When one podcast isn’t enough: a Q&A with Shannon Murphy, Head of Strategic Content at Jefferies

Amidst a global pandemic, Jefferies doubled down on podcasts to deeply engage their partners and prospective clients.

Amidst a global pandemic, Jefferies doubled down on podcasts to deeply engage their partners and prospective clients.
Shannon Murphy, Head of Strategic Content at Jefferies

This year, we were thrilled to start working with Jefferies, a financial services company based in New York.

First, we helped them develop season two of Invisible Forces, a podcast about the unseen influences that are rapidly transforming our way of life and global economy.

Season two of Invisible Forces came together during the early months of the pandemic, when millions all around the world (us and Jefferies included!) were scrambling to adjust to a new WFH reality.

Next, we joined forces to develop and launch Connecting the Dots, a podcast that brings together top investment experts and business leaders to carefully dissect the trending deals and transactions that are helping to propel the global economy forward.

I was curious to learn more about the two podcasts and to find out why Jefferies felt it was important to launch two different shows, so I reached out to Shannon Murphy, Jefferies’ Head of Strategic Content, who hosts Connecting the Dots and co-hosts Invisible Forces alongside her colleague Erin Shea. Shannon has been deeply involved with the development and production of both shows and shared some insights around the thinking that inspired the two podcasts, how they complement one another, and how and where podcasting fits into the company’s overarching marketing strategy.

SR: First, let’s talk about Invisible Forces. What inspired it? Where did the idea for the podcast come from?

SM: We wanted a way to explore drivers we knew were happening right now but that we couldn’t necessarily see — and that would come to shape or define our next decade. We thought Invisible Forces was a broad enough premise to be able to talk to some of the smartest people we know from different sectors and across the globe, sharing their insights and perspectives on what may lie ahead.

SR: Why was it important to make a Jefferies podcast? What were your objectives with it?

SM: This might be an oversimplification — but Jefferies puts clients first, and recognizes, above all, they are people. People with interests and families and hobbies. And we thought the podcasting/audio medium would be a way for us to share some of our brightest thinkers and allow these people to connect with an audience not while they are at their desk working, but while they were on a run or driving kids to school or preparing dinner. The audio medium is a completely different way to connect with people you work with every day.

SR: The show doesn’t go out of its way to overtly advertise Jefferies or any of its services. Can you explain the thinking behind that decision?

SM: We are proud to work with a lot of leaders in their field, who are very bright, and can frame ideas in a way that make sense to a lot of people — not just those in their immediate circles. We felt that showcasing them, and their own expertise, would be a much more impactful way of showing: “we are a global investment bank with a lot of the brightest thinkers,” without having to say “we are the greatest in X, Y or Z.” That may be true, but whether it’s financial services or other sectors, if you can demonstrate your wisdom and insight, I think it resonates more than simply making a claim that is the case.

SR: How did you seek to differentiate Invisible Forces from other financially-minded podcasts?

SM: We were very excited to weave our experts with experts outside Jefferies’ four walls, and other real people. At the core — our colleagues and our clients are humans. We like to use storytelling as a way to highlight our expertise, in addition to doing our everyday pitching.

SR: You hosted the show along with Erin Shea and were deeply involved with the development and production of it. What was that experience like? Did COVID complicate things and if so, how?

SM: It has been a fantastic experience. We cannot believe how seamless production has been in a completely remote world. In many ways, COVID allowed us to interview more voices, colleagues and experts because everyone was (mostly) homebound. I think a lot of folks were surprised and impressed by the ability to conduct interviews in their own homes, typically with resources they already had!

SR: You’re now producing a new show called Connecting the Dots. What’s the new show about and what inspired it?

SM: We wanted a complement to Invisible Forces, which is a very thematic show, to make shorter episodes that explicitly hit on capital market trends that are emerging or are at top of our clients’ minds. Where Invisible Forces would, say, talk about the future of transportation or how cities will exist, Connecting the Dots is a more explicit dive into questions like: “What is sustainability and why do companies increasingly care about it?”

SR: Why was it important to make a second, distinct podcast? How is Connecting the Dots different from Invisible Forces?

SM: Connecting the Dots is a shorter, more industry focused show. It’s meant for our partners and clients who might only have 10 minutes to really learn about something that they see in the headlines every day, but might not have dedicated a lot of time to fully understanding yet. We aim to do that with Connecting the DotsInvisible Forces is a platform for audiences to get to know a broad swathe of our experts, business leaders and thinkers, and is a more high level, thematic show.

SR: What do you know now about podcasting that you wish you had known at the outset?

SM: How. Much. Time. And. Effort. Goes. Into. Them. Two women and a microphone do not a podcast make.

SR: Where and how does podcasting fit into Jefferies’ marketing strategy?

SM: It is one part of a broad portfolio. I think it’s safe to say that in 2020, brands typically like to connect with partners and potential partners in as many different mediums as makes sense. Audio is just one of the newest forms for us and we are thrilled to have been able to launch Invisible Forces and Connecting the Dots!

Note: the above exchange has been edited for length and clarity.

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