Lunch & Learn Recap: Starting a Podcast? Here's What to Consider

Share |

By Ronn Levine


At the start of an AM&P Lunch & Learn talk, Chris Blose, vice president of content for Imagination, asked the audience of about 30 — a fairly diverse group in most categories — how many had listened to a podcast that day. About 25 hands shot up. And it was only lunchtime.


Blose pointed out that 69 percent of people who listen to podcasts do so on their mobile phones, "so keep that in mind when you are setting up your podcast." Almost half listen at home, and about one-fourth listen in their car.


Here are more takeaways from Blose's talk:


1. Include these four key elements:

  • Powerful storytelling — a phrase we hear often today.

  • A hook to re-engage — does anything today truly end? Episodic storytelling creates loyalty and engagement.

  • Industry expertise — your insider knowledge is critical to success.

  • Strong calls to action — inspire the audience to take action.


2. Define your goals. Do you have data on the audience you are trying to reach? Are you trying to demonstrate thought leadership in your field or industry? That will determine the type of guests you have. How specific will each episode be?


3. Find your format.

  • The free-for-all is almost all discussion with little narrative and editing.

  • The serial is narrative-driven and ongoing.

  • The high concept has an overarching theme and basic structure.

  • The hybrid mixes those forms. (NPR's “It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders” does that.)


4. Consider your host. I've heard shows with all combinations of hosts, and they do set the tone for the content to come. Maybe you have someone on staff who would be good. I would probably avoid the Academy Awards' decision to go host-less this year.


5. Pre-plan multiple episodes for launch. It will help you get past pilot jitters. I also just read a social media conversation about “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” TV show, and each person talked about binging. It's what we do now. So be ready.


6. Decide on the right type of guests. "The answer depends on the topic," Blose says. "Source a podcast very much like you'd source a magazine or digital feature story. Who can speak eloquently, and who represents the issue best?"


7. Choose your music wisely. "Music matters," Blose says. "Think about your audience. You can't please everyone, but aim for something that matches the tone of the discussion."


8. Don't skimp on your own website home page or content hub. Build a mobile-optimized podcast page with show notes, speaker bios and links, and relevant resources for listeners. A separate tip I received is to set up a specific URL for your podcast to maximize the brand and make it easy for people to find.


9. Send to your existing email list. Send a preview and in an ongoing form with each episode. You can even use your podcast to help build your list.


10.Share multiple times on appropriate social channels.. Only a small percentage of an audience sees any single post.


11.Mention relevant old episodes in current episodes wherever possible. To make this more likely, the host should have updated Cliff Notes of past episodes, who was in them, what number podcast it was, and what short URL they can send listeners to when referencing old episodes on the fly.


12.Track your performance (e.g., downloads) everywhere your podcast lives. Track iTunes, Google Play, your website, etc. How long are people listening? Are they dropping off? Studies say 23 minutes is the point when people start to lose interest.


Ronn Levine is editorial director of SIIA and a contributing writer to Signature.