What Is Our Audience Struggling With, Successful Podcasts Ask?

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Podcast numbers keep growing—about 35% of Americans ages 18-54 now listen in. "People are adding more podcasts to their media diet [each month]," said Edison Research in their April survey and subsequent webinar. And what's great about podcasts is that they don't have to be huge productions.
Witness CampWire, the podcast of the American Camp Association (ACA). It has aired 10 episodes so far, and the last one on staff training drew the biggest audience. Camp directors tune in, and it was May, so no surprise there.
Sam Hirt, communications data specialist at the ACA, launched the podcast and offered some tips in an article in Associations Now. We add some of our member notes to it.
Know your audience and what they care about. "What do [listeners] want to hear about?" Hirt asked. "Can we talk for 40 minutes to an hour about it? And who is going to be the right voice for it?" Said Stephanie Williford, CEO, EB Medicine, whose EMplify won a 2018 SIPAward: "For our [audience], emergency physicians, who are notoriously ADHD, they can't stand to sit still and watch an educational video for more than a few minutes, but they love podcasts because they can listen and learn while doing something else too."
Be timely with your content—like CampWire's May staff training episode or a Spidell Publishing episode in early January that covered the details of the Jan. 31 filing extension provided to taxpayers affected by certain 2017 disasters.
Find a topic that you're audience struggles with. What are their pain points? For Hirt, it's marketing. "Just being at different ACA events, I've noticed that something a lot of camps struggle with is marketing because they're not marketers... and they're wearing all kinds of hats every day. Access Intelligence's Rotor and Wing International tells us that, "You may be a regular reader of the Rotorcraft Collective newsletter. Now the Rotorcraft Collective Podcast will expand our coverage of vertical-flight business intelligence and discuss the latest impacts of the industry on your operations and business."
Know your goals. Best-selling author and speaker Matt Bailey said that he has looked at several monetization models, but audience engagement and acquiring leads from third-party training partners are more his focus on the Endless Coffee Cup.
Find a quiet room to record.
Find the right software and host. ACA uses Audacity, a free, open-source audio software, to record and edit its podcast. For those with Macs, Hirt recommends GarageBand. Your podcast has to be hosted somewhere, and in order for it to be a link on your site, it must be on a podcast-type site, like SoundCloud or PodBean.
Use technology you're familiar with. Because many colleagues work remotely, Hirt was familiar with using Zoom for video and audio conferencing. So that's what he uses to conduct interviews for the podcast.
Give your editors and writers another platform to shine. Executive editor Aaron Larson is the very capable host for Access Intelligence's The POWER Podcast. Stephen D. Bruce, managing editor of BLR's media team, hosts HR Works. Kathryn Zdan does excellent work on Spidell's California Minute as does Kim Schmidt on Lessiter Media's Farm Equipment.
Release podcast episodes on a regular schedule. After releasing them sporadically at the start, ACA decided to debut them on the last Tuesday of each month, and it has seen its listenership dramatically rise. "I don't think people are on the edge of their seats waiting for it, but I think that people do think, 'Oh, yeah, the podcast is out again,'" Hirt said.
Plan ways to monetize. Soyini Coke, principal of SIPA member Annona Enterprises, has built up an excellent archive of podcasts—including ones featuring SIPA members EB Medicine and NewsRX. "I firmly believe that I have a large audience that has value, and the income will come," she told me. MoviePass is betting a lot on the same thought process.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…