November 7 2022
Hosting your own podcast — or pitching your leader as a guest on other podcasts — can be a very smart business decision. Podcasting accomplishes three important things. First, it heightens your visibility, allowing you to position both your leader and your organization as authoritative experts in your field. It’s also a great way to showcase interesting work that your organization is doing. And crucially, it allows you to connect with peers, business colleagues, and audiences that your marketing and sales programs have targeted.
Podcasting has long been an important component of my own communications strategy. My team produces (and I host) the Find Your Dream Job podcast, a weekly career advice interview show which has now been downloaded more than three million times. In October, we celebrated our seventh anniversary. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the incredible growth of the podcast market. Worldwide, there are nearly half a billion podcast listeners, and here in America, this audience is now “at least as diverse as the U.S. population.” In other words, it doesn’t matter who you are: if you have something valuable to say, there are a lot of eager ears out there. And certainly both nonprofit and business leaders have wisdom to share.
There’s also something uniquely intimate about podcasting. When people listen to your podcast, they’re allowing you into their head as they wash the dishes, take a walk, or otherwise spend the quiet parts of their day. It’s an act that both requires, and builds, trust. Written content like this blog post certainly has its purpose. But in my experience, listening to a podcast usually offers a deeper connection than a post, article, or newsletter.
When I’ve had the chance to meet people who have listened to my podcast, what’s striking is that they already feel like they know me. It’s a powerful — and valuable — aspect of the medium.
This intimacy doesn’t just extend to your audience — hosting a podcast allows you an excellent opportunity to build or strengthen relationships with your guests. It gives you a good reason to reach out and talk to people, well before the microphone is on. Another podcaster once explained it to me like this: when first starting a podcast, you may not have a clear idea of who you want to come on the show. So you’ll ask friends or close professional contacts. And then you’ll ask their friends. And finally, you’ll ask the people you want to know.
For my weekly podcast, we are strategic about who we ask to participate in the show. We have 51 guest slots to fill every year, and we work hard to connect with HR directors, career coaches, recruiters, and other people who have useful advice for our core audience of job seekers. Over time, these connections have proven invaluable for our business.
If your organization is considering starting a podcast, it’s important to have metrics for success. There’s a reason why most podcasts don’t last for more than 10-15 episodes. It’s because there is no clear goal in mind. It’s key to know what you want to achieve. So, are you seeking to increase the credibility and visibility of your leader? Broaden your organization’s reach? Build leads? Achieve a policy aim? Do you want to commit to a recurring weekly show, or produce a more limited run? Your CEO and the rest of your team should have clear ideas about what you want to accomplish, and also understand the amount of work involved in producing a podcast (or in pitching your leader as a guest on other podcasts). You’ll need to have an editorial calendar, a production schedule, purchase equipment, etc. — which means it’s got to be part of someone’s job responsibilities.
In podcasting, the best way to engage and connect with listeners is to understand what they need, and to craft your content around those needs. I’ve heard my own podcast described as “therapy for job hunters.” Since many of our listeners are people seeking jobs, we try to give them the knowledge they need to navigate what can be a very confusing, opaque, and anxiety-ridden process. One other podcast I particularly admire is the 2Bobs podcast, which features two marketing experts. Why is it so good? The hosts address very specific topics and offer practical advice. It’s perfect for someone like me, with a lot of interest in communications. They know their audience, they understand my needs, and because of this I’m happy to tune in when I have 30 minutes to spare.
Whatever your field, build your podcast around your listeners’ needs, not just around your business goals.
This will lead to greater engagement — and leave both you and your audience more fulfilled.