The New Year can be a time for reflection and planning both in business and personally. But if your business is also your passion, then it’s likely the two are related. So how could audio be a part of helping you achieve your goals this year?
For anyone heading into 2024 with renewed purpose or a personal mission, you will find kindred spirits in the land of podcasting. Why? Because audio is where thoughts get turned into action — and that is what any business owner knows is the difference between having the next big idea and being successful off the back of it.
Podcast Pioneers is a purpose-driven business. To us that means we work on projects where we really feel we can help customers inspire action and make an impact on lives. It also means that we bring a lot of our personal experience and passion to what we do.
Even if your business or organisation has been more preoccupied with profits and shareholder requirements on the surface we all know that successful marketing doesn’t just drive sales: it’s there to reinforce ethos and the kind of customer you connect with. So what will your organisation stand for this year and how do you want to communicate that? Podcasting presents an opportunity to have important conversations about subjects close to your customer’s heart and ensure that your impact as a business is about more than making money. Whilst we know that profit makes incredible things possible, our operational values as we consider matters such as politics, supply-chain ethics, wellbeing, data security & management and sustainability will directly impact the longevity of our businesses in a communications economy. Key to this is reputation and transparency with our customers.
Words can’t help but spark thought and change, whether they are sparse, tonally nuanced or vehement. The oral tradition has allowed progress and continuity in the human experience since homo sapiens first grunted at each other about 50,000 years ago. Our brains are hardwired to emote and remember the spoken word, cementing language into our lived experience and learning. That’s why so many marketers consider audio a deeply personal and engaging tool in their communications toolbox.
It’s not just what you say, it’s who is listening
We’re getting amped up about talking and publishing, but have we forgotten how to listen?
Tailoring content to subjects that matter to our customers and audiences is not only essential in keeping them engaged, it has wider value to society by fulfilling our deeper purposes and values as organisations. By refusing to play it safe with run of the mill content and repeat conversations, we can pioneer and evolve our key topics via the privilege of their attention.
Working within a digital realm presents us with ever more opportunities to gain insights into the people our work is touching. From more traditional data analytics to artificial intelligence-informed algorithms, incorporating audio content into a wider learning and engagement matrix means that we can listen to what our customers want and better serve them. Furthermore, we can repurpose audio multiplatform to fit a format and medium that can engage a broader scope of individuals. Gone are the days of publishing podcasts into an abyss with no understanding of how your work is received!
One of the most truly exciting aspects of producing a diverse range of thoughtful audio content is the uncanny connections that emerge as you leap from subject to subject. We are all seeking a deeper understanding of our world when we open our hearts and listen. Many of the programmes I worked on before maternity leave drew inspiration from thinking about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and their inter-related nature.
To me, the joys of making these connections as a producer is the same feeling you aim to translate to your listener — by creating a springboard for individual thought, you can begin a conversation — just make sure you harness every other opportunity you have to continue it multiplatform!
There is nothing more satisfying than receiving feedback on how people are responding to content you publish, and furthermore it’s a wonderful opportunity to overcome the isolation of publishing in a digital world.
How the UK Audio industry is driving real-world change
Whether it’s via radio or podcasting, the audio industry exists to deliver social value through content, and to enable any organisation working with audio to do so. Our real shareholders are our audiences.
The beautiful thing about working in this sector is the wellspring of accolades for those truly focussed upon creating real-world change with their programmes. Representing diverse self-publishing and self-validating voices and experiences, ground-breaking journalism, communities and subcultures, podcasting ploughs a democratic furrow that leaves some traditional media eating dust. Flatteringly, we’ve seen behemoths ape those agile young footsteps in pursuit of the originality and ideas that emerge in this grassroots medium. Yet whilst the reach of well-funded strategic multiplatform marketing can spread world-changing ideas to the many (and fast), those ideas are still born and articulated in the simplest fashion. Hurray for the ever more affordable and accessible technical innovation that permits more everyday people a voice through podcasting. I feel we have been discussing the medium’s potential for diversity and representation a long time now, but until society catches up, this will always be a mainstay of its potential assets.
