Podcasts are big news now. They are a fantastic PR tool, or some people might say marketing tool, they showcase your expertise and also that of your guest or guests — and they are fun to do.
There are, of course, loads of podcasts in the world. Don’t let that stop you. So what? It doesn’t mean someone somewhere doesn’t need to hear you or be inspired by your story or a story that you share.
It’s okay to build your own audience. Just don’t labour under the illusion that you’ll soon have millions of followers. For the majority of us, that doesn’t happen. Unless you can get David Beckham as a guest or perhaps Chris Pine or Benedict Cumberbatch or someone else with a huge following…never say never! Even then though you’ll get a temporary spike and then it will settle down.
Yet, like any other activity there has to be both a plan and a purpose. Otherwise you won’t stick at it and you’ll be rather aimless and being aimless doesn’t give any audience confidence in you. Even celebrities will have a team around them to ensure a degree of consistency.
Therefore if you want to have your own podcast — or personal radio programme — it will require investment, it just will. Put the purpose first. Ask why am I doing this? Why am I starting on this journey?
For me, the ‘why’ is manifold. It helps promote my business. It helps promote me and my expertise. It helps promote my clients. It helps promote my contacts and connections showing how valuable they are. It helps to demonstrate clearly that I do know — and am connected to — other journalists and influencers. It showcases and gives voice to amazing stories. It provides me with a free resource that my connections can access and, it is also fun to do. Also I know, based on my experience, that it will lead to opportunities I cannot possibly predict — other than the fact that they will come along at some point.
I first started on this particular journey in the middle of 2021 with the above purpose in mind. I then came up with a plan. The plan allowed me to nail the process so that I was in this for the long game, as this never works if you are ‘messing about’ or you love it for five minutes, then you leave it and focus elsewhere. Therefore the plan had to be realistic for me so that I could play the long game.
When I’m planning any new activity related to my business I have to weigh up two things — cost v. time. I am very busy in my little business as I’m its only employee so time is a major factor for me. With that in mind, I knew I needed budget to allow me to do it. I would be spending more, than someone who was going to buy kit and then do it all themselves. This is perfectly possible however it’s far more time-consuming. And more time is something I don’t have. Also I’m not interested in the tech, I’m interested in the interviewing.
Therefore plan with a real honest assessment of how much time you can afford to spend — and how much money you are prepared to spend. It’s very, very important to do that. One will counter-balance the other and both are required, even for a very busy person.
If you are not sure where to start then get some training or at least sit with someone who has a podcast to see how they do it. This at least will give you a realistic starting point.
My starting point was to find a professional podcast specialist to get me going so that I didn’t fall into expensive potholes along the way. And that’s what I did, and I worked with this person for a whole year. I wanted to learn the process so that myself and my VA could manage it ourselves after that first year. And we’ve done that.
I also knew that I needed to record several podcasts in a day to give me ‘content in the can’ and I could have bought kit for this — indeed I did already have suitable kit at home apart from editing software. However by being smart, I identified that it was cheaper and easier to hire a radio studio at my local community radio station for a day, learn to use the simple kit, record my podcasts and then pay a little extra for them to edit it. The cost of this when I started was around £120 for a full day’s studio hire and basic editing. I hire the studio for four days a year.
This also builds in flexibility as sooner or later you will record a podcast which you find later has not worked and you’ll have to re-do it or drop it altogether. This has happened twice, both due to technical issues in recording.
There is also branding and music to consider. How did I make this look like my podcast, yet sit alongside my brand? How did I make it clearly my thing yet make it fun? For me I went for flexing my brand using a cartoon avatar created by cartoonist and artist Morgan Gleave. The first iteration showed me — but a lot slimmer than I am in real life. I asked him to change that. I felt it had to be authentic (even though I’d love to be that slim!).
This equated to a total spend of around £500 ish to bring the cartoon and the style together. I’ve been really thrilled with it.
