Podcast 101

Dec 18, 2017

Branding, education, a low barrier to entry, and the creation of fans are all part of it, so what are you waiting for?

I rejoined Zweig Group more than three years ago after an almost 10-year hiatus. In addition to growing my family from two to five people, a lot of things have changed. LinkedIn is the dominant website for recruitment and business development, and social media, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, are pretty much standard operating procedure for any well-informed marketing department, regardless of industry served.

While out consulting a variety of firms both small and large, I spent several years learning about new media and how to effectively use it to your advantage, both on a personal and professional level. I certainly wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered the medium, but I’ve come to respect its power. With the growth of smartphone technology and a little focus we are in a place where everyone can get started with a podcast and become their own production house.

The big three modes of communication now are blogging, video blogging (or vlogging), and podcasting. Of these three modes of social sharing and communication, podcasting probably resonates most with me. Podcasting is the closest we’ve come to essentially having your own radio station without paying for a broadcast license or the need to have an expensive studio. Nowadays, you can lift your smartphone to your ear, using applications like Anchor.FM, and talk about virtually anything and end up with a finished product that can be automatically uploaded to iTunes, Soundcloud, or a host of other services.

If you’re still not sure about podcasts, consider these statistics from Edison Research:

  • 112 million Americans have listened to a podcast, up 11 percent in one year.
  • 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly. This represents 15 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Two-thirds of podcasts are heard on a phone or tablet.

We could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Podcasting is on the rise, and more people will adopt the technology and listen in as more podcasts are created.

And that’s where you come in, and for five good reasons!

  1. Expand your brand internally. One way to spread your firm’s culture, history, and current events, is to create an internal podcast for your employees. Walt Disney World does this for their people, and it’s reported to be very valuable for team members. You can talk about historical firm events, special internal programs, and what management is up to. Larger firms will really benefit as this gives you more than one method of communicating with your team.
  2. Educate clients and potential clients on how you do things. In addition to telling your firm story internally, you can use a podcast to educate clients and potential clients on your organization, how you operate, and what makes you different than the competition. You can create an editorial calendar and develop podcast episodes around the different sections of your business, highlight successful projects, and discuss your plans for the future.
  3. Develop new mediums to share your firm’s story. Most design firms have a website, and some even have a blog page where they write articles from time to time. In addition to blogging, there is also the option to shoot a vlog about your company. Next to blogging, podcasting is probably the lowest barrier to entry since you only need a recording device – usually a smartphone, a microphone, and a place to upload your recording. From a vanity perspective, you also don’t have to worry about “hat head,” or how you look that day. You can record and post your podcast on iTunes or Google Play quickly and make it available to the world.
  4. The cost to start a podcast is very low. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need a lot of special equipment or a fancy studio to record a podcast episode. I’ve recorded an episode in a car, on an airplane (sitting on the runway), in a bathroom, and in the middle of a trade show. All you need is a quiet room, a smartphone with a recording app, headphones with a good mic – I’ve used my generic white Apple headphones on several dozen podcast episodes – and a podcast server that will host your podcast. You can also spend a considerable amount of money by using a professional sound studio, expensive equipment, and a professional editor. It depends on what you want to achieve. My recommendation is to get started and make adjustments as you go.
  5. Create an audience that didn’t exist before. Finally, the thing that I enjoy most about doing a podcast is that you don’t know who will put your message between their ears. When we first started The Zweig Letter podcast, I wasn’t sure anyone was listening. That is until I went and visited with a client in Iowa. He sat down next to me at a conference table before a meeting and proceeded to tell me he had just listened to me on his morning run. I looked at him and said, “What!?” He told me he listens to all our podcasts and was a big fan. I was totally floored. That conversation has happened over and over during the last two years with a variety of clients. It never gets old.

You can’t go wrong with starting a podcast. I tried to make my case here with some of the tangible collective benefits for your firm. The barrier to entry is very low and you can quickly gain momentum with your audience. Referencing the statistics from earlier in the article, I believe the numbers will only increase in the future as more people download and listen to podcasts on their commute, in the gym, and even at work. If you have questions about getting started or need some guidance in this area, please feel free to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help you any way that we can.

Happy podcasting!

Randy Wilburn is director of recruiting strategy at Zweig Group. Contact him at rwilburn@zweiggroup.com.

The Zweig Letter podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

Subscribe to the electronic version of The Zweig Letter for free.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.