We set out on our first podcasting initiative at my company about a year ago. At the time, I remember feeling a little excitement the first time I saw our logo in the same space on iTunes as the cover of the hottest new albums.
Of course, we weren't expecting to attract the same crowd as Mariah Carey or the Black Eyed Peas. But we believed the medium had strong potential as a way to share our thinking on some hot topics in the financial industry.
Through iTunes, our website and other channels, we're attracting a growing audience for our podcasts. And we continue to refine what we offer. Here are a half-dozen tips based on what we're learning about the medium and our audience:
Tip #1: Explore the variety of recording options
You obviously will get the highest quality podcast recording by going to a professional studio. But that can get expensive, and it requires having your speakers appear onsite at the studio.
Another way to record is to acquire professional-grade microphones and software such as Sony's Sound Forge Audio Studio. Running these tools on an office computer, we've been able to conduct interview-style conversations and produce good quality recordings.
You can also record a discussion using one of the many online conference and chat rooms now available, and then convert it into a podcast. In our experience, the editing and splicing required with this approach diminishes recording quality markedly.
Tip #2: Be brief
Some recent research has suggested that length isn't really important when producing a podcast. Don't believe it. At least if it's a business-oriented podcast, more than two-thirds of which are consumed at the desktop. Few people can sit at their desk and listen to a long podcast with the phone ringing and the boss walking by. Keep it to five-to-seven minutes.
Tip #3: Use a format that matches your objectives
In our early podcasts we employed professional voice talent to deliver content derived from white papers and other point-of-view documents we'd prepared on various issues. However, we determined that a better way to share the ideas of our key leaders and industry luminaries was to have them do it themselves. So we shifted to recording interviews with these people.
The interview approach has made for more lively, interesting and credible productions. And it's the easiest to write. Just prepare five to seven good questions, roughly one per minute of podcast, and fire away. The audience will appreciate the spontaneity and natural auditory breaks of a good conversation.
Tip #4: Create an audio signature
N. B. C. As you read those letters, I bet you started hearing the familiar three tones that are the audio signature of the National Broadcasting Company. You can create the same kind of distinctive ID for your podcasts. We use a short musical signature that introduces our podcasts and serve as a transition between sections.
Tip #5: Market like you mean it
No one is waiting with bated breath for your podcasts. That means you have to put marketing muscle behind them. Put them on iTunes. Put them on the many aggregator sites such as Podblaze and Podcast Alley. And be sure to drive traffic to them on your website via links and keywords.
Tip #6: Define your tracking upfront
What do you want to know about the people who download your podcast? It's important to decide how you want to track them -- and what you want to know about them -- before launch.
Following these tips won't guarantee your podcasts draw downloads like Mariah's latest release. But they'll help you feel confident that you're getting the biggest bang for your efforts and bucks.