Last week I wrote about how to convince your boss to create a podcast. Now we are looking at the opposite scenario: your boss wants to create a podcast but not for the right reasons, and it’s up to you to change their mind.
Many leaders want to create a podcast to amplify their profile. This in itself is not a problem. We believe it’s a smart strategy. Podcasting is a fantastic tool to demonstrate thought-leadership as it allows for deep discourse and exploration of nuances that are hard to achieve in other mediums. Individuals and brands can successfully use podcasts to demonstrate their position, values, and ways of thinking.
However, some people don’t create podcasts to solve a problem or create value for the listener. Instead, a podcast becomes a vanity project.
Your boss might have appeared as a guest on a podcast, and found it was a lot of fun. And, it seemed easy to do with the recording technology available. It is easy to be a guest on another podcast — especially if it’s an interview show. There’s little to no prep needed. You just show up and chat.
Creating a good podcast that people will want to listen to is very different.
Our approach is simple: don’t create a podcast unless you can do it well. And doing it well means following our recipe for podcast success.
So, if your team is not ready to do what it takes, here are three questions to pose to your boss if you are trying to convince them not to make a podcast.
1 Can you (will you) invest?
The investment doesn’t have to be a financial one. Your time investment will likely be much bigger than any dollars you have to put in. People who have never worked in podcasting always underestimate the amount of work that goes into the production and recording of a well-executed show. Most first-time producers assume that once you have a decent microphone you can start recording a quality show right away. Only with experience comes the realization that between research, writing, recording, pick-ups, edits, booking guests (and inevitably rebooking guests), fact-checking, sound mixing and design, the podcast production cycle is extremely time-consuming.
Your boss likely doesn’t think about the amount of preparation that will go into each episode and they might believe they can just show up and have a nice chat with their friends and other fascinating minds. And they believe that this is what makes for an engaging episode.
Writing compelling storylines is hard. Sending microphones to guests to get the best possible sound quality is time-consuming. Editing interviews to make them engaging for listeners requires talent, patience, and thoughtfulness. Booking guests can be simple, as your boss will invite his smart friends for a chat, but once that pool has dried up, researching contacting, and, booking guests requires effort and more time. Plus, mixing and sound design requires expertise that not many companies have in-house.
How to get your boss not to make a podcast: Create an overview of all the work required for your boss and set up realistic expectations on what can be achieved by the team. Make it clear that this is not a ‘side of the desk’ project.
2 Does the show add anything to the podcast space?
Before starting a podcast you need to answer the following question: why would a listener choose your show over any of the other podcasts that are available out there. Time and attention is our most precious resource. As creators, we want to make sure they spend that attention on something where they receive value in return.
If the reason for creating your boss’s show is to promote a product or service or elevate someone’s status, you are not thinking about the value to the listener in this equation. You need to think about it the other way around: why would someone pick your boss’s podcasts over something else?
What is the value proposition for the listener?
Is it entertaining or engaging?
What makes it stand out from other podcasts?
What problem is the podcast solving for the listeners?
If your boss can’t answer all these questions it’s going to be very tricky to find an audience.
There are millions of podcasts available. Whatever we create now needs to distinguish itself from what is already out there. It has to be either original or better than comparable shows to get someone’s attention.
How to get your boss not to make a podcast: Show your boss all the other podcasts that are similar to the one they want to create. Illustrate that this space is already filled with successful and established shows. Explain that competing with these shows would be extremely challenging and consequently building a meaningful audience might not be feasible.
3 Can you commit to marketing and promotion?
The recent explosion of podcasts results in one simple problem for creators: how can my show stand out from the many shows available and how will it break through the clutter? This is a problem that all podcasts face but shows made by brands may have a special hurdle to overcome. How can you convince a potential listener that your show is not simply marketing collateral but a real podcast that can add value to their lives?
We often hear from potential clients that we don’t need to worry about the marketing of their podcasts because they have a large network already. However, what we have learned is that even our biggest clients that have huge marketing departments and budgets need to be thoughtful, strategic, and resourceful to make sure the show finds an audience.
Everyone in this industry knows that a ‘build it and they will come’ plan does not work in this space. We tell our clients that you have to put as much work into the audience development part as you do in the creative part of podcasting.
You need to think about your earned, owned, and paid media strategies. You need to decide on your best distribution setup. You need to make smart decisions around product packaging. You need to identify how you are going to measure success and what technology you use to get the right data to make the best decisions in the future.
Instead of thinking about marketing your show, we prefer to use the term Audience Development. This is a holistic approach to maximizing the chances that your desired audience finds your podcast.
How to get your boss not to make a podcast: Create a rough marketing plan. Show the amount of work and dollars needed to successfully build an audience and ensure your boss is aware of the work required.
If you are not ready for a podcast, there are other options
Many people default to podcasting right now when they have stories to tell but not everyone considers what audio is good for. Audio is amazing for intimate, engaging storytelling, and for reaching people when they are not (or choose not to be) at their screens. But it’s not the right medium for every purpose. Investigate what your boss wants to achieve and then figure out whether podcasting is the right solution for that problem.
Is there a different medium that’s better suited for your business problem? Should this be a social media campaign? Could this just be a blog post? An email? A video or series?
You might find that audio is indeed the right solution for your business problem. But does this need to be a podcast hosted by your boss? Does it have to be an interview show? Does it need to be something more highly produced? Has your boss considered different podcast formats that might be a better fit?
Having a podcast to demonstrate thought-leadership is not a bad thing. But it has to be well-considered and executed to stand out from all the other available podcasts. A badly executed podcast can be counterproductive to your thought leadership strategy.
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