5 Reasons to Start an Association Podcast Right Now

We’re living through an unprecedented experience. People are staying home and businesses have shifted to remote working as we all do our part to stop the Covid-19 pandemic.

While it might seem like an unusual time to launch a new communication tactic, it’s actually the perfect time to start an association podcast. Podcasting is an amazingly intimate media that is very well-suited for the remote work situation most of us find ourselves in today. From members to influencers and other stakeholders, podcasting can help you reach audiences in a more personal way that people appreciate at times like these. Here’s why:

1. People need to hear human voices

Now more than ever, connecting with people on a personal level is important to our well-being. Your podcast can help. Whether your audience is your members, elected officials, influencers, or any other group your association regularly connects with, communicating with them on a directly personal level is more important than ever.

Social distancing is important, but people still need human contact. A podcast can help.

Your podcast doesn’t need to have a million listeners to be successful. It doesn’t even need to have 10,000 listeners. It just needs to deliver your message effectively to the audiences you care about most. Maybe that’s a few hundred members. Maybe it’s a few dozen influencers. The number doesn’t matter as much as the authenticity and personal touch that only a podcast can provide.

2. A Podcast can involve your whole team

It’s usually best for a conversational podcast to have a host whose voice and personality drive the conversations, but the host needs a guest of course. That’s where your entire team — even members, vendors, and third-party experts — can play a role. 

Your business podcast can include members of your team, members, vendors, and more.

If you want influencers to know about a new legislative issue, for example, you can have a member of your government relations team as a guest. If your organization wants to highlight a new campaign, have your advocacy director on the show. If you’re making changes to the services you offer, invite your membership director to tell members about it.

These are all ways you can keep your interactions with your association’s key contacts personal and direct. The possibilities are limitless.

3. Podcasts can be (relatively) easy

Recording a podcast is actually rather simple. Most podcasts are simply conversations between two or more people (particularly podcasts by associations), and most of us are adept at carrying on a conversation.

Technically, all that’s required is a microphone and some easy-to-use software. It’s true that editing requires skill, but there are services that can assist you with that.

Podcast equipment and software are simple and easy-to-use for most technically savvy individuals.

Even with co-hosts or guests working from home, the technology exists to record conversations remotely with very good sound quality. Of course, the more complex you make your show the more difficult it can be to produce. Right now, however, simple is probably best.

With some basic know-how, you can usually get a new podcast published in a day and distributed within 24 hours. After that, publishing new episodes is as easy as publishing a blog post.

4. Podcasts are affordable

Compared to most other forms of media, a podcast is surprisingly affordable.

The economy is in flux and spending on a new project may be a challenge. Podcasts startup costs are actually very low, however, and episodes can cost as little as a few hundred dollars to record, edit, and distribute.

Compared to the time and energy required to launch a new newsletter, blog, or video series, podcasting is a remarkably affordable way to reach audiences. A professional-looking video can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per minute to produce, with hours of review and editing to get it right. A professional-sounding podcast, by comparison, will usually costs tens of dollars per minute and, assuming you outsource engineering, can usually take you less than two hours to record and review (for a 30-minute episode).

Podcasting is a great way to keep your community together, in a highly personal way, while we all practice social distancing.

5. Podcasts don’t interfere with productivity

Audio is one of the few “multitasking” mediums. Both text and video ask the consumer to focus exclusively on the content while they consume it, but not podcasts. You can’t really drive, cook dinner, or plan the agenda for an online meeting while also watching a video or reading a blog post, or at least you probably shouldn’t — but you can do all of those and more while listening to a podcast. 

Unlike video or text, people can multitask while listening to a podcast.

Creating a podcast for members and other stakeholders is a great way to communicate with them without asking them to make extra room in their lives for your content. They can listen while they go for a walk after being cooped up working from home all day, or while they are doing the laundry, or working in the yard, or any other activity.

This is one of the greatest values podcasting for associations provides, and audiences appreciate publishers who respect their limited time.

Starting a public affairs podcast? Don’t skip 1 important task!

Knowing your audience is the #1 key to starting a podcast right

If you’re thinking about starting a public affairs podcast you’re probably asking (or being asked), “okay, so who’s going to listen to this?” Good question.

In fact, it’s not just one of the questions you should be asking when you think podcasting for your business or organization, it’s the first and most important question you should ask. The simple answer is your audience. So you’d better know who that is before you start your podcast.

Read: 3 Common Questions about Podcasting for Public Affairs Organizations

Whether anyone listens to a podcast has a lot to do with marketing and promotions, distribution platforms, and other common content marketing requirements, but, ultimately, your podcast will be judged on just one criterion: the value listeners get from it. A podcast that provides real value to the audience can always succeed, even if the marketing goes through changes before it finds the right audience.

Define your audience

If you're starting a public affairs podcast, you're speaking to an audience. Know who they are.
If you’re podcasting for business, you’re speaking to an audience. Know who they are.

You can ensure you are starting a podcast that creates value and avoid marketing misfires by making defining your audience the first step in your process. 

Depending on how comprehensive your marketing (and particularly any content marketing) is, you may already have a good idea of who your intended audience is because you’re already using blogs, social media, and other channels to reach them.

If you’re a nonprofit, for example, your audience may be your members. If you’re a business, your audience might be potential customers or current clients. If you have a large number of employees, you might create an internal podcast with your employees as your audience. Your audience might even be a combination of these.

Whoever they are, when starting a podcast for public affairs you should take the time to consider what you know about your audience and how they might listen to your show. Are they commuters? Activists? Very busy people with little time on their hands? Think about them and the factors in their lives that might affect how they think about a podcast.

