I finally wrote the book

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Association Podcasting THE BOOK IS HERE! You asked for it and I finally did it.

Learn the best ways to tell your organization’s story with a podcast.

Most organizations understand that a podcast is an essential part of their communications strategy. How to record it, what to talk about, what do we do with it, how do we launch it, and what is success are just a few of the many things that need to be considered before starting your organization’s podcast. This book contains a proven step by step approach to guide you in making a successful podcast to tell your organization’s story.

Find out where you can buy the book.

Alexa Echo in a peaceful setting

Flash briefings are the new podcasts

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Remember podcasts 10 years ago? Maybe not. Only the forward-thinkers knew what they were. Now everyone has their own.

Alexa Flash Briefings are the new podcasts

Alexa Flash Briefings, like podcasts in 2008, are in their infancy. And they are here to stay. Quick to make and get out, easy for your audience to get their ears on. Don’t play catch up. Get ahead of the curve and start yours today.

*Hint: Think Audio

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You need to communicate with your members, attract new members, educate and inform the public. There are so many ways to get the word out there. Which do you choose? And how do you make it effective? Which types of communications are suited to which purpose? How much money should you budget for campaigns?

Audio Before Video

There is nothing wrong with video. It has its place and can achieve some valuable objectives audio cannot. The message I want you to understand is that video should not necessarily be the first production you should undertake. Video is difficult and expensive to do well. It requires a large, sometimes virtually limitless, budget and talented staff. Then, even when you get the necessary high-quality video, you must consider reaching the audience you want and grabbing enough of their attention to sit down, watch, and absorb your message.

Read it out loud

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One of the reasons podcasts have been so successful is the conversational tone that they set up. Since they are longer and don’t have to hold you through commercial breaks like our friends in radio they can have a much more conversational feel.

One thing that can make your show sound scripted is…well…a script. You generally want to avoid scripts, but sometimes you need them. Enter the news segment. These can be about a featured member, new member, organizational news, or industry-specific news. News segments are great. I know you hear a “but” coming. You’re right. News is great, but that means somebody has to write it.

Some organizations large enough to have a communications department have a writer who will get tasked with this. If that’s you, and you’re a pro at writing for your newsletter, take a moment and think about how newsletters and newscasts might need different styles of writing. Writing for a listening audience is very different than writing for a reader. Here are some tips to writing and rewriting copy for an audio show.

Read it out loud

Read out loud as you write, it helps. Not reading in your head pretending you’re saying it out loud. Really say the things. With your voice. Out loud. Find a conference room, go in the bathroom, the lobby, your car, or even under your breath at your desk can work. Sometimes it’s even better if you have someone else read it aloud to you.

When you read it out loud you may find that you used words that nobody speaking would actually say. You will also find out how long it takes to say something, and you’ll catch that something is awkward to pronounce or hard to get the meaning across when the listener can’t see the sentence with all its glorious punctuation. You’ll hear when you use the same word too often. And it will be a lot more noticeable when you’re getting too wordy. Which takes me to my next point.

“De-speechify” and “de-wordify”

Podcasts are supposed to be relaxed even if it is serious subject matter. So make it sound less like a sermon and more like you’re talking right to your listener. Short and sweet is your friend. Excessively long and incredibly complex sentences, while intelligent and often-underutilized in print (which by the way isn’t necessarily the opinion of this author), can be unimaginably cumbersome to read, and more often than not, can sound preposterous, pretentious, bloated, conspicuous, stilted, and be insurmountably and impracticably difficult to understand for the listener. In other words, keep it simple. Yeah. No sentences like that one in your podcast please.

Use audible cues when you’re changing subjects

It may sound unnecessary and might look a little silly on paper, but there’s a reason newscasters use their little transitional phrases, “This just in,” or “in other news,” and “From our members in Africa,” etcetera. To understand this tip, just try reading three news paragraphs one right after the other. Or listen to someone else read it. That’s all you have to do to get this point.

Read it out loud

Did I already say this? OK, I’m saying it again because this one is the most important. Seriously. Read it out loud.

And lastly (you see what I did there? I used a transitional phrase). Because they work. OK, last tip now:

Practice makes perfect

If you’re the one who got tasked with the writing, just go ahead and do it. It will get easier as you do it more, and if it’s a new skill for you, then celebrate! You’re about to have a mountain of content that speaks right to your listeners.

Podcast tips from Ebenezer Scrooge

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Stuck about what to talk about in your podcast? Take some advice from Ebenezer Scrooge.

Don’t be afraid of ghosts. They give some good advice.

“What are we going to talk about on our podcast? Who should we have on?” These are common questions I get, especially in the pre-production phase of a show. What should we talk about on our podcast? One way I answer these questions is to draw upon Charles Dickens and ask clients to think of the three ghosts that visited Scrooge on Christmas Eve.

Personal stories build audience trust

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A podcast, when done effectively, has listeners come back every week. Even if you’re publishing content they can get elsewhere, they’ve gotten to know your hosts, and want to hear the news from them.

Your hosts are the key to repeat listens

Your audience gets to know your hosts — the sound of their voice, what they thought of the convention last week, what their views are on the upcoming legislation, what that new survey means in plain terms for them — that’s why they listen. By listening, your audience learns, for example, that the host is a mother of two and her co-host is a grandfather. Hearing your content from someone to which the audience can relate changes their perception of the content. You build trust, and trust creates repeat listens.

