How researchers get heard

Podcasting & Every Grain of Sand

Producing a podcast consists of 1,001 tiny steps and decisions — none of which have anything to do with your choice of microphone.

Here’s a list of some of the most important categories of podcast production tasks, which you might want to clip and save to look at every time you think about starting a podcast:

  • Booking guests.
  • Rebooking them when they cancel.
  • Keeping a recording and booking calendar so the podcast has an episode to drop at least once every two weeks.
  • Researching guests — reading their latest and major papers, their thought leadership, watching their videos, listening to their podcasts, stalking their Twitter feed.
  • Researching interview or conversation topics.
  • Drafting and finalizing a run of show, with questions pointed enough to elicit no more than a two-minute answer, assembled in an order that leads the conversation where you want it to go, and with alternative question paths in case the guest answers a question you wanted to ask in minute 30 in minute 5.
  • Listening to the recordings and time coding all the stuff to take out. (This can take a day for an hour’s recording, depending on how much you want to help the guest sound good or want to keep the final product within a certain time.)
  • Running production meetings ahead of episode recordings so everyone involved are all on the same page.
  • Coordinating with the engineering company that handles the podcast’s actual production, assuming you’re not silly or wasteful enough to try to do that yourself.
  • Titling each new episode, writing the description, arranging for a transcription, uploading it to the hosting service, and making sure it gets posted to all the directories it should.
  • Writing and posting show notes, a transcript of the show, an image of the guests and the episode player on the website or section of your org’s website dedicated to the podcast.
  • Promoting the episode in all your organizational channels, asking your network to promote it, coordinating with the guest and their org to promote it, and after its first week live making sure you promote it from time to time as part of your back catalog.

And I’m sure I missed a few things.

The thing is: All of these seemingly disconnected details of execution must also be simultaneously aligned with your strategy. By this I mean: They all should reflect and reinforce you and your organization’s identity and positioning, not just the strategy of the podcast.

I mean, they have to, right? Why the hell are you doing this, otherwise?

Podcasting has to be strategic not simply because the resources and treasure to do it are a significant budget item.

Podcasting has to be strategic because — being the most intimate and trust-forming of content genres, relying as it does on the voice and the overheard conversation — it is one of the best ways (along with a regular newsletter) to build a community around your insights and ways of looking at the world.

And podcasting has to be strategic because the flip side of that intimacy is also true: Because podcasts are all about identity and identification, they punish deviation from that identity. The listener registers that disharmony at a cellular level. You say you are one person everywhere else, but I listen to you now and you are someone else. You do not want to play games with this dynamic.

Podcasts are all execution and all strategy. (As a favorite client of mine says, both of these things are true.) As I’ve helped my clients think through their podcast strategies and advised them on execution, I’ve come to realize that this dual aspect of podcasts makes them the aspirational state for all your content. This means two things:

  • Your positioning — your big idea and narrative — should be visible in the smallest detail of your content and brand.
  • The person who oversees that content needs to understand your positioning as a public expert and that of your organization down to their DNA, and be able to ensure #1.

All content should be strategic content. Every grain of sand counts.