Often, people in podcasting talk about creating an audience “avatar,” a hypothetical individual who represents the most important characteristics of your ideal audience member. This is a useful exercise if the primary (and possibly exclusive) goal is maximum listenership. 

For most businesses and organizations I work with, who listens to their podcasts is as important as how many, and a single avatar usually fails to encompass that effectively. In these cases, defining a few avatars can be helpful but often simply defining a clear market for the podcast, as with any other product, is sufficient. 

Define the value you give

If you are starting a public affairs podcast, you should provide clear value to your audience. They should enjoy listening.
Your podcast should provide clear value to your audience. They should enjoy listening.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the audience you’ll need to articulate the value you intend to provide them before starting a podcast.

That value might be education, or information, or even entertainment, but you should consider what kind of value your ideal audience might want from a podcast. Would they appreciate help figuring out investment strategies or buying a new car? Is parenting advice likely to be something they can use? Maybe they’d find discussions and insights about government policy important? 

It’s important to articulate the value you think your audience wants; don’t assume you know what they would find valuable in a podcast, even if you have a clear idea of what they like in other media. Podcasts are not the same. 

One key difference between podcasts and other content marketing channels is the need to provide consistent content over several episodes. A list of ten steps to perfect barbecued spare ribs may make a million-view blog post, but that doesn’t mean people will want to listen to a 30-minute podcast episode about each of the ten steps. It might, however, mean they’d listen to a 30-minute podcast episode about spare ribs, and another about brisket, and another about barbeque chicken, etc.

The value you get makes it worthwhile

If your public affairs podcast provides value to your audience, they will return that value to your organization..
If your podcast provides value to your audience, they will return that value to your organization.

One of the great things about starting a podcast is that they can provide much more value to an audience compared to other media. Video and text require your audience’s undivided attention but many people listen to podcasts when doing regular activities such as exercising, doing house or yard work, or are otherwise actively engaged in something else. Only podcasting can reach people during these times.

Video and text’s need for an audience’s undivided attention also limits their scope. A home renovation company, for example, can produce a blog post or video called Ten Steps for Renovating your Home, but both require the focused attention of the audience so brevity becomes important. Imagine how much more detail (and value!) they could provide by producing ten 15-minute episodes of a podcast!

Businesses and organizations, in particular, reap the benefits of the value they provide to audiences by starting a podcast. As with all well-executed content marketing, your listeners become customers, members, or stakeholders, and the value they gain from your podcast, plus the value you receive from them as your business grows, creates more opportunities for you to produce new podcasts and episodes that keep them engaged. 

Listening to your podcast represents an investment someone is making in you, your business, or organization. Defining your audience, and articulating the value you can provide to them by starting a podcast, will go a long way toward ensuring you can answer the question, “Who’s going to listen to this?” with a confident, “All the right people.” 

Learn more about starting a public affairs podcast. 

If you focus on the things I’ve explained here, starting a business podcast can be a very effective addition to a content marketing strategy. Find out more about all of this and get a free consultation about podcasting for your business or organization by clicking the button below.

Association Podcasts: 5 Awesome Ways to Create Value

In my last post, I wrote about how important it is for association podcasts to define their audience and why you need to create value for that audience. It’s the value you provide that will help your podcast grow.

In this post, I want to focus on that value. There are five things you should think about when creating a podcast for your association or business to ensure you are creating something that audiences will return to episode after episode.

Association podcasts should provide VALUE

Here’s the list in a nutshell: Make your podcast for your listener, not for yourself. Let them know what to expect, and give it to them consistently. Give them something to do in each episode, and give them ways to talk to you — then make sure you talk back. Finally, enjoy making your podcast. Listeners know when your heart’s not in it.

Make podcasts for the Audience

The first thing you need to know about creating value for your audience is that the podcast has to be for them. It doesn’t matter if you’re entertaining, educating, or challenging them. It has to be for them. It can’t be for you.

You association podcast is speaking to an audience.
It’s the people on the other side of the mic who matter most to your public affairs podcast.

Enterprises often make the mistake of focusing their podcasts on what they really want listeners to know. That’s an important business goal but it often leads to podcasts that talk at listeners instead of to them. Take the time to consider what the listeners want to know, learn, and understand.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, let me remind you that defining your audience is an important first step. If a business podcast’s audience is potential customers, for example, a podcast that talks about how to use their products will just confuse listeners. They don’t even have the product yet, so the creator risks making the product sound complicated: “Wow, I have to listen to a podcast to be able to use this stuff? Sounds hard.”

Potential customers will likely be much more receptive to a show that talks about a product’s features, perhaps including interviews with current customers who offer testimonials about how easy the products are to use and how they’ve benefitted.

Of course, the opposite is true for a podcast audience of current customers. They’ll appreciate tips and tricks for using your products and information about new features as add-ons.

This all sounds intuitive, I know, but you’d be surprised by how often I hear podcasters go on about the cool guests they have, the great ideas they’re sharing, and the really important information they’re offering up for free, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone listening. A major factor is usually that only they think the guests are cool, the ideas are great, or the information is important.

Fulfill the audience’s expectations

The second thing you need to know about creating value in your podcast is that you have to set expectations for your listeners and then fulfill them in every episode. 

If you open a box from a retailer, but the contents aren't what you expect, you'll be disappointed.
No one likes to be disappointed. Set your audience’s expectations, and meet them.

