Does and Don’ts in Business Podcasts

A panel discussion hosted by KKongress Academy July, 2021

With Regina Koerner, CEO professional-podcasts.com

And Monique, Lead, Global SME Employee Communication at Open Communication Copenhagen and VC International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), EMENA. 

Hosted by Prof. Dr. Ana Adi, Professor of PR and Corporate Comms at Quadriga University of Applied Sciences, Berlin

Please listen to the podcast here    https://soundcloud.com/user-687327695/podcasting-for-pr

Please read a highlight-summary here:

The demand for podcasts as a communication medium is growing rapidly – every year, the number of podcasts on offer quadruples worldwide. 

Currently – in 2021 – there are already over two million podcasts and more than 48 million podcast episodes (Podcast Insights, 2021). That’s pretty amazing growth considering that in 2018, just three years ago, there were just 500,000 active podcasts.

What to consider when producing a podcast? 

Ana Adi:

I have the great honor to moderate the session, because thanks to Regina I have a podcast as well. I’m going to start with a question, and that is, how did you start with podcasting? I think each one of you have quite the fancy story to tell us. 

Looking back…

Monique Zytnik: So I, a long time ago in Australia, worked at SBS Radio, which is Australia’s multicultural, multilingual broadcaster. But I was in marketing and I got to work with so many journalists, broadcast producers and the like, and was always fascinated. 

Last year, I became a part of the IABC* EMENA board and took on their podcasting, because it was something I’ve always been fascinated with from there, almost taught myself how to podcast with a little bit of help on the side. So I really look forward to sharing my journey tips and tricks with you today.

*International Association of Business Communicators EMENA Region seeks to connect communication professionals in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa with a global community

Ana Adi: Regina, how did you get into podcasting? So much so that you launched your own podcast strategy and production house?

Success Story:  Handelsblatt Disrupt – a weekly podcast with Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Matthes

Regina Koerner: Well, actually, I come from a deep background of broadcasting. I went to school in the United States (University of Missouri, Columbia, – Columbia School of Journalism)  and got an MA in broadcasting, and I worked in Washington and Bonn as a correspondent. I worked for many years in German TV, primarily Voice of Germany or RTL. And then I, you know, went over to the dark side. So I decided to do PR. I became a head of communications for some NGOs. Then I switched over to the even darker side, going to consultancies such as Kearney. And my last role was at Roland Berger, which is a big German consultancy, as a head of global marketing and communications. 

And then I thought: OK, I want to do something else. And I got offered a job as a CEO of a podcast and audio book publishing house, really to be the CEO in Germany. And they had different ideas about business development than I did. So I said, oh, what the hell, I’ll do it myself. And so I founded professional-podcasts.com. 

And what I’m doing now is primarily to podcast for media houses like Handelsblatt, which is a big German publication, the biggest daily really for economics news. I do still work for consultancies such as Boston Consulting Group and some big international banks.

And I’m just doing basically internal and external communications podcast like CEO positioning. But also, I produce one very popular weekly podcast 

for and with the editor in chief of Handelsblatt, a weekly on disruption, digitization and transformation.. So what I try to do is get people to help get the message across with this new and exciting medium that we have here.

Ana Adi: Why do you think podcasting is good for Comm’s? Why is podcasting a good idea?

Podcasts: cheap – independent – effective – authentic 

Regina Koerner: Let me start off with talking about big American sharks. They are all buying up podcasting companies. Apple is buying, everybody is expanding into podcasting. The Americans are investing millions, hundreds of millions of dollars into that business. And the reason is really quite simple. The podcast technology has advanced from a cumbersome tool – nobody really knows what an RSS feed is and what to do with it –  that is now preinstalled on any smartphone. There are dozens of companies in any language. The podcast amount is quadrupling every year, more or less. 

And it has turned out that it’s very cheap in comparison to videos and other stuff. It’s totally independent of a workplace, meaning you don’t have to sit at your computer to look at it. So you can just listen to it any time, any place, stop, start wherever you want to be. And it’s also very easy to listen to in any part of the world. So you’re not dependent on a high speed internet or anything like that. I think you can you can listen to definitely on second generation phone systems. That means you can listen to podcasts easily in 98 percent of the world without any trouble. It’s much, much more effective than other forms where you just have to use your eyes and sit down with a publications or a computer to consume it.

