Podcasting is a tactic—a creative tool used to deliver an identified message through specific channels. The pitch is if you have something to say (supported by your communication plan), a podcast can help you say it.
According to the 2021 Infinite Dial, Edison Research digital media survey on podcast familiarity, listenership is expected to rise from 162 million in 2021 to 324 million in the next three years. It has been growing very rapidly in the U.S. population since 2018, increasing by 14% (40 million) in familiarity and 13% (37 million) in listening. They add that podcast and audiobook consumption are both surging “indicating a trend towards increased spoken-word audio consumption.” *
Before you embark on your podcast adventure, ask yourself these questions.
What is your podcast's purpose?
Just like any other product, you need a fully developed strategic communications plan. As part of that plan, you will have identified goals, objectives, key publics, messages and strategies. These steps will help in your assessment of value before moving forward. The podcast should be original, address unmet needs in the community and align with the goals of your commander's intent.
Who is your audience?
The most successful podcasts understand who their audience is and why a podcast (and not some other platform) is the best way to reach them. Before you start creating, it's smart to establish personas that represent target audience members and keep them in mind every time you plan an episode. "Would Sam, our listener persona, like this? Is this focused on what they like and are interested in?" Catering to these personas helps keep your show focused and on track, making for more engaging content.
Why should anyone listen?
You want to establish a style, voice and subject that meets the needs of the target audience personas. Your audience needs to trust that they'll listen to highly creative content relevant to their interests every time they hit play. This will give them a reason to choose your podcast, but you've also given them a reason to return for more. You need to determine if you have enough material to carry your podcast forward. Sketch out 10-15 ideas in advance to see if your podcast matches a serial style or needs to be set up as individual stories. If you can't develop enough ideas, podcasting might not be the right way to go.
Do you have the resources?
It's better to overestimate the time and resources needed than to get caught short. A podcast can easily take 12-30 hours per episode to prepare, record and edit. It will throw off your timeline if additional time and/or expertise is needed to make changes after quality control reviews. Could your command spare the personnel if you needed to spread that load out over more than one person? Who will be available to manage hosting (e.g., DVIDS)? Do you have a dedicated space or will you be expected to set up and break down every time? If it's the latter, add even more time to your estimates. Do you have the recording equipment? Are you trained to use all of the equipment? Will your podcast have a video component? These might be small hurdles that you can get over or project-ending blockers. Be honest in your evaluation.
Podcasting requires a tremendous amount of time, people, skills, equipment, physical space and expertise. Before creating a podcast, make sure you can sustain it long-term.
*Note: Edison Research clients include Activision, Amazon, AMC Theaters, Apple, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Facebook, Google, Oracle, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, The Gates Foundation, Spotify and Univision.
Edison Research. (2021, March 11). The Infinite Dial 2021. Edison Research.