PR Tips For Indie Podcasters

Maya Chupkov, Proud Stutter
5 min readMar 12, 2023

By Maya Chupkov of Proud Stutter Podcast

Perhaps the most daunting piece of podcasting, on top of creating and producing your show, is growing your listenership.

So how can PR help grow your audience? Those with big budgets hire a PR firm to do this.

But what can independent and small business podcasters do to gain exposure for your podcast?

This article summarizes the key takeaways from the Podcast Movement Evolutions Panel, DIY PR: Maximum Exposure on a Minimum Budget, with Jenn Trepeck of Salad With A Side of Fries.

Read on to learn DIY tips and tricks for winning on the PR front and being successful in securing earned media, strategic collaborations and more!

Crafting Your Story

Before trying to get media attention for your show, you need to be clear on your overall goals and the story you want to tell. Your PR strategy should derive from answering the below questions so all your actions are in alignment with your goals. I go through this exercise before every PR effort, including before I launched Proud Stutter.

  1. What is the problem we are faced with?
  2. What should be done? (i.e. Your Show!)
  3. Who has the power to make that change (i.e., your target)? What is the target’s position on your goal?
  4. What allies must be mobilized to apply the necessary pressure? What actions will you take to reach or influence your target?
  5. Why does this problem matter? State the values.

Earned Media: Major Publications

One of the most important reasons for doing PR is to build brand credibility. The more you appear in media articles and on TV & Radio programs talking about your show topic, the more credibility and thought leadership you will gain. For example, after appearing in several news outlets and podcast newsletters in a short span of time (KQED, Ear Worthy, SF Examiner, 48 Hills, & Ability Magazine), I was featured in The Guardian’s Top 5 Podcasts of the Week shorty after.

However, it is important to note, while appearing in several articles may not have a huge impact on your download numbers right away, the more credibility you will gain through successful PR, the more it will open up opportunities for you to grow your show in the long run.

Below are the steps to getting earned media for your podcast:

  • Build a Press List. Start by creating a list of 10–15 publications and journalists typically write on your topic. You might start by finding places and writers that are more specific to your genre or who are local to you. Find contact information by going to the news outlet website, searching in their twitter accounts, or calling up the newsdesk to ask who covers your topic.
  • Create a Comms Calendar with relevant dates, anniversaries, awareness weeks, etc. For example: I created PR pushes around events in my content calendar, including National Stuttering Awareness Week, International Stuttering Awareness Day, and the Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary.
  • Build Relationships. A top priority for your PR strategy should be getting to know the reporters who are local to you and who cover your topic. PR firms often will sell you on the fact that they already have these relationships and are worth the investment, but you can build relationships on your own for free. In fact, it might be even better coming from the actual person doing the show, at least that has been my experience. Where do you start? Send an email introducing yourself and your show. I would also write something showing them you have read them like mentioning you really enjoyed an article they had written and think you may be able to add a different angle, or offer yourself as a resource for future stories. It’s that simple. Ideally, you want to have a symbiotic relationship with reporters where you are providing stories they can cover, and they are covering the stories you want to tell!
  • Crafting the Pitch. What is a winning formula to get reporter to cover your story? I use: Why? What? How?

Why did you choose them to pitch to? Why are you reaching out to them? You can answer this by offering a timely news hook. Explain the timeliness and urgency of writing about your show

What is your show about? Sell the topic — and the value you can bring to the audience — first. Pitch yourself second. A lot of people make the mistake of pitching themselves first. Include statistics, and back up your claims with facts. Doing a little research will add legitimacy.

How is your story different then what they’ve already covered? Provide talking points with bullet points. You want to make it quick and easy for busy journalists to understand what you’re able to speak on and what you could offer their audience.

  • Follow Up. Don’t give up if you do not hear back from a reporter. Follow up a few days after your first pitch offering a different story angle or sharing a new milestone. For example, it took me over 1 year to secure an article in KQED, my local NPR affiliate located in the Bay Area. I offered several pieces of new information until the reporter finally was able to use what I have given her to convince her editor to do the story.

More PR Pitching Tips & Tricks

  1. When pitching, remember to be yourself. Being authentic and real is what others will find attractive.
  2. Write the pitch specifically to the individual reporter. Here’s an example: ‘I really appreciate when you wrote about X. Here’s a different angle that I think would make a great follow up.’ Reporter see right through inauthentic pitches like ‘Last week I read about X. It’s awesome.’ Be specific.
  3. End each pitch with a question. ‘Might you be interested in covering this topic in your column next week?’ I also like to end my pitches with: ‘I look forward to hearing from you either way!’

So Much To Do, So Little Time

Indie Podcasters, often balancing full time jobs, do not have all the time in the world to do PR. Here’s 5 things you can do if to start if you are short on time:

  1. Make a list of all the tactics you want to try.
  2. Pick your top 3
  3. Focus on 1 action/month or whatever makes sense to you.
  4. Use your calendar to put marketing reminders (I do every other Monday morning)
  5. Evaluate & Pivot

At the end of the month, go back and see if your tactics are showing results. Are you getting more emails from folks? Are you getting responses from reporters? If not, you may need to refine your pitch or try a different story angle.

Maya Chupkov is the host and creator of Ambie Award-nominated podcast Proud Stutter, a show about changing how we talk about stuttering, one conversation at a time. Proud Stutter has appeared on The Guardian’s Top 5 Podcasts of the Week list and Apple Podcast’s New & Noteworthy within its first year. Maya secured coverage in over 60 media outlets and newsletters, including NPR, KQED, San Francisco Examiner, ABILITY Magazine, and San Diego Union-Tribune.

If you are a podcaster looking for PR assistance on a minimum budget, reach out to Maya here.

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Maya Chupkov, Proud Stutter

A show about changing how we understand and talk about stuttering, one conversation at a time.