The hardest thing about starting a podcast is getting new listeners. The second hardest thing is keeping those listeners, and I’d argue that keeping them is much more important. Why? Think of it this way: If you get 25 new listeners each week but only 10 of them listen to the next episode, it’ll take you 10 weeks to have 100 listeners. If 20 of them come back, however, you’ll have 100 listeners in just five weeks. (This is a simplistic scenario, but you get the point.)

Meeting expectations plays a huge role in keeping listeners. If, for example, your podcast is lighthearted and fun one episode, but serious and intense the next, you’re placing a burden on your listeners to be in the right state of mind for your changing tone. Over time, listeners who prefer lighthearted content will choose to listen to something they know is fun rather than taking a chance that the latest episode of your show is what they want.

Listeners’ expectations aren’t just about tone. They have expectations for audio quality, topics, and length. If your episodes range in length from 20 minutes to 90 minutes and are released on an inconsistent schedule, you’re making listeners find time for your show. If they know your episodes are always 20-30 minutes and come out every other Thursday, then they can plan for your show, say, during their morning commute.

When listeners know what to expect from every episode, and those expectations are met, they’ll press “Play” again when your next episode appears, and your listenership will grow.

Get your audience active

The third thing you need to know about creating value for your podcast audience is to include action items. These shouldn’t really be “assignments” necessarily, just something they can do after the episode has ended.

Giving your audience a way to get more, learn more, engage more, participate, or anything else they can do creates the sense that you’re offering more than just the podcast. It doesn’t need to be a lot; simply inviting listeners to read a related blog post (and including the link in your show notes!) is enough to give them the feeling that there’s more value available.

You needn’t worry too much about whether listeners actually do the action you’ve offered. Just by letting them know there’s more, you’ve added value. Of course, it’s a good idea to track what you can. (For example, use a trackable link in your show notes.) If you can measure the response, you’ll be gathering valuable data that can inform your choices for future podcast episodes.

When listeners know that your business podcasts are a piece of a larger value package you offer, they’ll look forward to each new episode and the “extras” that go along with it. 

Engage your audience

The fourth thing you need to do to provide value in your podcast is to be responsive. Let your listeners know you’re there for them, and make it easy for them to provide feedback, ask questions, or make topic recommendations.

Talk to your listeners outside of your podcast.
Be there for your podcast listeners.

Engaging your listeners goes hand-in-hand with activating them. In fact, your activation can be something as simple as, “If you have questions about this episode visit our website and ask us in the comment section.” That doesn’t work, though, if you don’t fully engage the people who do.

That’s why engagement is a separate item in this list. Listeners don’t have to take the actions you offer but if they communicate with you, it’s imperative that you respond — even if they don’t expect it. For example, if someone leaves a great review on Apple Podcasts, give them a shout-out in your next episode. Not only will it make that listener feel appreciated, but it may also inspire others to leave great reviews, too.

As with actions, track engagements as best you can. If you can verify that your audience wants certain information or is interested and/or entertained by some things that you’re doing in the podcast, you can tie that to improving the association podcasts you’re producing. 

Enjoy yourself!

The fifth thing you can do to create value for your podcast listeners is to have fun making it. Listening to podcasts is an intimate communication experience, and you’d be surprised how easy it is for listeners to hear your state of mind in your voice.

If you’re making a podcast for a business or organization, there is the potential for the content to get a little dry. You (or whoever is hosting) should add some personality to the delivery to help overcome conversation or topics that might become dull.

This is not to say that your podcast has to be funny or silly or even entertaining. It’s quite possible your show will cover serious topics, technical details, or difficult issues. The objective isn’t to make the podcast “fun” necessarily (although if it can be fun, go for it). The objective is to ensure listeners know you are there because you want to be there, to provide them this important information.

If you sound like you’re having a great time, listeners will hear it in your voice. If you sound like you wish you were somewhere else, they’ll hear that, too. Make sure your tone and demeanor make listeners feel welcome and appreciated.

A podcast that provides value will always have listeners

Whether your goal is an audience of 100 listeners or 100,000, those people are playing your business podcasts because of what they gain from it. If you make sure to provide value to them by making a show for them, meeting their expectations, creating opportunities to act, engaging listeners, and having a good time doing it, listeners will stay with you episode after episode.

Learn more about starting a podcast for business. 

If you focus on the things I’ve explained here, starting business podcasts can be a very effective addition to a content marketing strategy. Find out more about all of this and get a free consultation about podcasting for your business or organization by clicking the button below.

Nielsen’s Latest Podcast Data

And what it means for you

Last month, TV ratings company Nielsen released its Podcasting Today report for advertisers. While most of Voxtopica’s clients and other public affairs podcasts don’t rely on advertising, the data contained within the report is still applicable.

One of the most important data points is the confirmation that podcasting is a growing medium. Today, there are nearly 2 million podcasts in the marketplace and that number is increasing quickly. This rise in popularity has changed the market: an ever-larger number of celebrities are embracing the medium, mergers and acquisitions are on the rise, more podcast-inspired TV shows are being produced, private subscriptions are gaining market share, and platform-exclusive content (i.e. Spotify deals with Joe Rogan and the Obamas) is testing the limits of audience commitment.

As podcasting grows, podcast audiences are changing. According to Nielsen, almost half (49%) of today’s U.S. podcast listeners are more casual users: people who listen anywhere from one to three times a month. That’s very different from the view the industry has had in the past — that podcast listeners were dedicated consumers who listened to every episode of their favorite show as soon as it was released. 

