The four P’s of podcasting best practices
In one of my other lives, I’ve been co-hosting a podcast on Rutgers Athletics for almost four years. It’s been a blast, and we’re about to hit our 100,000th download mark. We’ve also learned a great deal, and I’ve tried to apply those lessons to conversations with clients who are interested in starting their own podcast efforts.
I’ve boiled podcasting best practices down to the four P’s: planning, preparation, production and promotion.
One of the most fundamental podcasting best practices is planning. A lot of questions need to be answered during the planning phase. They include topic, format, length, frequency, hosts and guests. For example, we decided that our Rutgers podcast would be about 40 minutes in length, that we’d drop episodes once every two weeks and that guests would be our focus.
I have a fairly rigid co-host who wanted us to record every other Monday night and drop later that week. Initially, I thought that structure was crazy, but I’ve come to appreciate it as it created a rhythm for us and our listeners. And while we have deviated from time to time, that structure remains in place and our listeners have come to expect it from us. We lead off with some banter, interview the guest for 20-25 minutes, do a wrap up with additional banter, and the episode is over.
It’s a format that people come to expect and it gives us guideposts from which to work.
You can’t and shouldn’t just turn on your microphone and hit record and wing it. Each episode should have a planned topic or even a script if you need it. We collaborate on guest questions in between episodes using a Google Doc, which includes banter topics.
We also text periodically and join our Zoom recording about 15 minutes early to review the topics and questions. Both of us have previous radio and television broadcast experience so we are used to this drill. If you don’t have that luxury, it is even more important to get into this preparation rhythm as it as critical to a good broadcast/podcast outcome.
When we first started, we thought, “Hey, you just record, edit and post it somewhere, and folks will listen.” Thank goodness we consulted with our podcast consultant, Mathew Passy. I actually used to pitch Mathew when he produced The Wall Street Journal Report. He has since become one of the leading podcast consultants and worked with us on everything from music, intros, formatting and hosting. Mathew also syndicated us into all the podcast service feeds. Believe me, it was upfront money that was extremely well spent.
Most importantly, Mathew serves as our producer/editor, putting all the interview files and pieces together and making the final product sound awesome. After the interviews, we just drop the audio files into Dropbox and Mathew does his magic. It’s a major time saver.
What if you created an awesome podcast but no one listened? As an instant gratification freak, that would destroy me. I’m the guy who keeps hitting refresh on download day to see how many people are listening.
So, creating a website (here’s ours: Scarlet Spotlight) and social media channels to promote the podcast are critical. You can use them to promote your episodes and engage your target audiences between episode drops with additional content to grow followers. Lastly, one of the reasons we chose a guest-driven podcast is to draw listeners who were interested in hearing from the guests. We think that’s a major reason that we’ve built a loyal following in what is a very niche target market.
I could go on about the in’s and out’s of podcasting best practices, and I do in our Hodges’ own podcast and video series, Teaming Up. Take a listen.