Podcasts started to catch on around 2004, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I first plugged in my headphones to listen to Serial, a popular podcast. The first season of Serial was about the conviction on Adnon Syed and I was instantly riveted. Serial was my first podcast, but it certainly wasn’t my last.
The series opened up my eyes to what a practical and flexible medium audio was. Podcasts are uniquely posed to instantly deliver content to listeners around the world in an engaging way. Podcasts are a commuter’s best friend because they are a hands free and non-visual form of communication. All these things considered, podcasts are also an ideal channel to share brand content.
Now, when I say brand content I don’t mean marketing content. Podcasts aren’t the place for a sales pitch. Podcasts are an avenue for brands to help share industry thought leadership and educational content. This is something PAN’s client CloudBees understands well.
Together with PAN, CloudBees recently created DevOps Radio. DevOps Radio is a CloudBees-sponsored podcast series that hosts experts from around the industry, diving into what it takes to successfully develop, deliver and deploy software in today’s ever-changing business environment. From DevOps to Jenkins to Docker, each episode features real-world insights and a few stories, tips, industry scoop and more. Their goal is to offer up a variety of experts, but you’ll hear from CloudBees own experts from time-to-time, too.
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From working with CloudBees we’ve learned a couple of Podcast best practices that every brand should follow:
- Start with the listener in mind: This isn’t your show; it’s your listeners’. By starting with the user in mind you’ll create a podcast that speaks directly to your audience.
- Tell a story: It’s easy to pick a technical topic and just go, but think about how you can tell a story with each episode. By providing a story arc, you’ll keep listeners engaged throughout.
- Keep branding subtle: A simple “This podcast is sponsored by XX” is all you need to show that you’re involved in the creation. You can post the podcast to your website and we encourage sharing on social, but over the top branding will deter some listeners and detract from the integrity of your series.
- Help your host, but not too much: It’s important to have a dynamic and well-spoken host. Once you’ve found that person, provide them with some insight and guidance but then you have to let them go. It’s important to convey character in a podcast and your host can’t do that if you put words in his or her mouth.
- Lose the script: Start with an outline of questions or content, but the best audio is often unscripted. Encourage your hosts and guests to talk about whatever interests them.
- Keep it casual: Podcasts shouldn’t feel professional. You’re inviting your listener into a conversation between friends. It’s important that your host and guests feel relaxed and ready to be themselves.
- Leave the office: Often times leaving your own office helps the host and participants loosen up. You can record on the phone or Skype, but recording in person also produces a better sound quality. Also, when you’re with both the host and guest in the same room the conversation sounds much more natural.
- Don’t be afraid to cut: Don’t be afraid to cut things out when it comes to post-production. You might be hesitant to lose content, but don’t forget that you only have a small window to attract and retain your listeners attention. Shorter is definitely sweeter.
- Keep it real: While most editing masters can make every “um” and “like” disappear, it’s important that you keep some of those naturally occurring mannerisms in. We all don’t have perfect speech and if you perfect your recording it loses authenticity.
- Spread the word: Once you’ve created genuine thought leadership or education content it will be a good fit to share with all types of audiences. Don’t hesitate to share with partners, employees or potential customers. You never know who’ll tune in!
Ten best practices can’t cover everything that there is to know about podcasts, but it’s a good place to start. If you think that podcasting might be a good tool for your brand, tune in. We’ll be sharing more tips, how-to’s and thoughts to help you get your series off the ground. Meanwhile, check out DevOps Radio, Serial or another podcast for inspiration.