How does Podcast PR Compare to Other Forms of Marketing?

There is no shortage of choice when it comes to the ways you can reach new audiences.

Social media, blogging, Facebook advertising, webinar lead gen, speaking, podcast outreach…these are just the tip of the iceberg.

As if the choice of how to spend your time weren’t difficult enough, any of these marketing channels could work for you — as long as you do them consistently.

There is no one right answer, or secret to marketing your work, that once you learn it will change everything for your business.

How do you decide what to spend your time and energy on?

I recently spoke at a conference, where I met Lauren Hom. Lauren is an artist, who makes a living licensing her lettering, teaching online courses, and collaborating with major brands like Starbucks, Google and TIME Magazine.

Lauren has a real passion for launching creative projects, and as an artist, it’s only natural that her work found its natural home on a visual channel like Instagram, where she’s amassed 152,000 followers on her primary account.

Instagram is the ideal place for Lauren to showcase her work and personality. As someone working with brands, it’s important for her to be a social media influencers in her own right.

Hearing this story, you might be tempted to think, “Maybe I need to spend more time on Instagram,” or “It must be nice to have 150K followers! Of course she’s successful!”

But Lauren’s runaway success on Instagram doesn’t really tell you anything about Instagram itself.

The magic was in how Lauren found the right venue for her particular personality and skill set.

If she wasn’t an artist able to create her own images, if she didn’t have an irreverent personality that adds a dash of the unexpected to her medium, and if she weren’t comfortable putting her ideas out there, and sharing what’s going on behind the pretty pictures…

Instagram would not have been the right marketing channel.

Which marketing channels play to your strengths as a CEO and as a company?

This has all come up for me, because I’ve been forced to re-evaluate what I think about podcasts.

When I first started booking clients podcast interviews two years ago, I was seeing huge traffic bumps from each interview. I was pitching podcasts based on the strength of this traffic — clients were getting 10x the traffic and leads from podcasts than they were getting from guest blog posts and traditional media coverage.

Podcasts still outperform these traditional media channels, but the traffic bump has dropped quite a bit.

So I had to take a hard reckoning.

Could I still in good faith recommend podcast interviews to clients?

This line of inquiry prompted me to review what my clients have told me about the value of their own podcast interviews.

In paying close attention to their feedback, I’ve come to see is that podcasts, like Instagram, are a very specific kind of marketing channel with a very specific set of strengths.

They are amazing for companies in some conditions, but may be a less important channel if none of these apply to you.

What kind of business owner gets the best results with podcasts?

1. When you talk about your business 1-to-1, you have a high close rate.

At the most basic level, what you’re doing on a podcast interview creates a similar set of conditions to 1-to-1 sales. You get an hour to talk to another expert about your work, company structure, and expertise.

If people are routinely sold on your work when you talk about it, podcasts give you the opportunity to have those conversations at scale. You’re still talking 1-to-1 (it’s just you and the host, or in some instances, co-hosts talking), and that conversation is being distributed to thousands of people who are incredibly receptive to hearing what you have to say.

2. You love to have deep, meaningful conversations about your work.

One thing I hear over-and-over again from my PR clients is, “I don’t want to water down my message for the media.”

The challenge with traditional media is that you get, at most, 5-7 minutes in a live interview, or maybe 800 words in a guest post or contribution to a site like Entrepreneur or Fast Company.

There just isn’t space to get into a meaningful discussion about your work.

Even on your blog, where you can write about your topic in depth, only 20 percent of people will read to the end — and these stats are for people who already follow your work.

Compare this to podcast engagement rates, where 35 percent of people who start a podcast interview listen to the entire episode, and 80 percent tune in to most of the episode.

These listeners are typically new to your work, which makes these numbers even more powerful for your company.

Podcasts are the ideal marketing channel, for any CEO who loves to have deep conversations about your work.

3. You want to network with other influencers in your field.

One of the first things you learn running your own business is just how crucial it is to build a strong network.

Other business owners and thought leaders in your industry are an important source of referrals and other partnership opportunities. I’ve had colleagues recommend me for paid speaking gigs, lucrative client projects and even my teaching on CreativeLive!

I cannot overstate this: There is no way I’d have the company I have today without these relationships.

When you go on a podcast as a guest, ultimately what you’re doing is having an hour-long conversation about the work that lights you up to another expert or influencer. It gives you an unparalleled opportunity to cut out months of networking in forming a relationship.

No worrying if they’ll have time to talk with you at a conference, or buttering them up on social media.

You just get to show up and meet them as equals.

4. Referrals are a big revenue source for your company.

The #1 question I get from people who are already lining up interviews for themselves is, “How do I leverage my interviews once they air?”

I know that most people are looking for an answer that helps them use their coverage to draw in and attract more people, so my answer often surprises them.

When you get media coverage of any kind, it’s an opportunity to check in with any open leads.