Ana Adi: So you’re saying that for the listener is actually a less resource intensive medium? 

Regina Koerner: Yes, definitely. All you need is a phone, and you can listen anytime, anyplace. To whatever podcast you’re interested in.

Ana Adi: Monique, what do you think? Why is this good for PR?

Addressing listeners on a personal level

Monique Zytnik: It is another channel, but one that is incredibly underutilized. And as Regina said, it’s perfect for people on the go and you can access podcasts on demand. So, again, it’s brilliant for listeners. There are a couple of other really beautiful things about the channel as well that differentiates it from perhaps all the other channels. 

Once you’ve got your podcast or set up and someone’s got a podcast catcher, it’s on their phone. And every time you release a new podcast, it’s there, you’re instantly pushing to their phone, they don’t need to actually go and look for it, such as a YouTube unless you actually subscribe to the YouTube as well.

It is also beautiful for getting people’s thoughts and ideas across, which is really important with communication and PR, obviously. But you get that personality, you really get to feel who the person is. It’s not just about the visual. You can listen and absorb them in a different way to what you might do with a video. I think a lot of podcasts also seem to be more authentic. So you get some hyper produced podcasts. But there’s also, again, that sense of being with the person, having a conversation with them and really getting to know them a little bit as the subject matter experts. I completely agree with you. It’s such a great channel.

Difficult: data measurement

Ana Abi: There’s also a question coming for you if you can provide data on the increasing demand for podcasts. Where do we get the data about podcasting? You believe that’s not going to work for everybody who has a measurement focus and data driven insight that becomes.

Regina Koerner: Well, actually, the problem really is that unless you host your own podcast and you are using a host like Prodigee to upload your stuff, you don’t know. You know, in those you see how many downloads and on what channels you have them. But this is only your privileged knowledge. So if you don’t want to tell anybody about it, you don’t. And really what we get in terms of measurement from Apple, Spotify or anything, it’s really quite out of the blue. There is no standard. It’s not like in the United States where you have the International Board of Advertisers (IAB) or anything to measure objectively. Apple or Spotify etc. just put out what they feel like. It’s there’s no validation to it. So we’re really behind with exact data.

Ana Adi: Now, let me get a bit of clarification on that downloads. Is that the same thing as people who have listened to your episode?

Regina Koerner: Well, it depends. If you get a push message and you start it, then it starts being counted as that you’ve downloaded it because it’s not like streaming where you have bits and pieces, so where you can even see how much of a video you are actually or your viewers have actually consumed. 

Ana Adi: Our current measurement of monitoring for platforms or podcasts do not report completed versus incomplete listens – something that we would see for instance for video, particularly a video is puppy shared. Monique, I’ve interrupted you…

About podcast statistics

Monique Zytnik: I was just going to say, I’m a bit of a statistics fan and I love looking at my Vimeo and YouTube and all of those others. What we can publish via SoundCloud and as you said, you only get cities, you get countries, and you get how many plays and which ones are the most popular, but you don’t get whether someone just listened for five minutes or the whole episode… I think there’s a lot of opportunity in it there.

Ana Adi: There’s the difficulty of aggregating. So one of the things that you you’ve mentioned, Monique, earlier is that if you use a podcast  catcher or if you subscribe your podcast on different platforms that are going to distribute, and we should come back to this topic, because it’s not logically we’re not developing logically here in our conversation. But if you have your podcast being distributed via multiple platforms, you do not yet have an opportunity of aggregating in an easy manner. All these listens and plays and subscriptions that might be happening on various. So that’s something to keep an eye on. 

In this sense, it is a younger business because, of course, more established businesses are going to provide. You as well, with a cleaner measurement slate and opportunity, whereas right now it’s still there where you need to be very, very creative and very considerate in the sense of what goes into the measurement of good podcast. 

And that goes back to you as a communicator. What is it that you really want to be on these lessons? How would you consider good engagement? What kind of topics for podcasts are being listened to the most? And are there any preferences for external podcasts?

People will listen if it’s appealing, relevant to them, and increasingly, professionally produced 

Regina Koerner: Actually, people listen to anything that’s interesting, really. And that may sound trivial, but it’s not, because to make something that’s interesting is very, very difficult. And this is actually where many people fail because they make it dead boring, whatever it is. You know, you can do any type of I mean, that’s one popular podcast, at least to Apple ratings, which, as I just explained, are not very reliable, but it’s just something on funerals: How is how to get yourself on the ground, you know. And so how could this possibly be interesting? But it’s very entertaining, has interesting information about culture and psychology and death and how do we deal? It’s actually called “Bestatten, Hauda”. She’s an undertaker by the name of Bianca Hauda – very popular. Some other popular things are like financing for women or whatever. 

But the key is: it has to be authentic and you always have to ask yourself: Is it interesting to my intended target group? And if it’s an internal podcast: Is it really interesting to my people internally or am I going to bore them stiff with some messages from the leadership somewhere? That’s really the key. And you have to do it funnily and entertainingly. And that will probably get us to later points where we have to talk about whether it makes sense to do it yourself or get somebody else to do it.

Ana Adi: There are some charts of popular podcasts that by popular will usually go into the same discussion as you would see with more established social media platforms right now what is influential and what is seen. And that usually looks at the numbers of lessons. And there’s a great difference, though, if you think of Chris Anderson and his theory of the long tail sometimes, you know, there’s two, although they’re not parallel, but they’re definitely very, very different. The type of products and podcasts come into this category as well that would address the masses or that would address a niche. 

I would say in terms of podcasts that means that the expectation is slightly different. So it just very much depends on where you would want to play with. And so how do you consider success for us would be seen there with everybody else in the big crowded marketplace or the success is within your organization. 

Monique Zytnik: Can I take another add on that? I would actually flip the question and say: Why do you want to do podcasting and why do you want to consider this for your PR suite of channels? Because there are already so many podcasts out there, and it’s about being very clear on who your audience is, what they’re interested in. So the entertainment factor, they don’t have to listen to it, which is another fascinating thing. Even with internal comms, it’s put out there. It’s completely voluntary. And then there’s also once you have your audience is really narrowing down your niche and it’s being clear on again what you want to achieve with it. What is your name? What are your topics? How can you be the best in this nation and not necessarily looking at what wallets the most popular? Because the environment’s just it’s busy out there. And you probably don’t want to be the best in crime podcasts. You want to be conveying your message to your target audience. Exactly how you want it to be and have them engaged, have them love it, have them hanging out and waiting for your next episode, contacting you, emailing you, suggesting what to put on there, that that’s what you’re looking for.

Very successful: CEO positioning

Regina Koerner: Well, if I may add one more interesting step to that. I have a corporate client who has a CEO podcast. And actually there’s internal measurement, of course, how many the reach there is three quarters of the global staff. So that’s really tens and thousands of people – which is more than they have ever had with any type of other internal comms, which normally had a reach of about five to eight percent they told me. So this is an astounding success for them. And actually, it helps this particular CEO who is in competition with other heads of countries or regions for the top dogs job and that cooperation. He is using this and it’s working effectively for him to position himself also within his peer group. So he becomes more known because it put it inside and outside as well. He becomes known in his own industry, amongst his peers. He becomes a contender for the top job. You know, that is trying to get to at some point. And in comparison, it’s dirt cheap. It’s nowhere near the cost of a magazine or any type of regular publication or videos or anything like that.

Ana Abi: So maybe the gentleman to pay out of his own budget, considering that you’re making him so popular for the next job.

Regina Koerner: CEO positioning is really, really effective. I know for myself, I’ve already helped people attain the next position because they are all of a sudden known. It’s not the only thing, but it’s one thing. And actually, the other thing is that’s important, because by using such a new medium as a podcast, if you do it in a nice and appealing way, you can actually position yourself also is forward thinking, curious, ready to tackle new issues, ready for transformation, for change, book our world, all of that what’s required to be a leading person right now.

Monique Zytnik: The thing we’ve actually forgotten here is that it’s online with radio. It’s actually quite instantaneous. I mean, listen is probably more instantaneous, but you can turn around pretty quickly. And if something is hitting the fan or you need to get a message out quickly, it’s a matter of a couple of hours turnaround for professional quality. If you’ve got the set up already there and it’s out, it’s with everybody at the same time.

Manpower and frequency: what works best?

Ana Abi: So let’s talk a little bit specifics. I mean, we definitely have plenty of stuff to talk about, but that are two question: How often should the company do an external podcast? What’s a good regular base? The second question is: How much manpower is there needed to produce a podcast? 

Monique Zytnik: From my side, because I’m a volunteer podcast, so to speak, for the IABC EMENA region, I would love to podcast maybe every three weeks, at least, once a month, maybe every two weeks. But I can’t because of the time that does take. And it is a manpower is made. At the moment I set up the interviews, I interview, I edit it and I post it. And that’s all done on a volunteer – on top of my full time job as an internal communications expert at an agency. Once you’ve got the rhythm and the systems in place, it doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s about knowing what you’re doing. 

If you’ve got a communications background, having a good nose for: okay, that’s going to be a great person to interview, I compare them with that person – okay, these are the key questions I need to ask. And I guess that comes with the experience and time. So, yeah, if you’ve got the systems in place and you know what you’re doing: not too much manpower. And if I can do it as a volunteer once a month, then I think you and your team definitely can.

Ana Adi: It truly depends on what you want to achieve with this. If it’s obviously also a matter of resources and the sort of type of business of organization that you’re in. Monique does this voluntarily. It’s part for the association, making time once a month to listen to another hour of content on top and on top of everything else. It’s probably something that members of the IABC are very, very committed. So Monique needs to probably put aside about three hours to four in the month to make that happen. So there’s the thinking, the actual recording, the polishing of the file and the distribution of that, which all of it takes time. 

But I’m sure, Regina, you have different examples, though, of how often people post?

Podcast publishing: at least once a month

Regina Koerner: There is an appropriate amount, of course, it depends. For like of for external podcasts, a corporate podcast that is not news related, which then would be a daily or weekly, but a non-news information podcast should be published at least once a month. Because if it’s a bigger space, people start forgetting about it. So that’s not a good idea. Once a month is usually something that people can handle in terms of manpower, like interview partners, planning and organizing. If you have more to say, which is also important, then do it biweekly, which is also good with them, because then it’s not as stressful as every week, but it’s quite regular. So people get a sense of, oh, there’s something that I should be waiting for every week. 

And then if you really have a lot to say and a lot of staff do it weekly, but that’s requires a lot of organizational skill. And that leads me to the other thing where I would like to add really a different perspective. 

If you do it well, if you’re prepared, if you research it, if you line up, if you do the interview, if you do the technical checks with them, you know, really, even if you’re a very fast worker and if you do it all by yourself and if you have absolutely zero lose – that you have to jump through getting approval from whoever for this, put it pass marketing, leadership, whoever. Just the sheer minimum of work really is two days. And then it depends on the work involved, just because you have to check out what you want to talk about. You have to line people up. You have to prepare them. You have to brief them. You have to talk about what you want to do. Then you have to do a technical test with them, which takes often time much longer than you would think, because they don’t have Chrome installed – they don’t whatever. 

It’s amazing also how many people in the tech industry have absolutely no clue on how to operate these systems. So it can take a very, very long time. And you don’t want to deal with shitty sound or you have to do it again because the sound is in fact shitty. Then you have the Internet which is moody and whatever and it doesn’t want to work today. So you have to reschedule. A lot of things come into it.

Microphone, Headset: technical equipment is needed 

Ana Adi: So let’s make it a bit clearer, because we’re meeting online. And, of course, after a year and a half in the pandemic and being in the home office, we’re often thinking of doing this remotely. So you’ve mentioned you do have platforms that would allow you to record audio. It’s probably better to use those platforms that are focused on audio only rather than your Microsoft Teams or your Zoom. The reason being that your sound quality is going to be better. So they do aim for a different sound quality. 

We’ve worked on our end both ways, recording when everything failed with this video systems that we have, and they do tend to compress the sound. So in the end, you’re going to end up with a much quieter level that you cannot really do much with in post-production. Are there any clues now that we speak about platforms for recording that you would recommend?

Monique Zytnik: I need to jump in and confess that my husband has a home studio. So he’s got the audio happening. He’s got the good ears. And I have been learning from him. I’m very particular with my sound as well. There are some great podcasts like: I love the Seth Godin podcasts, whether or not you like his politics  Sam Harris (Making Sense with Sam Harris). And that comes from having a professional microphone. 

It comes from local recording. So, yes, I do. I do actually use Teams, but Teams is just a backup. I always get my guests to record locally and I mix my locally recorded and all the three tracks together.

Platform doesn’t matter:  Equipment and audio quality in a sound-proof room matter

Ana Adi: So let’s clarify. What you need to start with podcasting is ideally a platform or a device that you would save your audio file on. Now, the platforms include a variety of them.  Zencastr is one of them. You can use the audio files that you will record normally via your voice memos on your computer. You could use Microsoft Teams, you could use Zoom. But as we’ve spoken about before, it’s rather poor. You also need a good microphone and ideally a good headset so that you can hear things back. Now, there are various ways to do that so you can buy bespoke equipment. 

Regina, I think there was a list that you gave me. So you can buy recorders, for instance, and some of them would have to microphone. Some of them would have one microphone. You can’t or you can just buy a better microphone. And again, it depends a little bit on both your budget and your comfort, because that our clip-on, these small microphones, in case you need to move or do you have sorts of microphones, USP or Bluetooth microphones that will be in front of you. And some of them come with these extra filters. 

Now, I have to say, what we do with women in PR is incredibly easy. We do use Zencastr and thank God it happened only once or twice that we had no connection whatsoever. And we do use the Apple headsets. One of the things that I’ve learned is to speak into an armchair. It’s a ridiculously hilarious how it looks at home. So computer would go sort of in the armchair. So I don’t have the studio that lending has. Right. So then you focus on something that would muffle the sound and ideally a full closes the room. Right. As busy as possible so that the sound comes back and then the armchair would come back and the microphone just needs to be just a little bit lower than the chair not touching the chin. No jewelry, please. If you’re wearing jewelry, no rings, anything that can clickety clack is going to be horrendous for whoever either for you if you want to go the route of editing yourself or for whoever is going to help you with that. So microphone, external source ideally. 

So, Monique, does La CAft? “à la carte” in the sense that both her guests and herself, they have the backup on their phones in this case, and she has the recording of the entire file on her computer, and she edits these together at the easiest, at the low low version. And then you have the platform and the recording and you save that. Is there any other platform, Regina?

About backup and sound

Regina Koerner: Well, yeah. I mean, actually, you kind of need to keep an eye open because things develop all the time. So I’m using Zencastr. I’m using something called CleanFeed. I’m using both of them just in case one of them doesn’t work on any given day, which is not entirely impossible. So that’s the platform to record on. And clean Feet is actually a little more specific in the options that you have. So I quite like it because you can adjust levels and this and that and other. So but, you know, recording is one. And then also with Road. I mean, Road is a great manufacturer.

Monique Zytnik: And they’ve got a great USP. If anyone’s looking for like a hundred euros or less, they’re USP podcast mark(eting)? is fabulous. Yes.

Regina Koerner: But they also have basically mini studios at this point where you can buy for a few hundred dollars or euros, whatever, a little mixing board – even where you have can plug different things in, including your mobile phone. So you can get people from calling in on the mobile right into the road podcast. That’s another way to record. I have to emphasize again: the best microphone doesn’t help if you sit in a badly insulated room. That means if there’s a lot of concrete glass windows, anything that makes it echoic, then the best microphone will not help you. So actually, it’s best to have a lot of furniture and/in there Occulus?? or do it under your bed or something. I don’t know.

