Podcasts – time to get serious

At the Campaign Publishing Summit, we heard that nine million people in the UK listen to podcasts and that the ad market is an estimated £30m. Now is a good moment for publishers to up their game…

By James Evelegh

Podcasts – time to get serious
Discussing podcasts at the Campaign Publishing Summit (L-R): Marco Bertozzi, Alison Gow and Jimmy Buckland.

At December’s Campaign Publishing Summit, there was an interesting panel session on “the podcast opportunity” with Wireless Studios’ Jimmy Buckland, Reach’s Alison Gow and Spotify’s Marco Bertozzi.

It was agreed that podcasts are an exciting area of growth for publishers, but that it was important to start exercising more management control over what had previously been a bit of a free-for-all. Suggestions included:

  1. Use good facilities: a sound-proof studio (not forgetting that pesky air conditioning) with good acoustics and microphone. Poor sound quality is, err… very unhelpful.
  2. Employ good people. A good host is essential because no one is going to listen to a bad one. If you’re serious about developing podcasts, then you’ll need a good producer too. Nurture them, because high staff turnover is particularly harmful with podcasts.
  3. Make space for it: establish your editorial workflow / priorities / targets. If podcasts are worth doing, then give your team the time they need. Don’t expect it to be done on top of existing workloads.
  4. Establish the commercial fit. Money is starting to flow into podcasts, and you want to make sure you get your share of it. What’s the commercial model and who will be selling it?
  5. Know what good looks like, but don’t expect instant results.
  6. Beware passion projects: make everyone fill out a pitch form (synopsis, how many episodes, target market, potential sponsors, etc). This will force them to think it through properly – always a good exercise – and help you to evaluate the ideas.
  7. Invest in proper training.
  8. Don’t spread yourself too thin. News UK halved the number of podcasts they did and significantly grew audience and revenue as a result.
  9. Don’t forget experiential. Great podcasts can make great live events. Sell tickets!