Why more associations are podcasting now than ever before

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Your members are constantly exposed to so much content on the internet, now organizations have to do more than ever to keep their membership up to date with the current news, continuing education, and information going on around their sector.

The number of association podcasts has grown significantly in the last couple of years.

A podcast is the perfect vehicle for members to listen to conversations with industry folks, hear about new technologies, learn about upcoming legislation, and so much more. It’s a place where associations can really shine and do what they do best–build community.

Five more reasons to podcast

Five more reasons to podcast

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It goes without saying that in the next few years podcasts are going to be a very common way for an association to communicate with both its membership and the public. Podcasting literally goes straight into your members’ ears.

Here are five things podcasts can do for you:

  1. Expanding on and working together with your newsletter. Say you have some really complex data that shows some interesting things. The written word, pie charts, and graphs can only tell so much. Having an expert explain what those figures mean for your industry can be a powerful thing and show members the real value of the work your association is accomplishing.
  2. Showing the human side of an organization. Many large associations are often referred to as an acronym. But there are actually really hard working human beings behind those abbreviated letters. Podcasts can help to highlight those people and put an actual voice with the message.
  3. Offering continuing education without the “education.” I am not sure who gets excited at the idea of continuing education. But Big Bird, Mike Rowe, Bill Nye, and the Discovery channel have all shown us that education doesn’t have to be boring and can actually be fun. And you don’t necessarily need to know that you are being educated.
  4. Reaching the next generation of members. It’s no secret that Generation Z is used to listing to podcasts. As great multi-taskers, it is one of the ways they demand to be reached. A quality podcast will demonstrate not only that you are in touch with the type of content they are used to hearing but will also give them a great sense as to why the association is relevant to their careers or industry.
  5. Affordability. Even as low-cost as video equipment has become, you still need many people and a good amount of money to make any kind of impact consistently. However, you can make a weekly podcast for a fraction of the cost of just a handful of videos.

With all these advantages, it is not surprising why associations are adding podcasts to their content strategy to convey thought leadership, member engagement, and education. It shows that sometimes audio can have better pictures than video.


Let us be your co-pilot

Easily start an association podcast

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Starting a podcast doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s what we learned in 10 years of launch experience.

Too much to do? Don’t know where to start? Not sure if you should?

From topics and guests to gear and the interwebs, the “idea-to-launch” phase can pose a challenge, especially if you’ve never done it. We’ll take you through the three-step process that gets you launched no sweat or discovers it’s not for your association.

Prepare for success

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So you want to make a podcast?

By now, most associations know they need a podcast as one of the tools to communicate with their membership. But between coming up with topics, inviting guests, hosting the show, recording the show, publishing the show to all the platforms, and promoting the show, the idea can seem a bit overwhelming. If you’re reading this, you may be the one assigned to make it happen for your association. At Human Factor, we’ve come up with a three-part process that has been successful for many associations in getting through the daunting “idea-to-launch” phase. It’s designed to sharpen your idea and make the show a reality. We will collaborate with you to:

  • Define the purpose and goals of the show
  • Develop the idea down to the details
  • Try out your hosts
  • Give you experience with making a show
  • Prepare you for launch
  • Stay within your budget
  • Get feedback and evaluate if a podcast is right for your organization

We call it the Pilot Phase. It’s a three-part process usually consisting of a few meetings, a bit of homework, and day of testing. Here’s what that looks like.

Part One: The Kick-off Meeting.

This is a 1-2 hour working meeting where we go through all of the elements of the show. We’ll help you get specific about why you’re making a podcast and what you intend to accomplish with it–who will your listener be, and what will define success. Then we cover the more concrete details like who will host it and what will we call it? Logistics like who are your points of contact to schedule it, approve content, market it, what day will it come out? We’ll get creative with you about what the show will “feel like,” what kinds of music you’ll use, and come up with segment ideas. We assign some homework that will prepare you for the next step–the pilot recording day.

Part Two: The Pilot Recording Day.

This is our fun creative day. It can be at our studio or we can set up a mobile studio at your office. First, we typically do a mock show in which I interview the potential hosts. Not all people are used to being recorded so a laidback show cannot only warm them up and get them used to talking on mic, but it can also give the new hosts an idea of what it is like to be on the “hot seat.” After that, we change seats and get to experiment with different segments, different people hosting the show, co-hosting, and just having fun with the show. Gradually over the course of the day, a rhythm begins to show itself and we go from concept to creation. We’ll capture 3-4 episodes that you may be able to use to launch your podcast.

Part Three: The Strategy Session

At this point, all of the people who were not at the initial pilot day have had a chance to hear what we did on pilot day. So the first order of business is to evaluate how we think the pilot day went. We want to know everything, were the chairs comfy, did they have a favorite episode, was the catering good, did the hosts like being hosts and much much more. If the people “upstairs” are on board we then will begin to lay out a plan to achieve the results laid out in the kick-off meeting and set a launch date for the show. Sometimes those goals may have changed depending upon the feedback from upstairs. Some of the other things we iron out are:

  • Final format for the show
  • Will we be recording on the road?
  • Will we have a separate website dedicated to all things podcast?
  • What the workflow will look like
  • What is the plan for promotion?

By the end of the process, you will have what you need to gain your approvals and justify the budget if you haven’t already. And if that’s all set you’ll be ready to start scheduling your topics and getting your podcast out in the world.