And then, of course, the next thing is that you have to distribute it somewhere. And I know Monique has mentioned that she uses Song Cloud? can individually upload on all these different platforms, or you can use a provider such as Prodigy, which does it automatically and spreads it all around so you don’t have to spend your days trying to upload it in ten different platforms where people can find it from Spotify to Audible to whatever. So that would be then the last step.

Do ignore the scissors in your head!

Ana Adi: But let’s go back a little bit, because we’re talking about the specifics and innocence. Technology and platforms can be can be bought. One of the other things that maybe we can find out are experts such as yourselves that can help out with the post-production elements of it. But one of the things that is crucial to the survival of a podcast is not the technology Pedro the WUC??, the podcast is about, and whether it manages to interest the people that it wants to reach. 

So how do we find an audience? Because podcasting, although it’s an increasing environment, is still incredibly busy. So we speak about the attention economy. Everybody wants our attention from our washing machine that beeps when it’s ready all the way to us now, wanting to use every moment that we have with podcasting. I’s an uphill battle considering that we’re not all of us, particularly in this year, we haven’t been commuting to work all that time that we might have used for podcasts to commute. It’s gone maybe to other tasks. So what would be a good topic? How do we find a good topic? And then what is a good format? We’ve spoken very much about interviews. Interviews are easy, right? You just need to think of the fit between the topic and you need to find someone who’s interesting. And then maybe Monique and I do it easy. But there must be some other formats out there that would be probably of interest to different audiences and different groups. So what are your thoughts? How do we find a good topic? How do we avoid being boring?

Monique Zytnik: I always keep an eye on what people, all the people were talking about. And I try and because my target audience either communicators, so that just what I say on LinkedIn, what I hear from clients, what I see on the ground, though, the one that I was up the other night, editing was on the sense of belonging. And it’s about finding your subject matter expert. I always try and get someone from the region because my target audience communicators in the EMENA region. So I try and showcase them. And my favorite format is actually having to like we are here today to guests, because I find they don’t always agree. I find they bounce off each other. And I really like that dynamic. I think it brings another level to the conversation.

Regina Koerner: Well, I think really primarily you have to ask stuff. Is it relevant? Is my topic relevant to anybody else but me or my CEO? Also a very critical question. If it’s only interesting to see. Oh, it’s not going to be a good podcast. So ask yourself. Yes, well, it’s but it’s the truth, you know, if they’re dead boring and just want to talk about their regular PR kid, then I say bluntly, it’s a waste of time and money because no one is going to want to listen to it because it’s boring. 

So if you have a citrus? scissors in your head and you censor yourself right off the start, because now we can’t say that now we can’t touch that now we won’t want to talk about that, then it’s probably difficult because it’s an authentic medium. So people want to hear authentic opinions and authentic voices. And for example, I just saw there’s someone there from the Ifo-Institute. There should be about 100 billion thousand interesting topics that clemins?? groups could talk about, because any body is interested in issues that are of importance in terms of money, economics. Of course, if you I don’t know what other areas do come from, but normally you can always find something that’s relevant to a specific target group, and you just need to identify who it is.

Most important: content, advertising, patience

And then it’s like the old stories and all its content, content, content and storytelling. And that’s what you have to do. You know, and then, of course, for this particular audio medium, it needs to be nice and tight. It cannot be all over the place which is really different from print or as I’ve observed it, because people –  and that’s maybe another question – you should get people who know how to do it because they have experience in broadcast content, radio, TV, whatever, where you have to tell a story. Interestingly, in a given amount of time, and you cannot rearrange everything afterwards, because that’s not what a normal conversation would be like. So you really have to think about what’s the story I want to tell. And then also comes into the question of time. I know that interesting podcasts that are two or two, four hours long. Then you have to ask yourself, is that my target group? 