This is a significant change in the audience landscape that is important to organizations considering podcasting as a communication tool. It means more people are listening to just a few podcasts, increasing the likelihood that you can gain podcast listeners from your existing audience even if those people don’t listen to other podcasts.

Changes in podcast listening behavior

According to Nielsen’s latest data, the percent of US adults listening to podcasts has grown more than 40% in the last three years. That growth is driven almost entirely by people listening to podcasts at home rather than at work or in the car. Home listeners now make up 50% of all listening, a figure that is almost certainly due to the pandemic.

The most telling information in the Nielsen report is the fact that the growth in podcast listening is demographically ubiquitous. The growth appears across all ages, and across all ethnicities. In other words, podcasts aren’t being consumed exclusively by young white people — more, and older, Hispanic, Black, and Asian Americans are listening, too.

Believe it or not, the median age of podcast listeners according to Nielsen is 39 years old.

What are people listening to?

What are all these people listening to? Nielsen reports that the #1 genre in nearly every demographic category is Comedy. In fact, the only demographic that doesn’t have comedy in the #1 spot is “People 55+”. For these listeners, Comedy is still #2.

What’s in the #1 spot for Americans over 55? Unsurprisingly, it’s News一which is also the second most popular podcast genre for nearly every other demographic. News is #2 for everyone over 18, with 38% listening to News programs. It’s #2 people between 18 and 49 and people 25-54. In fact, News is the #2 most popular podcast genre in every category except people over 55 (where it’s #1), people ages 18-34, and Women 25-54. For both of those demographics, News falls to the #4 most popular genre. 

Women really like murder podcasts.

Nielsen’s data confirms something that’s a bit of a running joke in the podcast world — women love murder podcasts. That’s right, for women age 25-54, True Crime is the #2 most popular genre with 41% listening — nearly as many as listen to the #1 genre, Comedy (42%). By comparison, True Crime doesn’t appear at all in the top ten genres for men of the same age group.

From our perspective, the gender differences in podcast genre preferences are extremely interesting. Take a look at these two lists in the image on the right.

The only genres that appear in both lists are Comedy, News, Society & Culture, and Music. Therefore, if your podcast hopes to reach both men and women, you might be better off choosing one of those as your primary category.

Categories matter.

It’s important to understand that these categories are defined by the podcast players (Apple, Spotify, etc.), not by listeners. In other words, If your target audience is women, categorizing your podcast as “Society & Culture” may help Apple, Spotify, or other apps suggest it to the right audience.

I’ve actually seen this in action. I was once asked to help grow the audience for a public policy podcast. The publishers had selected “News” as the show’s primary category because of the popularity of the category. However, by calling their show “News” they were competing with NPR, the New York Times, and all the other actual news producers. 

We changed the primary category to “Government”. Within a few episodes, the podcast had tripled its audience and was consistently in the top ten of shows in that category. The show went from competing with better-known producers in a highly competitive category to being one of the top producers in a more specifically targeted category.

What does this mean for public affairs podcasts?

Podcasts are here to stay. If your organization is committed to delivering high-value content to your members, advocates, communities, or anyone else, a podcast should definitely be part of your content mix.

That said, audiences have many choices when deciding what to listen to at any given moment, so your podcast needs to provide seamless value in every episode. Poor audio quality, boring hosts, and uninteresting content will all lead to low listenership and retention.

Understanding your audience, and providing content that interests them, entertains them, and engages them, is the key to success.

To learn how Voxtopica can help you plan, produce, distribute, and market a great podcast, contact us at 202-656-0024 or schedule a free consultation at vxtpc.info/confab.

10 Podcasts to Delight You This Summer

Summertime is here and we’re all emerging out of our pandemic funk. While you’re returning to your favorite activities, maybe you’ve noticed you’re a little different this summer. Last year changed us. With change comes the need for new ideas and fresh perspectives. Whether it’s a conversation that needs to be had or cooking a new cuisine, make room for newness this summer. Immersing yourself in a world of auditorial novelty provides a fresh start, new experiences, and a wonderful way to expand your horizons.

In this article, we give you 10 podcasts across all genres to fill your summer moments with stories that entertain, comfort, and challenge deeply held beliefs. So from all of us at Voxtopica, here’s to a much more hopeful summer, full of incredible moments. Enjoy!

Podcasts to stay informed AND entertained:

Snacks Daily

Financial news just got fun. Put the Wall Street Journal down for a minute and flip on Snacks Daily. Episodes consist of quick stories that explain the latest news in business and finance. Listeners particularly love the banter and chemistry between the two hosts Jack Kramer and Nick Martell. Their snappy, colorful commentary turns complicated concepts into understandable and entertaining news. You don’t need to work in the finance world to enjoy Snacks Daily; these stories are delivered in a way that any listener can digest, no matter their experience.

You’re Wrong About

We think we know the facts about things like The Challenger Disaster, political correctness, and the phrase “drinking the kool-aid”. But are our assumptions correct? Journalists Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall tell us if we’re wrong or not. In each episode, Mike and Sarah challenge listeners to reconsider how they’ve imagined these historic topics. The hosts spend hours researching these topics to bring the whole picture to each episode, allowing listeners to decide for themselves what deeply held perspectives they may be wrong about.

To hear the stories of those who have often gone unnoticed:

Offshore

Take a trip to Hawaii and discover what you’d never find on vacation through Offshore. Offshore is an immersive storytelling podcast that shares the stories of Hawaiians and their lived experiences. Through investigative and thoughtful journalism, listeners learn both current and historical events that have not only shaped the islands, but the world around them. You don’t need ties to Hawaii to appreciate the stories; Offshore’s motto is this: “Because sometimes being in the middle of nowhere gives you a good perspective on everywhere else.”

