PRWeek’s recent event, “Convene: Trust in Technology,” covered the role of technology in the work of communicators. It’s no surprise that there was a heavy focus on Clubhouse, the social platform of the moment.  

The speakers argued that Clubhouse has rapidly become popular because it mimics being at a live event, providing an antidote to the current regimen of social distancing.  At the same time, most people's desire for face to face contact is being worn thin by “Zoom fatigue,” since being on camera all day can get tiring. Clubhouse provides socialization in a more relaxed environment. The rise of the app follows a trend in recent months, with VentureBeat claiming that consumers are spending 30% more time listening to spoken word audio. 

While Clubhouse can be a fun and lighthearted social networking tool, it also has the potential for enormous impact on communications and business. For instance, companies could create their own content and have executives host various rooms. The comms team can invite customers and partners to attend the rooms, fostering connection, thought leadership, and subtle promotion. Clubhouse rooms particularly appeal to niche audiences, so getting as specific as possible with topics can help target specific groups. Some companies are even integrating Clubhouse rooms with live events. It's important to remember, though, that the standard rules of a media appearance apply, such as preparing executives in advance and making sure to sound more authentic than promotional.   

One of the questions that PRWeek speakers discussed is the future of Clubhouse after the pandemic abates. The consensus was that the app’s popularity may dim slightly, but at least one player will win big in audio— whether it’s Clubhouse or one of its competitors.  

One thing is for certain; the original audio sensation—podcasts—aren't going anywhere, even after the pandemic. Like Clubhouse, podcasts became popular, in part, because people wanted something fun and interactive that they could listen to passively while doing other activities. COVID-19 has given people more free time, enabling more attention to be put on podcasts—which are predicted to reach 112 million listeners in 2021. Podcasts do have an advantage over Clubhouse, being that they're more controlled and scripted, with fewer of the surprises that comms pros try to avoid. With podcasts, it’s also easier to tell a compelling story. Finally, podcasts are also becoming more useful for communications efforts because the measurement is getting better.  

Getting Clubhouse or podcasts right may seem daunting, but there is a payoff, as audio is known to be a highly captive medium with consumers who devote a lot of time to listening. Right now, 43% of people listen to spoken audio daily, with 48% listening an average of two hours a day. From a Hotwire standpoint, we’d advise you to experiment with Clubhouse as part of your communications strategy, but first you might want to get your feet wet in the world of podcasts. The good news is we can help you with both.