When Podcasts Are a Good Choice for Publicity: What Should You Look For?

Late last year another national survey of American internet users showed that listeners trust podcasts less than most other news sources of information—they are mostly a source of entertainment. So why use them for publicity? Because many of their hosts have built credibility with their listeners. My experience is that I see more adoption after podcasts run. How do you know if they have potential credibility? Here is what to look for when you are considering booking a podcast:

  1. What kind of guests do they book? Are they credibility-worthy? This is one of the most important questions you can ask.
  2. If the podcast covers health and science are there academic experts booked on previous shows? Anything that provides advice needs to be delivered by a guest who can back up what they say. Academic experts are the very best sources for this kind of content.
  3. Does the host try and sell, sell, sell? You may not want to consider a pushy podcast host.
  4. What topics are covered? Are they interesting?
  5. How does the host’s voice carry during the show? Are they professional?
  6. What does their media kit say? A media kit will show you how many listeners they have (hopefully it is updated) and gives you an idea of their demographics.  Is it a match with your audience?
  7. Are they communicating something controversial? If so, how often? How would that controversy play with your audience?
  8. Do you want to be on the show? Sometimes instincts provide a good answer.

Silicon Valley’s Daunting History with Public Relations

I grew up here.  Before “Silicon Valley,” Santa Clara was an agricultural mecca with a farmland culture and the fight for green space and other social movements.  The Valley was filled with families outfitted with strong schools and large housing complexes with swimming pools at their center.  Growing up in the 70s was at a slow pace among a strong diverse, peace-seeking culture.  We valued education and intellectualism, and Governor Pat Brown delivered.  We were a long way from the lessons of Theranos.

Our slow, intellectual agrarian culture turned into the male-dominated tech culture of “move fast and break things” within a generation.  Even when I attended graduate school at American University in 1995 my northeastern classmates were still asking, “what’s out there?” As a publicist who promotes scientists and medical technology, that seems laughable now, as we’ve grown into a series of cities and ended our innocence.  What I wish is that Bay Area business would finally grow in the sophistication of recognizing the value of communications.  Most of Silicon Valley’s businesses do not communicate effectively, fear the news media and fail miserably at communicating publicly.

I went back east to learn the communications trade:  D.C. and Chicago, and with giants such as Edelman and other international agencies I perfected my craft, showering our clients with media coverage and fame.  I kept an eye on the epic failures at home:  very young CEOs, male-dominated cultures and superficial technologies that didn’t really do anything meaningful.  But some inventions were nothing short of amazing.  They failed when they shouldn’t have, inadequately communicating their benefits publicly.  We got used to seeing apps and other technologies come and go quickly, when some of them should have succeeded.  Now look:  a whole menu of technologies within another generation and some tech execs holding their heads up high for the innovation, but others hide in shame at the dangerous communities they realize they have created.   Indeed, we are still a long way from learning the millennium lessons of Silicon Valley.  Move fast and break things is still very much operative, and the problem is twofold:  1.  investors are everywhere taking a superficial approach to business, or 2.  They create something that could really work but fail to communicate its wonders.

I know, because they call me.  I learned, once I came home, to be very particular about who I will work with.

They do not know who they are calling.  They do not know how the important mix of marketing and publicity works.  This “Fake it until you make it” world of fake marketing ignores the important planning process of identifying your market’s problems to make sure you are solving them.  The process here is to ignore the critical research and planning, to fail to put together a plan that brings a discipline to the process so you can succeed.  This is not about clicks and likes—it is about creating messages that help form the relationships you need: relationships with your customers, natural partners, and the news media (those reporters that stoke so much fear among the Valley’s execs) so that you are not only relevant—you have a strong brand to keep.  This is the relationships business.  It is who you know and how you are known that gives you the profits you are looking for.

Look, if you are harming society the press has every right to write about that.  But what if you aren’t harming society?  What if your app actually does some good?  So many products are developed by intelligent, creative, competent, and well-meaning people, who launched “their babies” only to see them fail.  Why?  Because there is not an understanding to go through an important process, we know how to use to make sure there is sustained success in reputation and popularity.  This process has been developed over centuries (and accelerated over 75+ years) and it works.  We come to you ready, wanting to know your product inside and out.  In order to build a strong foundation, we do a lot of research up front and a lot of planning.  Some investors cannot see why this takes time.  They are the ones who fail.

Big Wave: A sustainable, independent, and empathic neighbor

My Inspiration

They call me Coach, but I am really more of an invested observer of my players because, as I have learned, they perfectly train themselves. I am pretty sure that I have more fun, more smiles, more laughter, than anything else I know.  These players are a group of adults with special needs on a Special Olympics-style baseball team.  Indeed, they have taught me a lot about what’s important, and about the teamwork that is necessary in the game of life.  The amazing aspect of these players is how close and tightly knit they are as a caring community who support each other.  I truly learn the best of what is being human from them at every game.

What piqued my interest in coaching was working with the Big Wave project, a special type of self-sustainable community built from the hard work of parents of adults with special needs who are facing a future crisis if they do nothing. One in 54 Americans is on the autism spectrum. One in 54. Where will these children with special needs go as their parents age and are no longer able to care for them? There is not enough room in government housing, so Jeff Peck, a creative professional and father of Elizabeth, one of my players with special needs, founded The Big Wave Project twenty years ago.

It’s an important anniversary for Big Wave as it just broke ground on August 15th this year, after quite a few years of meeting the needs of the state.  We are about to watch an important business experiment.

The Big Wave project is brilliant!  Big Wave has a fascinating business/housing model that doesn’t depend on government funding and the support of public officials.  Instead, it draws from a smart form of capital:  Neighbors. Local business owners hang a shingle on the adjacent property and sell their products and services, utilizing an employee population that is known as cooperative, heartfelt and eager to work:  Adults with special needs. The relationship between the adults with special needs and the business owners is symbiotic.  Currently, there is an 87 percent unemployment rate among this underappreciated population. But we know now that these special people are often worth the risk of hiring (hiring itself is a risk). Certainly companies like Safeway are glad they invested in this employee demographic.  Its one of the reasons I enjoy going to Safeway and the pleasure of seeing one of the Big Wave community members there with their ever present smiles.

The local businesses that join the Big Wave project will stimulate the local economy as they pay a competitive wage and provide rental income that helps to keep Big Wave sustainable for many years to come. The project is overseen by people who care—family members who value its model, yes, but also value its residents.


In the investment world we like to get to the heart of why someone has developed their project. Most organizations that are there to help others are born out of empathy. That is not always the case for many companies, as profit is critical to success and survival. But Big Wave really was born out of the empathy a father had not just for his daughter, but for his community’s kids and his community at large. Jeff became obsessed with an idea to create an opportunity for real employment, and the housing and peer support that these young adults need.  Local businesses need both the space and good employees in order to thrive.

It is not only a business with care and concern. It is a rock-solid plan. And although I am observing Big Wave from the bleachers, I am cheering and rooting on the Big Wave project every step of the way.

Jeff, you hit a home run. Congratulations and here’s to much success to come!


Steve Bacich is the Chief Technology Officer and Founding Partner of MED1 Ventures. Steve has more than 20 years of medical device industry experience, with over 15 years focused on women’s health. Mr. Bacich completed several venture and public funding rounds raising over $250 million in total. Steve has secured more than 75 US medical device patents and has brought over 25 products to market.  He currently coaches the Big Wave baseball team.

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