Black in Appalachia

We’re all familiar with Appalachia, where we’ve enjoyed hiking and camping trips. But have we really experienced the full narrative of this region? Black families have long contributed and shaped the Appalachian region, yet their stories have historically gone unnoticed. Join hosts Enkeshi El-Amin and Angela Dennis as they travel to various states in Appalachia and discover the stories of people, places, and experiences that show what it means to be Black in Appalachia. The two hosts celebrate Black identity in Appalachia and have explored topics like Appalachian Drag, the secret lives of church ladies, and the rise of Black women in Appalachian politics.

When you’re on a road trip and falling asleep at the wheel:

Radio Rental

Stay wide awake with Radio Rental. Radio Rental features bizarre, true scary stories told by those who lived them. These stories are unpredictable, and often take twists that will leave you frightened enough to keep your eyes wide open on long drives. Rainn Wilson stars in Radio Rental as Terry Carnation, America’s strange yet most beloved late-night radio talk show personality.

When you need to get out of your head for a bit:

Hidden Brain

If you have a curious mind that wonders why people never feel rich…or why we have such a difficult time letting go of old possessions, try Hidden Brain. Through the combination of science and narrative storytelling, host Shankar Vedantam explores human behavior and the unconscious patterns that shape us and our relationships.

Strangers

Empathy is often the best way to learn about ourselves and the world around us. That’s exactly what Strangers offers. Strangers shares the personal stories of people who have experienced incredible turmoil. Host Lea Thau, a Peabody award-winning producer, takes listeners through the highs and lows of life through these stories. Each story allows us to peer into the lives of others and examine ourselves and the heartbreaks we suffer. You’ll laugh, cry, and learn to appreciate the people around you and all the moments life brings.

When you start feeling the summer blues and just need a laugh:

WTF with Marc Maron

The podcast world is full of “celebrity interview” shows, but WTF is one that’s worth having in your arsenal. Comedian Marc Maron began WTF in 2009, and has since interviewed tons of comedians, actors, authors, musicians, and well-known public figures. Listeners have especially loved Maron’s probing interview style that encourages guests to open up about topics other interview shows might shy away from. Interviews have included Robin Williams, Stacey Abrams, and Boosty Collins.

Dead Ball Brothers

Crack open a lager after a day of summer chores and sit down with brothers Drew and Adam Snavely, the self-proclaimed “two idiots discussing weird soccer stories.” Each episode, Drew and Adam share a story from a weird moment in soccer’s history, a story you’ve probably never heard. Episodes are anything but dry as Adam and Drew bring their witty, colorful commentary and, as they put it, a little bit of stupid to these historical and current stories of the world’s game.

For stormy summer nights:

The Relic Radio Show

Open a preserved bottle of wine and tune into these vintage audio dramas. The Relic Radio Show brings old time radio shows to modern day audiences. Currently, Relic Radio produces several shows across comedy, horror, suspense, science fiction, and classic radio talk shows. The stories in each show are fully produced with original music, and well-performed by professional actors of decades past.

Don’t Overlook This Powerful Tool for Your Podcast: Show Notes

The mighty show note. Show notes may not seem as glamorous as sharp sound design or compelling cover art, but they are powerful assets to your podcast. They can enrich your listeners’ experience, circulate traffic to your podcast and website, and widen your podcast’s community.

It’s worth the time and effort in getting your show notes right. We’ll explain exactly why, what elements they should contain, and the benefits they can bring to your podcast.

Let’s clear this up…what exactly is a show note?

Not to be confused with the brief episode summary that listeners quickly scan on their podcast player app, show notes are an in-depth coverage of each episode that listeners typically find on your website.

So why are they worth the effort? We think of it like this: when you order a flight at the best breweries and teahouses, your server may give you a sheet that describes the order of the flight, the detailed notes of each sample, perhaps the origin countries of ingredients, and an invitation to learn more about the business. The samples are delicious on their own, but the additional background helped you better understand and connect with the business.

That’s what show notes are to your podcast. The episode is the main content, the reason the listeners show up. Your show notes then provide your listeners additional context and resources for each episode that enrich their experience with your show.

Here’s what show notes can do for your podcast.

Three Advantages Show Notes Can Give Your Podcast

1) Establishes a deeper connection with listeners

Show notes allow your listeners to dive deeper into the content discussed in the episode. If your podcast focuses on public affairs or an expert topic, it’s likely that you refer to several resources, people, or organizations relevant to the episode’s topic. It can be a lot for listeners to keep up with. Show notes make it easy to follow those references, with links to original sources all in one place that can be accessed after the show is over.

Let’s say you interview a guest who runs a media company and recently published an article. By linking to these resources in the shownotes, the listener has access to resources where they can learn more about the guest, their company, and the article discussed.

When you make it easy for listeners to explore your episode’s content further, you encourage them to become more involved in your podcast’s community, message, and, potentially, in your organization.

2) Boosts SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) pushes traffic to your content by using strategic keywords that cater to the bots that rank content on Google.

By including relevant keywords from the episode’s content, the SEO of the show notes can make your podcast more discoverable by guiding potential listeners who might be Googling topics relevant to the episode.

If you published an episode where you discuss a recent healthcare policy change, you would want to include specific keywords in your show notes, including names of significant people and organizations involved. When people outside of your audience search for this particular issue, your episode can appear in their search.

