • Write up – give listeners and Google somewhere to “read” about your episode. There are several options including:
      • Full blog post – write a short or long summary of your podcast episode. Use this in your portion of the episode to drive people to your website
      • Transcript – a full edited transcript or an AI generated transcript. Give Google text to index.
    • Audiogram – you can create an audiogram of a portion or all of each episode to share &/or use as a video for YouTube

Thoughts on timing and outsources (or using other internal resources)

Do you need a Podcast Editor?

An audio editor helps us with our time and doing a few things faster than what we can do internally. We use Nathan Isaacs, whom we’ve worked with for years, but there are also other companies (e.g. Podfly) that can help you put the podcasts together and also put a show music together for you. We originally didn’t have to use that type of company as I had an AE that was musically inclined and he put our beginning song together. 


How much time does it take?

The time it takes is actually a little misleading. You think it should be just the time of the podcast interview, plus just a little more, but it just isn’t. 

Here is a rough breakdown for one PR Talk episode:

Scheduling people & researching who to ask. This has gotten easier with time. We have found that we sort of go off into a theme with topical things, sometimes related to a conference or a thing that’s going on in the industry. Recently we have gotten months of content scheduled and recorded in just a month? One tip is to get some “in the bank” in case you run out of steam/allow for holidays. Save all initial pitches and re-use but customize per target. 

    • 2-5 hours per quarter? Scheduling people is harder than it appears/annoying. 
      • It is advisable to have at least three episodes ready to go at “launch,” that way when someone visits your podcast page, they see more than one episode. It will also help with getting “new” exposure on Apple iTunes.

Research before the interview (after they say yes). 30 mins tops as I just want it to be natural and not over-prepped. I hate over-prepping and I have found that the interview where I over-prepped my subject (and did a pre-call) was not natural at all. However, your topic is more controversial so your interviewees may need this to calm their nerves. In that case, add an extra 30 mins. 

    • 30 mins to one hour per interview 

Conducting the interview. With Zencastr, it’s just easier and I am not wielding a bunch of equipment around and not needing to drive to and from. So, one hour tops with this system as the interview just downloads right into Dropbox and I don’t even need to alert my editor to its occurrence. For in-person interviews, it is fun to see them in person but it always adds so much more time as there is a lot of chatting before and after the interview and they also try to make extra plans with you. 

    • 1 hour per interview 

Editing the interview. This typically takes 1.5 hours on each podcast. However, there can be some additional coordination if you have a “diva” guest who asks you to take something out (or if they happen to misspeak and say something wrong). Try to set expectations low that you don’t take out the “umms” as it is not natural and you want it to sound organic. We do not let the guests listen to the podcast before it is live. 

    • Pay for help. No time on your part. 
    • 1-2 hours per episode

Editing exception. However if they say something they are really worried about (incorrect/embarrassing), we have to honor them by taking it out, and then you should go back and listen to ensure the editor actually got it out before releasing. 

    • Probably no more than 30 mins? But you can do these things while you are doing other things, such as driving, so it is not too much lost time. 

Blog post (BP) writing. Up to 3-5 hours as a writer needs to listen to it before/during writing. For us this is a very important part of the podcast and we typically do more than a quick recap or transcription of the interview (although that is an option).

    • 3-5 hours

Social Media. We share these on social media an average of three times with different messaging each time.

    • 1 hour (to be safe)

Other. Some people also create short video snippets for their episodes and/or make a “video” for YouTube (I put “video” in quotes because we are not suggesting video interviews, but posting as a video with a still image). The short snippets can be easy for your editor to make while doing the video, I would estimate .5-1 hour extra. 

    • 1/2 to 1 hour

TOTAL TIME = 7.5 – 10.5  hrs / podcast

Note that about half of the time is for the blog post. Some people/organizations do not write a post for each episode. We think this is a huge missed opportunity.

Also, depending on the length of your episodes, these estimates can vary significantly. E.g. an hour-long interview takes 4 times longer to listen to and at least twice as long to write the blog post that a 15-20 min interview.

How to Start a Podcast presentation to the Rotary Club of Portland

This podcasting presentation includes the basics on why and how to start a podcast of your own:

The Ins and Outs of Podcasting presentations to PRSA Oregon

This podcasting presentation includes many podcasting stats and demographics in addition to the “hows” and “whys” of podcasting: