Podcasting, or online radio, has only been growing since the advent of the iPod. In this last month, 32 million people listened to a podcast. In fact, the average amount of time people report spending on all sources of online radio – 12 hours per week – has doubled since 2003. (Edison Research)
If you think that podcasts have nothing to learn from Radio, you might want to take a look at NPR. According to NPR, about 20.9 million listeners tune in each week. Furthermore, a Harris Telephone Survey concluded that NPR is the most trusted news source in the United States. If you’re not convinced that NPR has some compelling lessons to teach, consider the fact that Slate called their annual pledge drives “cunning genius”. So if you’re looking to improve your podcast, it might be time to take some tips from NPR.
Tip #1: Take Your Cues From Your Audience
One thing NPR does really well is they take their cues from their audience. Considering their “We’re Listening” facebook campaign, where they encouraged listeners to join their panel, to give feedback on to participate in surveys, online forums, focus groups, experiment with new products and just give feedback in general.
Allowing audiences to contribute ideas, give feedback, and participate in audience forums does two things for NPR: 1) it allows them to get ideas from their audience about what sort of content they want produced, what they’re interested in, and what they like and don’t like about what NPR is already producing and 2) it allows NPR’s audience to feel like they are part of a community and become more integrated into the NPR brand and experience – this increased participation means increased readership and more intense fans, who are more likely to recommend NPR to their friends.
Even the way that NPR has constructed this panel is ingenious – it’s not just an open forum that any audience member can come and comment on (after all, NPR has room for comments at the bottom of each page) – it’s a closed forum that listeners can only access if they give their email and name. This also does two important things for NPR! First of all, it gives the group members a feeling of exclusivity and importance an open forum wouldn’t allow for. This increases the feeling of participation and dedication among members. The second thing it does is it allows NPR to target these people – dedicated fans interested in being part of their group and consistently giving feedback – using an email marketing campaign.
Tip #2: Ask For What You Need
Anyone who’s listened to NPR during pledge week knows the they’re not shy about asking for what they need. During pledge week, regular NPR programming is interrupted so NPR hosts can directly ask their audience to donate. NPR pledge weeks are very successful, using a number of strategies (flatteries, offers to match donations, gifts, offers to end pledge week!) to convince listeners to donate.
The most important lesson to be learned from NPR’s pledge week is a simple one – if you want your audience to take a certain action, ask them to. Repeatedly. If you want them to like your Facebook page, ask them to like your Facebook page at the end of each episode. Express gratitude to those who have already done so. Offer incentives to those who haven’t yet. And next week? Do it again.
Your audience is probably not going to buy your product, follow your social media account, read your book, write a review, or donate to your show unless you ask them to. Even if you have clear links in your show notes, it’s important to state these things explicitly during your podcast.
The tone of NPR’s pledge week is also very important. NPR doesn’t beg for money, or attempt to make their listeners feel guilty if they don’t donate. They use positive reinforcement and incentives, as well as a healthy dose of humor, in order to convince people to give money. Don’t try to cajole or threaten your audience into taking an action that’s important to you. Offer them rewards, flattery, and gratitude, and they are much more likely to do what you want.
Tip #3: Know Your Audience
NPR didn’t put all that work into getting feedback from their audience for nothing. NPR really knows their audience. The stereotypical NPR person is liberal, interested in receiving news from an “unbiased news source”, interested in both international and local issues, culturally literate, and middle or upper class. They care about social issues and are interested in other cultures. NPR writes and produces content for this person.
Because NPR knows their audience, the type of content they produce is consistent in quality, tone, length, and feel. It’s not hard to predict, or roughly estimate, what types of topics NPR will cover and what they will say about them. NPR’s audience appreciates this consistency – despite the endless influx of new information, there are rarely any surprises.
Strive to create content targeted at your average, or ideal, listener. Use your connection with your audience not just to develop new ideas from suggestions, or fix problems, but to try and really get to know your audience. How old are they? Why are they listening to you? What other things do they like? When are they listening to you? What sort of lives do they lead? Once you know who your audience is, you can begin to hone your content to their tastes. Honing your content in this manner will not only please your existing audience, it will draw in new fans who fit the profile you’ve outlined.
Tip #4: Think in Content Packages, Not Content Pages
When NPR creates a piece of content, say an article, they are not just creating and designing a content page.They are attempting to create a content package – something that has multiple elements that can be distributed ideally over multiple social media platforms. Some elements of a content package might include: headline, body text, audio file, long teaser, short teaser, and multiple images designed to look the best on multiple social media packages and coordinate with different teasers. This is a “create once, publish everywhere” strategy. Because of this strategy, NPR does not have to rearrange or add content every time they republish to a new social platform. Hashtags are ready for instagram and twitter, teasers are ready for Facebook, images have been optimized for pinterest and instagram, etc., etc.
