Last updated 6th of February 2019
Author Paul Philpott
Fresh Talking: Podcast about Podcasts for SMEs
Welcome to Fresh Talking, the new podcast about communications from Fresh Air Group - tackling topics that fit into the remits of both internal and external communications.
In this first podcast, Paul and Martin talk about podcasts - specifically, podcasts for SMEs. They explain what podcasts are, how a small or medium sized business could approach creating a podcast, and the kinds of topics they might share.
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Paul: Hello and welcome to Fresh Talking, the Fresh Air Group podcast, where we discuss all things communication. Internal, external, TV, radio, advertising… above the line, below the line, through the line… any more?
Martin: Line dancing?
Paul: Nice one!
In each podcast we take on a comms topic, we discuss how we approach it as a production company, and we share our thoughts. We invite you to share with us your thoughts too, and hopefully we’ll come up with some tips and tricks along the way that we can all make use of.
My name’s Paul Philpott, I’m the C.E.O. here at Fresh Air Group…
Martin: And I used to be Martin Burgess-Moon, and I’m the Media Production Manager.
Paul: So, this one is going to be a podcast about podcasts, right?
Martin: Yes, but what we’re going to do is narrow it down by talking about how SMEs in particular can make use of them.
Paul: That’s right, we’ll be talking about what podcasts actually are; what’s involved briefly in making one; and why, as an SME, you should consider using one.
And, at the end of this programme, I’m going to put you on the spot Martin, and give you three random industry sectors, or trades, or jobs, and you’re going to come up with some ideas for them on the spot!
Martin: Oh joy!
Ok, well let’s start by asking – what is a podcast? So, what does it achieve, and why should anybody do it?
Paul: Ok. This is a podcast, isn’t it?!
Martin: It is…
Paul: Brilliant! Question answered, we can go home now!
Paul: Well, I guess ‘podcast’ as a term, it used to be used solely for audio downloads. Things that you’d subscribe to and listen to, whilst you’re on the move, whilst you’re doing something else. And they would kind of be, in just the realm of an audio programme… you’d have one programme, several programmes… generally speaking they would all fall within a certain theme, an overarching theme. And then each podcast would discuss a different topic. Say, for example, you’re producing a series of them based on a particular hobby, for example…?
Martin: Quilt making?!
Paul: Quilt Making Monthly! That’s the podcast. You’d have one talking about the stuffing, another one talking about the edging, and maybe another one talking about the style, and what you can do to customise your own quilts perhaps? … Just going random here!
Martin: Ok? Erm? Yes!
Paul: But the term now, it’s also used to cover video. People do video podcasts as well, ‘video casts’, or whichever way you’d like to refer to them… and it’s a really good way of promoting what you do, and sharing with people your passion.
Martin: Right, ok… well who is it that we’ve done them for in the past? And what have they generally been about?
Paul: I think it’s fair to say that most of our podcasts have been corporate in style. They’ve been used internally within an organisation. So, if you’ve got a large business that consists of more than a thousand employees, you might consider using a podcast to – and I hate this term, it’s thrown around a lot – ‘cascade’ information down.
Martin: Oh yes…
Paul: You cascade it downwards,
Martin: Yes – and across…
Paul: You ever cascaded sideways, Martin?
Martin: Not recently no. There’s an injunction out on me about that.
Paul: So, if you’ve got a CEO, and they want to share things with their team, or - again, plucking an idea off the top of my head – say you were a bank (and we do work with a couple of banks), you have subject matter such as legislation, new products and services, that you need to share with your team and explain how they explain them to customers, and how they actually work through it… and podcasts are a really good way of doing that.
We’ve talked about what they are, I guess on the tip of everyone’s tongue is; I’ve got a great idea, but how do I actually put one together?
Martin: Right, well what we tend to do is when we have somebody come in to do one, we would have spoken beforehand about the structure. They’ll have an idea about the subject matter, and what we’ll do is break it down so we can say… “that’s too much for one podcast, we’ll split it into several, and we’ll cover this part in this first podcast, and this part in another”.
And we don't not necessarily script it, because if you script it, it will sound like your… reading… a… script.
Paul: Does that actually happen?
