The PR Pro’s Guide to Podcasting
The amount of interaction likely surprised him. The lecture turned into a roundtable discussion.
At one point, Turner who had gone from leader to leading participant, pulled out a pad and pen to record tips offered by the audience so he could improve his own podcasts.
Turner is a no-doubt-about-it podcasting expert. The Jamie Turner Show has a five-star rating on iTunes and his episodes feature conversations with New York Times bestselling authors, media celebrities and entrepreneurs. He produces objectively great content.
The anecdote shows that while podcasting is an old medium, its recent revival means best practices remain spread among the masses. Here are some tips, tactics and best practices from Turner’s presentation.
Podcasting was growing before Sarah Koenig’s Serial podcast, but that show may be credited with taking the medium mainstream. Now, nearly twice as many Americans listen to a podcast monthly than in 2008.
Why is that? In addition to the emergence of high-profile podcasts, you could point a finger to mobile devices. More than 60 percent of podcast episodes were downloaded on mobile devices, a 20 percentage point jump from 2012.
Obviously, podcasts are popular, but so are blogs. Why should your brand consider adding podcasts to your content marketing strategy?
Turner said podcasts better enable people to have emotional responses to our content. When people have an emotional response they remember more.
What to consider before your first podcast
Podcasting isn’t as easy as some of the most popular shows and hosts make it seem. Especially since audio is an unfamiliar medium for many communicators, take care to think through your podcast before recording the first episode. Here are some thoughts to consider:
1. Establish goals
Just like any other medium, communicators should understand what they hope to achieve with a podcast. Your goals will determine the topics you tackle and shed a light on the right metrics to attract.
2. Identify a niche
This goes hand in hand with establishing your goals, but it is important to call out. Your audience has a lot of well-established podcasts to choose from. Why should they listen to yours?
Often, the answer will be because your show speaks to their needs specifically. Turner urges podcasters to resist the temptation to go broad. The competition for big crowds is fierce, and bigger doesn’t always mean better. Remember your goals.
3. Listen to the competition
Consider this competitive analysis. It’s not cheating, it’s helping you to identify a niche, see what works and where you can improve.
Also find podcasts that interest you outside of your industry. Just because you sell widgets doesn’t mean you can’t listen to a podcast about fantasy football. Identify the technical elements that make you tune in and try to incorporate them in your own episodes.
4. Pick a format
Will you have an interview format or a monologue format? Interview style podcasts allow you to rotate guests on your show, including internal thought leaders or well-respected industry analysts.
Turner suggests avoiding a monologue format. Hearing the same voice can become grating week after week. An interview format gives listeners a break from one voice. However, that is not a hard and fast rule. He called out Tony Robbins as an example of a speaker with wonderful voice texture that is soothing to the ear.
5. Going it alone?
Will you have one host or two? Having a single host can work well, especially if that person is highly regarded for your target audience. However, having co-hosts helps deliver listeners more perspectives.
Remember, it’s okay to have healthy disagreement on podcasts. Difficult issues don’t have black-or-white answers. Keep the debate respectful.
Recommended podcasting equipment
If you want to sound like the podcasting pros, you need the right equipment. Getting great equipment may not cost as much as you might expect. Here’s a list of podcasting tools that will make you sound polished with an estimate of how much each costs:
1. USB headset – $15-75
As the name suggests, USB headsets plug directly into your computer’s USB port. These microphones tend to convert audio better than an analog headset, which plugs into your headphone jack.
2. Condenser microphone – $50-150
A condenser microphone enhances the best features of your voice and eliminates the worst, Turner says. Essentially, the condenser microphone brings out the deeper features of your voice, which audiences generally find pleasing in both male and female voices.
3. Recording software – $30
Call Recorder for Skype or GoToMeeting are good for recording your podcast episodes. With Call Recorder, you can also capture and save video to post to your YouTube channel or embed in blog posts.
Also consider breaking down the recorded interview into shorter, “snackable” segments that listeners can access in a hurry.
4. Production Software – Free-$349
Audacity and Garage Band are two free and excellent products that you can use to polish your podcast. Adobe Audition ($349) is another option.
These tools will help you normalize the volume and clarity of the audio, which is extremely important if interviewing someone virtually.
5. Mixer – $49-300
If you have more than one microphone, a mixer simplifies the process of putting multiple tracks into one recording. Additionally, a mixer gives you more control of how your podcast sounds, making it easy to fade out music as you speak, raise the volume of a quiet guest and so much more.
Podcasting best practices
Podcasting takes time, a luxury many communicators don’t have. If you cut corners, you will undermine your own efforts with a poor podcast.
No podcasting magic bullet exists, but use these podcasting best practices to save time and get the most from your efforts:
1. Pick one day
Establish a schedule and do all of your podcasting on that day. Turner, for example, does all of his podcasting on Friday afternoons because other work priorities tend to be lighter. By dedicating one day to podcasting, you’ll be less likely to stress about the next episode because you know it will get done at a specific time.
2. Ensure quality
Sure you invested resources into acquiring the right equipment for your studio, but what about your virtual guests? Turner says that iPhones can do the job but recommends sending guests a microphone or asking them to use a landline to dial into Skype.
3. Use dampening
Nothing ruins a podcast like background noise or a tinny sounding recording. Ensure your recording studio and guest locations are in quiet areas and have a lot of dampening in the walls. Bare walls bounce sound around the room.
4. Consider voice talent
It may sound like an unnecessary step, but a little voice talent goes a long way. Plus, it’s also relatively inexpensive.
Consider hiring a voice actor to introduce your show. Turner uses Voices 123 to make his podcast sound more professional.
5. Try to counteract voices
Often listeners find it pleasing to have a male-female combination. All things being equal, consider balancing your female podcast host with a male co-host or vice versa, Turner says.
6. Get rejected
People want to be featured on your podcast, especially once it is well-established. Shoot for the stars when it comes to reaching out to guests. The worst that will happen is they say no. You may be surprised by how many say yes, Turner says.
7. Launch with five episodes
If you aim to hit the ground running, you should have the goal of getting on the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes. When a searcher sees a podcast with multiple episodes, it seems more established. If people subscribe and download multiple podcasts, you will rise on iTunes’ charts.
8. Warm up your interviewee
Just as you wouldn’t go from sitting at a desk to a full sprint, don’t expect your guests to be ready to go as soon as they hop on the line.
Make small talk and discuss an overview of the topics you will dive into on the show. This will prepare them and make them feel more comfortable using a medium with which they may be unfamiliar.
9. Ask for a rating
Don’t forget to ask your listeners to rate your show. Third-party validation is strong and your loyal listeners will be happy to help you for all the entertainment, insights and information you have provided. Ratings also show iTunes that your listeners are engaged.
10. Promote your podcast
Don’t let your hard work whither. Promote your podcast on social media, via email and any of your other distribution channels. Remember, though, the podcast will likely focus on a niche. Make sure not to spam the people outside of that niche.
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