Your questions answered about getting started in podcasting

There were many questions posed during our Media Team Academy masterclass on podcasting.

Our guests Tom Idle and managing director James White answered many of them during the session.

But we couldn’t cover them all during the hour-long webinar – which you can watch again here.

So, I sat down with James after the session, and he tackled your questions.

 

How do you effectively promote your podcast?

“There’s nothing unusual I’m going to say about promoting a podcast because it is the same as promoting any form of content,” James said.

“If you’ve created valuable content, understand your audience, and have tackled an issue that is a problem for them, you need to put it under their nose.

“Creating and promoting the podcast consistently is crucial because then the audience will find you, and it will grow.

“But I also think it is vital you don’t focus on listener numbers. It is a bit of a vanity metric.

“Instead, think about what you want the audience to do. Do you want them to download an eBook, join your marketing list or get in touch and learn more about your products and services?

“I think for the majority of businesses, you probably only need one sale from every 12 podcasts to make it worthwhile.

“Most people’s products and services are quite expensive – it is not like you are using a podcast to try and sell Mars bars and need to attract millions of people.

“You need one or two good bites.”

There are some simple steps you can take to promote your podcast.

“Include your podcast in your email signatures,” James said. “Make sure the podcast is created in conjunction with marketing and comms.

“Use your marketing list and social media channels. And use other people’s social media channels – give your guest something they can put on social media to promote it."

There’s some great software to help you easily and quickly create soundbites of your podcasts – these work well on socials. Here’s an example from one of our podcasts:

And create follow-ups – turn the podcast into blogs, for example, like we did with this masterclass.

 

How do you get people to want to appear on your podcast?

“There has to be a benefit for the guest,” James said.

“But that benefit can be quite subtle – such as raising their profile or that of their companies. I think you’ll find people are interested in podcasts and excited about the opportunity to speak on one.

“They may be more willing to speak on a podcast than do a radio or TV interview with a journalist.

“And they will feel more comfortable talking in their niche space to people in their industry. So, you may not have a problem.

“Once you’ve had a couple of guests, you can show other people you would like to interview what those guests got from it and how they benefited.”

“I’d also recommend producing a short briefing document you can share with potential guests. Here is one we have created for the next series of The Media Landscape podcast.

"Get in touch  if you are interested in being a guest on that."

 

Will a podcast work for our audience?

To add a little context to this question, we should say it was asked by someone who works for a local authority.

“There is only one way to find out,” James said.

“And that is to dig into your audience.

“I wouldn’t recommend just doing a podcast and throwing it out there. But you could ask if they would be interested if you did a podcast on a particular subject. Carry out some surveys.

“But if you have something interesting and helpful to say, why not?”

There are councils already producing podcasts. Warwickshire County Council has its Let’s Talk Warwickshire podcast, which has covered topics ranging from volunteering and cost-of-living to winter wellness and climate change.

Solihull Council ran a climate change podcast series in the run-up to COP26, to shine a light on the eco initiatives happening across the borough.

Surrey County Council has Surrey Matters, a podcast that goes behind the scenes of the council and the people who provide its services.

And two environment and protection officers at Malvern Hills District Council have a podcast that discusses issues like dog fouling and fly-tipping that impact the local community and environment.

“Local authorities have lots of different audiences and stakeholders, and a podcast could be a different approach that helps them get their message across,” James said.

“You could trial it by taking written newsletters and turning them into audio. There may be residents who want the information but don’t have time or inclination to read a newsletter.”

 

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What is a good podcast frequency to build audience engagement and have enough fresh content?

“There are many options,” James said.

“It could be a daily podcast, a weekly one or perhaps monthly. You can have quarterly podcasts and one-off specials.

“There is no right or wrong answer. It comes down to understanding your audience and what they want.

“One bit of advice Tom Idle gave during the webinar was to create a series of podcasts and upload all the episodes at the same time.

“And that mirrors what companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime do with television series. There was a time when they would launch a new TV show, you would watch an episode and then have to wait a week for the next one.

“Now you can watch an entire series as soon as it is launched.

“If the content is evergreen and you get a new listener now, they can go back and listen to past episodes. And those listens still count.”

James believes it is crucial organisations don’t overcommit themselves and recommends they break podcasts down into series.

“If you do that, you can say, ‘in this series we are going to look at this’, and then explore something that matters to you and your audience in detail,” he said.

“You can afford to be niche. If one of your comms priorities is sustainability, go for that. If it is safeguarding, do a series on that.”

 

How should you pitch your spokesperson to appear on a podcast?

“It is similar to how you would pitch them to appear on television and radio,” James said.

“But I think it is crucial to be able to show your spokesperson has something new and interesting to say and be able to move the conversation forward.

“I would recommend creating some audio clips – about 60 seconds long – you can share with the host and give them an idea of the type of person they can interview.”

