How to run a podcast
Podcasts are so hot right now! Once the staple of the daily commute, not even a global lockdown can quench our incessant thirst for knowledge. Whether washing the dishes, out jogging or even at the shops, we are constantly finding ways of maximizing our hands-free time.
Fitness, finance, fiction, economics, lifestyle, education, history… there is something for everyone to scratch that aural itch.
Then you think, we could do that in our (insert scientific niche) industry! Why not?
But, where do we start?
How many episodes would we do?
Who would be good on the show?
How would we interview our guy across the pond?
These are exactly the questions that I had when planning the “Marketing Science Podcast”.
Let’s get a bunch of guests on to talk about shared experiences around B2B Marketing.
A “Minor” problem was that I didn’t know the first thing about microphones, gain, audio software, normalisation, equalising etc.
Just like learning to code, do marketing automation or managing paid search - You don't realise just how much you don't know... until you're in too deep!
I certainly wouldn’t call myself a technical guy and I didn’t want to create a below par product, so to guide me through the process, I enlisted the help of our leading audio-visual technician– Will. It also helped enormously that Will plays the bass, guitar and drums in 3 different bands!
Our AV team comprises musicians and singers with decades of experience
Whilst the number of steps may appear daunting at first, here is a step by step guide on to how to run your podcast.
In the B2B marketing space there are generally a few key reasons why people go to the trouble of creating a podcast:
- Lead Generation
- Thought Leadership
- Brand Awareness
- Drive Traffic
Your first question should always be, what is the objective of your podcast? Setting clear objectives will help as you develop your tone and style along the way.
Invest in specialist sound equipment. Great content can be ruined by poor audio, make sure that your host has a proper podcasting microphone such as the Blue Yeti, or better yet a Zoom H6 recorder (not to be confused with Zoom software!) which allows multiple channels to be recorded simultaneously. This makes editing and post-production much easier and gives you a better finished product!
As you will not always be in the same location as your guests, make sure you invest in the software to enable you to record separate audio tracks from remote locations.
Once you have the recording, download studio-grade audio software to put the finishing touches on the audio quality.
Your host is the foundation of your podcast. They must be knowledgeable, eloquent and able to capture the audience’s attention using only their voice.
Remember that classic sales motto, “67% of communication on the phone is non-verbal", i.e. it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. That leaves 33% for the content of your speech, which leads us on to the next point…
Build up a guest list of people who you would like to feature. It helps if you have an example or pilot episode to show them as most people will likely be a little reticent to try something completely new. The more guidance you can give to make your guests feel relaxed, the better the end product.
Send questions well ahead of time to allow your guests time to prepare and encourage them to steer the agenda which will serve as a semi-structured discussion. Reach out a day before to ensure that they are comfortable with the format and know what to expect.
It’s important to strike the correct balance between structure and flow. Too structured and it will come across as robotic. However, with no planning or forethought, it will appear waffly or vague – Too far in either direction and you will struggle to entice the listener back for the next episode.
Ideally, listeners really engage with stories and anecdotes. It is the host’s responsibility to ensure that the pace, cadence and rhythm of the podcast flows seamlessly whilst offering opinion, counterarguments and active discussion points.
It is now the host’s job to steer the discussion in the most engaging way possible for the listener. Remember to be concise and encourage debate and dialogue on each point. No-one wants to listen to ten 5-minute monosyllabic responses to the host’s questions!
There are 2 schools of thought here and it really depends on how much editing you are willing to do.
- Hit record, let the discussion flow and crop it down in the editing phase. Much like video recording, this is where you can work your magic in the editing suite.
- Have the interviewee prepare a succinct set of answers and short stories, delivering them in a concise manner. This approach often works well for people with lots of media experience.
It is a balancing act between encouraging your interviewee to be concise, but still inject their sincere, authentic personality. If you are lucky, your guests will be naturally comfortable at delivering their content in one take!
Naturally, the first recording is always the most nerve racking – You’ve never done this before… What if the audio doesn’t work? What if I mess up? What if it’s boring? What if I’m boring?
Ask about podcasts
These are all the questions running through your head and can paralyse you with fear… Where possible, schedule a dry run in a low-pressure environment where you record yourself and perform a constructive self-critique of areas for improvement.
Editing and post-production
This is where the magic really happens. We’ve touched on the hardware and software which allow you to record each speaker individually to their own audio track - this allows you to balance the levels in post-production, in case someone spoke too quietly or had a louder microphone than everyone else – This makes a huge difference once you get used to polishing a finished product.
You can also record your intros and outros separately from the main conversation and add them in post-production. This allows you to frame it and can give you a great flow as you tease in the following week’s episode and of course, remind people to hit subscribe.
Record your outros and intros separately to frame each conversation.
Now without getting too technical, here is a quick look at the actions which you should take when using software to edit your podcast:
- Noise reduction reduces unwanted noise such as background hiss, microphone bumps and heavy breathing.
- Equalisation modifies the balance between the high and low frequencies in the recording, so that it doesn’t sound harsh or muddy.
- Compression controls the overall volume, making sure no words or phrases are too quiet or too loud, and maintaining a consistent listening volume.
All of the above are different methods of enhancing the quality of audio in your podcast and ultimately make your tracks sound more polished and professional.
Will, our resident AV wizard in the natural habitat of his music studio.
Now comes the fun part which everyone wants to know – How many downloads are we going to get?!
We’d recommend using a third party podcast distribution services. From here you can manage all of your episodes, your podcast’s website/homepage and pick up cool Audio players which you can embed into blog pieces and web pages.
This is not to be confused with a podcast player. The distribution services basically provide RSS feeds of your podcasts so that the players such as Spotify, Youtube and Apple Podcasts can find them.
There are various slick integrations which you can set up so that your podcast can be accessed via the different players.
As a general rule of thumb, your podcast hosting service needs a standardised format to be accepted into the major podcast players. Let’s use Apple Podcasts as an example – You need:
- A correctly formatted RSS feed
- Author copyright
- Tags and description
- A correct square image artwork size between 1400px and 3000px
- It needs to be visually distinct as you will be competing against all the other podcasts out there.
- At least one published episode, teaser or trailer
- Many people often create a trailer to show that the RSS feeds are working and that your trailer episode can be viewed in the podcast player
- iTunes ID needs to be authorized for purchases
- Then you are ready to log in to Apple Podcasts Connect and add your RSS feed
For instance, on Apple Podcasts you must create a podcast connect profile and submit it through there. Once it is in Apple, lots of the smaller podcast feeds will assume it’s fine and list it.
It’s worth noting that some players can take up to 10 days to accept your podcast. Once your show has been accepted, episodes are easy to upload.
Once you have the finished product, you'll have a ton of quality content which you can re-purpose, re-engineer and re-cycle on different platforms in different formats.
We'll use subtitled AV soundbites which are perfect for social media and even embedding in blog posts to hook someone in.
Listen, Subscribe, Produce
Have a question about Podcasts? Check out the Marketing Science Podcast where we bring you the latest in B2B Marketing for Science, Engineering and Healthcare