Podcasting continues to mature by leaps and bounds each year. Lots of people point to “Serial” as the tipping point for mainstream interest in podcasting, but that show first launched way back in 2014; practically a century ago if you’ve been following the many twists and turns of this burgeoning industry.

In the time since, we’ve seen a swarm of Hollywood film and TV studios rush to acquire podcast IP for big-budget screen adaptations. We’ve seen even more celebrities launch exclusive (and often lucrative) shows. Meanwhile, popular podcasts are building entire brands, turning successful shows into book deals, live event tours, and entire networks of spinoff podcasts. We’ve also seen an increase in podcast advertising from brands hoping to convert podcasting’s typically loyal listeners into buyers.

Listen to our interview with Kevin Goldberg of DiscoverPods about the state of podcasting:

So, it makes sense that many marketers are thinking about corporate podcasting as a new content channel. We did the same – March launched Hacks and Flacks back in early 2015, and at the time we were one of the few PR agencies that, to our knowledge, had started its own podcast.

We’re also hearing more often from clients who are thinking about starting a show of their own. So, we wanted to create a guide that covers the basic considerations and requirements for corporate podcasting.

As with any other medium, podcasting may or may not be the right fit for your company. So, before you start investing in equipment or carving out time in your calendar, consider two important questions:

Is podcasting the right medium for your audience?

Traditionally, podcast listenership has skewed slightly young and male, but the demographics are balancing out much more every year. You should consider whether the people you want to reach are likely to listen to podcasts in the first place, and if sales are your goal, you should think even harder as to where podcasting would fit in your sales strategy. Podcast ads and sponsorships are notably very effective for driving purchase intent, but naturally, it depends on the product you’re selling.

Do you have the time for it?

People talk a lot about how easy it is to launch a podcast, and I always think it’s important to add context here. Yes, podcasting has a relatively low barrier of entry compared to other forms of audio production. You know, like radio broadcasting. It’s even, in some ways, easier to do than a video show, and if you have a good process or the passion for it, maybe you can even produce a podcast episode faster than you’d write a blog. But at the end of the day, it’s still a time commitment. You need to make sure you and your team can devote time to episode coordination, hosting, recording, editing and publishing, or talk to a partner who can help (like March).

Let’s assume you’re ready to take the plunge. What should you think about next?

Developing a good concept

There are more than 500,000 shows on Apple Podcasts. Suffice it to say, a lot of the good ideas have already been taken.

But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for your show in this crowded landscape. It all comes back to your concept: what’s unique about your company that would be worth sharing with the world? Do the people on your staff have unique, sought-after viewpoints that you want to expose to the world? Do you have a lot of institutional industry knowledge that you’ve struggled to make public via other content platforms? Is there something special about your culture or the way you think as a business that would be valuable for your audience to hear in the more intimate audio setting?

One March client started a podcast because their customers asked for it. Given that defined need, we started to think about what kind of show we could develop that would provide value to the audience, that would feel right for the brand, and that would lead to fun and engaging conversations. We ultimately created “The Emerging World of Work,” which features interviews with top experts on leadership, management, entrepreneurship, and related topics. The concept fit the brand story and content strategy, so it was worth doing.

Inside Trader Joe’s” is another example of a good corporate podcast concept. It’s very much a promotional show, but it’s presented in a narrative format that’s meant to reward the brand’s loyal base of shoppers with a behind-the-scenes look at how the company is run. The show was a surprise hit in 2018.

Some things to consider when developing your concept:

Who will be your host, and why? Is it a top executive you want to make more visible? Or will you have a rotating cast of hosts, as a way to inject different voices into the show? The right host needs to be able to carry a conversation, guide guests, and present well on audio.

What’s your format? One-on-one interviews? Multi-guest interviews? Maybe you can skip interviews altogether and instead do a narrative-style show. Or maybe you want to publish a “news update” show like “The Daily,” where you’re pumping out lots of very short episodes. The format will have a major impact on time commitment, as well as recording and editing requirements. We’ve found that, if you want to have guests, one-on-one interviews are typically the fastest and easiest shows to produce.

What’s your pace? Will you be publishing monthly, weekly or, gasp, daily? Obviously the more frequently you want to publish, the tighter and more streamlined you’ll need to be from a production standpoint.

Will guests be recorded locally or remotely? I always prefer to interview guests in-person because I can provide my own microphones and manage the recording conditions myself. But, sometimes you need to accommodate remote guests, and that can be tricky. I’ve found a Zoom web conference offers the easiest and best quality solution for remote podcasts, but there are a lot of different software tools or techniques to try, like a remote double-ender (where your guest records their part of the conversation using their own local recording device, and then sends you their audio file to combine with your vocals later).

How do you want the show to sound? Part of this has to do with music. You can source music from online audio libraries, but we’d recommend finding an actual musician to compose original tracks so that you can build a library of sounds that works perfectly for your brand.

You also want to think about the “feel” of the show. Do you want it to sound serious? Quirky? Formal? Casual? Fast-paced? Leisurely? Give some thought to the actual audio experience you want to deliver to your audience.

Content is only part of the equation. You’ll also want to think about the technical requirements of your podcast. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series for more on that.