How does this help brands change the world? By prioritising a more refined audio product, by paying closer attention to listener trends and interests, by pushing the boundaries of what we do and responding through multiplatform conversation we can make social value a core part of what our business delivers when we harness the power of audio.
Words Ignite Change: Help your customers be the person they want to be
To point out the obvious on an early January day, it’s helpful to all of us if we can get up in the morning and believe what we’re doing has a purpose. Whatever sector you work in, your customers and audiences are the key to your success and satisfying their needs, not simply on a transactional level but also emotionally is the key to ongoing loyalty, trust and credibility. Audio provides an excellent way of cementing those relationships with content and conversation, meaning that whatever they’re buying from you, you can make sure it feels like a decision that’s personal and aligned with whoever they think they are or want to be. How you express your organisation’s purpose is everything in how it is received and interpreted. All hail the power of language to make sure you spread your organisation’s message far and wide.
As I returned from maternity leave in November last year, I attended Audio UK’s Audio Production Awards where speakers used the platform to address colleagues on issues such as trans representation and the Israel-Gaza conflict. In an excellent ad-libbed speech at the end of the ceremony host Nish Kumar championed producers for using the platform to speak out on current and social issues. This speaks to my opinion that there is no line between being a producer of excellent audio content and a thinking, feeling human being. For the former, the latter is a prerequisite.
Investing in audio means more value for society
One particularly pleasant feature of the UK audio industry is the increasing number of small companies that vibe off each other, feeding into what brands and organisations need and developing an ever more thoughtful and sophisticated offering as they vie to win choice tenders and commissions.
There are so many individuals doing fantastic, world-changing work and getting paid fairly for it. The mix here is vital: we need the small, nimble challenger companies to innovate, and the large multimedia operations to scale. In between that are many more who can build upon and refine what we do and the way we do it. But to keep this alive we need investment and commerce for the value we offer. That’s where sharing our audio production expertise with brands can benefit all.
Whilst the wealth of companies now offering branded audio services might be intimidating to those seeking the right partner for their project, this competition has inevitably led to better services, better thinking and better products for podcast commissioners. Which ultimately means better podcasts for audiences, AKA society itself.
So as we think about setting our business intentions for the coming year, I will personally be taking into account the ultimate goal of what we do: to make programmes that move hearts and minds and create positive action. Plenty has changed in the time I’ve taken off for maternity leave, but I am pleased to say that the Podcast Pioneers mission has remained strong under Rick’s stewardship.
Here’s what we’ll be acting on at Podcast Pioneers:
We’ll be reviving our non-profit and original productions and giving consultation and free resources to some of the causes we support.
We’re taking on some larger multimedia projects this year to align with our mission of helping mainstream audiences engage with science, innovation and ideas that can help change our world, improving lives, our natural world and environments.
We’ll continue to share ideas that spark conversation in our industry and help audio-makers pioneer new ways of helping businesses enact real-world change through sound.
To wrap up this post, I thought it would be useful to leave you with some questions that will help you use audio to fuel your business or personal mission. These are questions that we usually ask clients at the start of any campaign but are particularly poignant for some January musing!
What’s your reason for wanting to use audio? What is the change you want to create and for whom?
What do you know about the people you want to move and inspire? What do they care about? What research or data is available to learn about them? Where can you connect with them to help inform the kinds of topics and content you engage with them on? How can you continue this conversation multiplatform? How else can you learn about them before you give them what you think they want?
What unique value and insight do you have to offer your customers as an organisation?
What action do you want your listeners to take as a result of listening to your podcast?
What could the ultimate knock-on effect be of getting it RIGHT with this audience? That is beyond building your organisation up a nice relationship with them. For example, inspiring support for a movement, creating a community, fundraising for a cause.
What do you want to GIVE to your audience that they can use going forwards?
Once you’ve done this work or thinking you’ll have some fantastic insights into creating a programme that genuinely satisfies your audience on an emotional and intellectual level, inspiring action and the ripples of change that really mean your business can have a positive impact in the wider world, not just that of your listeners.
What an intention to set for the coming year.
Good luck, and as always, let us know if we can help!