How (and Why) to Create a Thought Leadership Podcast

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Last year, we predicted that 2018 would be the year of the voice, and in many respects, we were right. Voice-activated virtual assistant usage grew, voice and video continued to explode in social media, and we continued to see evidence that talking may be on its way to winning ground back from typing.

But one area in which voice really took off? Podcasting.

Edison Research’s Infinite Dial study found that 73 million people in the United States listened to podcasts monthly in 2018, and 48 million listened weekly. That’s more than watch NFL Sunday Night Football. And just weeks ago, music streaming giant Spotify paid more than $300 million to acquire podcasting companies Gimlet and Anchor.

Why are we so hooked? According to the folks at Backyard Media, listeners value podcasts because they’re portable, on-demand, and the perfect secondary activity to complement a primary activity, like cooking, driving, or cleaning, that isn’t too mentally demanding.

And as podcasts have exploded, business leaders, corporations, and entrepreneurs have found in them an opportunity to build reputations—or bolster established reputations—as thought leaders. 

Like blogging, podcasting is an accessible way for individuals and organizations to build platforms as thought leaders in their areas of expertise. The creator has control over the message and content, and the finished product becomes a marketing asset that can be used long after the recording is finished.

But there are a couple of benefits to podcasting that blogs don’t have: First, the general accessibility to consumers. Audio is available and accessible when text and video are not, and as we mentioned, listening can be a secondary activity in a way that reading cannot.

Second, and perhaps more important, is the communication advantage of using your voice to build stronger trust and deeper connections with your audience. And, as we wrote in “The Year of the Voice,” there’s a neurological reason for that. When an audience can feel and share the emotions behind your message, they’re more likely to remember it, internalize it, and share it. And for that reason, podcasting is a powerful way for thought leaders to build trust and loyalty among their audiences.

How to Create a Thought Leadership Podcast

Given both their popularity and their power as a communication platform, a growing number of our clients have asked us for help strategizing about how to create a great podcast.

In many ways, launching a podcast is similar to launching any other marketing campaign. In broad strokes, here’s your step-by-step guide to getting starting.

1.   Prepare

Just like any other sales or marketing initiative—or any communication initiative, really—the first step is to home in on your ideal audience. Who are they, and how can your expertise help fulfill those needs?

Learn why getting to know your audience is key to success in any communication event.

Once you know who you’re talking to, you can begin identifying relevant angles within your field of expertise in order to outline topics for upcoming episodes. Identify what you want your audience to learn or do as a result of each episode, and start tracking down the research, anecdotes, and guest experts that can help you achieve that goal.

Next, you’ll need to craft the episodes. Put together either a full script or a detailed list of talking points, supporting materials, and stories to be sure each episode is clear, persuasive, and easy for audiences to follow. And here’s a pro-tip as you’re writing: frame your message in storytelling as much as possible, from individual (relevant) anecdotes to an overarching story structure that includes heroes, objectives, and obstacles.

Learn more about  the power of storytelling and its neurological effect on listeners.

Finally, spend some time rehearsing before you head into the recording studio. While one advantage of a recorded session as opposed to a live broadcast is the ability to record second—or third or fourth—takes, the more prepared you are heading into the studio, the more efficient the process will be and the more professional the final product will sound.

2.   Execute

Once you, your guests, and your script are ready to go, it’s time to execute the podcast. This includes recording, editing, and publishing, and there are a couple different routes you can go depending on your own technical expertise and the resources you have available to you.

If you or someone on your team know your way around a microphone and an audio editor, you can build your own recording booth, gather your equipment, and go at it. Here’s a full guide to DIY podcast creation.

However, if DIY isn’t your organization’s strength, you can reach out to local recording studios for support, including sound engineering, editing, music selection, and even publication. Here in Austin, a quick Google search for podcast recording studios yields dozens of options, including the punnily named Tequila Mockingbird and the University of Texas Podcast Services.

Once you’ve got two or three episodes completed and you’re ready to launch, it’s time to start publishing. If you’ve worked with a recording studio, it’s likely they’ll be able to handle this for you. If you’ve gone the DIY route, this guide from ConvertKit will tell you everything you need to know.

3.   Market

Just like with all forms of corporate thought leadership, creating and publishing a podcast is just the start. In order to attract listeners (and convert them to raving fans), you’ll need to build a marketing campaign around the launch of the podcast as well as each ensuing episode.

Some techniques may include

  • building a landing page ahead of time, where listeners can sign up to be notified of the launch;
  • sending emails to your mailing list teasing what they’ll be able to learn by listening; and
  • finding influencers in your field who are willing to promote your podcast by plugging it for you, especially if they are a guest on your podcast.

Your organization’s marketing team will be able to build a detailed plan to ensure every episode reaches target listeners—and more importantly, to convert those listeners to fans. It’s not an easy process, but with the right dedication and strategy, the results will be worthwhile.

Once an obscure medium for nerds and news junkies, podcasts have become mainstream, and they’re changing the way audiences consume content. If you and your organization are ready to build or bolster your reputation as thought leaders, it may be time to get onboard.