Martin: Yes. No matter how many times you go through it, it will still sound like you’re reading a script. The best thing to do is to think about what you’re going to say, and the just put bullet points down on paper. So that, as you’re doing it, you can glance at it, and check that you are covering everything you want to. So you don’t get to the end of it and think “Awww I didn’t mention whatever!”.
Paul: How do you challenge someone’s fear of their own voice though? Because there’s lots of people who say “Oh, I’m not going to do it because I hate the sound of my voice!”
Martin: You get a lot of strange vocal quirks with some. Somebody could be talking to you normally, and then you sit them in front of a microphone and then they’re start – eh, eh, eh…
Paul: Through nerves?
Martin: Yes, just through nerves. So we, we, we, sort all that out – I da da did it then! Ha ha!
We can sort that out through editing, so what we’ll do is we’ll work with several takes, and take the first part of one take which might be better than another, and so on. So we just take the best bits, stick them all together, and they’ll sound marvellous!
Nobody really does like the sound of their own voice. We’ve been in radio before, and there’s nothing worse than sitting down with your boss listening back through recordings of what you’ve done –
Paul: This is true!
Martin: - and hearing your own voice. Nobody really enjoys that, my answer to that will be don’t worry about that. It doesn’t really matter what you think of it; it’s what other people think of it that counts.
Paul: Alright, very quickly then – does it have to be funny?
Martin: No necessarily, because, if you’re Co-Op Funerals or something, and you’re doing a podcast about paying for your funeral; you’re not going to have people rolling in the isles are you?! Being carried down the isles maybe, but not rolling in them.
So, you know, it doesn’t have to be funny: the main thing is that it just needs to be interesting.
Paul: Should they have a structure?
Martin: I would think so yes. The best thing about any particular ‘story’ that you’re telling is that it has a beginning, a middle and an end. So think about how it's going to pan out, and think about those bullet points, and think about how it’s going to end. Because you want people to get to that point, and you’ll want people to hang around for the next one.
Paul: True, and at the end of this podcast, I’m going to be putting you on the spot, Martin, to come up with some ideas don’t forget!
Martin: What, are the benefits of an SME having a podcast?
Paul: I think… exposure is a good thing.
Paul: Awareness. Anything that builds brand awareness; awareness of what you do, awareness of who you are – that can only ever be a good thing. Obviously, you can share details of your product and services, but you’d probably be wrong to turn a podcast into a fifteen minute commercial. That shouldn’t be how it works.
Martin: People may naturally flock to your business when they’ve heard it anyway, so you don’t necessarily need to make it a hard sell. Because, the fact that people are listening to it or watching it is a good sign anyway.
Paul: Absolutely! Yeah. I think, that audiences are genuinely interested to hear about what your business is about. If you’re a small business, you might consider yourself to be a ‘family run business’… that’s great! Because you’ve got all that heritage, you’ve got the history of your family. Especially if you’ve been in business for fifty years plus; you’ve got all that history that you could turn into a series of interesting programmes.
Every product and service that you make has some kind of history to it. Say you’re a glass wear manufacturer, you make glasses (taps glass of water) like this… that’s a really fascinating story! “How it’s Made” on TV; over three hundred episodes I think they’ve done about how things are produced, so claim a bit of that airtime for yourself. Do your own podcast, or talk to somebody to help do one for you.
Just the side-effect of that, will no doubt mean that people will get to know who you are, get to know where you are, what you do – and inevitably, that will increase your exposure – and you may well get more revenue from it.
Martin: That’s all very well, but once one has been recorded what happens next? How does it get distributed?
Paul: Well, you can of course make it available for download on your website. So you can distribute it through channels that you own. You can put it on your social media channels, your Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook… you can easily attach audio downloads to those particular platforms.
You could also actually send the link to your audience base, your contacts; you know, actually physically share it as well.
Crumbs, actually, you know what you could do –
Martin: What? What?
Paul: You could put it on a cassette ha ha
Martin: oooooowwwww yes! Do you remember cassette players, ha ha. Yes, I love them, I go into charity shops, I avidly buy cassettes.
But I suppose the best thing is that these things can be listen to anywhere, can’t they?
Paul: Yes, I think that’s a really good point.
Martin: So, a lot of people are now listening to podcasts instead of music when they’re going on long journeys and so on.