3) Makes your podcast more accessible

Podcasts need to be accessible to all people. Show notes are the hub for transcripts, which makes your podcast accessible to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Listeners expect to find transcripts in the episode show notes, so it’s important to consistently provide them the same place each episode.

When accessibility is prioritized, your podcast can reach an even wider audience.

Your Show Note Checklist

While the format of show notes can vary amongst podcasts, these are the most important elements to include in your shownotes:

Worth the Time and Effort

Show notes can grow your podcast, encourage deeper engagement with existing listeners, and even bring new listeners into your community.

If you’re ready to sharpen your podcast’s show notes, contact the experts at Voxtopica. Together, we can work to enhance your listeners’ experience and get your message out to your intended audience.

Stay Ahead in Podcasting

Nobody wants to be left behind. And with today’s digital media, getting left behind is unfortunately all too easy, especially with podcasting.

Last month, we learned the podcasts are here to stay and the industry is rapidly changing. New developments and platforms are erupting into the scene everyday; platforms like Clubhouse, which left many podcasters wondering if this new audio platform would replace podcasts. (Good news, it won’t.)

If you want your podcast to grow, you have to know where the industry is heading.

Heed the warnings of Kodak. You may know the story, Kodak led in its industry for decades. But when the industry started shifting towards streaming and digital, they failed to move and adapt with it. Where are they now? They eventually filed for bankruptcy, and their empire dwindled away. Stay behind the industry’s evolution too long and you might miss the fact that Apple is making major changes to its platform, something that affects every podcast.

Innovation matters for the life of your podcast, even long after you stop recording. It’s critical to know what platforms are shifting, and what better tools are developed to help expand your reach.

While it’s no simple task, we’ll sure exactly why and how you can stay ahead.

As With All News, You Need A Credible Source.

If you’re a subject matter expert and have podcast, you have to spend most of your time keeping up with your industry. So how can you also learn what data actually matters for your podcast? Or that Spotify is rolling out Top Podcasts Charts, a feature that could present your show with nw marketing and distributing opportunities?

One Google search for “podcast news” will leave your head swimming in a sea of hundreds of articles and newsletters that share the latest developments. Sifting through those articles trying to discern what’s reliable and what’s hype takes time, specifically time you may not have.

You need a source that will tell you what you need to know and why you need to know it, without wasting your time.

There are so many newsletters that deliver podcast news, but most of these are geared for large general public audiences. Public affairs and subject matter expert podcasts don’t follow the same rules as entertainment and true crime shows. General podcast news is quick to jump on Joe Rogan’s drama with Spotify, which may be interesting…but may not be as relevant for your audience as is NPR figuring out how to localize podcasts. (Especially game-changing for national associations with several local chapters.) And while these technical developments are important, your podcast will flourish if you are aware of though-provoking concepts that will make your podcast better, such as learning the most important relationship in your podcast ecosystem.

It’s critical to know what trends and developments matter most for your specific genre. It allows you to stay ahead of your competitors because you read the articles and have thought ahead of when and how you will progress forward, perhaps produce “exclusive” content.

We developed a tool to deliver that.

The #1 Tool We Recommend Most.

We want to prevent you from the potential headaches of sifting through hundreds of irrelevant podcast articles. So, we created The Feed.

The Feed is a newsletter with articles curated specifically for subject matter experts and those in public affairs with podcasts. With The Feed, you don’t have to read through hundreds of articles discerning which ones are most relevant to your podcast’s genre and target audience.

We deliver the news straight to your inbox; the most relevant news and updates that can guide your podcast to adapt with the industry’s daily evolution.

Subscribe to The Feed here!

The Data Is In: Podcasts Matter More Than Ever.

2020 brought its worst. Podcasts fought back hard. And won.

You may have been on a virtual happy hour, joking with good friends about how it seemed like everyone suddenly had a podcast. You may have even scoffed, “That’s never going to be me.”

But times have changed. The data is in and now we know that perhaps those people who started podcasts in the 2010s were onto something. Maybe, actually, everyone should have a podcast.

Months into 2021, over half of the American population has listened to at least one podcast.
Podcast listening has gone up 17% year over year. Podcasts are even becoming bigger than TV — The New York Times’ The Daily podcast has 4 million listeners a day. That’s bigger than Fox News’ Primetime audience.

Catching on? If you want to reach people in 2021, you probably need to join the podcast revolution.

Every year, the podcasting world waits for the annual report that puts numbers on the industry: the Infinite Dial from Edison Research. The Infinite Dial is the longest-running survey on how Americans are consuming digital media.

The podcast industry relies on this research, so we’ve pulled out the major takeaways for you.

This is what you need to know about podcasting in 2021.

Podcasts are now part of the content ecosystem.

Podcasting is officially mainstream. If you put effort into creating content for marketing, advocacy, or communications, you need to include a podcast in your plan.

Here’s why:

This means that a bi-weekly podcast has a very good chance of being heard by the people you’re trying to reach.

Not only are millions of people listening to at least one podcast a week, but people are actually binging on podcasts. The average podcast listener isn’t committed to only one show, but is likely to follow multiple shows. Podcast listeners listen to an average of 8 episodes every week, listening to 5 different shows per week.

What this means for you: Putting out a podcast is no longer a gamble. The data shows that a large section of the population listens weekly to multiple shows. If you work in public affairs or any sect that influences policy, you understand how important an effective communications strategy is. A podcast would be a critical asset to your content plan in reaching your target audience and the data shows that people will listen.

This poses the question: who exactly are podcasts reaching? The answer is great news.