Ana Adi: That’s true. You’re right. There’s one that I know of in Bulgaria, and they start as a tech podcast and they speak in the podcasts everything from local trends to great places to eat. And then they’re done when they’re done. And even though they’re highly unorthodox in terms of both the length of time that they require and the topics that they cover, the breadth of topics that they cover, they’re still among the most listened podcasts in the country.

Regina Koerner: It depends. Somebody who came in early and established themselves as a front runner. They have a big audience, which also tells you another thing in podcasting: It’s not a short term medium. You have to be prepared to be patient, to go at least for six months, if not a year, if not longer. And you will slowly build up your listeners. You have to do a lot of advertising. You have to do a lot of use all your other channels to talk about it, mention it, get likes and shares and whatnot, all because if you don’t promote it, it’s just going to hover there in a niche. Nobody’s going to find it because that’s just what happens. It’s you have to push it and you have to talk about it in your other channels and get it out there and be patient.

Monique Zytnik: And I think if you’re in the luxury of being able to choose your guest, then obviously who your guest is and their reach also help with that question of promotion.

Examples of successful podcasts – tips and tricks

Ada Abi: I find it interesting. Speaking of podcast the head of comms of Microsoft’s  Frank Shaw started to have his own podcast. And to my knowledge, he was quite adamant to embrace this until recently during the pandemic, when he started conversing with a variety of people on behalf of Microsoft and going back to what we talked about, what makes a good podcast, whether you have the head of Microsoft or the communications head of Microsoft globally. It’s a very different audience. One would sort of appeal to the world, to the different stakeholders. But  Frank Shaw’s podcasts within a communicator’s world, that’s quite interesting because of that bridging right between the insides of how it works, the sorts of problems that a communicator has within a technology company, as well as what he understands or the people with whom he speaks to and reaches out to discuss these  issues.

Good formats are not necessarily related to interviews, but one of the things I think that we need to emphasize here is that if you do go on the route of an interview, you will have in a very similar way as you do have with research. You will have open ended conversations and you might have scripted conversations when you do engage with your audiences and also the people who you’re talking with, it is your duty as a communicator to find that balance what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense both for the listeners. So the format that you’re embracing and the people who are listening to: unlike pictures it is incredibly time consuming and frustrating for everybody involved to play around with moving bits of audio as if you would move bits of text when you’re writing a story. So, Regina, you would probably want to add something in that direction.

Structure your conversation ahead!

Regina Koerner: That’s why it’s so important to structure your conversation ahead of time and not in the middle of it or after it. You do need structure. Otherwise you’re just driving everybody crazy.

Monique Zytnik: The editing is just such a pain. If you have to take that, if you have to redo sections as well and move it around and such. And I guess we haven’t really spoken much about the editing side of things, but that’s also super interesting. And you can learn a lot from the cutting out and snipping of people repeating themselves to shape the story.

Ana Adi: Would that be really relevant? I wonder. I personally listen to a lot of American podcasts, but they’re from NPR, which is a journalistic product, This American Life. And there are multiple stories, either episodes within an episode that are thematically linked. And I also listened with great joy and interest to Shankar Vedante and Hidden Brain. Yeah, that’s good one.

Regina Koerner: It’s super. And it’s a great example for something that normally probably none of us would listen to. It’s just such a great podcast with great story ideas, great people, great topics, great  angles. Normally, I’m an economics person. I wouldn’t go for a psychology podcast, but it’s fantastic.

Ana Adi: Well, what’s interesting there? So in terms of format, so the easiest format you can have on an audio, so a jingle, a sort of audio identity through a podcast that should ideally be professionally produced. If you can do that, which will prepare your listener to enter into your room if you want to. And then it’s easy. So the listening, the conversation, what you can do it like what we do. That’s it. Take it or leave it. Or you can be more sophisticated like Monique and do it. But then there are other options, and that is inserting little bits of stories or little anecdotes that will be borrowed from others either other episodes of the conversations, or just introducing different voices. And what’s really, really interesting from This American Life, and the same with Shankar Vedantam, is that although with Hidden Brain, he usually speaks with one researcher at the time about their research and what they found out in the context of that, the introduction of the problem. And the topic is done usually with a different voice, and usually it’s a small story that is being said by somebody else. So in an organizational context, if it’s internal audiences or if it’s external audiences, one of the lessons here is that you shouldn’t get necessarily stuck with just one person and one voice.

