Branded podcasts: advice from a producer

With more and more brands venturing into the world of long form audio, we speak to Matt Hill, a podcast producer and co-founder of the British Podcast Awards, about what makes a great series, and what’s next for the medium

It’s been five years since true crime show Serial became a global sensation, racking up millions of listeners and showing that the podcast could compete with TV and film when it came to cultural impact.

Since then, our appetite in podcasts has continued to grow – and shows no signs of slowing down. There are now over half a million series available to download on iTunes, covering topics from sex and relationships to gardening, fermentation and aviation.

Branded podcasts have also been on the rise, with everyone from Gucci to McDonald’s and Slack launching their own series. (McDonald’s conducted a Serial-style investigation into a PR crisis in its series The Sauce while Slack’s Work in Progress show explores how we find meaning and identity in our work. Gucci’s podcast, which launched last summer, features interviews with people who have collaborated with Creative Director Alessandro Michele, from Florence Welch to filmmaker Jenn Nkiru.) Just this week, EE launched a series, Who Says You Can’t, featuring interviews with people who have “defied convention” – including rapper-turned-mental health campaigner Professor Green and Dylis Price, an 86-year-old skydiver who recently modelled for Helmut Lang.

With so many people now listening to podcasts (Ofcom claims the number of weekly podcast listeners has doubled in the UK over the past five years, with the biggest growth among 15-24-year-olds), there’s a huge opportunity for brands to reach new audiences – and entertain existing ones. But it’s also a hugely competitive space and creating a successful series is no easy feat.