As a rural broadband provider or electric cooperative, do you need a podcast?

October 5, 2020By Stephen V. Smith

Should you produce a company podcast? If you are a rural broadband or electric provider, the answer is, “yes, the time is right to consider podcasting as part of your content marketing strategy.”

Rural broadband companies and electric cooperatives have a strong message to share. You provide critical services to your communities — and the pandemic has highlighted just how important you are to the safety and well-being of the people you serve.

How are you sharing that story? Many providers use a variety of channels to communicate with their members and customers, from magazines and email newsletters to websites and social media channels. A podcast could add value to your communications program.

If you aren’t among the millions who listen to podcasts, you may not be familiar with the format. Available through native mobile apps and on major platforms such as Google, Amazon, and Spotify, podcasts feature on-demand episodes on almost any topic you can imagine.

The details of how to create a podcast is the subject of another article. Since we recently celebrated International Podcast Day, I’d like to look at why your company should consider adding a podcast to your content marketing strategy.

Podcasts are another entry point for your content.

Not every channel appeals to every customer. Some customers look forward to your magazine or newsletter, while others seldom read it. That bill insert grabs the attention of some and is tossed aside by others. Different types of people are drawn to different methods of communication. Having multiple points of entry for your overall messaging provides more opportunities for your customers to engage with your story.

Podcasts are a personal experience for your listeners.

People experience audio in a personal way. Your voice is in their ear. As such, it’s like having a conversation with someone you know. This can create a strong connection between your customers and your team members featured on the podcast. And because of the tone, inflection, and emotion that come through organically in speech, this connection can be more human and therefore stronger than what is communicated through other channels.

Podcasts provide opportunities to spend time with customers and community leaders.

Your customers will find value in a podcast that provides tips on how to benefit from their broadband connection or reliable source of electricity. But if you want to drive home the story about the life-changing impact of your services, venture outside your staff and interview members and community leaders. Ask them to share their personal stories about how they use broadband and various ways the connectivity you provide has improved their quality of life. Ask them about how electricity powers their businesses, families and interests. This will not only create engaging content for your customers, but it will also help you forge new and stronger relationships with the people you serve.

“But do people really listen to podcasts?”

I’m going to let a trusted research firm answer this question:

“Podcasts now reach over 100 million Americans every month,” said Tom Webster, SVP of Edison Research, “and are attracting an increasingly diverse audience. Also, with 62% of Americans now saying they have used some kind of voice assistance technology, audio is becoming a bigger part of our everyday lives.”

According to the Infinite Dial 2020® from Edison Research and Triton Digital:

  • 75% of Americans age 12+ are familiar with podcasting, or approximately 212 million people.
  • That number is up from 70% in 2019.
  • 37% of that same group listen to podcasts every month, or approximately 104 million people.
  • That number is up from 32% in 2019.
  • The Infinite Dial® has measured these numbers since 2009, and they continue to grow.

With the value and connections they can bring to your content marketing program, you should consider creating a podcast to tell your company’s story. And considering the growth in podcast listenership, now is the time to invest in this platform to engage your customers in a new way.

One more thing …

“Do you have any podcast recommendations for the rural broadband or electric cooperative industries?”

In fact, I do!

Rural Broadband Today tells the stories of those working to bring broadband internet access within reach of every citizen. This interview-style show presents conversations with elected officials, industry experts, and business leaders at the forefront of America’s efforts to solve the rural broadband challenge.

StoryConnect was one of the first podcasts to focus on marketing and communications professionals at utilities serving rural America. Whatever challenges you are facing as a communicator at your electric cooperative or broadband company, there’s a good chance we’ve discussed it with a guest on this podcast. Since 2016, WordSouth has invited marketers, management, and subject matter experts to share their experiences with our audience on this engaging show.

Want to learn more about creating a podcast for your electric cooperative or rural broadband company? Let’s talk about it!