Thinking in content packages instead of content pages is a great way to optimize the content that you do produce, and increase its shareability and accessibility. Ultimately, it is also a time saver that allows more resources to be devoted to creating more content, instead of modifying existing content. Furthermore, you won’t have to rely on your visitor to create a good image, caption, or teaser for your content – they probably won’t be able to do as good of a job as you will.
We hope these tips help you and your podcast to enjoy atleast a sliver of the success that NPR has had :). Keep up the good work!
Show notes might seem like a very small, even inconsequential part of podcasting, but the truth is that they can make a big difference in the life of your content, listener response, and search engine rankings. In fact, show notes are an absolutely essential part of podcasting. That’s why we’ve put this list together of the top 6 reasons why your podcast needs shownotes, and the top 10 tips for better shownotes. Also check out our free shownotes checklist!
These are the facts: being an entrepreneur means being busy, and it means keeping a delicate balance between learning and doing. You want to learn about how to do business, how to keep customers, how to deal with employees and make your product – but at the same time – you are already doing those things! In fact, as an entrepreneur, you put in a lot more hours behind the desk than you did at your regular job.
Ira glass says “public radio is ready for capitalism,” but is he right? After the sudden success of the podcast Serial, an offshoot of Ira Glass’s radio show This American Life, podcasters (and marketers) have been looking to capitalize on podcasts new popularity. But before they can start to woo advertisers (usually tech startups like Mailchimp, Squarespace, or Audible), most podcasts need to increase their press coverage.
Even if you have a dedicated niche following, if the media hasn’t heard of you, neither have advertisers. While it might be tempting to eschew advertisers all together – after all, this is podcasting, and the truth is most of us are doing it for the love of the game (I like to think that, anyway). As Chris Hardwick from The Nerdist so aptly put it “America is a f – ing billboard at this point and it’s irritating”. But even Chris Hardwick entered into a partnership with Midroll Media, because, as he said, “it’s like trying to open a business with hugs as collateral… goodwill should only have to last so long.”
So if you’re ready to enter the world of advertising, we feel you. And we think increasing your press is the first step on a long road, that, we hope, will eventually end in a paycheck from your podcast.
In order to figure out the best way you can increase your press, we decided to ask Conrad Egusa, a former writer for VentureBeat and TechCrunch and the co-founder of publicze.co, the go-toPR company for startups. He is also a Global Mentor at 500 Startups. Basically, he knows what he’s talking about.
The single most important thing a podcast (or any startup, really) can do to increase their visibility, he says, is to contact the media. “As a general rule, a company won’t be featured in publications unless it emails a journalist/publication. As an example, when a company asks me why they haven’t been featured in TechCrunch, the first thing I ask is whether they’ve written publication yet.”
Believe it or not, the media might be interested in writing a story about you or your podcast – they just don’t know it yet. It’s your responsibility to tell them. So here are ten tips for contacting the media and successfully getting your story out there:
1. Make it a story
My podcast helps my listeners build wealth and prepare for retirement using time honored, proven tips and expert strategies…this might be true, but it’s an advertisement, and (most of the time) advertisements aren’t newsworthy. If you want a publication to write something about you, you need to give them a story.
There are lots of different types of stories that you can pitch. One of my favorite stories is an article that Chris Hardwick wrote for The Wired in 2011. In it, he chronicles his personal journey, from a nerdy little kid, to an alcoholic, obsessively gaming in his crappy apartment, to… the host of Nerdist Industries.
I’m not saying you have to write them the whole article, like Chris Hardwick did, but you should give them the bare bones. Who’s the protagonist? What did they have to overcome? How did it change them? These are the bones of a good stories.
2. Make it new
So you have your story – but have we all heard it before? Whatever you want to say, make it new. Publications want to publish content that readers haven’t heard about, content that is genuinely new. So take a moment, when you are considering who your company is, and what it has to offer – how is this different from everything else that everybody else is doing right now. How am I new?
3. Make it relevant
It’s also important that the content you submit is relevant. Is there anything going on in the world that makes what you have to say particularly important? Maybe you have been running a financial podcast on the state of the EU and business in Europe for years, and suddenly the crisis in Greece is happening…do you see where I’m going? Or maybe your podcast is about educational policy and practices – maybe this is an opportunity to weigh in on what some of the presidential candidates are saying about education.
The chances of a journalist taking interest in your content go up if they feel your content is relevant to something that’s getting a lot of attention right now.
