We know the huge hit that events are taking now. And we encourage everyone to register for next Thursday’s AM&P/Connectiv/SIPA webinar titled Coronavirus and Your Events: How to Make Decisions that Protect Your Business and the Safety of Your Staff, that will include our own Rich Luna, director of publishing, editor in chief, Meeting Professionals International.
Like any national crisis, audiences are turning more and more to their news sources for information. And within that, publisher podcasts are experiencing serious upticks in listeners. According to a Digiday article this week, since Jan. 22, podcast network Acast reports that there have been 650 episodes which reference “corona” or “covid” in the episode titles. These have been downloaded 16 million times. A number of individual Coronavirus-related podcast episodes have had over 300,000 listens each, including one day (March 5) that had over 875,000 listens.
Do you have a podcast? At a Lunch & Learn last year, Chris Blose (pictured), VP of content for Imagination, offered his recommendations for starting a podcast:
Make it mobile friendly. Almost 70% of people who listen to podcasts do so on their mobile phones. Almost half listen at home and about a fourth listen in their car.
Know your purpose. Blose quoted from Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation: "Podcasting is not for direct response or lead gen. It's about social proof and showing competence in the market."
Define your goals. "Do you have data on what 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?
Find your format.
- The free-for-all is almost all discussion with little narrative and editing.
- The serial is narrative-drive 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.)
Consider who your host will be. I've heard shows with all combinations of hosts, and they do set the tone for the content to come. Maybe you have someone or two on staff who would be good. I would probably avoid the Oscars' decision today to go host-less for a second consecutive year.
Pre-plan multiple episodes for launch. It will help you get past any pilot jitters. I also read a social media conversation about the TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and each person talked about binging. It's what we do now. So be ready.
Decide on the right type of guests. "The answer depends on the topic," said Blose. "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?"
Use a pre-interview. It can be a short call with sources before the actual recording. It's beneficial both for reporting and for putting sources at ease. Also, it will give you a chance to test the sound if you're doing the real interview by phone or skype.
Choose your music wisely. "Music matters," said Blose. "Think about your audience. You can't please everyone, but aim for something that matches the tone of the discussion."
Leave time for editing. Never underestimate the power of editing.
Plan enough time in advance to ensure you can be placed in iTunes, GooglePlay, etc. And find out first if your organization already has accounts with them. Blose said it's a little bit like the wild west out there now with where you can be. Even Spotify and Stitcher are possibilities.
Mention relevant old episodes in current episodes wherever possible. "To make this more likely, the host should have an updated cliff's notes of past episodes, who was in them, what # podcast it was, and what 'short' URL they can send listeners to when referencing an old episode on the fly."
Send to your existing email list, both as a preview and in ongoing form with each episode. You can even use your podcast to help build your list.
Send an email to all guests of the show once it's live encouraging them to:
- Share it on social (short-term traffic and listens);
- Link to the episode URL from their blog if they have one;
- Share on appropriate social channels multiple times since only a small percentage of audience sees any single post.
Track your performance (e.g. downloads) everywhere your podcast lives: iTunes, GooglePlay, your website, etc. How long are people listening? Are they dropping off? Studies say that 23 minutes is the point when people start to lose interest.
Ask. "Chances are good you're performing reader research for other properties—add the podcast to the mix," said Blose.
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," Blose said.
- Strong calls to action—"We need to inspire the audience to take action.
Don't skimp on your own home on your site or content hub. Build a mobile-optimized podcast page with show notes, speaker bios and links, and relevant resources for listeners.