I recently spoke at Radiodays Asia, a conference that explores the future of radio and podcasts — both from a creative/ editorial as well as a business standpoint. It hosted some of the brightest minds in audio storytelling from India, China, U.K, Australia, Canada, and other markets where creative leaders are giving their local and international audiences more options than ever before to listen to great audio stories.
It’s typically hosted in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. But this year, alas, a laptop had to suffice.
I guess there are a few reasons why Steve Pratt, co-founder of Pacific Content and my lovely boss, nominated me for this talk: one, I had to talk about the best practices involved in creating original podcasts with brands. And I’m a producer at a company that’s one of the best in the business.
Two, I’ve now worked on two shows — Teamistry with Atlassian and Home. Made. with Rocket Mortgage. One of them is in its third season. So it’s safe to say I’ve seen these best practices yield results.
And three, and maybe the most important: since I’ve been working from Dubai, I’d be the only team member awake to deliver this talk.
You can watch my pre-recorded presentation at the end of this post. But here’s a quick summary of the video.
Five creatively brave ways to make original podcasts with brands sing:
Creatively Brave Way #1: It’s about values, not products
We produce shows with and for companies to position their brand values with listeners. It’s not, and never should be, to promote a product or a service.
These are stories told over a long and sustained period of time; an attempt to create a lasting relationship between listeners and sponsors. Podcasts can’t address short-term goals like sales.
The latest show that I’m working on — Home. Made. — is sponsored by Rocket Mortgage. But the show isn’t selling home finance. Through 30-minute-episodes, the show’s telling heartwarming, hilarious, and at times spooky stories about the ‘meaning of home’, and what people learn about themselves there. I’ve given more examples in my talk. (Video at the end!)
Creatively Brave Way #2: From the brand fabric, not shoestring
Cheap products reflect poorly on a brand. And the same goes for a podcast. While it’s tempting to whip up a podcast with minimal production and a shoestring budget, these efforts will likely subdue the level of storytelling that a brand would be capable of doing — if it were shown some love and money.
So a show should have a dedicated budget that covers all cycles of production.
Creatively Brave Way #3: Dedicated marketing
We often believe a myth: “If I build it, they will come.” That’s not true, especially not with the plethora of podcasts out there.
A new show needs to have a dedicated marketing budget, just as any product or service under a brand would have a promotion budget. Once you have a budget, you can put on your creative thinking hat to look for both traditional and unconventional ways to promote the show.
Creatively Brave Way #4: Your network is your superpower
All brands already have an existing audience, and there are several ways they can be leveraged and be turned into listeners of your podcast.
Internal newsletters, social media channels, PR campaigns, or even the company website: these are all vehicles to reach your “internal audience” and make them the fans (and followers) of your show. (I give examples of two specific shows in my talk below!)
Creatively Brave Way #5: It’s a marathon, not a race
Narrative podcasts create a deep and intimate connection with the audience. And these connections pay off only in the long run. A successful, well-funded show can stir emotions, build trust and loyalty and evoke favourable feelings toward your brand.
And it’s these long-term goals that any podcast should aim to achieve. Not, for instance, a spurt in your quarterly sales. But hey, who knows, a loyal listener who loves your podcast might just bet on your product and service too!
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