Paul: Hopefully someone will be doing something far more interesting than us when they’re actually listening to this!
Paul: I listen to podcasts all the time – how about you?
Martin: I do, at weekends, in the morning when I’ve just woke up and I think ‘oh I haven’t got to go to work!’, and the TV’s boring, so I will listening to a podcast then. Usually films, Mark Kermode, those sort of things.
Paul: Where do you listen to them? In terms of; what are you doing at the time?
Martin: Mind your own business! But I will go as far to say that I am still in bed when this is happening.
Paul: Ok. I tend to listen to them on the move.
Paul: Yes, I do a lot of travelling for work, as you know, so if I’m on the train and I’m going to London…
Martin: I’m surprised you’re here now!
Paul: ha ha, it makes a change doesn’t it, me actually to be working! If I’m on the train going to London, for example; Devon to London, that’s a long journey. It’s a great way of making the journey go quicker, or if I’m having to drive somewhere I’ll stick one on in the car.
I’m not the sort of person who will listen to a podcast whilst I’m going for a run. I need music for that. But that’s the beauty isn’t it, because it’s the sort of thing that you can fit in and make it work for you. You can fit it into your lifestyle, 'coz it’s on demand, you listen to a podcast or a videocast as and when you want to.
Paul: I want to ask; we’ve already spoken about editing, and in terms of actually putting a piece of content together, putting the story together… are there any other top tips that you would give somebody wanting to start one, do one, have one produced… in order to make one sound really cool?
Martin: I think just about what people will find interesting. Talk to people. Listen to other podcasts. Go round your business and talk to colleagues, talk to customers, and ask them what they find interesting about your product or your business. Ask them what they would want to hear about that they haven’t previously known.
Once you’ve got a general idea of what people want to hear, that’s the best place to start I would think.
Paul: Just one person talking alone?
Martin: Well, this is what you were saying about making time go quickly when you’re listening. I think the more natural it sounds, the better. So, it depends on the subject matter. If it’s something serious, as we were saying, it might be an idea just to have the CEO making an announcement as such… or if it’s something that’s more news-like, where you want to be ‘interviewed’, then we can get an interviewer in to do that.
Or if it’s something more light-hearted, then get a couple of people in and have a conversation about it, rather than making it something more like an announcement.
Paul: Alright then, so I promised that I would think of three areas, business areas, and you’re going to come up with ideas for a podcast or a serious of podcasts, on the spot!
Martin: Ok, alright
Paul: The first one that I have written down (whilst I think of the other two) is… Solicitors!
Martin: Ok… If you’re soliciting, I think the best thing to do would be to split your podcast into subject matter because; it’s one of those things that’s too much to put into one podcast.
So, split it into various segments and then ask people what they want to know about those subjects. Because, a lot of people get confused when it comes to things that are legal, so there will be a lot of questions, so you could do it as a Q and A.
Paul: Good, I like that… Ok, this is particularly visual, and probably a nasty one to give you as a subject – but interior designers?!
Martin: Ok… that’s something that would be good as a video because you could go round and ask people ‘what are their tips for interior design’, and you could use things from your business, your products in order to do videos where you are guiding people through what to do. So, it could be, almost like a QVC style thing where you show people how to use these products.
Paul: Alright – But would it translate to audio?
Martin: Yeah! I don’t see why not because people have been cooking on the radio for years. So I don’t see why they can’t do DIY and interior design as well.
Paul: Really good point. Alright, the third and final one… Carpet cleaners I’m a carpet cleaner, and I clean ‘da carpets.
Martin: Ermm….. well, I’d be interested to know why somebody got into that business in the first place. You could do that as, the first one could be ‘why did I decided to do carpet cleaning as a business’ – people might want to know that. And also, that could lead on to rather – interesting – spillages and stains that they’ve come across over the years and how they’ve got rid of them!
Paul: Especially some of the stains in this studio!
Martin: Yes, well that’s just nerves!
Paul: Well I think that covers everything. Thank you very much for listening, I’m sure you’ve found it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Martin: It has for me! We’d like to hear your thoughts, and if you have any questions, you can always get in touch with us via the website, freshairgroup.co.uk – or tweet us at the production studios @FreshAirStudios.