On top of that there is the music. Now I could have chosen some generic music, downloaded a licence and paid a small amount. However, because my purpose was to play the long game, I decided to commission my own music which belonged to me, was original to me and the composer — and that I wouldn’t hear anywhere else. Hence I invested in the time of singer song writer Helena Eden. She took me through a process which allowed her to come up with music which worked in this context. She did a great job. I knew she would as she composed music for me in my tv days. Another £750 invested.
Having done this and got my ducks in a row — I looked at how many podcasts should I do a month? One a day? One a week? One a month? How would that work? You have to really look at your time to decide on this one. The less you do, the more time it takes to build an audience. The more you do, the more time it takes in the short term, yet you may build an audience more quickly…though you might not.
I went for a halfway position of two new podcasts per month — that’s 24 across a year. Broken down like that, it’s not then that onerous. Yet it’s another string to my PR bow. Each podcast is promoted in advance and each guest is asked to promote it on their social media channels too. That gives me something new to promote every single month — twice.
Then you have to consider if you want to pay your guests or are you going to ask them to be a guest for free? This is a matter for you. I’ve found that some ask for payment and some do not and I will consider such requests as I go — though largely I do NOT pay a guest without a very good reason. Them being famous is not a good enough reason for me. Them perhaps having to pay for childcare, would be a good enough reason.
Already by this stage, you will have thought about the subject matter of your podcast and my tip is to not make this too narrow. If you go too narrow you could find that you run out of things to say or guests to invite on. I’m not a great fan, as you can probably tell, of saying it’s best to have a niche. I’m not sure that’s always true and you shouldn’t get too hung up on it.
Sometimes the ‘niche’ comes from the subject matter you start to talk about very organically, because it interests you.
For me I focussed heavily on the BS I often hear in the world of PR and the world of small business. All of my guests can talk about BS in their own worlds or within their own personal experience. I’ve not had one who cannot talk about this. So consider subject matter which relates to all of the guests you want to feature.
Yet by far the greatest outcome for me is the ability to interview lots of interesting people for a length of time which is not normally afforded to me. Only last week, I met a lady in my own community who specialises in beauty and as we got talking she told me that she has alopecia and now she owns it. She will be a guest later in the year.
Finally today I want to talk about starting your podcast. I recorded my first day in mid 2021 ready for launch in the December that year. I wanted to kickstart my podcast with the 12 Days of Christmas — 12 podcasts across the first 12 days of December and then into the rhythm of two per month. That meant two days of recording, then editing ready to go on December 1. And by having a purpose and plan, and help along the way — that’s what we’ve done.
You also have to consider where your podcast will be hosted so that it populates the main sites and this will cost money — on average about £10 a month, however the more podcasts and the longer they are the more it will cost. I use Buzzsprout for this purpose and have found it easy to use.
To date, at time of writing, here are a few stats so far on my modest podcast — PR Not BS with Fiona Scott:
My podcast has had 2,174 downloads at present with the top podcast having 144 downloads and it was one which featured me — No BS PR Predictions for 2022. In second place with 97 downloads is PR Brilliance with national journalist Jill Foster.
29 per cent of my audience download via Apple, 20 per cent via Buzzsprout itself and 13 per cent via Spotify. My audience is split 92 per cent in Europe, four per cent from North America and one per cent from Africa. There have been odd downloads elsewhere but not enough to change the stats.
The unexpected outcomes in these early days have included:
- Two pieces of national publicity showcasing me as a new podcaster.
- Several pieces of local publicity doing the same thing.
- A piece of consultancy work to guide someone into setting up their own podcast.
- Two quotations from me to potential clients who want me to run their podcast for them.
- Given me a ‘reason’ to continue a conversation with interesting people I meet along the way.
My podcast is in its very early days however it’s brought so much benefit to me and my business. I have seen organic growth in turnover. I have enjoyed it hugely and will continue to do so. And I do believe more will come from it.
One thing I will do is to select some of those podcasts and share more of the stories of those people, how I met them, what I’ve learned and what happened next…
If you’d like to listen to any of my podcasts you can listen here — https://scottmedia.uk/podcasts/