By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven®

Podcasting Is Growing for a Reason—Don’t Miss Out on That Growth

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the art of the podcast became a full-blown renaissance. But in truth, podcasting predated the coronavirus, responding to the evolving wants and needs of young listeners who don’t just want to blast the radio in their cars.

Around the globe, there are more than 400 million podcast listeners who tune in for all sorts of content. Because of that high listenership, there are over 2 million independent podcasts with tens of millions of episodes between them. That’s right: Over 2 million podcasts.

Nowhere is the podcast more popular than in the United States, which lays claim to the most podcast listeners in the world (over 100 million). The growth in recent years has been astounding. Nearly 80% of Americans over the age of 12 are now aware of podcasts—up more than 30% from a decade ago. Even in 2015, only a minority of Americans considered listening to podcasts in their day-to-day lives. So much has changed in less than a decade.

I see that change in my own life. Since 2018, I have produced more than 220 episodes of The PR Maven Podcast, diving into public relations, marketing and other topics for a wide range of listeners. People from Maine to Alaska and foreign countries listen to those episodes to learn more about my areas of expertise, such as personal branding.

Podcasting is a way for people like me to have meaningful conversations with others that can then be shared with a target audience. It’s a fun, unique way to ask questions of interesting people and learn more about them through their answers. And they’re not just people; they are experts, influencers and thought leaders in their respective fields.

That’s the best part about podcasting: A typical listener can learn from a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu just as easily as they can learn from the CEO of Goldman Sachs or the head of a PR agency. From podcast to podcast, thought leadership is everywhere, educating the masses in innovative ways.

I’m just a small fish in a large pond, but you don’t need to have millions of listeners to make an impact as a podcaster. The key is identifying your target audience and catering to them with interesting, informative content that they can’t find anywhere else. Figure out your “superpower”—whatever it may be—and share your expertise with your listeners.

I’ve used my podcast to nurture prospective clients, learn more about existing ones and even deepen relationships with the news media. Interviewing members of the media, for example, has been a creative way to familiarize myself with people who often receive press releases but not always the human touch. Podcasting is very personal, and that’s a good thing.

In the end, podcasting comes down to relationship management. It’s a part of the relationship business, and the best podcasters serve as connectors who build bonds with the people around them—from their interviewees to listeners themselves. The stronger those bonds become over time, the more popular the podcast will become too. Of course, there’s no “secret recipe” to podcasting, but one of the keys is to nurture a network of people who know, like and trust you.

If thought leadership matters to you (as it should), then consider podcasting as another opportunity to lead. Given the growth of the podcasting space in recent years, people are clearly looking for all kinds of content that didn’t exist before, and there is still untapped potential.

A decade ago, who would’ve thought that podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience or Pod Save America would reach millions of listeners worldwide? Well, they do.

Assuming podcasting is right for you, there’s no reason not to jump on the bandwagon. Strike while the iron is hot since podcasts empower thought leaders to reach audiences they never thought possible.

And you never know, maybe your next idea will become the next great podcast. Put together good content for the right people, and greatness is possible for podcasters everywhere.

This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in January 2023.