Find out what works for your audiences!

Monique Zytnik: To mix it up and try different things. I agree with you. And I really like, as I mentioned, Seth Godin, who does just a monologue and another great story. One is a Moth, and they have a different person each time. And it’s hugely produced and very scripted. These people tell their story. They have a coach to help them and it’s recorded live with an audience. And then you get a different story from a different person in this episode. So there are so many different formats. And I think, again, it’s playing with it and finding out what works for your audiences.

Ana Adi: So something on how do we prepare: So we have, for instance, Cornelia here in the chat, she says that she’s working with an economic think tank and hopes to reach out to younger target groups in new usage contexts. So she’s considering way to work with content that would be easier to consume than white paper and press releases – press releases, who reads them anymore? I just wonder. – But white papers are very interesting. So if we were to consider that, what would be your advice to Cornelia? What should she consider in prepping this?

Don´t make it so stiff!

Regina Koerner: Well, it’s basically just look at what the age group want to talk to and what they are interested in, with specific topics. If you’re an economics think tank for young people there’s a zillion issues that should be of interest economically, economically speaking. And you just have it in a more easygoing, conversational style obviously, you know. You have an a, a, a in there every once in a while. You can be more conversational and not make it so stiff. That would be basically the key thing. But I mean, this should be a great possibility to reach out to people like that and really push it in on the social media that they listen to, even on Instagram, you know, on TikTok to say, hey, we’re going to talk about this today, you know, and how it’s actually what it has to do with you and your life, you know, how I buying interests or whatever.

Monique Zytnik: And if you just spend a little time before doing a quick focus group with a group of your target audience, then you’ll very quickly find out what podcasts they do like. And you can ask them why. And you can shape something that’s going to start in a good place and tweak it from there based on feedback that you’re getting. I was just going to say then, obviously, once you’ve got the audio, you can also add visuals to it and use it in different contexts as well. It doesn’t just have to see it as a podcast. You can take a snippet and put it to a TikTok and check it on LinkedIn or whatever other channels you wish. So just because it’s a podcast doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of content there at your fingertips that you can play with and add animations or images or add at the bottom of an article with the audio file.

Summery: Elements of success for a good podcast

Ana Adi: So let’s try to sum it up a little bit. The important elements of success for a good podcast is the homework that you do before in terms of trying to think of what is it that you offer that is unique and of interest equally as all that thinking and reflection that goes into how are you going to break the clutter that you might perceive around you. So Cornelia, I’m sorry that we pick on your example, but the truth is, if you do think about that, you need to look again. You have an audience in mind, you know what you can offer. So there’s truly a question about how do you reach them in a way that makes sense. There are options out there for you. This is what both Monique and Regina have shown from the less complicated to the more complex that can be undertaken either by an individual with time and resilience.

It’s time and resources collaboration’s. And one of the things for corporate comm’s is to think of: What is it that you bring uniquely and not necessarily of who tells you that this is necessary. 

So maybe because it is five o’clock and we need to say fairly quickly goodbye. Monique. Regina, thank you so very much for your time. Do let us. You can reach both of them on LinkedIn if you do have questions. One of the other things I would very rebelliously leave here with you is the consideration that maybe you don’t have to do your own podcast, after all, if you think this is an uphill battle yet consider sponsoring others, so yet consider partnering with those who already do this or consider supporting podcasts that already exist, where you could join and support their efforts. And so, Cornelia, maybe it’s time for TikTok or finding a podcast like Freakonomics to speak with your audience. Are there any other things and Monique and Regina that you’d like to say before we say our goodbye and thank you?

Monique Zytnik: Just a huge thank you. It’s lovely. I really enjoyed it.

Regina Koerner: Yes. Thank you very much. And good luck to you. And as Ana said: Any questions – just get in touch and we try to help out with whatever is needed.

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