‘A Perfect Medium to Build Personality and Tone’; EXCEL Award Podcasts Exert Their Winning Ways

Haymarket Media plans to increase its investment in podcasts after seeing a 300% rise in listeners. Specialist publisher DC Thomson has said that it “comfortably” makes six figures a year from sponsorship revenue for its Energy Voice Out Loud podcast. Podcasts are still booming, as this year’s EXCEL Award winners demonstrate.

“I’m just glad I brushed my hair today,” says a woman, with a joyous tinge of at-least-I-had-time-for-that, thus beginning the 2022 EXCEL Gold Award winner for Best Single Podcast Episode. “Strategies for Working Moms and the Future of Patient Friendly Payment today on Voices in Healthcare Finance sponsored by ClearBalance,” the moderator then intones.

Cue the music, and we’re under way. It’s just one of many examples where podcasts are fulfilling multiple roles for media publishers and associations alike.

Podcasts “replicate the way people would react” to magazines, deputy managing director of Haymarket Business Media Donna Murphy told the Press Gazette recently. “We see podcasts as a key audience engagement tool, and as we continue to move away from print in some areas, it’s a perfect medium to build personality and tone. Like magazines, podcasts are episodic and have clear structures.”

DC Thomson head of podcasts Christopher Phin added that they are “looking at what can podcasts do for us, where are the successes, what does success look like, and coming to the realization that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for what podcasts can do for a publisher, no one answer to how are you measuring success with your podcast.”

One of their podcasts, launched in 2020 from the 153-year-old women’s weekly The People’s Friend, converted 2% of listeners into magazine subscribers. Here’s more of what good podcasts can do, thanks to four of the EXCEL winners:

If content is good, you don’t have to be shy about your advertising. Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals won the EXCEL Silver Award for Best Single Episode for Old Man Psoas: “The Rebel MT” With Allison Denney. Here’s how the first minute and 20 seconds goes: “Anatomy Trains [a sponsor] is delighted to announce a brand new livestream specialty class on September 18th—Lumbo Pelvic Stability…” Then we get “This episode is brought to you by the Massage Mentor Institute…” When host Denney finally comes on, you can quickly hear why this podcast is cherished by patient listeners: “This is the Rebel MT Podcast where you’ll hear me forcibly colliding the worlds of anatomical jargon and humor… The loads of Latin and the gobs of Greek can make a cranium convulse. It is a litle overwhelming to dip your toe into the sea of anatomical knowledge, only to find that it is a bottomless ocean.”

One episode can accomplish a great deal. The Healthcare Financial Management Association aired the hot-button, working moms episode with guests from McKinsey & Company. This came a couple months after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 865,000 women over the age of 20 dropped out of the workplace in September 2020. Host Erika Grotto also brings on Brad Dennison, HFMA’s director of content strategy, to discuss their December cover story about the financial risks of deferred care. (We love when our events push our own content people.) Grotto also encourages listeners to head over to the Open Forum in HFMA’s Community to “discuss what strategies you, or your organization, are employing to make things better for working parents.” Plus the episode features good sponsored content—Laurie Heavey from ClearBalance talking about new research on patient-friendly payment. That’s a lot for one 24:29 podcast to accomplish.

Contribute to great causes. The 2022 Gold EXCEL Award winner in Best Podcast (Series) was the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for its ASHA Voices podcast series: Gender-Inclusive Services. In one episode, Greg Robinson, a faculty member at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the chair of L’GASP, ASHA’s LGBTQ+ caucus, “shares guidance on how to approach conversations on gender—including information on the ‘they/them’ pronoun—and provides history and context for the conversation.” In another episode later in the year, NCAA men’s basketball champion and NBA veteran Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (pictured) joins ASHA Voices to “share his experiences as a person who stutters. He also discusses his related advocacy work he does through his nonprofit initiative Change and Impact.”

Motivate and move your audience. For Best Podcast Series, Bronze winner American Legion put together a series called 20/20/20—20 episodes leading up to the 20 days marking 20 years since the “attacks that changed the world.” In one episode, Tango Alpha Lima, the name of the podcast, remembers 9/11 with motivational speaker USMC Cpl. Josh Bleill. Working a corporate job in Indianapolis on Sept. 11, 2001, Bleill was so moved by that day that he soon found himself “following in his father’s yellow bootsteps at Marine Corps bootcamp. During a deployment to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006, a bomb exploded under the vehicle Josh was riding in. He woke up five days later to the realization that he had lost two friends and both of his legs in the blast. [His] journey through recovery led him to a new role as a motivational speaker, trying to help veterans and civilians alike move forward with positivity by taking just one step at a time.”

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