Diversity in podcast listeners is almost as diverse as the country’s population.

This is the biggest change in podcasting over the years. Diversity in podcast audiences is approaching the demographic diversity of the country.

Podcast audiences used to be made up of mostly white men with average to higher-than-average incomes. Now, 43% of podcast listeners are non-white and evenly split between women and men, almost consistent with the actual population.

In fact, according to Nielsen Research, non-white audiences are growing faster than white audiences.

There are several factors at work here. First, more content is being created specifically for audiences of color and women. Content creators are also realizing that they benefit from more diverse audiences and are updating their marketing plans accordingly.

What this means for you: A podcast has the potential to reach the total breadth of your audience. More women, people of color, and people of all ages are listening to podcasts which means your podcast can reach the different demographics within the country. As Tom Webster put it, “There truly is a podcast for everyone ー and podcasting is for everyone.”

Podcasting is here to stay.

The pandemic took away our commutes and travel, the times where we listened to podcasts most. But podcast listenership still grew. People didn’t leave podcasts behind, but rather made new space for them in their free time, in their homes, while cleaning, and on walks.

The bottom line is this: podcasting isn’t going away. If your organization has big goals in reaching a specific audience, now is the time to consider a podcast as one of your most critical assets.

Ready to get started? Contact an expert at Voxtopica for a consultation to plan your podcast to reach your target audience or guide your current podcast to better results.

How Well Are Your Guest Interviews Going?

You’ve experienced this. You play an episode of a podcast talk show, anxious to learn. But 10 minutes in, the host loses control of the conversation, the guest starts rambling about completely irrelevant topics, the episode ends, and you’re left feeling deflated, disappointed, and with little desire to tune into that podcast again.

As a podcast host, you might want to blame your guest for a poor interview. But here’s the brutal truth: it’s your show and you are in control. Your interviewing skills need to be sharp or you run the risk of losing listeners.

So how do you improve interviewing skills? It doesn’t require a masters degree in journalism. But it does take effort and practice that is necessary if you want to grow and maintain your listenership.

We’re going to share with you the Three P’s, our tactics to running effective and valuable guest interviews.

1. Know Your Purpose.

As the interviewer, your purpose is to create value for your listener. It is your responsibility to take the guest’s stories, thoughts, and ideas and transfer them into valuable information.

Before each interview, you must ask: what value can this conversation provide to my listener?

For example, if you work in public policy, perhaps your listeners want information on how they can get involved in advocacy efforts. With this value for your listeners in mind, you can run the interview in a way that helps your guest provide that value to your listeners..

Now that you know what value to give your listeners, you can better prepare.

2. Preparation: Research and Rehearse.

Bad interviews usually happen when the host does nothing to prepare. If you don’t prepare for an interview, don’t expect your guest to provide value to your listeners.

Here’s how you should prepare:

Research everything about your guest and the topic they’ll discuss. But wait, isn’t that what the interview is for? Not for you, Host! By thoroughly researching your guest and topic, you can know what’s relevant in their experience and what your listeners frankly won’t care about. Good research allows you to be the proxy for your listeners.

Now that your research is complete, start rehearsing. Don’t read from a script, but don’t wing it. We recommend using notes that structure out the conversation, then reviewing them several times before recording.

You’ll want to especially rehearse how you’ll introduce your guest. Do not let your guest introduce themselves. Why? Because as the host, you are in charge of telling your audience what specific value the guest will give them. It’s not the guest’s job, it’s yours.

Thorough research and rehearsing allows you to then guide the conversation during the interview.

3. You Hold The Power.

Your job is to listen to your guest and lead them in the conversation. Let guests tell their stories, but don’t let them control the conversation.

Your guest might share a compelling story that isn’t relevant to the topic. Or they may jump ahead in the conversational structure you planned. Don’t panic. Gently bring your guest back to the agenda comfortably and consistently. You can do this by recognizing their story as significant and then naturally transitioning to a previous or totally new topic.

We recommend using transitional phrases to cue your guest and guide them through topics. You can help your guests stay aware of the time with phrases like these:

Guiding the conversation is the perfect median where you can stay in control of your show, recognize your guest’s value and thoughts, and stay on track in delivering that value to your listeners.

When In Doubt, Remember The Three P’s.

Purpose, Preparation, and Power. When practicing these three strategies in every interview, you can guarantee to your listeners that they will gain something valuable from every episode.

If you want to learn more practices for improving your interviews, stay updated for future webinars or get in touch with an expert at Voxtopica.

3 Things To Make Your Podcast Sound Better

Maybe you’re thinking of starting a podcast. Or maybe you already have one. Either way, you have probably asked yourself: how can I make my podcast sound better?

When it comes to recording quality audio for podcasts, the answers can be confusing while the options are just as overwhelming.

To help you get some simple and straightforward answers, our writer, Cassidy Butler, spoke with Ish Balderas Wong, Voxtopica’s chief sound engineer.

Ish is a highly experienced audio engineer who has worked in studios around the world producing music and podcasts. He earned his degree in Electronic Production and Sound Design from Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Ish is going to tell you what steps you can take to get professional-sounding audio. Whether you’re recording in a studio, your office, or your living room (while you monitor your kid’s virtual learning), you can record a great sounding podcast.

So grab some coffee and a notepad, and settle in to learn how to make a great sounding show.

CB: What are the most important factors to recording quality, usable audio?
IBW: There are three things to consider. We call them “the 3 E’s”: Environment, Equipment, and Engineering. If you do the right things in each of these your podcast can sound really good.

