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Putman Media’s Hallstrom Engages Audience With IWIM and Podcast

“[Taking that leadership role] really was the most important moment in my career because I was able to prove to other people, to myself and to other women that you don’t have to know everything or have grown up in a certain function to take a new job. If you surround yourself with experts and establish yourself as credible professional, you can move forward and lead.”
That quote comes from Joyl Silva of Pfizer—she is a 2020 honoree in Putman Media’s wonderful Influential Women in Manufacturing (IWIM) program, now in its third year of honorees—in a blog post on the IWIM site.
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IWIM is run by Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman Media. She will be speaking about this successful program and all of the other roles she takes on at Putman—including their Food for Thought podcast that she created and did the whole set up for—at our Editorial Council Meeting, Thursday, Oct. 15, at 2 pm Eastern. Register here.

“I went to Best Buy and ordered a mic, talked to people to set it up. I do the editing, post-production, transcripts, interviews,” she told me. “You name it. I’m the one who likes to dive in and get involved.”
IWIM succeeds in so many ways. I went to check the site today and found that new blog post. They’ve been featuring a different honoree each week—sometimes two—all in excellently written posts. Hallstrom writes most of them but did get some help with Silva’s from colleague Meagan Parrish. It’s a great idea—20 companies get to celebrate the accomplishments of one of their own.
“I feel small when I look at all [these women have] been doing and all they do for their companies,” Hallstrom said. “You can see how excited their companies are. I just get excited that someone enjoys it.”
Hallstrom runs the judging, which had slightly under 100 nominations this year. As someone who coordinates the SIPAwards judging, I can say that is no small feat. They’ve received a formal proclamation from the governor of Illinois, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote a commendation. “All of this… we just wanted to honor women making a name for themselves,” she said.
In fact, IWIM won a SIPAward for Best Product Launch/Relaunch Success in 2019. When we talk about member/subscriber engagement, what can be better than recognizing—and energizing—an entire faction of your audience that has mostly gone unnoticed? If a publisher or media company can engage women like Silva, then good outcomes will take place.

“I’m writing the e-book compilation now,” Hallstrom said. “We’re giving [the honorees] a treatment that we haven’t done in the past… We had a sponsor the first year. Last year a lot of companies were interested. We’re not sure. All the parts didn’t quite come together.”

As for the twice-a-month Food for Thought podcast, Hallstrom said that all the Putman brands were encouraged to start their own. (Because she still had a couple hours to fill in her day, she even started a personal podcast as well.)

The podcast “gave all of us who worked on it a taste,” she said, pun perhaps intended. “It’s a different avenue for people to hear us. The food processing vertical is where I’m most involved. Everything this year has imploded and exploded [in that vertical]; there’s so much to talk about. We launched in early summer; the original intent was for the senior editor and I to hop on a call once a month to chitchat [but then] people have become more and more interested in it. We publish a story, then this is the story behind the story. It’s still building audience.”
There’s no stopping her now. “We’re going to produce a lot more podcasts because we’re going to be stuck inside again this winter.” Hallstrom checks the clicks that the podcast gets so she knows what resonates. She said that “adding the transcripts became a huge thing.” (I’ve been preaching that for a long time.)
“We’re definitely using all the different routes” to engage their audience,” she said. “People can hear about or learn about us through so many avenues now. SEO is my strong suit. I usually try to optimize [everything]. This has been a lot of fun.”
What hasn’t been as much fun is not seeing all her colleagues in person occasionally. “The people I’ve been close to, we haven’t seen each other. ‘I miss you guys.’ We still have conversations, of course…”
She didn’t have to finish that sentiment. Register for the Oct. 15 Editorial Council Meeting and ask Hallstrom how she does all of this. Personally, I can’t wait. Maybe she’ll even tell us the name of her personal blog then.
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Sponsors, Ads, Lead Gen, Subs – These Podcasts Are Leading to Revenue

In a podcast last year for Putman Media’s International Women in Manufacturing series, Christine LaFave Grace spoke with Nandita Gupta, process controls engineer at Georgia-Pacific and a 2019 IWIM honoree. They talk about Gupta’s experience entering the workforce with a mentor, and “how she hopes to provide new engineers with a similar or better experience through a formal mentoring program at Georgia Pacific.”
An article on the Media Voices Podcast site last week gave eight ways publishers are bringing in revenue from podcasts. Number eight was promoting other revenue streams. “Whether it’s mentioning an upcoming event or referring to other products across a portfolio, a bit of self-promotion can help make podcast audiences—who are often a little different to online or print ones—aware of what else you offer. A podcast audience is a particularly strongly engaged user base, and is likely to be extra responsive to messages that fit their interests.”
Through IWIM, Putman Media has brought in significant sponsorship dollars, and happily, the popular program continues. So including one of the honorees as a speaker on a podcast amplified the program’s success.
Here are other ways podcasts are bringing in revenue.
Selling subscriptions. At the beginning of the pandemic, MedLearn Media increased their crisis coverage by boosting their popular podcast, Monitor Mondays—which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary—from 30 to 60 minutes. “Because of the pandemic, there was so much confusion to deal with and just a tangle of regulations,” said Chuck Buck, publisher of MedLearn’s RACmonitor. “So we would have 30 minutes of content with our regular panelists, and then field the questions, which just kept coming on a daily basis. We saw big audience numbers. Wanting to leverage that and create more engagement led us to doctors on frontlines dealing with these issues.” This has helped MedLearn Media sell more subscriptions.
Advertisements. According to the Media Voices article, revenue for The Economist from podcast ads increased by 50% in 2018 across its five podcasts. They use hosting and analytics platform Acast to serve podcast ads. “There has been so much demand for sponsorship that it more than pays for itself,” Economist’s head of digital strategy, Tom Standage, told NiemanLab. “The big change is commercial, which is that we had advertisers who started to come to us last year and say, ‘We are only going to buy two kinds of ads next year: print and podcast. What have you got?’”
Sponsors once a series gets going. Lessiter Media has enjoyed success with podcasts. They recently reposted one of their best ones with this intro: “In this episode of the Precision Farming Dealer podcast, ‘How We Did It: Conversations with Ag Equipment’s Entrepreneurs’ (sponsored by Osmundson Manufacturing), Executive Editor Dave Kanicki sat down with Frank, Pam and Mike Lessiter of Lessiter Media. Osmundson then gets another shout-out in the podcast’s opening.
Sponsors from the start. Some publishers have developed podcasts from scratch alongside a sponsor, Media Voices reported. “Mail Metro Media launched The Wellness Connection podcast in association with Pukka Tea, in order to leverage podcasting’s appeal to younger audiences. ‘Knowing that 71% of our audience leads a healthy lifestyle, we seized the opportunity to create a podcast and content series that would promote the product, while providing the health education that our readers love,’ Mail Metro Media said in a case study.” The series resulted in 50,000 downloads over the six episodes, with nearly 1 in 3 listeners buying Pukka teabags or searching for more information.
Good lead generation. Both Spidell and EB Medicine use their SIPAward-winning podcasts in this manner. “It’s a big lead gen and brand-building effort, and also adds value for our subscribers,” said EB Medicine CEO Stephanie Williford. [We] have “seen an increase in our renewal rates and revenue since we’ve launched it. We think it has played a significant role based on feedback we get.” One move that Spidell does to give subscribers more value is to offer them free access to transcripts. They have also done a Salvation Army Listener Drive where they contribute money for every new name that people send them.