4. Use Shock Value
As Jim Morrison once said “Where’s your will to be weird?” Let’s face it, people like to read odd stuff. They like to be shocked. If there’s something strange or new, or best of all, new and strange, then chances are, it’s something worth writing about. We’re not saying it needs to be x-rated, or ultra controversial, but it will help a lot to throw something in that genuinely surprises people. So make it whacky!
5. Tell the Truth
I’m sorry I have to say this (because we’re all just honest by nature, right?) but tell the publication the truth. Don’t fudge your numbers, make up stories, or paint a deceiving picture. You’re writing to journalists – if they’re any good at what they do, they’re going to look into what you said. And if they find out you lied, it’s going to ruin your credibility, if not with your customers, then with future publications.
6. Choose your Publications
Send your content to the right publications! Sports blogs probably don’t want to hear about your literary podcast, and literary blogs don’t want to hear about your sports podcast. Am I stereotyping here? Either way, the point stands – pick the publications that are most likely to take interest in your story.
You can find a list of free PR resources here, including Top Tech Bloggers, Top Tech Blog Reporters, Top 100 Newspapers, Top 100 Newspaper Reporters, and so on.
7. Tailor for Each Publication
Don’t send out the same email to every publication you think might be interested. Every publication is different, they have a different tone, a different lean, and a different take on the way they report. Get to know the mindset and tone of the publications you are contacting.
If the writing style is informal and upbeat, then send an email in that tone, with a story that you feel would match the writing style and themes that that publication espouses. If you’re thinking that that sounds like a lot of research – it is. Do this for every publication you send an email to. You don’t talk to your mom the same way you talk to your boss – so don’t you the same wording or even the same ideas for every publication or journalist you contact.
8. Include Facts
Facts let the journalist or publication know that you are credible and that you have done your research. If you use outside statistics, make sure to cite your sources. Don’t go overboard including superfluous statistics or fluff, though. Which leads us to our next point…
9. Keep it short
Remember – you don’t have to write the story for them! Give them the dry facts, and then let them decide where to go next. Ideally, you should be writing a brief, three to four paragraph email. It really doesn’t need to be any longer than the template below.
Download the template for word here: Press Release Template
So, you’ve sent out all your letters – are you finished now? Of course not! A good PR process is about building a relationship with the media. You need to continue outreach and repeat the process described above with each announcement – ideally every 8-12 weeks.
Ultimately, as a podcaster, you might seem like you are a small fish in a pond, of well, many many other small fish. Conrad Egusa’s believes “the most important step for a podcaster or any entrepreneur is to be the best in the world in a specific area. As an example, a person should not focus on being the best marketer for everyone, but rather being the best in the world at social media/PR/etc. for a specific industry.” And you can do that, right? You can be the best podcast in the world for single male cat lovers or basketball players who love Star Trek. And if you are, that is certainly newsworthy.
For questions or comments about this article, feel free to email us at [email protected] In fact, feel free to email us with any of your podcasting questions – we’d love to help. For help with your PR process and a free PR consultations, click here.
Thanks for reading this article, we hope we were able to get you successfully started on your PR journey!
Interviewing is integral to the podcasting business. After our last article on finding and courting interviewees for your podcast (link here) we thought we’d make this list of 10 resources you should be utilizing to find expert interviewees for your show.
Podcasting and interviewing go hand and hand. In fact, a few weeks ago, the President himself appeared on the comedy podcast WTF for an incredibly candid interview about race, fatherhood, gun violence, and fitting in. As podcasting continues to grow, the importance of interviewing – the right way and the right people – grows with it.
Podcasting as we know it starting in 2003. Before that, in the 1980’s, RCS (Radio Computing Services) provided radio stations with audio in digital format. Then, with the advent of the internet, sites began popping up that offered music subscription services (the predecessors of Spotify).
The first online radio talk show was launched in 1993 by Carl Malamud, called Internet Talk Radio. Each week he interviewed a computer expert, and his fans downloaded an audio file. Then in 2001 Applian Technologies launched Replay Radio a recorder for Internet Radio Shows that let the user schedule audio and could scan a radio site for new audio files and copy them directly to your PC. Webtalk Radio, produced by Rob and Dana Greenlee was the first show to be published exclusively in that format.
Podcasting is all about public speaking, even if you don’t have an audience right there in front of you, or always (like on the radio) know that there are people listening live as you talk. However, the end result of your podcast (hopefully) is that you get to speak to the public about something you care about or are interested in, and that makes it a form of public speaking.
Enthralling an audience is a skill that can take years to develop, and hopefully, as a podcaster, you’re well on your way! However, if you feel like you have not yet mastered the skill, here are 10 tips to take you to the next level.