Your interviews also give your fans and clients an opportunity to share your work with their network. We often forget just how much people want to support our work when they value it. Your interviews give them an opportunity to email a colleague or two, inviting them to get to know you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully you can see how you can start linking your PR efforts with your sales efforts a little more effectively.

Now, let me reiterate that I’m not saying podcasts are a magic bullet for your business.

There are lots of other marketing channels out there, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Speaking can be amazing if you love being on stage, and want to get paid to generate leads. I’m lukewarm about speaking (although I LOVE panels and workshops), because it is just so much work, but I know many who love it.

Facebook ads are great for people who want to create a consistent formula for churning out leads. But you’re also at the whim of the algorhythm, and with costs rising, I know a lot of people looking to diversify.

The point is that no one channel is perfect — the trick is figuring out which one works with your strengths.

Now that you know a little more about the kinds of companies podcasts work best for, is podcast outreach a good strategy for your company?

5 Things PR Has Taught Me About Working With My Inner Critic

Christina Bizzell joined the firm in February to learn PR. She’s a student at UNC-Chapel Hill and has thrived in her role, landing client interviews in top podcasts in the creative entrepreneur space like Creative Biz Rebellion and Strategy Hour.

When I decided to pursue a career in PR, I knew that I would have to develop skills like communicating effectively and managing multiple priorities.

What I didn’t quite anticipate is how much of my initial learning and growth would be around dealing with things like your inner critic and imposter syndrome.

Even now, as I write this first blog post about trying things you aren’t sure you’ll be good at, my inner critic wants to know who would want to take advice from a 20-year-old.

But regardless of age, it’s a pretty universal experience to fear trying new things, and in taking on this role, I realized that my own fears and beliefs were the #1 thing holding me back.

As much as it can feel like there’s a secret camera crew just waiting for me to mess up, my favorite thing about not being Kylie Jenner is that paparazzi doesn’t follow me around broadcasting my worst moments.

The world doesn’t have to know when I get a tough edit or that time I fell down a particular set of very public stairs on campus and limped away with my pride more bruised than my body. Waiting to be publicly flogged/laughed at/shamed was holding me back from learning what I needed to learn to succeed in my new role.

1. Give yourself the freedom to try

When I realized that the world wasn’t waiting for the chance to laugh at me, I finally gave myself the freedom to try new things.

I used to not like telling my friends and family when I was trying something new, especially when it wasn’t going well. I didn’t want to tell them I was having a hard time with the science classes I took back when I dreamed of going to nursing school. I was afraid they would think less of me as a person if they found out I was failing at something.

Luckily, I’m often wrong, and this situation was no exception.

My friends and family completely understood that everyone has things they aren’t good at. They reassured me that it’s common to change career paths several times before settling on one.

Knowing that it was ok to fail empowered me to start saying “yes” to more opportunities.

2. Starting is the hardest part

Though I’ve grown a lot in my time at this job, starting new projects is still the hardest part. Negative thoughts run through my head and paralyze me with fear.

The support of my friends and family was helpful, but it wasn’t a magical, instant-confidence button, because my biggest critic lived inside my head.

I realized that I was the secret camera crew just waiting for myself to mess up. I was the one who was ready to publish a nasty headline about myself at a moment’s notice.

You’re often your own biggest obstacle in life. Think about some of the things you’ve said about yourself in the mirror, and imagine trying to say those things to one of your friends. You’d never speak that way about someone else.

For some reason, people tend to think it’s ok to tear themselves down.

I try to anticipate negative comments and criticism, so I can prepare myself for them. But I frequently take it too far. There’s a fine line between preparing yourself for criticism and just being plain mean to yourself.

3. Recognize when your inner critic is taking over

Your inner critic is going to put up a fight that would put Floyd Mayweather to shame, so you have to be prepared.

Practice recognizing negative thoughts and stopping them in their tracks. Don’t let yourself pile mean words on yourself.

Instead, arm yourself with truth.

It isn’t necessarily true that you’ll never reach your goal of booking 20 podcasts. What is true is that you’ve already booked 5, which means you’ve sent successful pitches before. There’s no reason why you can’t do it again.

Firmly tell your inner critic about all the times when you did a good job on something that was new to you. Remind your inner critic of how smart you are and all the useful skills you have. Push back when your inner critic tries to tell you that you’re the only person who ever feels inadequate.

It helps me to identify the lies that I find myself believing the most and having truths ready in advance to fight those particular lies.

My inner critic is pretty dramatic and likes to tell me that if I make a mistake, it’s going to destroy the business, and Brigitte is going to go bankrupt and have to live on a park bench.

But I’m prepared and ready to fight back with truth. I definitely do not have enough power to bankrupt the business. If an employee making a mistake was enough to make businesses file for bankruptcy, there wouldn’t be a single business still around.

With every word of truth and affirmation that you speak over yourself, your inner critic gets weaker, and you get stronger. Eventually, you will overpower your inner critic and overcome its destructive hold on you.

