Podcasts: a small medium that’s growing in importance

Lloyd Jones explains how podcasts work, and what they could do for your business.

Since the dawn of digital there has been no shortage of opinion about what your business should be doing for online marketing. Whether it’s paid search, social networking or blogging there’s plenty of ideas and advice out there.

However, one of the undeniable forces knitting companies and their clients closer together is the capacity to tell the best story. Content promotion is a superb way for brands to get their message across, and I feel that among the best and most personally engaging, has to be the podcast.

Podcasts such as Serial have found a way to captivate an audience of hundreds of thousands, and have a loyal following. The hype around that particular podcast has primed the audience for further long-form listening. 

Besides intriguing and relevant information chosen by the individual, podcasts are easily consumable content, which don’t require a person’s undivided attention as video or text-based content does.  

There are several reasons why you need to start exploring the benefits of podcasting for your business, currently:

• You can become more intimate with your audience. When there is a multitude of companies competing for audience attention in the online space it is evident that the simple old tricks of content promotion might not keep working to your advantage.

• You’ve got to be different. By allowing you to talk to your audience directly, in your own particular voice, podcasts help you connect with your audience on a deeper and more personal level.

• You have a large section of the market to yourself… well, nearly. Regardless of the advantages and the relative ease of podcasting, few businesses are making them. Including podcasts on your content advertising strategy can give you the advantage that can help you get ahead of your competitors.

Take cues from the pros that are doing it right. There are a growing number of accounting podcasts, largely from the US. Listen to as many as you can, and find your niche. Eventually, once you achieve some momentum, you can think about inviting a professional or thought leader to be a guest on your show.

So scour your contacts list! You will be able to interview experts and even consumers. Podcasting is a solid way to put forward the views of individuals your audience is more than likely to hold in esteem, namely industry experts and their peers. 

The technical side

Here’s a quick guide on the technical points – what you’ll need to start your very own home-spun podcast. In the first instance you likely won’t want to be spending money on hiring costly studio space or audio engineers.

A good microphone: Listeners will overlook several issues with your podcast, but bad audio quality is easily avoidable. You’ll want to discount the built-in microphone that is within your computer. Start off with a basic USB microphone. Budget options start at around £40-50, you can add more (and a small mixer for sound balance) if you want to do in-person interviews. Which, once you get the bug, you definitely will!  Headphones: Again, these don’t need to be top of the range; a good pair of over-ear noise-cancelling headphones are relatively inexpensive (you may even have some at home). You’ll need to be able to clearly hear what you – and your guests – are saying, especially if you’re making Skype chats and interviews. 

Pop filter: A cheap but invaluable addition to your set-up, a well-placed pop filter over your microphone will stop those irritating ‘Bs’ and ‘Ps’ being amplified, making for increased sound quality.

A Skype account: If you’re going to be doing remote interviews on your show at some point, Skype is the best and most reliable option. This program has excellent sound quality, plus it’s free, which also helps! 

Recording and editing software: You’ll need a way to edit your audio. But there’s no need to be too slick! You can start with a free program – GarageBand is my software of choice, which comes pre-installed on Macs, so if you’re an Apple user, you already have it. For PC users, the best choice is Audacity. It is simple to use and also free.

Sponsorship

You might want to get a sponsor to cover the initial outlay. It’s generally accepted by the podcast listener community that there will be some sort of advertisement or sponsor involved. You can insert a small advertisement anywhere within the audio, but it’s common practice to get it out of the way within the first couple of minutes. Then your listeners can relax into it, without interruptions.

That’s enough to get you started for now. Of course, if you want a more professional radio-style podcast, you’ll need to call in the experts (ahem!).

I will be continuing with more technical and story-telling tips in the next issue. Until then, good luck and happy podcasting!

• Lloyd Jones is the Senior Client Relationship Manager at Get Seen Now, which has exclusive offers for ICPA members.

Accounting Practice Online is part of the ICPA, which is an organisation designed to provide support and guidance for accountants in practice. With 35+ practice specific benefits there has never been a better time to join. Take a look at the routes to membership today.

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