By Julia Donovan
As the media landscape evolves, consumers seek thought leadership that is innovative, informative and easily accessible. Advances in technology have allowed people to access information on a wide array of topics in a matter of seconds. As content producers and curators, we need to accommodate digital advancements and simultaneously reach audiences.
And there's a great way to do that: podcasts.
More than 44 million people have listened to a podcast, and the medium has seen a 40% increase over the past few years. In a digital age where consumers want content on demand, podcasting has become the new way to absorb information on-the-go — and it is a great addition to the world of legal marketing.
In May 2019, Withersworldwide’s New York office and LMA's NY Marketing & Tech Shared Interest Group (SIG) hosted "So You Wanna Start a Podcast? An Insider's Guide," a panel dedicated to discussing best practices, pitfalls and essentials to get the most out of a legal podcast. From soup to nuts, panelists Kristin Connors-Dohan (marketing manager, Klasko Law), Tom Mariam (associate director of communications, Jones Day), John Metaxas (founder/CEO, WallStreetNorth Communications) and Scott Rubenstein (director of client services, Ruby Law), covered the do's and don'ts of launching a podcast, the creative process and how to measure success. What follows are seven key tips you should know for your own firm’s podcast.
1. Achieve partner buy-in to begin implementation.
For those looking to launch a podcast, the first step — before any planning takes place — is acquiring buy-in. Panelists suggested starting at the top of the firm with a managing partner, discussing the use of podcasts in the competitive market and emphasizing how innovative your firm can be for establishing a podcast. Another point to emphasize is cost effectiveness. Developing a podcast does not need to be an expensive venture. You can start a podcast with a mere $300 setup fee and a $9 hosting fee per month for out of pocket expenses.
Once you achieve partner buy-in, you can begin the creative process and determine a niche for your podcast to fill. If another firm has a podcast, how can you differentiate from them? Assuming you have a niche in mind, you'll need to ensure you can discuss a variety of topics within that category. Panelists suggested developing an internal planning team to create a content calendar, make editing decisions and review content for quality assurance. Keeping this work internal is another great way to save on expenses for small firms or those strapped for extra budget.
2. Episode format: Do what works for you.
In addition to developing content, you'll need to determine a format. Successful podcasts come in all forms: solo podcasts, interviews, several hosts, case studies, storytelling, etc. Some studies suggest the ideal episode length directly correlates with the average commute (i.e., 28 minutes). However, successful podcasts exist at all episode lengths (e.g., 60 minutes, 45 minutes, 15 minutes).
In circumstances where the content exceeds a typical format, panelists suggested developing a mini-series through a multitude of parts within the podcast. Similar to a blog, this format is popular with consumers as it covers a variety of topics within a formal focus.
To introduce each episode, panelists recommended developing an opening with a consistent song or phrase and adding the best audio clips from each episode. This promotes the brand of the podcast and gives listeners a taste of what is to come — hooking them for the rest of the episode. Again, you have the flexibility to make this podcast whatever you want; the formatting does not need to be uniform.
3. Building an audience and ROI: Consistency is key for engagement.
Podcasts offer an easy way to measure success and track return on investment (ROI): the number of subscribers and episode plays. There are several ways to build an audience, but the most important is to publish episodes consistently. Panelists recommended consistency in time and day of posting. People begin to expect (and look forward to) new episodes that way.
In addition to consistent episodes, you'll need to cross-sell your podcast on pre-existing platforms to increase engagement. List a call to action on your website that encourages visitors to subscribe. And don't forget to promote new episodes on social media — an effective way to introduce this exciting new content to those already familiar with your firm.
4. Transcription can increase web traffic.
Speech-to-text transcriptions provide your podcast content in written form, which gives listeners the option to consume content in the format they prefer: audibly or visually. Additionally, search engines have a better chance of picking up transcribed text than audio. By using SEO-rich keywords in your podcast that are later transcribed and published to your website, you can see an increase in web traffic. Transcribing your content also makes it easier to share across social media platforms. Listeners can copy and paste quotes or highlight a particular section they find intriguing to share with their networks.
5. Great tools can make podcast development easier.
Panelists referenced a few tools that they have found beneficial, including:
- Zoom H2n Audio Recorder: a handheld recorder
- GarageBand: software for in-house editing
Padcaster: a tool that turns iPads into mobile video studios (the future of podcasting is video so this may come in handy!)
6. You don't need to record interviews one-on-one in the same studio.
Sometimes the most interesting interview subjects can’t join you in-person to record an episode, but you can still achieve good audio quality through a phone or video conference line. Panelists suggest using a headset while recording to ensure audio is up to par throughout the interview. There are also a number of third-party services available, such as Audacity, that mitigate background noise while recording and remove noise from audio files. Panelists also recommended using your law firm library while recording if possible. Carpeting and books provide good acoustics and buffer outside sounds.
7. Encourage organic conversations as much as possible.
While it is considerate to provide the interviewee a selection of potential questions to prepare for, panelists recommended incorporating off the cuff" questions to encourage organic conversations. The episodes where questions were more natural performed better than episodes that were scripted. Lawyers can often come across as technical and formal. Encouraging organic and natural conversations bring their personality to the episode.
For more information on differentiating your firm from the rest through content, PR and media, read the July/August 2019 issue of Strategies magazine, hitting mailboxes this month.
Julia Donovan is a marketing coordinator at Withers Bergman LLP. She also serves on the Editorial Committee for LMA's Strategies Magazine and Strategies + blog.