Gini Dietrich

The State of Business Podcasting In 2021

By: Gini Dietrich | January 19, 2021 | 
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business podcastsWe’re still thinking about trends for 2021 over here at Spin Sucks and something at the top of a lot of minds in our community and elsewhere is… podcasts.

You might very well be ahead of the trend. My best childhood friend listens to podcasts while he works (I have no idea how he does that, but it works for him). Some of you may listen while you walk the dog or do your chores or workout.

I’m not a big podcast listener—I can’t do my job and listen at the same time—but I am a huge fan. After all, I am the host or co-host of three business podcasts. Now that I see that in print, I realize I might have a problem. 

More and more people in the communications (and every other) industry have been joining the podcast rage, and that means that there are innovations, changes, and new opportunities coming our way. 

Let’s talk about business podcasts—whether or not you should have one and, if so, how to construct it so you don’t sound like everyone else. 

The State of Business Podcasts

Somewhere around a decade ago, Martin Waxman invited Joe Thornley and me to co-host Inside PR, a podcast started by Terry Fallis and Dave Jones.

It was all pretty new back then. Business podcasts were few and far between. It’d be at least three years before Serial was published, making podcasting a household name.

At the time, it was just something for me to do with two really smart communicators who I got to talk to every week. Then it began to explode. As much as a podcast about communications can explode.

A couple of years ago, I added this podcast. And then Chip Griffin and I added the Agency Leadership podcast two summers ago.

It’s always fun to talk to someone on the phone or meet them at an event and have them say, “You’re in my ears every week! I feel like I know you!”

Plus, it’s really good for business. I can point to at least five clients we work with that found us through podcasting.

So yeah, I’m sort of all in on podcasting. 

And so is One Stone Creative, the agency we use to produce our podcast. So much so, in fact, they created an entire report on how to use business podcasts as part of a broader content marketing strategy. 

They looked at what the top 100 shows in the world are doing around the length of a show, whether or not to invite guests, how often to release episodes, what kind of show notes to include, and where it should be promoted.

Let’s take a look at what they learned.

How Often and How Long?

First off, if you’re just starting a podcast, there are tons of decisions you need to make. Among the first are how often you want to release episodes, and how long those episodes should be.

What they learned is consistency is key. If you’re producing content in other forms, you already know that. It’s less about quantity and more about consistency. 

Once you commit to a schedule, it’s important to stick to it. If you’re getting your feet wet for the first time, start with fewer releases but be aware that the vast majority of top shows release weekly or more.

You can always add episodes, but removing them could have a negative impact.

When it comes to frequency, they said this was most surprising to them.

We would have expected many more of the shows to be on an “every other week” release schedule, and I certainly didn’t expect a full 29% of them to be twice weekly or more.

Forty-four percent of the top 100 business podcasts release weekly.

To get to a reasonable average length of a podcast, they looked only at the 44% that release weekly. They found the average length was 44 minutes.

They also looked at days of the week the episodes were released and found Wednesday was the highest day. It was followed by Tuesday and very closely behind that, Monday. 

Kind of makes me want to start to release the Spin Sucks podcast on Fridays or over the weekend. It’d be interesting to see if more people download and listen than they do with our Tuesday release.

Should I Have Guests?

Now let’s talk about the ultimate decision: to guest or not to guest, that is the question. 

Before we get into the data, I will tell you this: I get pitched NONSTOP about having guests on this podcast. It irritates the snot out of me because if the person pitching took maybe three minutes to fast forward through some episodes, they’d realize we don’t have guests. And yet…

All that to say, if you do have guests on your podcast, be prepared to be inundated with requests. It’s actually an interesting spot to be in—the one being pitched versus the one pitching—and will give you some really great insight into how bad some PR professionals are. I mean, bad. If anything, it’ll give you a great lesson on how not to do media relations.

But I digress.

The data from One Stone shows 79% of the top 100 business podcasts have guests.

There are lots of reasons for this: 

  • Guests offer fresh, interesting perspectives and information to your audience. 
  • Guests occasionally help promote shows. (This is not something to count on, however!)
  • Talking to experts and authorities increases your own authority—this is a thought leadership play.
  • Guests don’t take less preparation than a solo episode, but they can offer an easier, more natural speaking dynamic and overall energy for a host. 
  • Plainly, based on the data: it’s what is done.

I mean, unless of course, you’re me. The real reason I don’t have guests here is that I can rarely get to my own marketing during the week.

I recorded this week’s Spin Sucks podcast episode during halftime of the Chiefs/Browns playoff game on Sunday afternoon. Can’t really ask your guests to give up their Sunday afternoon for you. 

That’s why you get me. All meeeee!

The report goes on to say:

This doesn’t mean that you have to have guests, of course. If your show is highly educational or developed specifically to build your own personal brand, you may elect to do it solo or with a co-host rather than sharing the spotlight.

I think they had me in mind when they wrote that part.

What About Show Notes?

Another thing to consider with your podcast are the show notes. I had a really hard time with this one when we started this podcast. I didn’t want to have to write MORE content and, at that time, we still produced two blog posts per day. So adding one more blog post for show notes seemed ludicrous. 

The One Stone report shows how you present your podcast can make a huge difference in terms of how your podcast integrates into your business.

You can tell when you read a show’s notes where the host or company is placing more of their emphasis. We were extremely surprised by how many of the top 100 business shows had only a single paragraph of notes. This is the amount of content that makes sense to include in your host as you’re scheduling an episode, but we would have expected there to be more robust notes on more of the shows.

Just a little more than 40% of the top 100 business podcasts provide one paragraph, and another 20% provide two or three. This is likely because they are more concerned with social media content, engaging people on YouTube, or using their podcast for networking and authority rather than as a source of SEO-rich educational content.

Just less than 20% of shows had a full blog-post style set of notes for each episode, and some of them are *extensive* with tables of contents, quotation call-outs, parts or the whole transcript, and other assets. 

The full blog post style is what we do. I record ours and then have Temi transcribe it. From there, I write a blog post (this very blog post!) to accompany it, which means you can either read or listen.

It gives me an opportunity to get SEO-rich content on the blog AND produce an episode. Repurposing to my heart’s content!

Get Your Copy of the Report

There is a lot more in the report, including where to host your podcast, how to promote it, how to brand it, how to monetize it, and the types of technology to use.

It also includes action items and a ton of really great content that will help if you’re just starting out or if you’re on your one-thousandth episode. You can download it here.

You’ll get lots out of it!

If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or you want to promote the one you have, let us know in the Spin Sucks Community or in the comments below.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.