Mike Schaffer

The Perfect Summer Podcast Playlist

By: Mike Schaffer | July 5, 2018 | 
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The Perfect Summer Podcast PlaylistOn summer nights as a little kid, I would go to bed listening to baseball on the radio.

Announcers Jon Miller and Chuck Thompson, and my beloved Baltimore Orioles quite literally put me to sleep 162 nights a year, as I stubbornly fought back slumber to hear the final out.

I love radio—and was even a DJ for my college radio station, 92 WICB FM.

The magic of radio is also what frustrates me most about it—the impermanence.

You can’t rewind. Nor can you listen again. And certainly, you can’t time-shift your listening experience.

Podcasting changed everything.

Audio shows are now produced for people to listen to at home, at work, at the gym, and especially during their commute.

There are countless podcasts to invest time into this summer.

To sort through the clutter, I’ve created your Summer 2018 Podcast Playlist made up of four of my current favorites, complete with a PR lesson, and three recommended by some of my Edelman colleagues.

They inform, they entertain, and they pair well with Candy Crush on a subway.

Work Insights

Podcast: Worklife with Adam Grant

Doesn’t it feel like people are more aware of and invested in their company’s organizational structure these days?

Expectations are elevated for so many workforces, that understanding how and why teams best work together has become valuable insight.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s podcast with TED dives into the deep-end of the topic.

A recent episode discusses how a team of astronauts from different countries and cultures had to learn to communicate with and trust each other despite seemingly insurmountable differences.

Their ability to collaborate was literally the difference between life and death.

Now, the structure of your organization may not have quite such high stakes, but this podcast can help.

Even the ads are sponsored content which goes deeper into the employee-employer relationship.

The PR Lesson: As we discussed in a recent #PRStudChat, employees are the lifeblood of reputation and even marketing. If your team isn’t aligned and motivated, they can’t achieve their goals.

Be Curious

Podcast: Revisionist History

“Tipping Point” is one of my all-time favorite books.

In many ways, it defines what we do in public relations.

What causes a reporter to write a story? Or a concert-goer to buy the ticket…then the CD…then the t-shirt? Or the customer to share their positive brand experience online?

Malcolm Gladwell’s signature curiosity shines in this podcast, now in season three, as he dissects topics by telling the story behind them:

  • One health-conscious scientist told the world about the dangers of trans fats and caused fast-food chains to change their recipes forever.
  • A brutal, uneasy look at racism went through the prism of Sammy Davis, Jr. hugging Richard Nixon.
  • Who was Winston Churchill’s best friend and what did he have to do with a famine in India?

The PR Lesson:We are comfortable with the who, what, where, and when. It’s the how and why that gives us more trouble in communications, but that’s what leads to understanding.

A Little Bit of Everything

Podcast: Talk is Jericho

Chris Jericho is one of my all-time favorite entertainers.

He has been a professional wrestler for more than 25 years, performing around the world countless times over.

He is the lead singer for the heavy metal band, Fozzy.

In 2011, he competed on “Dancing With The Stars.”

Chris has been a game show host and done one-man stand-up shows. And now he is planning a massive cruise event.

In the middle of all this, he does a podcast interview that drops twice a week.

The episodes cover wrestling, paranormal activity, music, TV, movies, sports, and comedy—letting the world hear the various sides of Jericho’s personality.

The PR Lesson:Expand your toolbox. Media relations begat publicity stunts begat social media begat the next big thing. We must be forward thinking because the media landscape never settles.

Music Makes the World Go Round

Podcast: Coverville

For nearly 15 years, host Brian Ibbott has been entertaining listeners with his show of cover music.

Most of these shows spotlight covers of one or two artist’s greatest hits. Some shows play covers of the top Billboard songs on a certain day.

As a long-time listener, the word that best describes Coverville to me is “challenge.”

Cover songs challenge artists to provide their take on a song and challenge listeners to accept something beyond what they are familiar with.

If a cover sounds too much like the original, why bother? The magic is in the transformation.

The PR Lesson: Look at things differently. Take bold risks. Be unexpected.

Just One More Podcast (or Three)

My Edelman colleagues have given me some homework this summer in the form of new-to-me podcasts.

Thanks to Kate Kamber, Joe Scannell, and Ericka Reyes for the recommendations!

Podcast: The Art of Charm

A strong presence in a room or a meeting or a conversation is a big part of what we do.

This podcast covers charisma in business and life. I’m most excited to dig into a recent episode on improv.

Podcast: 99% Invisible

From their site:

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

Yes. Please.

Podcast: The Employer Branding podcast

I’ve subscribed to Jörgen Sundberg’s LinkHuman email newsletter for years and somehow have neglected his podcast on employer branding.

Sundberg is a leading voice in talent acquisition, and I can’t wait to learn from his perspective on this format.

I hope you check out some of these podcasts, and perhaps you’ll find other podcasts you enjoy once you dive in.

Right now, it’s back to listening to the ballgame on the radio.

Happy Summer!

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

About Mike Schaffer


Mike Schaffer is Edelman's Senior Vice President of Digital Corporate Reputation. He provides advisory services on external and internal communications for clients across sectors. Unsurprising to those that know him, he is a retired Bar Mitzvah DJ.

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