April 14, 2020
Podcasting Strategies During Shelter In Place
Podcast listenership, at least for now, is another victim of the coronavirus pandemic. But a time will come when daily commutes are once again prime time for podcasts – and smart organizations can use the current moment to strengthen their audio storytelling efforts.
In fact, some difficulties imposed on the working world by COVID-19 provide opportunities for organizations to shine (or, at least, regroup) when it comes to podcasting. Here’s a quick list of our recommendations.
Effectively Plan Content Around the Story of the Moment
For podcasts that have been around for a while, now is the time to look back through the archives and resurface episodes that might be particularly resonant amid the pandemic – perhaps about topics like telemedicine or the consolidation of rural hospitals. It’s a good idea to do a bit of recasting or updating to explain the rerelease, but that can be done without changing much of the original content.
Other pieces of audio content produced by your organization, notably webinars about COVID-19, might work for your podcast series. Under normal circumstances, audio quality could make that a nonstarter. But given the need to get compelling information to key audiences, an edited version of a webinar might work well, or well enough.
In fact, audio that’s a little rougher around the edges than normal might be appropriate right now, and to a point, listeners will understand.
Be Willing to Reconsider Format – at Least Temporarily
Given how quickly things are moving amid COVID-19, throwing out your podcast rulebook might make sense – at least to a point. For instance, series typically try to produce episodes of similar lengths, often around the time of the average American commute (25 minutes). But, as noted, fewer listeners are commuting, so consider shorter episodes to keep up with breaking news and points of view..
And while multitasking is common for podcast listening, it likely is even more so now, particularly for busy working parents. That means techniques that we always advise for hosts – flagging key points, summarizing when appropriate – are more helpful. Releasing full transcripts of episodes, which is always a good idea, could help listeners catch up on their favorite podcasts in front of their laptops instead of on the train.
The Benefits of (Effective) Remote Recording
If you’re a regular podcast listener, you know that recordings are often conducted with participants in multiple locations. But it probably happens more than you realize. Smart podcast producers combine high-end software, insightful guidance for participants and professional editors to create episodes that are near studio quality – even when the studio is a web browser.
In addition to the best practices listed above, in our experience we’ve found preparation is key – making sure hosts and guests know what they need (a quiet room, a strong internet connection, etc.) well before the “tape” starts rolling.
And who knows? Maybe guests who were pipedreams six weeks ago can be convinced to record a quick interview now that they’re stuck at home. Certainly, booking podcast guests has become generally easier, and with much of the world getting a crash course in communicating over Zoom or Teams, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would find the requirements of a remote podcast recording daunting.
Time to Regroup?
Finally, with listenership down, now might be the time for a series to regroup and plan for calmer days, especially for series with niche focuses that have nothing or little to do with COVID-19. That process starts by looking at downloads and other analytics to assess content focuses and distribution strategies. Other feedback, like reviews on iTunes, might be extremely valuable.
Podcasts have steadily grown in popularity for years, and they were especially impactful for busy decision-makers. That can still be the case amid COVID-19 – and it will definitely be the case when some semblance of normalcy returns.
Make good use of this current pause and your audience will come back even hungrier for your perspectives and guidance.