Traditional Earned Media Vs. Podcasts

Earned media is a powerful tool in communication strategy. It’s the traditional way that storytelling is deployed to broad audiences, and is a way to share information that creates an emotional connection with people. But in recent years, the avenues to share your story have increased substantially. 

The ever-evolving digital age has made it possible for stories to be shared through multiple channels that include paid, earned, shared, and owned. One type of earned media that has risen rapidly in this digital age is podcasts. Podcasts are usually a series of hosts speaking on audio episodes, which are all focused on a particular topic or theme.

Since the rise of podcasts, this has been an ongoing conversation. How do podcasts compare to traditional earned media? More specifically, how do podcasts compare to radio? In this blog we weigh the pros and cons of each and help you discover which is the best avenue for your earned media communication strategy. 


Podcasts vs. Radio 

Radio is an audio show broadcasted with an airwave, and listeners can tune-in to the radio only while it’s live. Podcasts are pre-recorded online shows, and there is usually unlimited availability to listeners.

Radio audience:

  • About eight-in-ten Americans ages 12 and older listen to radio in a given week.
  • Nearly half of U.S. adults say they sometimes or often get news from the radio.

Podcast audience: 

  • 50% of monthly U.S. podcast listeners are aged between 12-34.
  • 43% between 35 and 54 years old.
  • 22% are aged over 55.


The appeal of podcast

Podcasts are a dime a dozen, but there is an appeal to them that draws an audience. When it comes to podcasts, the positives are that they can appeal to a niche audience and provide on-demand content for the listener. Without having to answer to anyone, for example a network, podcasts are also likely to be innovative and provide authenticity. 


The appeal of radio (and other traditional earned media)

On the other hand, with radio there is that sense of credibility with the content that is being produced. You also know that there is a more loyal audience for the radio, therefore content over the radio can have more of an influence. While podcasts can give you that niche audience, radio can help you reach a broader audience.


How do you know which opportunity to pursue?

If you’re wondering which avenue of earned media would be best for you, the first step is to think about your communication goals. Say your goal is to reach an audience in a specific geographic area, using radio could be a better option. If your goal is to target a niche industry or audience, there is a benefit to pursuing a podcast. 

For example, if you’re a professional service organization and your target audience/clients are specifically in the healthcare industry, a podcast dedicated to federally qualified health centers may yield better results than a local radio show.  

If you’re an economic development organization and your initiative has an impact on a certain community, a local radio show may be a more effective form of communication. 


We can list the pros and cons of radio vs. podcasts all day long, but in the end deciding which makes sense for your organization depends on what your specific communication goals are. For both businesses and nonprofits, knowing how and when to activate these earned media channels can be a strong tool in your communication strategy.

At Siren, we work with you to identify your communication goals and create an effective strategy to reach them.