By Matthew Blackett, Publisher, Spacing
Podcasts have become a vital component in engaging with your magazine’s readers. Adding a podcast to your publication’s repertoire is no easy task; it should be approached in the same way that your staff would go through when developing a commemorative issue or special insert. Below are five steps for you to consider before uploading your first episode.
STEP 1: IDENTIFY GOALS OF PODCAST
It’s important to identify all of the reasons why your magazine needs to launch a podcast. Here are some of the most common goals.
- Increase awareness of the magazine: A podcast is the classic “brand extension” and opens you up to attracting new readers who may only have been exposed to your podcast;
- Provides new avenue for you to share editorial and complement magazine content: As every writer has told one of your editors, “there was a lot of content that didn’t make it into the article.” Podcasts offer you the opportunity to expand on quotes and ideas presented in your articles and features.
- Share info about your magazine and other business needs: Podcasts offer the opportunity to promote your own events, market special offers on magazine subscriptions, etc.
- Monetize the podcast: Depending on the size of your audience, you can sell sponsorship or advertising on your podcast.*
* A cautionary note about advertising and sponsorship—very few, if any, magazines that launch a podcast will make significant revenue from ads or sponsorships. Unless you’re attracting tens of thousands of listeners to a podcast, the numbers just don’t add up. One solution is to add the sponsorship of a podcast as part of an ad sales package (i.e., “for $500 more an issue you can be the sole advertiser on our podcast” or “if you buy the outside back cover for the year, we’ll make you the only sponsor of our podcast for the year, too”).
Another solution to the ad/sponsor challenge is to make the podcast a value-added benefit for subscribing to the magazine. That means making the podcast exclusive only to your subscribers. Reducing the number of people you can reach by essentially putting the podcast behind a paywall may not make your ad sales reps happy, but it might be good news for your circulation department who are looking for any way to attract new readers and retain existing subscribers.
STEP 2: TRANSLATE THE VOICE & TONE OF YOUR MAGAZINE INTO THE PODCAST
Your magazine has a unique voice; it might be serious and informed or it could be accessible and light. Whatever tone you try to project within the pages of your magazine should be reflected in your podcast.
Identifying the voice will allow you to envision the format and the type of guests you want to invite onto the show. By using a similar tone/voice from your magazine, your magazine readers will feel more at ease with your new product.
STEP 3: IDENTIFY FORMAT FOR PODCAST
The format of your podcast will help give it a shape and flow. Much like your magazine, the podcast should be split into digestible sections. It’s absolutely fine to even mimic the format of your magazine: start with a few short bits (front of book), a main topic or theme (cover section), and finish it off with some short and light content (back of mag).
A successful format for a podcast is to theme the episode. From a bird’s eye view, this allows the podcast to feel like all of its components are related and intertwined. It allows your marketing and circulation teams to target groups of listeners and gives you the potential to attract new listeners that are interested in the theme.
STEP 4: COMBINING PODCAST MAGAZINE PRODUCTION TIMELINE
Depending on your magazine’s frequency, you should work the podcast producer and the podcast’s production timeline into your production schedule. Below is a rough template for how/when to include your podcast team into the magazine’s workflow.
- Editorial team discusses next issue articles, themes, etc.
Podcast producer attends meeting and participates in editorial decisions;
Potential to suggest which articles are podcast-friendly
- Articles submitted, edited
Podcast producer reviews final articles, picks best fit for podcast;
Podcast producer approaches writer for contact info of experts quoted
- Articles go into layout
Podcast goes into production: interviews recorded
- Magazine goes to printer
Podcast enters post-production stage
- Magazine distributed to store
Podcast uploaded, post made to website, promotion begins
- Release party/related event
Podcast promoted at event
STEP 5: LAUNCHING YOUR PODCAST
Your podcast should come with a lot of fanfare. You need to take every opportunity to promote it: in the magazine with ads, easy-to-find links and house ads on your website, posts in your social media channels, in your monthly newsletter, a mention from our editor in their opening column—draw attention to it with prizes and cross-promotions with advertisers. Include a blow-out card to subscribers. Take every opportunity to promote this free product you’re offering to readers.
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