“I want to start a podcast” is a sentence that flies out of executives’ mouths these days.
They’re excited and determined, but often the marketing team has a more pragmatic view. PR pros aren’t dream-killers, but they know what a huge undertaking a podcast is and what it takes to be successful long term.
Here are three questions to answer before your organization starts podcasting:
1. Do you have enough to say?
What are you going to talk about on a podcast? What topic will you want to talk about for 20 plus minutes every week for at least six months (potentially years)? It is a little more daunting when put into context.
The podcast idea was probably raised because you have great stories to tell. Maybe you have really great relationships with your customers and want to share their success stories with the world. Perhaps your engineers are crazy excited to discuss all of the ways 3D printing is changing manufacturing for customers.
This is all great podcast fodder – you just need to find your brand’s unique angle. The podcast market is heavily saturated, even in niche markets, so it is important your podcast provides a fresh point of view or a new way of telling stories. GE set a great example of how to create unique podcast content that its audience would love with its sci-fi podcast, The Message.
Remember that most listeners are interested in hearing conversations—not monologues. B2B buyers value hearing interviews with subject matter experts, third-party contributors and analysts that offer alternative perspectives on industry topics, according to this year’s Content Preferences Survey Report. They don’t like podcasts that are overly branded or sales-oriented.
You also need to determine who should do the talking for your organization. It shouldn’t be someone with a sales or marketing title nor can it be just any engineer or executive. Find someone in your organization who is an enthusiastic and engaging brand advocate who has time to commit to planning, preparation, execution and editing each week.
Your topic of conversation should revolve around which guests you could realistically book for interviews right away and dream guests you would like to host in the future. The greater the influence the guest has in your industry, the further your podcast will reach.
2. Who will get the most value from our podcast?
Knowing your audience is crucial. When asked, executives are naturally going to include everyone, but you know that’s not really an option. Podcasts are niche by nature and normally have a small but highly-engaged audience. You will need to do some work to educate executives on the benefits of a dedicated group of listeners.
After you determine what you will generally talk about and have a few guests lined up, dive deeper into your ideal listener. When do they have time to listen to this podcast? What are their pain points? What does success look like for them? Get very specific, then build a persona. Flesh out the persona to the point where you would be able to buy groceries for that person—then create with them in mind.
Laying a strong foundation of wildly dedicated listeners will lead to more listeners in the future. This is especially true in the B2B world where communities are small and tight knit. Word of mouth will slowly grow your listenership, but initially, you must do a lot of legwork to get your podcast off the ground.
3. Can we effectively build an audience?
Now that you have a unique POV, dynamic guests, and a fully-developed audience persona that will truly love your podcast, you need to build that audience.
Audience building is no joke. Make sure to set aside budget to promote your podcast across earned, owned and paid channels. The best place to start is with audiences you already have, such as newsletter subscribers, social media followers and blog readers. Pitch your hosts to be guests on other more established podcasts. Run a paid social media campaign targeting your ideal persona.
Make sure to set expectations with your executive team about how long it can take to build an audience of committed and engaged listeners. It will take even longer to start to see a return on the investment.
Once you greenlight your podcast, there are some logistical considerations to take into account before getting started.
There are a million and one YouTube videos and blog posts about what technology you need to get started. Here are some basics:
- A computer
- A microphone (USB-compatible is preferred so you can plug it into your computer)
- Headphones (earbuds that come with your mobile phone can suffice)
- Recording and editing software (there are many free options available, including Audacity)
As mentioned earlier, your podcast should be a conversation, which complicates the recording set up a bit. If all of your guests will be able to physically sit down with you, just get two microphones and record away. Remote interviews can be successfully conducted over Skype. Skype uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which gives you better audio quality than a phone call. Encourage remote guests to use headphones with a built-in mic to further improve sound quality and reduce feedback.
Another trick to improve sound quality is to have your guests also record the conversation. When you are finished, lay the tracks on top of each other for crystal clear sound quality from both participants.
Editing always takes twice as long as you think it will, especially if you are new. Consider shopping this out to freelancer who specializes in editing or hiring an intern who is an audio whiz.
After you record and edit, upload the episode to a hosting platform that distributes to the major podcast listening platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Stitcher. Tag your episode with metadata and the full transcript to optimize for search, draft awesome show notes, and promote it across your marketing channels. Then repeat the process over again every week for years to come. Congratulations, you have a podcast!
Lacey Poppe is a senior account executive at Inprela Communications, a B2B PR partner driving tangible value for health care and manufacturing companies.