CB: Let’s start with environment. What does that mean for podcasting?
IBW: The space where you record is really important to how you’ll sound. In an ideal world, everyone would record in a studio specifically designed to produce amazing sound.

But studios aren’t possible for everyone, especially during the pandemic. An alternative, especially for home recordings, would be recording in a closet — and really, a closet full of clothes.

CB: A closet full of clothes? Explain.
IBW: It’s the way sound works. Have you ever been in a completely empty room where everything you say sounds like it echos? That’s because sound travels in straight lines. If you record a podcast in an empty room, the sound of your voice bounces off the walls over and over, creating that echo. Well, your mic will pick up that echo, too. That’s called “reverb”.

That effect doesn’t happen if the walls are covered in something that absorbs sound so that most of it doesn’t bounce off.

You can buy foam panels to put on your walls, or just hang tapestries, put curtains over windows, and lay rugs on the floor. Or, as I said before, record in a closet full of clothes. All that hanging fabric does a great job of absorbing sound.

CB: What else do podcasters need to know about their environment?
IBW: Even when you have good sound absorption, some sound will still bounce off of every surface. So your voice also needs to be dispersed. As sound travels through air, it loses energy — basically, it gets quieter. You want any sound that does bounce to lose as much energy, meaning get as quiet as possible, before it gets to your mic. The best way to do that is to have lots of surfaces for the sound to bounce off.

That’s why studios have walls covered with egg carton-like foam, to absorb and disperse sound in lots of directions.

You can get that effect by having something behind your mic like a bookshelf. When sound hits the shelves, the books of different sizes will send the sound in different directions.

CB: So now we have our ideal environment set up. The next “E” is equipment. What can you tell us about that?
IBW: You will only ever sound as good as your worst piece of equipment. If you have a perfect environment but a bad microphone, your audio can’t sound better than the microphone allows. That’s why it’s worth investing in quality equipment.

But environment and equipment go hand-in-hand. The best microphone in the world can’t eliminate reverb, so a microphone can only make you sound as good as your environment.

CB: What kinds of microphones are best for podcasters?
IBW: The first thing is that there are two basic kinds of podcast mics. There are condenser microphones and dynamic microphones.

Condenser mics are very sensitive. They pick up a lot of sound and capture everything, including any background noise. A condenser mic gives a rich, full sound, but they aren’t the best options if you’re recording at home. Even if your home or office seems quiet, there’s always some kind of humming or creaking in the building. Because of this, condenser mics must be used in the right kind of setting, usually an acoustically-treated studio.

The other kinds are dynamic microphones. These mics pick up less sound and mostly from whatever is right in front of it. They are the mics singers in bands use because they don’t pick up the rest of the band. This is the best option for home or office recording but, like singers in bands, you need to keep the mic close to your mouth to get the best sound. A dynamic mic more than six inches from your mouth is not going to give you very good sound quality.

CB: Why is it important to place the microphone here?
IBW: This is where “gain” comes in. Gain is how sensitive your microphone is to sound. The higher the gain, the more sensitive it is. If the gain is too high, the mic picks up sounds you don’t want recorded and can make your voice sound distorted. If the gain is too low, it won’t pick up your voice. If the microphone is six inches from your face and you appropriately adjust the gain, you won’t have to whisper or yell for the mic to pick you up with good quality.

CB: A lot of people are concerned about USB vs. XLR when it comes to purchasing a microphone. What’s your breakdown?
IBW: USB microphones record digitally. They connect directly to your computer and send audio right in. XLR mics record in analog and require more audio equipment, but they record incredibly detailed audio. That being said, even though USB records less detail, you can still get great audio for podcasts with a USB microphone without having to purchase extra equipment.

CB: This brings us to the final “E” which is engineering. What’s the first thing podcasters need to know about it?
IBW: You can have the right equipment and perfect environment, but if you use a bad recording service or record on the wrong file format, your audio will lose a lot of quality. The good thing is that these are all preventable mistakes.

CB: Especially with more people recording their podcasts remotely, what services should people use to record conversations?
IBW: First, don’t record on Zoom or Google Meet. These programs can suppress or distort your audio while recording. I recommend using a local recording service like Squadcast or Zencastr. The benefit to using local recording services is that your audio doesn’t have to travel through the internet. Every guest is recorded on a separate track and that track’s file is recorded locally on your computer. So even if you or your guest has spotty internet or the recording gets glitched, the audio files will still be clean.

I’ll add that it’s absolutely critical for all hosts and guests to wear headphones while recording to monitor the detail of sound. If you don’t wear headphones, all you hear is the sound in the room, not the sound being recorded. When you wear headphones, you hear what’s being recorded, so you’ll know if your squeaky chair is being recorded or, worse, if someone’s mic isn’t working.

CB: How about files?
IBW: You want to work on WAV files during the whole production process. WAV is a bigger, high resolution file. MP3 is a smaller file. If you’re giving files to an engineer, always give them WAV files. MP3 files can compress the more they’re edited, resulting in a smaller file with lower quality detail.

CB: Final parting wisdom for our subject matter expert podcasters?
IBW: Take the time to get your audio right before recording. Raw recording is the biggest factor of how good your podcast will sound. You can’t expect miracles from your sound engineer if the raw files are low quality recordings. The better quality the raw audio is, the better your podcast will sound. That’s it for subject matter experts!

If you want to learn more step-by-step approaches to recording high quality audio, stay in touch to learn about our future webinar on How To Make Your Podcast Sound Better.