Safety and Suitability: Crafting a Successful Branded Podcast

How balancing bravery, identity, and sensitivity can help you find and keep your ideal audience.

As you debut a branded podcast, you will be faced with one particularly tall order — creating a series that’s impactful without compromising your brand’s image or stepping on anyone’s toes.

In this post, we take a deep dive into the idea of podcast-brand alignment and explore how you can create a series that, when it comes to theme, content, and identity, says what you need it to say.

It’s important to protect brand safety.

It’s important to protect brand safety.

What is brand safety?

Brand safety is a term that refers to how high or low risk any particular endeavour is to the image and reputation of your brand.

When it comes to branded podcasts, there are a number of ways you could possibly slip up, and compromise this image. A few examples follow.

You could compromise brand safety by:

  • Hosting a guest who’s widely disliked or highly controversial.

  • Covering a topic that doesn’t align with your brand’s supposed values.

  • Working with a brand or organization with skeletons in (or worse, out of) its closet.

  • Having conversations that disrespect your audience, or other vulnerable individuals.

To protect brand safety, you will of course want to work with a production agency and/or creative team that will take a deep dive into vetting the guests hosted and topics covered on your show. That said, brand safety isn’t the only important factor to consider when creating an impactful, appropriate, value-aligned podcast.

Learn how to measure the ROI of your podcast. 

Brand suitability doesn’t only focus on making safe choices.

What is brand suitability?

Looking past brand safety — which, let’s be real, should be pretty obvious — you’re faced with the task of going one step further, and striving for brand suitability within your show.

Brand suitability is also a measure of the alignment between the content you create and your brand’s vision, mission, purpose and values. Brand suitability, however, doesn’t only focus on making safe choices — but ones that effectively complement and support your brand’s overarching identity. As a brand, it’s crucial that you educate yourself on suitability, define what this will look like for you, and strive to apply it in every episode of your podcast.

Now that we’re all caught up, we can probably all agree that safety and suitability should both be high priorities — but not so high they steal the spirit of your show.

You have to balance between safe and dated.

You have to balance between safe and dated.

Suitable, safe, and totally engaging.

So you want to create a podcast that’s safe and suitable, but never dated, downplayed, or dull? Brace yourself, friends — this can be a bit of a balancing act.

When it comes to content marketing, we of course want to be releasing content that is compelling, entertaining, engaging, or some combination thereof. To achieve this, many brands will delve into hotly disputed topics, ongoing controversy, or matters that are near and dear to listeners’ hearts. Why wander into such murky waters? Because meaningful conversations will expand your reach and increase the atmosphere of authenticity and connection created by your show.

So how do we create a podcast that’s safe and suitable without handling every topic, guest or theme like a helicopter parent wearing kid gloves?

Here are a few things you’ll want to do:

  • Vet your guests carefully.  What is their overall image? What other brands have they worked with? Could their message be harmful to your audience? Are there skeletons in their closet you should know about?

  • Be timely. If it’s appropriate for your podcast, don’t be afraid to dive into the difficult conversations that are happening here and now.

  • Attend recordings. Someone you trust to speak for your brand should absolutely attend your recordings, even if you’re working with a third-party production team. This way, you’ll have the opportunity early on to flag any content you’re concerned about.

  • Let the conversation flow. While you should share your concerns at recording time, organic conversation is an absolute must. Your audience will notice if a conversation is meticulously controlled, and doesn’t have a natural flow.

  • Edit, edit, edit. Along the same vein, if that conversation takes a segue that’s unsuitable for your brand or could be harmful to listeners, a professional production team and savvy editor can absolutely sort you out.

 

It’s ok to make mistakes.

It’s ok to make mistakes.

A note on (inevitable) mistakes.

In a constantly evolving social landscape, any piece of creative content can include something that might turn out to be a mistake. Perhaps it’s poorly chosen language, an overlooked facet of a controversial topic, or even a missed skeleton in the closet of a guest.

While a qualified, professional production company can help your brand minimize or completely avoid these issues, you should lay a foundation geared to accommodate slip-ups. By creating a clear identity — that well encapsulates your brand’s deeper vision, mission, and purpose — you put your intentions and beliefs at the forefront. This helps your audience be more charitable when it comes to your content, and can minimize harm to listeners, while preventing significant backlash.

A little bit of fear is ok.

A little bit of fear is ok.

Fear a little, not a lot.

Ultimately, when it comes to your brand’s reputation and sensitive topics, a little bit of fear is healthy and can help you avoid major blunders. That said, if you continue to put safety, suitability, and respect at the forefront of your content creation, you shouldn’t let fear stop you from moving forward with topics that matter not only to your team, but to your audience and society as a whole.

So, go boldly, brand — but don’t be afraid to ask for a little help.

Roger Nairn is the Co-Founder & CEO of JAR Audio

Learn how to measure the ROI of your podcast.