The consensus from the HITMC community is that it doesn’t matter if a guest on a podcast has paid to be there IF they are personable, provide value information and are entertaining to listen to. However, if the guest-who-paid is merely pitching their company then expect to be tuned out.
A week ago, the HITMC community gathered for the monthly #HITMC tweetchat. Joy Rios, author, Co-Founder of Chirpy Bird Health IT Consulting and Co-Host of the HIT Like a Girl podcast led the discussion on the topic of podcasts. You can read more about the chat here.
One question was particularly fascinating: T4 Does it matter to you if a podcast guest has “paid to play” Why or Why not?
— HIT Marketing and PR (@HITMarketingPR) November 19, 2019
In general, the community was ambivalent on whether a podcast guest paid to be on the program or were asked by the hosts. It was far more important that the guest be engaging, energetic and informative. Above all, no one wanted to listen to a sales pitch disguising itself as a podcast – which could happen regardless of whether someone paid to be there or not.
— Jennifer Michelle, MPH, EMT (@MMSJennifer) November 19, 2019
T4: It doesn’t bother me if a guest has paid to play necessarily. If it’s a pod I listen to anyway, and subject matter is of interest, then I’m willing to accept the “implied endorsement”. If there’s insuffucuent value, you can always change the channel/turn it off. #HITMC
— Brian Mack (@BFMack) November 19, 2019
If this leads to a 1-hour advertisement, I’m out. If the guest actually has something interesting to say about the industry (that doesn’t always lead back to: “Buy my stuff.”) Then I’m in. #HITmc
— Jared Jeffery (@Jk_Jeffery) November 19, 2019
One of the comments on the “Yes it does matter” side came from Robin Roberts @RRobertseHealth, the Co-Host of HIT Like a Girl podcast. In her opinion, a guest that pays to be on a podcast will be more measured in their responses and more likely to tow the company line rather than offer candid answers. It’s not hard to imagine this to be the case where there is an overzealous PR team or corporate branding team involved.
T4 I think avoiding pay-to-play helps minimize the fluff and expectations. We get to hear more candidly about solutions and perspective rather than a scripted message which feel more like a long commercial than a podcast. #HITMC
— Robin Roberts (@RRobertseHealth) November 19, 2019
During the #HITMC chat, Matt DiVenere @Matt_DiV brought up a very important point about disclosure. As a listener he wanted it to be obvious that the guest had paid to be on the podcast. It “doesn’t have to be slap-you-in-the-face obvious, but the podcast should address it”.
Totally agree. It needs to be obvious to me (as the listener) that this is a sponsored segment/podcast. Doesn’t have to be slap-you-in-the-face obvious, but the podcast should address it. #HITMC
— Matt DiVenere (@Matt_DiV) November 19, 2019
I agree with DiVenere. Podcast hosts need to be transparent, otherwise they risk alienating their audience. If a guest has paid, then a simple statement at the beginning of the podcast like: “this episode is sponsored by Company X and today on the program we have Person B from Company X as a guest” would suffice in my mind.
Once that is out of the way, the podcast host(s) and guest can focus on being energetic and engaging, which is far more important.