4. You can’t revise a blank piece of paper

There is freedom in knowing it’s ok not to immediately succeed at something new, and it’s ok to write a bad first draft. The fact that you started at all is progress, because you can’t revise a blank piece of paper.

This is my first “real” job, and in the beginning, I was constantly anxious, because I really thought that bosses wanted to see their employees fail. I genuinely thought Brigitte was waiting for me to mess something up and that I’d be immediately fired if I did.

After making a million mistakes and not getting fired, I realized being terrified of failure is a prison. Fear of failure will chain you down and keep you stagnant.

Once I stopped fearing failure so much, it got easier to say “yes” to projects that I didn’t feel 100% qualified for. (Pro tip: You’ll never feel 100% qualified for anything. Do it anyway.)

It’s a million times less scary to try new things when you know you won’t die if it doesn’t go well.

What gets me through the fear is reminding myself of my favorite line in “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink: we’re not broken, just bent.

Broken feels permanent. A broken glass doesn’t get put back together. But bent can be restored. A mechanic can fix the dented exterior of a car after an accident. You can reframe your pitch and try again with new podcasts if none of the first podcasts you pitched respond to you.

5. The truth is no one wants to see you fail.

When I finally decided to stop feeding my fears, I stepped out of my chains. I could confidently say “I’ve never done this before, but I’ll do a little research and give it my best try.”

The risk of missing out on a great opportunity has become much more important than the voice of my inner critic.

Why I’ve Changed My Stance on Social

Do you ever feel a crazy amount of resistance to something everyone says you should be doing to market your business — but you just can’t bring yourself to get on board?

For me, that point of resistance has long been around social media.

Ever since Twitter started its decline (gosh, 5 years ago now?), I’ve been incredibly resistant to marketing my work on social media.

Give me an opening, and I can give you ALL the reasons why I don’t use social media to market my business.

Just for starters…

  • I HATE it when people message me on Facebook instead of emailing me. If you want to reach me, just reply to one of these emails!
  • I also find it weird when someone I don’t know sends me a friend request. Why is that a thing?
  • Back in the day, I was a low-key lifestyle blogger, who regularly wrote about personal development. Now, the idea of turning my every move into a business metaphor gives me hives.
  • My work isn’t consumer focused, so it doesn’t lend itself easily to places like Pinterest or Instagram. I don’t think photos of my cats are going to sell you PR or marketing advice. Actually, on second thought…it probably would!
  • The last thing I want to do is share the same-old inspirational quotes you see everywhere. I’m not against those quotes, but I’m not setting out to be a guru or life coach.

When I sit and really look at this list with an open heart and mind, what it tells me is that the typical formula for social media marketing feels like the absolute least authentic way for me to communicate.

As a writer, I already have a tendency to narrate my life as I’m living it. I don’t care to feed that tendency by taking the things I do for myself — things like hiking or political canvassing — and turning them into marketing lessons.

For the longest time, I couldn’t think of another way to engage, especially in a space like Instagram.

I’m much more comfortable sitting down and writing an email, because I feel like I can be fully myself and not adopt a persona for likes.

I will probably always feel that email is where I show up best, and yet, I’ve also had a breakthrough that has completely transformed how I think and feel about social.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been thinking about social all wrong…

For most people, social media is a discovery tool. It’s a way to spread your content and your work to more people.

But I’ve come to realize that the way I use social media is to deepen relationships.

There are two recent events that flipped this switch for me.

First up was my realization that I’m constantly advising my clients to share their PR wins, not to reach more people, but to energize the tribe they’ve already gathered.

After YEARS of giving this advice, it finally dawned on me.

I was not practicing what I preached…

That’s when I decided to start sharing more of my client’s press coverage, on the blog, in email but also on Instagram.

Suddenly, I had an authentic, real reason to share content on Insta…to shower LOVE on my clients and the media (mostly podcasters) we work with.

The second event was starting to tune into Instagram stories more, and messaging with friends and clients.

There is one client in particular, where a lot of our communication is through Instagram!

Here I am (in the middle) being silly with a client in stories. 😊Experiencing the way Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon use Instagram has been a total game-changer for me.

In my own company, I talk about how our remote team needs to work extra hard to create “watercooler moments” — spontaneous gathering points like you’d typically see play out in an office. For the past month, I’ve realized that Instagram messages & stories are playing this spontaneous, light-hearted role for my clients and me.

It’s deepening our relationship, now that not every conversation is specifically about the work or a deliverable.

I’m still pretty sporadic on Instagram, but if you’d like to connect over there with me, I’m @brigittelyons.

I won’t even complain if you show up in my messages. 😉

I’ve been doing some deep thinking about how social media might become more integrated into the marketing strategy we do for our clients, but in the meantime, I invite you to reflect on the role social media plays in your business.

How do you feel about social media? Do you use it for your business at all? Is your focus on discovery or depth — or both?