How to brief a podcaster

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Ok, so you have identified the best podcasts to advertise in for your brand, but like all advertising, it is only as effective as the creative.  If the creative stands out for your audience, is memorable and creates an emotional response, chances are that it will deliver the results that you are looking for.  However, if it sounds just like every other sales-focused ad that they listen to, then it will probably be ignored…..or even worse, skipped as they try to fast-forward to the content that they are there to listen to.

“It is time to rediscover the fact that advertising builds brands best when it is entertaining, popular and memorable, when it is not just a pitch, but a performance.” Paul Feldwick: Why Does The Pedlar Sing? What Creativity Really Means In Advertising

This represents a massive creative opportunity because podcast consumers prefer funny and entertaining podcast ads but usually hear more ads that communicate features/benefits.

Let’s look at the facts…….According to the Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download (US based methodology):

  • 74% want to hear podcast ads that are funny
  • 73% want to hear podcast ads that are entertaining
  • 61% want to hear podcast ads that communicate product/services features and benefits


  • 80% of ads that they do hear communicate product/services features and benefits

Therefore, we are basically so busy talking about our brands in podcast ads, that we are forgetting to think about what the audience actually wants to hear…..and what will have the greatest impact.

  • 70% like when the podcast host has fun with the ads they read
  • 61% think that ads done by a podcast’s host are more engaging than ”traditional” ads
  • And, an incredible 58% like when the podcast host recommends a product they use
  • Source: Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download

So, how can you ensure that your podcast ad is as effective as possible?  Unlike traditional creative development, you are not approving the script and stressing over every word.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t guide the podcast host to deliver your campaign brilliantly.

Let’s start with the basics……most podcast hosts won’t have a marketing background so it’s important that you bring your requirements to life as clearly as possible.  Don’t overwhelm them with too much information or jargon that they won’t understand.  Keep it simple but clear.

  • The brief:

    • What are the mandatories that you would like them to include?
      • Try to keep these as simple as possible – for example, no more than 3 things. Don’t try and include EVERY benefit as if they jam it all into your ad break, no one will know what the core message is.
      • Examples include:
        • Brand name
        • 1 or 2 key benefits of the product (another option is to ask them to select their favourite 2 from a longer list…..this really allows them to talk about it authentically without it feeling like an infomercial).
        • CTA – your call to action. Do you want them to mention your website or an offer code.
      • Is there any background about the product that they would find useful? This isn’t a requirement for them to include, but understanding the product more can allow them to improvise more with their sponsored read.
      • What do you love about their style/show that you want to come to life when they are talking about your brand? Understanding their show will really help to manage expectations of what the final ad will sound like.  If the tone is completely off-brand for you, then maybe you need to reconsider whether it is the right show for you.
      • Give them creative freedom. One of the biggest issues with briefing a podcast host is that you are trying to control their tone, or what they say.  This will never give you the outcome that you need to meet your objectives so let go of the control and allow them to bring your brand to life in a way that is true to them.  Let them know that you want them to have fun with the ad and to inject their own stories into it.
      • Make them aware of anything that they can’t say. Brand safety is important so if there is anything which is off limits, let them know.
    • The product:

      • Find out if the podcast host is already a user of your product or service. If not, make sure that you give them an opportunity to trial the product before recording the advertisement.
    • The approvals:

      • Remember the brief above… are letting go of some of the creative freedom. Therefore, when you are reviewing the creative, you need to listen to it as a member of their podcast audience.  Does it bring to life your brand in a way that only that podcaster could?  Or, does the podcaster say things about your brand which are factually incorrect or which could have a negative impact on consumers perceptions about your product/service.  If it is the latter, then you can definitely as them to re-look at it.  But, if it meets all of the elements of the brief but it’s just not how you would do it…..try letting it go.  It’s the authenticity of the delivery which will reap the rewards for you in the end.

So, to ensure that the podcast host can bring to life your brand in a truly authentic way;

  • Share a brief with them which is simple, yet clear.

  • Relinquish some of your creative control

  • Make sure that they have an opportunity to sample or test your product

  • Let them bring it to life for their audience

For more information about podcast advertising see: