Over the last month, we’ve received a huge number of questions about podcasting during this pandemic. We’ve decided to share the most common questions we’ve been asked, along with our responses. We’re going to continually update this post while we are in such a challenging and unprecedented environment. Please let us know if you have any additional questions you’d like to see added to this FAQ — just email me or leave a response on this post.
Can you produce a podcast in a time of social distancing? (production-wise)
Yes. Podcasting is fortunate to have software and strategies to be able to record guests with high-quality audio remotely. Podcasters can record interviews and stories with guests all over the world without ever needing to have two humans in the same physical location.
The only type of audio production that can’t be done easily during a time of social distancing is recording in the field. Field recording is the audio where you would typically hear a journalist at a location with a guest, often doing some sort of activity or recording an event happening in person.
There is a wide range of podcast formats that do not require field recording, so there are no technical barriers to making an excellent podcast during this pandemic.
Is a podcast an option for pivoting my marketing strategy from a live event or conference?
Yes. You could transition all your keynotes and panels to an audio-only format and they can all be recorded remotely with high-quality audio.
You can also set up a private podcast feed and only make the podcast available to people who have registered for your live event or conference.
One of the benefits of shifting to audio for an on-demand live event or conference is that engagement rates are often much higher for audio than video. If there is a significant amount of content for your live event, it might be daunting to think about sitting in front of a screen for many hours. Audio, though, is often consumed while people are doing other activities, like walking, working out, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc. Completion rates are often 80–95% for 25–30 minute episodes.
Another strategy for transitioning a live event into a podcast is to space out the publishing of episodes instead of bulk releasing them. Having regular updates and touchpoints throughout the course of the pandemic is a way to create and maintain connection and community with your live event attendees. They may well enjoy building you into their new routines.
Can I make a private podcast for my employees or conference attendees?
Yes. There are several companies — uStudio, Supporting Cast, Podbean, Storyboard, etc. — that make it possible to have private podcast feeds for employees, conference attendees, or premium subscribers to a content feed.
The decision factors to consider are whether security is more important than convenience or vice-versa. There are great solutions if you want to talk about highly confidential issues with your employees, but there is more friction in getting employees to install an app and listen to your podcast.
If you are communicating information that isn’t confidential, there are less secure options for private feeds that allow your staff or conference attendees to listen in their existing podcast apps (which reduces friction considerably).
And if you really want to minimize friction, consider whether you can publish your podcast publicly and only promoting it to those you want to listen. The internal American Airlines podcast is a great example of a show designed for employees, but that is fully public because of their belief that there is no such thing as internal communications anymore.
Storyboard is reporting a significant increase in companies setting up these types of private podcasts since the beginning of March.
How quickly can I get a podcast to market?
As with so many other industries and businesses, Pacific Content has had to rethink our best practices for launching a podcast to adjust to new business needs and realities right now.
Normally, our best practice is to take roughly 4 months from a strategic kick-off to a public launch, a timeframe designed to deliver a fantastic podcast, a fantastic marketing plan, and to minimize production timeline risks.
Today, though, we are working with a number of brands who have urgent and important information to share through a podcast and they want to get to market as soon as possible. We have retooled our processes so that we can get a high-quality podcast up and launched in 4–6 weeks. There is a requirement for everyone on our team and our clients’ teams to move quickly and without any delays, but if everyone is committed, we can get a podcast to market faster than we’ve ever been able to do before.
As always, we strongly encourage anyone considering a new podcast to think about the audience first. This is a time, more than ever, to think about how you can generously serve your audience instead of selling to them. How can you create value in the current environment? What is the gift that you can provide to audiences that will be a great use of their precious time?
Will I seem tone-deaf if I keep publishing “regular” episodes?
Pacific Content recommends evaluating the subject matter of your episodes and considering holding anything that would not be appropriate or valuable during a time of social distancing.
However… while there is still a strong appetite for topical COVID-19 information, working from home strategies, business strategies for a new age, and other subjects that are top of mind right now, listeners are also likely looking for podcasts to serve other needs.
We believe that escapism, health and wellness, family-oriented content, and education/personal development are a few areas where listeners may move towards as an escape from news and current affairs.
For most shows, we believe that continuing to publish regular episodes makes a lot of sense, particularly if you are able to acknowledge the current circumstances. We recently shared a strategy for how to do this with dynamic audio insertion for your episodes.
How can I record my existing podcast remotely?
Pacific Content’s team has written a couple of blog posts with our best practices for setting up a spot in your home as a recording space, and how to get the best sounding audio from your guests remotely.
How has podcast consumption changed since COVID-19?
We’ve been getting a LOT of questions about how COVID-19 has impacted podcast consumption patterns over the past few weeks. Here’s the view from Pacific Content’s vantage point:
First, it’s early, and there’s no conclusive industry-wide data yet. Podcast listening platforms (Apple, Spotify, etc.) and hosting companies (Simplecast, Megaphone, Art19, etc.) have the best bird’s-eye view of the industry, and we’ve seen conflicting reports:
- Podtrac (an industry ranker) is reporting that after an initial softening, listening is up.
- Megaphone (a popular hosting platform) says downloads continue to trend upward, with changes in time of day patterns, and a shift towards news content
- Acast (another hosting platform and studio) says global listens are up 7%, with a decrease in sports content, and an increase in Education, Entertainment, Science & Medicine, and Health shows
- According to Chartable’s data, downloads and listens are down, but engagement rates are off the charts.
- Podsights (another industry ranker) says podcast downloads are “holding about steady in aggregate,” with gains in certain categories like News
- Digiday reports that despite the disappearance of a morning commute, podcast revenue continues to grow.
- Magellan reports that industries like VPNs, alcohol, household products are increasing their advertising spend on podcasts, while travel, live entertainment, and gambling are cutting their spending
- The New York Times analyzes the shift in overall media consumption patterns
This is all against the backdrop of significant year-over-year growth in US podcast awareness and consumption, as reported in The Infinite Dial 2020.
We’ll continue to watch these industry trends over time, and will update this post as we see new data and trends emerge.
Are listeners choosing different types of content during the pandemic?
Content-wise, there’s a strong appetite for topical news and information. That said, we’re also seeing desire for distraction and escapism.
For the shows we make at Pacific Content, there’s a built-in tension between topical and evergreen content. The good news: it doesn’t have to be a choice. Episodes can be both topical AND evergreen, thanks to dynamic audio insertion.
Do you think we will see any new listening patterns or behaviors emerging with so many people staying at home?
Podcasting is a medium based on loyalty, habit, and routine… and COVID-19 has disrupted many habits and routines.
A thoughtful take from longtime industry-watcher Tom Webster at Edison Research:
I’ve seen people assume that podcast consumption will go up as we have all of this time at home. I wouldn’t make that assumption. COVID-19 represents a giant disruption in people’s patterns, and those patterns include how podcasts fit into their typical day, which for now doesn’t exist. If you used to listen to podcasts on your commute, well, many of us aren’t commuting. And while we now have all of this time at home, which Infinite Dial and Share of Ear both tell us is the top location for podcast consumption, many of us (myself included) now unexpectedly have kids at home, which doesn’t exactly leave much time for podcasts. As we’ve seen with other significant world events and disasters, media patterns disrupt in unpredictable ways, like a snow globe being shaken up. I’m not saying all podcasts will go down, but some will. Love NBA podcasts? There aren’t any games. Politics junkie? Primaries are canceled. Some people run to bad news in times like this, while others who normally regularly consume news will studiously avoid it. I think you keep doing your show, but don’t expect the same results. And all of this holds true for radio, too.
Podigee reports an increase in browser-based listening, which has traditionally been seen as an ineffective way to drive listening:
We are also keen to see if there is a rise in the usage of smart speakers, or an increasing complexity in the ways we use smart speakers. With almost a quarter of adults in the U.S. owning a smart speaker, and those who own one now averaging 2.6 smart speakers per household, there is a huge opportunity for people to discover the true power of a smart speaker for uses beyond timers, alarms, and weather updates. Early polling is already showing usage increasing with so many people staying at home.
Once again, please let us know if you have any additional questions you’d like to see added to this FAQ — just email me or leave a response on this post.
Thanks — all of us at Pacific Content hope all of you are staying safe and healthy!
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