The Who, Why, and How of Podcast Marketing

by Admin PRX


As the Director of Audience Development and Marketing at PRX, I often find myself reflecting on the next frontier for audience discovery in podcasts. I could be mulling over the newest Edison report on podcast listening or download data and trends from our Metrics reporting platform. Perhaps I’m thinking about the next creative approach to launch a new show or season. All these thoughts always bring me back to the three key marketer questions — who are we trying to reachwhy should they listen, and how can we reach them? 

To be truly competitive and enticing, we must make the value of world-expanding storytelling and reporting important every day. Our marketing message must make the moment urgent to the listener’s life even when it doesn’t feel like the world is on fire. This is where I start every conversation about marketing podcasts, whether with myself, the marketing team at PRX, or directly with the producers we work with on a new show and series launches.

And with this as our guiding principle, our measurement of success can be more easily focused, as can our tactics to reach audiences.

What are our goals?

Goals can vary by project; they can include hard numbers like downloads or audience demographics and soft metrics like anecdotal feedback from listeners or stakeholders. Regardless, they often fall under the following buckets:

  • Have we increased engagement and service to our core audiences?

  • Have we identified and engaged for the first time new, more diverse audiences?

  • Have we contributed to our audience’s ability to show up as an informed and engaged citizen?

Where do we begin our work?

This work most likely begins in your newsroom, but you have a role as the content producer’s advocate and navigator. Your stakeholders are in your newsroom or in your content team. We start our marketing process by getting engaged with the content, listening deeply, or having an informal interview with the producers or hosts to get to the root of what makes each show special. You need to know why your show is unique to build the most compelling “why now” promotional narrative.

What do we need to do?

You don’t need podcast marketing specialists to be a good marketer, so start with the skills you have already honed and build from there. Fall in love with a podcast app, spend time scrolling through other folks’ art and read their show descriptions to get a sense of the landscape you’re entering.

What new marketing opportunities should we be looking out for?

Promotion on podcast platforms is the first step for discoverability. Get familiar with all the apps your listeners might use (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Pandora, TuneIn, etc.) and the assets and processes you need to be visible and promotable on them. Review the guides Apple Podcasts and Stitcher have created for marketers like you.

Cross promos are something you’ll become familiar with — trading download impressions with other podcasts as a no-cost promotion tactic. Identify the shows that are like yours, or share a common audience, and reach out to discuss opportunities.

Paid ads are often the other piece of new territory for marketers, buying impressions rather than trading them. These deals often start around $30CPM, so you need to have a budget in advance to make a buy big enough to deliver scale, e.g., a budget of $6,000 would deliver 200,000 impressions in most cases.

Review, learn and repeat.

Take time to look back at the campaign and see what worked for you. Track your promotional tactics, including the dates you were featured on any platforms, when cross-promotion or ads ran, and high-volume online conversation so that you can review them against the listening data you have. Use retrospectives to bring together the content and the marketing teams to talk through the things that worked really well, and those that didn’t. Figure out how to tweak and improve your process to make the next launch even more successful.

I know that newsrooms across the country are bubbling with great stories that don’t always make it onto the air, and some perspectives and voices have long been missing from public platforms that would serve us all better to hear. We can find them in podcasts.

This is an edited excerpt from a blog post written by PRX's Director of Audience Development and Marketing, Charlotte Cooper. To read the full piece, click the button below.