Use Ears to Win Hearts and Minds

July 23, 2015

A picture is worth a thousand words. Show, don’t tell. Let me give you a snapshot. We all understand that images hold a distinct power that written words don’t. But in recent years, due in large part to the ease with which complex ideas can be shared readily on mobile using pictures – be it infographics, memes, graphs or good-old-fashioned photographs – we may have inadvertently overlooked a medium that is increasingly gaining traction and truly connecting with audiences. Lean in and listen closely, because I am referring to the spoken word.

Entertainment Weekly reported earlier this year that when iTunes started offering podcasts for download in 2005, there were only about 3,000 up and running. A decade later, that number has mushroomed to more than 285,000 podcasts, created in over 100 languages. Some are calling 2015 the golden year of the podcast , which isn’t entirely surprising. When you look at the overwhelming success of NPR’s Serial, (Did Adnan kill Hae? Is he guilty or innocent?), or the unexpected following that podcast hosts like Joe Rogan have amassed for themselves through weekly chats, it becomes clear: the podcast is here to stay and its power is irrefutable. The question I ask myself as a communicator, is why?

Here are the top three reasons why I believe that podcasts are here for good reason, and are a tactic that anyone – whether they be a person, a company or a brand – should consider them to grow and develop a relationship with their audience:

  • Podcasts are intimate. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been drawn to auditory experiences. I love music, and getting lost in my headphones is one of my absolute favourite things to do. When sound is delivered to me alone, a private experience is created; a sentiment that I am privy to something that others are not. Podcasts tap into that same sentiment, and through this they build a relationship with their audience that is different than one garnered through reading information or looking at an image.


  • Podcasts aren’t a one off. This can be perceived as both a challenge and an opportunity. To build an audience with a podcast you must be dedicated to delivering content on a regular, cadenced basis. While this is a big commitment, like any relationship, it offers the opportunity to engage in an ongoing way to build loyalty with someone.


  • You control the content. And because of this, podcasts aren’t so scary. If you’re new to the space, you can start off with a closely planned approach, gauge audience reaction, and fine-tune as you go along. You don’t have to ‘hit it out of the park” with your first one, because podcasts aren’t about the single broadcast, they’re about growing with your audience and welcoming them into your space.

So the next time you’re planning a communications plan, don’t overlook the potential that podcasts can provide. As storytellers, we can literally tell a story. And podcasts offer the opportunity for us to do just that.