Peeling Back the Curtain of Podcasting

Podcasts can play a key role in your mix of communications platforms.

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Kayla Dwyer shares tips on effective podcasting. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I recently heard Kayla Dwyer provide a primer on the world of podcasting. She is the host and producer of the Allentown Morning Call’s weekly news podcast, Valley View.

Dwyer’s podcast dissects the area’s top stories from the reporters’ lenses, peeling back the newsroom curtain. Podcasting was an ideal way to do this since it “allows you to share your thought processes,” she said. “Podcasting can reach the limits of intimacy without breaching authenticity.”

A benefit of podcasting is that it allows you to multitask and be mobile. “You dedicate a fraction of your brain to a voice on your phone,” she said. Listening to a podcast is easier than watching a video, which requires you to focus on the video, the audio and the mannerisms. “It’s a lot to digest,” she said.

Podcasts also are popular with millennials, and Dwyer said that benefits her newspaper. “It’s an investment,” she said. “If you get them listening to your podcast, maybe they will read the news, too.”

If you decide to develop a podcast, Dwyer said it is important to establish goals for the podcast early. Other things to consider include the tone of the podcast, the length, the format and how much production will be required. Valley View airs weekly and is less than 30 minutes long.

Dwyer spends two full days creating her weekly podcast. When she is not working on it, she also is a general assignment reporter and online editor.

“I spend the most time editing the first 30 seconds. That’s where people decide if they want to invest 20 minutes in you,” Dwyer said.

The biggest lesson she’s learned with the podcast is how to be a marketer. “I need to be constantly looking for avenues to share my podcast,” she said. She suggested asking every member of your organization to subscribe to the podcast since the more subscribers a podcast has, the higher it will appear in searches.

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Valuing a Content Calendar

A recent conversation I had revolved around how to grow a subscriber base for a non-fiction literary publication. I asked my friend if he was blogging about the publication’s content or its authors. Was he posting to Facebook or Twitter?

He said he was not because he was concerned about having enough content. I encouraged him to look at the publication for content and repurpose it. The key, though, was to create a content calendar.

How to create a content calendar

How does one do that and what should it include? You could do it the traditional way and post all the months to a wall and then put pushpins on the days to identify when content needs to be shared. Pushpin colors would differentiate the platforms. The same process works online, although there are no pushpins. All you need to do is search for a template that will suit your needs.

For this blog, I list in a Word document all the dates I plan to post for an entire year. I then note if there are events or conferences I plan to attend that could generate content. I also note any significant celebrations or anniversaries such as World Reading Day.

Driving traffic

Driving traffic to the posts is important. I’ve linked all of my social media accounts to the blog, which ensures promotion across platforms. I also have a separate content calendar for Twitter. For each blog post I write 3-5 tweets with a link to the post and sprinkle those throughout the month in which the post appeared. I note on my Twitter content calendar what the day’s tweet will be. I’m also tweeting organically on any given day. Maintaining a content calendar specific to my posts ensures that I will tweet regularly.

My friend said, “That’s a lot of work. I don’t know if I can do this every day.”

Time blocks

The good news is that you don’t have to do it every day. I work on my blog in time blocks, meaning I devote three to four hours to the blog on a specific day. During that time, I identify potential topics, research topics, write draft copy, and finalize draft posts. I then schedule the ones that are ready. Next I review my posts and write the appropriate tweets. I do this two or three times a month, and I’m good for a month or two.

The blog posts and tweets are added to the respective calendars. I can identify any holes where content is missing. If I have managed to schedule further out, I know I have given myself some breathing room. When that happens, I find I develop more ideas because I’m feeling less pressured – and less stressed.

Ultimately, that’s the beauty of a content calendar.

Improving Your Productivity

I suspect I’m like many of you in that I always have a to-do list. Okay, sometimes I have multiple lists. And sometimes, I don’t know where they disappear to.

I listened to a webinar with Ron Friedman, who suggested such an obvious idea, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t already doing it. His suggestion? Make your to-do list more visible. He said too many of us write a to-do list early in the day and then we don’t look at it again.

20181009_104956A better approach, he said, “is to keep your to-do list on a brightly colored pad, so that your eyes are regularly drawn to it throughout the day.”

I took it a step further, and found a tiny clipboard with a pad of paper. Each sheet had 5 lines. The best part is it’s magnetic so I could hang it on a metal wall beside my desk. It’s highly visible and when I look away from my monitor, it’s the first thing I see.

I end my day checking my clipboard to see that I have accomplished what I needed to. If I haven’t, I know how I am starting my next day. It’s been a game changer.

He also suggested using a screen-saver that reminds you of your most important goals. He suggested the free Chrome extension Momentum.

His other suggestion was to make your alarm your executive assistant. “One reason high-profile executives are so effective is that they have someone reminding them when to stop doing one thing and start doing another,” Friedman said.

I find this approach particularly helpful at home. I set the timer on my microwave and that’s how long I have to clean or declutter. For me, it becomes a race against the clock, and I get a lot accomplished. When the timer goes off, I allow myself to relax and do something I want to do. On any given weekend, I might do this three to five times. I get much accomplished – including writing blog posts!

How do you improve your productivity?