 

What is the best advice for planning content for a podcast?

“Let’s assume you know the message you want to get across,” James said.

“You should sit down with some paper and work out how to break your podcast into sections and what you want to cover.

“Are there going to be regular features? If it is an interview-led podcast, you could break it down into a section on early career, what they are doing now, and their greatest failures and successes.

“You can still be conversational and free-flowing, but you start to know what you are looking for. You’ll know whether you have that magic moment for that section or if you need to ask more searching questions.

“In radio, they take a clock face and work backwards, creating a pie chart of what each section will be.”

James believes this approach makes it easier for you to work out what the audience enjoys.

“When you have clearly defined sections, you can ask your audience which ones they like. You might get feedback saying, ‘I love these sections, but I’m not keen on this feature’.

“Then you can change that one section rather than needing to rip up the whole podcast and start again.”

 

How do you tailor podcasts for different types of businesses?

“There are obvious things here around messaging and knowing your audience that we covered during the masterclass,” James said.

“But I think tone of voice is often overlooked.

“You need to make sure you speak in a way your audience wants you to speak. If you sound like them and use the same language, you are relatable.

“Audio branding, having the right host and length are also important.”

 

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How do you structure a conversation without it sounding scripted?

It is time for some inspiration from one of the podcasts James enjoys.

“I was listening to Ira Glass, the host of This American Life, say that when he interviews someone, he has a line at the top of his notes that is his guiding star.

“So, for a section on early career, for example, he might have ‘triumph against adversity’. That’s what he is looking to find.

“He’ll have some questions written down that help him get to the information. But the crucial part is properly listening to what the interviewee says and asking the right follow-up questions that steer the conversation.

“Podcasts are much more conversational than news interviews. And you can dig into the topic.

“The other thing to remember is the audio will be edited. So, ask a different question. And, if it doesn’t work, take that part out in the edit.

“But the more interviews you do, the more natural they will sound.”

 

How do you ensure people don’t quickly lose enthusiasm for producing a podcast?

James believes there are two main stages to this.

“Firstly, make sure you have a small team in place that is proud of what it is producing,” James said.

“It is vital to have senior people involved who can help you champion the podcast, preferably from outside your department.

“Then, when you are up and running, get more people involved and allow people the opportunity to do different things – but don’t change the host.

“Try someone different on the first phase edits, for example. They might have a brilliant ear for it.

“Listen to other podcasts, and don’t be afraid to try something new and change your format a bit – that helps to keep things fresh and interesting.

“But I think if the podcast is a success – and how that is defined will vary for every podcast and organisation – people will stay motivated.”

 

Is there a place for internal podcasts?

Yes – and James predicts this is an area set to expand.

“This is an area that has been growing steadily, and I think is about to become huge,” he said.

“Organisations are placing more and more importance on internal comms because of the ways we work now.

“You may not see people for weeks or months, and you need to find a way of communicating with them and doing it in a human way. The traditional newsletter doesn’t cut it these days.

“The first podcast Media First did was around 14 years ago for a large bank. Each month, a couple of their senior leaders did a recorded interview with one of our journalists – and it was hosted on a phone line. You called up and listened to it.

“And they felt it as a great piece of internal comms. And it showed forward thinking.”

Do you need to do anything different for an internal podcast?

James said: “I think for an internal audience, you should be thinking of shorter podcasts, so they don’t become a strain on the leaders, and they don’t run out of steam.

“Another option is a vodcast. A short video update for team members.

“I was talking to a comms manager about this recently, and we were talking about getting the CEO to make six- or seven-minute video updates while he is out on his bike. He parks up, his bike is in the background, and he gives an update he has been thinking about while cycling.

“It is a great way of humanising the senior leaders and cutting through.”

 

How do you increase listeners over time?

As we said during the masterclass, listener numbers are not the best measurement of success.

But there are ways you can look to increase your audience.

James said: “I think the key is to be consistent with the format, but making tweaks to it when you understand what sections work well and what ones the audience doesn’t like.

“Find what works and double down on it.

“You need to solve the problems your audience face, which means not being afraid to share your knowledge.

“As you build momentum, I think you’ll notice you will have new listeners coming on board.

“But you can also encourage people to share the podcast and leave reviews and likes. And you can make clips of the podcast that you can use on social media.”

 

Missed our masterclass?

Don't worry. You can watch it by clicking here.

Got more questions about podcasting?

You may find the answer in the video recording of the masterclass.

Or in our free eBook How to be a great podcast guest and create your own one.

If not, get in touch. We will be happy to answer your questions.

 

Need some help with your podcast?

Whether you are at the beginning of your podcast production or need help with the audio editing and post-production needed to make a quality podcast, we can help.

Chat with your account manager about your podcast production needs and ambitions.

 

Media First are media and communications training specialists with more than 35 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers. 

Click here to find out more about our training courses and content creation services.

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