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Forget the Mic, What’s Your Brand Story?

· Time to read: ~3 min

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(By Tim O’Brien) As marketers explore the notion of a branded podcast, they very often gravitate towards a focus on the technical set-up and the production process, all of which are highly important if you want to achieve the kind of production values needed to do your brand justice. At the same time, too much of an emphasis on the technical has caused some in the brand podcasting world to lose sight of why they are doing the branded podcast in the first place, which is to tell their brand’s story.

I love podcasting for the same reason I was attracted to radio at the start of my career. No other medium enables you to connect so personally, so intimately, in such a way that it’s just you and your listener, one-on-one, yet scalable to the number of downloads you can achieve.

Some brand podcasters miss the opportunity to take advantage of this, conducting superficial interviews or creating high-level narratives that in the end are more about sharing information and not about establishing a meaningful, somewhat emotional connection with the listener.

I listened to one branded podcast recently that was highly produced with a great guest, yet the interview focused on dates and times for the project the guest was plugging. The interviewer asked a series of logistical questions, none of which even approached a level of getting at how the guest felt about the topic. Even more importantly, they never talked about how the brand’s important stakeholders really felt and were impacted by the work they were discussing.

And while the conversation was polite and upbeat, it never really told the brand’s story. There was no story arch, no real beginning, middle and end to the story. Just a cursory discussion designed to last about 28 minutes, then cue the outro.

This is the podcasting equivalent to a time when brands only thought of their websites as online company brochures. One-dimensional, not taking advantage of what makes the medium special and unique.

In this case, if you are a brand, and you want to tell your story through a branded podcast, you need to think more comprehensively on what the audio medium can do for you. This may require you to allow your podcast participants to be more vulnerable in the production.

What I mean by that is simply to get away from limiting the discussion to a few talking points and 30-second sound-bite answers. Let the interviewer and the interviewee interject something of themselves into the interview. How they feel, what they perceive, and most importantly, any personal observations and stories they can tell that help give the brand’s story more meaning to the listener.

I prepared a guide on the Five Steps a Brand Can Take to Create its Podcasting Story. Please get in touch with me to get your copy.

Tim O’Brien founded Pittsburgh-based O’Brien Communications and is the creator of the Shaping Opinion Podcast, an award-winning branded podcast that just produced its 100th episode. He consults with clients on branded podcasts. To get in touch with Tim, call 412.854.8845,, or on Twitter: @OBrienPR

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