As we adjust to life under the realities of the current global pandemic, millions of us around the world have been spending the vast majority of our time at home as we practice safe social distancing and self-isolation. Understandably, this has led to a huge change in media consumption habits, as people turn to alternate sources of information, inspiration and entertainment—including podcasts.
According to the data analytics company Nielsen, staying at home can lead to an almost 60% increase in the amount of content we consume. Moreover, as social distancing restrictions and business closures continue with no sign of easing up, more and more listeners are craving the instant social connection and intimacy offered by podcasts.
Brands themselves are no strangers to the podcasting game, having recognized the unique content marketing opportunities represented by this particular form of media-on-demand. However, this doesn’t mean that branded podcasts are just thinly veiled advertisements for their parent companies. In fact, given the extra resources afforded to them by their links to corporations, some of the best podcasts currently being offered in the audio market are bankrolled and produced by businesses. With that in mind, here are 10 recommendations for branded podcasts that are well worth listening to.
I Make a Living - FreshBooks
Produced by Paco Arizmendi, Senior Marketing Manager of the accounting software company FreshBooks, I Make a Living is a fantastic podcast targeted at people who work for themselves. Following the recent launch of their second season, the show delivers a series of truthful and candid interviews with various freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs, all focused around the question of what “making a living” really means. If you’ve ever even daydreamed about being your own boss or building your own company, you should tune in to this podcast for a raw, honest and unvarnished look into the life of an entrepreneur.
TGIM (Thank God It's Monday) - Shopify
Another podcast focusing on entrepreneurship, TGIM is produced by Mark Macdonald, Content Marketing Manager at Shopify. Aiming to take back the negative connotations of workplace drudgery associated with Mondays, TGIM blows away those start-of-the-week blues with motivational stories of ambitious entrepreneurs who managed to turn their ideas into successful startups, much like Shopify itself! In addition, listeners can benefit from the wisdom of inspirational visionaries who were once struggling business owners themselves. Without a doubt, this podcast will kick your inner CEO into drive—after all, Monday isn’t to be feared when you love what you do!
#LIPSTORIES - Sephora
Presented by Girlboss Radio Network in collaboration with Sephora, #LIPSTORIES is an empowering homage to the beauty giant’s signature collection of lipsticks, each of which was inspired by the real-life stories of women. True to this heart, each episode of #LIPSTORIES features an interview with a strong, inspiring female boss, with the conversations revolving around a host of thought-provoking topics, including empowerment, self-image and what it means to be a woman today. Among others, the podcast includes interviews with thought leaders like Aminatou Sow, writer and founder of Tech LadyMafia, a group designed to increase the visibility of women working in tech industries, Jen Rubio, businesswoman and co-founder of the lifestyle brand Away, and Sarah Robb O’Hagan, former CEO of Flywheel Sports and motivational speaker, author and activist for the lifestyle movement Extreme You.
Six Pixels of Separation - Six Pixels Group
Hosted by Mitch Joel, tech visionary and podcast guru, Six Pixels of Separation probes the intersection between technology, business, connection and community to help brands in their quest to ‘decode the future’. Founder of the Six Pixels Group, Mitch is a world-famous entrepreneur, author and professional speaker who shares his insights on business transformation, innovation and digital marketing trends. His long-running podcast comprises weekly discussions with a lengthy, star-studded list of cultural icons and big-name entrepreneurs, including Pauline Brown, former Chairman of LVMH (Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton), Rohit Bhargava, marketing expert and founder of the Non-Obvious Company, and Seth Godin, bestselling author of This Is Marketing and Purple Cow, to name a few. With over 700 episodes to its name, this can’t-miss podcast is guaranteed to keep you interested, informed and engaged for a very, very long time!
Work in Progress - Slack
The sequel to everyone’s favourite podcast, Slack Variety Pack, this show has definitely lived up to its predecessor. Hosted by Dan Misener, Head of Audience Development at Pacific Content, Work in Progress focuses on the meaning of work and the personal identity we ascribe to ourselves through our jobs. Each episode of this podcast recounts true stories dealing with everything to do with work, from job losses and cringe-inducing failures to inspiring accounts of ambition and perseverance. Based on the latter quality, Work in Progress is one of the most appropriate podcasts to listen to in light of our current situation!
Hackable - McAfee
From malware and phishing scams to digital piracy and ransomware, from unsecured webcams to vulnerable RFID chips, how secure are we really in this age of ever-present technology? Hosted by Geoff Siskind, Hackable is an exceptional podcast with Black Mirror-esque overtones which explores issues to do with the digitization of our society and specifically how the advent of technology like the Internet connects us, but leaves us open to cybercrime. As the winner of Best Branded Podcast in the 10th Annual Shorty Awards, you can be assured that this podcast—of which there are currently three seasons available—will have you on the edge of your seat, ready to plunge deeper down the rabbit hole.
The Sauce - McDonalds
Originating as a unique (and hilarious) solution to a real-life PR problem, The Sauce parodies the investigative format popularized by popular true crime podcasts like Serial. However, instead of exonerating a convicted murderer, The Sauce scrutinizes the reasons behind the 2017 fiasco which saw McDonald’s offer a limited release of their much beloved teriyaki-flavoured Szechuan dipping sauce, vastly underestimating demand for the product and thereby provoking a huge consumer backlash. Although the podcast itself is only three parts long, it quickly went viral and is a must-listen for all podcast enthusiasts, fast food aficionados or simply those interested in unusual brand marketing tactics. Regardless of whether you approve of McDonald’s ‘apology’ or not, the concept of addressing a PR problem directly through the creative use of content marketing should be applauded as an effective and unique strategy to rebuild a brand’s message and ease public sentiment.
IRL (In Real Life)- Mozilla Firefox
Disruptors - RBC
Full disclosure—RBC is working with Quill on the debut of their new podcast season, so we may be a little biased. But, regardless of this collaboration, this podcast has quickly become one of our favourites. As part of an ongoing series of talks, RBC Disruptors features stimulating and intriguing conversations with a range of thought leaders in fast-growing industries, with a focus on the often-provocative issues of our times and the world we live in. Even better, this podcast prioritizes new ideas and their specific relevance to business, technology and society in Canada. A podcast made by Canadians for Canadians, RBC Disruptors is rebranding and launching a new season by the end of April, so be sure to keep your eye out for it!
Open for Business - eBay
Although many podcasts focus on business successes, not many concentrate on the art of building a business from scratch. Alongside Gimlet Creative Media, eBay produces a podcast titled Open for Business, a series of interviews with entrepreneurs who grew their businesses from the ground up, resulting in entertaining yet educational stories that offer valuable insights into starting and running a successful business. Hosted by John Henry, venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, the podcast reinforces eBay’s commitment to helping people start their own businesses, while also hinting at the origins of the ecommerce behemoth as a startup business itself in the mid-1990s.
During these uncertain times, listening to branded podcasts represents a viable option for consumers to support businesses as they work to maintain their financial stability. In addition, fortunately for businesses, branded podcast shows can be recorded, produced and distributed completely remotely, without the need for any sacrifice in quality. As Steve Pratt and Dan Misener at Pacific Content put it: “No one ever needs to be in the same room together to make a world-class podcast.” Overall, podcasting seems to be very much a win-win situation for everyone right now as we continue to respect social distancing restrictions in our efforts to flatten the curve of this pandemic.
Fatima Zaidi is the co-founder of Quill, the world’s first one-stop marketplace where podcasters can find pre-vetted expert freelancers who will save them time, improve their podcast quality, and help grow their audience.