Into the election campaign with podcasts

On 26 September, the election for the German Bundestag will take place. This year, the election campaign is more digital than ever. And although podcasts have played a rather minor role, this format has a lot to offer. You can find out about that and what alugha has to do with it here.

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Estimated reading time:10minutes

The time has come. On 26 September, the election for the German Bundestag will take place. This election will mark the end of a long era Merkel and the candidates for chancellor will be campaigning harder than perhaps in previous legislative periods. Due to Corona, but also because the topic of digitalisation plays or should play such a big role, this election campaign is more digital than ever. Social media plays a big role in this. Most parties and candidates use Instagram and Twitter, but TikTok and YouTube are also used. In this way, politicians want to appear closer and more authentic. However, a little caution is needed here. Often, politicians do not post their Instagram pictures and texts themselves, but rather employees who are responsible for the social media accounts. Perhaps you are already asking yourselves whether a podcast would be a suitable medium for the election campaign. Deutschlandfunk Kultur has already taken a closer look at this and I will now summarise and develop it further. 

The podcast in the election campaign

Hillary Clinton showed that podcasts and election campaigns go together during her campaign for the US presidency. In her podcast "With her", she took listeners into her everyday life and gave them an auditory glimpse behind the scenes of the election campaign and revealed a few personal details. The podcast was well received. However, it is important to note that this was a US election campaign and therefore also a different political culture. On the one hand, it is a much more powerful office than that of a German chancellor, and on the other hand, more private and personal information about the candidates has always been disclosed in the USA. The podcast format à la Hillary Clinton cannot be transferred 1:1 to the German federal election campaign. 

Nevertheless, the Germans have also discovered this medium for themselves in the election campaign. The Green Party candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock, launched her podcast "Auf dem Weg" (On the Way) a little more than a fortnight ago. She recorded it in her campaign tour bus. There is noise in the background and the picture on Youtube is also jerky. However, this can also be seen as likeable because it is imperfect. Deutschlandfunk Kultur analysed that Annalena Baerbock does not get very personal here, but rather takes on the role of a journalist without going directly into depth. It is, after all, a PR tool and not a journalistic one. Moreover, so far there is no clear direction in which her podcast should go. Theoretically, there would be enough time in the podcast medium to answer deeper questions. In the current election campaign situation, it is certainly difficult to fit everything into a podcast format. 

Then there is the CDU's dedicated election campaign podcast. This is not produced by the candidate for chancellor, Armin Laschet, but is a campaign of the CDU connect, which is aimed more at a young target group. A high-ranking person from the party always appears on the podcast and attempts to provide a glimpse behind the scenes of the election campaign. Deutschlandfunk Kultur calls the podcast an effort. 

The SPD does not have an election campaign podcast, but it does have a party podcast called "Lage der Fraktion" ("State of the Party"), which addresses major issues but, according to Deutschlandfunk Kultur, does not go into enough depth. Moreover, it is not perceived as particularly creative.

Deutschlandfunk Kultur found the podcast of FDP top candidate Christian Lindner "Ein Thema, zwei Farben" (1 topic, two colours) to be the most professionally considered so far. Lindner has been running this podcast for four years and uploads a new episode once a month. He interviews a wide variety of personalities from all areas of society. These range from musician Eko Fresh to CDU chancellor candidate Armin Laschet. This makes it clear that he is looking beyond his own party. Lindner takes on a real host role here. He lets people talk, occasionally pushes through the positions of his parliamentary group and now and then reveals personal information. He also provides an e-mail address for feedback. The intro is a mixture of music and snippets. Lindner understands personal branding. His podcast is not an election campaign either. This one is going into its summer break at this time. 

It makes sense not to run a pure election campaign podcast, if only to build long-term and sustainable trust. Moreover, the question arises whether it is always necessary to have a podcast of one's own. Be that as it may. What can be useful in the election campaign phase and makes the podcast format exciting is to invite political opponents and engage them in discourse. 

The interplay of the visual and the auditory

One of the most popular podcast platforms is actually YouTube. Basically, I find the combination of the auditory and the visual exciting and right, if only because subtitles can be created for deaf people. Signs can also be superimposed. However, none of the above does this. The subtitles that are used were created automatically and are not always correct. I have also not found a transcript anywhere. If I am wrong here, please feel free to let me know. Of course, creating subtitles manually is time-consuming. That's why there are programmes that allow speech-to-text transcription. alugha is one of those. 

The potential of multilingual podcasts

The fact that it is cool to make multilingual podcasts is already clear to alugha users, whether producers or consumers. Let me start by saying that I have not found any multilingual podcast among the above-mentioned politicians. Not even in English.Well, I have already heard sentences like: Whoever lives in Germany and is entitled to vote should know the German language.  Now the language used in politics is very complex. A podcast in easy language in addition to the standard podcast would already be very good and inclusive, as well as possible with alugha. Moreover, it is also easier for some people with a migrant background to hear the election campaign in addition in their first language. It is a sign of accommodation and togetherness. Moreover, there are also autochthonous minorities in Germany who master and use German and their minority language equally. In this case, it is only logical that politicians should also offer services in these languages. This also contributes to the preservation of those small languages, especially since it was recently announced that Berlin is to become a research centre for endangered languages. With alugha, this is relatively easy to do. That's the beauty of an AI. 

In addition, politicians currently want to promote digitalisation in Germany and guarantee data protection. So why not put your podcast on a German digital company that protects the data? 

A look beyond Germany

Next year, the presidential elections will take place in France. This is also a very powerful office and in this case, too, the podcast format would have potential, possibly even greater than in Germany. France also has many minorities, both allochthonous and autochthonous. Here, too, a multilingual election campaign using podcasts would be a good idea. Moreover, Mannheim is not that far from the French border and with alugha, France would be relying on a European company. It might not be entirely wrong...


The podcasts that have already been produced by alugha can be accessed here.





Sources: (06.09.2021, 10:58) (06.09.2021, 13:10) (06.09.2021, 15:00)



Photo: Co-Women via Unsplash


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