Podcasts Can Offer Your Audience One More Comfortable Way to Engage

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SIPA member Northern Miner Group's podcast starts with some lively music and then a sponsor announcement for the Yukon Mining Alliance. The host, Matthew Keevil, has fun with the topic—in Geology Corner they dig into "the mama jama of all copper deposits"—and then runs down the various segments on the show. It's over an hour.

Podcasts are becoming quite the rage in the B2B world, and for good reason. They are engaging, can vary in length and format, attract sponsors, give staff a larger profile, and don't take a lot of dollars to produce. A couple other examples are:

Endless Coffee Cup with Matt Bailey – Listen to the smooth beginning of their latest one on Entrepreneurial Analysis, as Michael Stebbins of OMCP.org starts right away on what makes a good business idea. Bailey then comfortably joins in and the hour takes off.

Spidell Publishing's California Minute is actually about 4 minutes. It starts with a very polished host Kathryn Zdan, Spidell's editorial director, as she gets right into a huge tax issue. (Spidell's president, Lynn Freer, will present a session at SIPA Annual 2017 titled How We Attract 18,000 People and Millions of Dollars to Our Seminars Year After Year.)

The Check 6 Podcast from Penton's Aviation Week. (Penton is a member of Connectiv, also under the SIIA umbrella.) Expert editors discuss big picture issues that are key to the aerospace and defense community. This week's podcast—Decoding the F-15 Retirement Proposal—features three staff members and allows plenty of time for insightful commentary.

On the Columbia Journalism Review site, Marty Goldensohn, an Emmy award-winning radio and television producer who teaches podcasting to students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, provides tips for a winning podcast. Here are a few:

  • Pick a format. Once you have a good idea for a great podcast, you need to think about the format: Conversational, documentary, monologue or hybrid (like This American Life).
     
  • Add sounds. "Think about what sort of sounds could add color and context to the topic," says Goldensohn. "For example, if it's a story about a person who has a job as a piano builder, find a place where you can capture music, and hammering, and building sounds to weave throughout the story." Aviation Week starts their podcast with a plane taking off.
     
  • Ask open questions. Keep your questions short, don't interrupt people, and avoid yes and no questions. Sit close to your subject. If you're interviewing someone in an office, don't try to reach your recorder across the desk. Hold the mic under the chin.
     
  • "Use short, punchy, informal speech," says Goldensohn. "Don't use complex sentences—especially not sentences with lots of subordinate clauses. When you're recording, you need to breathe."
     
  • Reduce your points to the fewest number of words possible. Goldensohn's mantra: For every word you remove from your script, you gain a listener.
     
  • Turn up the energy. The Northern Miner host has fun with his serious subject, and it comes off exciting to listen to.
     
  • Don't record alone. You may not realize when your energy is falling or that you're skipping words, but someone else will who can tell you.
     
  • Feel free to edit. "Tightening, condensing, and cleaning up stumbles helps lift the energy of a story," says Goldensohn. "But be mindful of overdoing it because you could lose the thoughtfulness and rhythm of the speech."
     
  • Be creative with music. You must obtain permission and licensing commercial music is expensive, but you can find music libraries that allow you to use tracks under creative-commons licenses. Better yet, see if musically-inclined friends can give you a fair deal for original music.
Lastly, don't hesitate to approach sponsors and advertisers. Ask if they'd like to add a mention on the podcast for an additional amount. Craig Sorrell, marketing manager at Results Direct, advises the seeking out of direct sponsorships, even if you're just starting a podcast or don't have data on how many are listening in. "[You] can say, 'Hey, we're just starting out, but we have 10,000 members/[subscribers]. This is something for our members/[subscribers].'"

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…