Almost every business, charity, and institution has at least one social media profile these days, as well as a blog. These forms of connection and information-sharing started out as a way to differentiate a group, to set it ahead or apart from competitors. Today, blogging and social media are pretty commonplace, leaving marketing and PR professionals with the task of finding new ways to get their content out and attract followers.
The nonprofit sector faces the same challenges, as charities and foundations strive to engage with volunteers and donors. In some instances, groups might wonder what else they can do after committing so much effort and resources to creating online content. Blogging and social media will always be worth it, but one thing these marketing teams might consider adding to their repertoires is a podcast.
Podcasts are essentially the informal, audio version of a blog post—or the 21st century version of a radio talk show—and they typically involve an ongoing series of episodes released on a regular basis. Single episodes can cover subjects big or small, depending on what type of audience the producer hopes to reach. Given the flexibility of the format and the fact that nearly everyone has a smartphone they can use to listen to podcasts, a real trend has emerged.
Executives and marketing teams at nonprofits will find that podcasts offer several appealing benefits and advantages. Here are a few tips to consider when deciding whether or not to invest in creating one.
Offer a predictable product.
Podcasts require commitment, but that commitment will give listeners something they can depend on. In the planning process, consider how long each podcast will run and how often to post them. The average episode lasts between 15 minutes and an hour. Some producers post daily, others weekly; monthly podcasts are also successful. Decide your format and schedule by considering the amount of content you want to share, how much time you have to devote to content creation, and what resources are or will be available.
Choose a topic of interest.
The topics a nonprofit might cover can range from organization-specific issues and events to more general subjects, such as fundraising and nonprofit leadership. What many producers have found preferable, both in and out of nonprofit circles, is to narrow the scope of the podcast as much as possible. Don’t be too broad.
Invest in the right equipment.
Recording a podcast requires little equipment, and chances are your organization already owns a reliable computer. The next step is to acquire editing software and a USB microphone—don’t use the built-in microphone on your laptop or computer, as the sound quality is poor. Between these three tools, you’ll have enough to get started. There are, of course, a lot of options for software and microphones. A quality microphone will have a one-time cost between $50 to $150, but some audio recording software is available for free or little cost online, such as GarageBand and Audacity. All told, the overhead costs are minimal.
Use a hosting site.
Along with the various editing software options, many podcast hosting sites offer their services free of charge. Some people might wonder why it’s necessary to upload their podcast to a hosting site if their organization already has a website in place. The benefit of a hosting site is that they are equipped with enough bandwidth to support downloading and streaming. In other words, a podcast needs its own home. A few helpful hosting sites include SoundCloud, Archive.org, and Amazon S3.
In addition, hosting sites allow listeners to subscribe to their favorite programs, and this helps foster loyalty. Another perk is that once downloaded, an episode will be available on the user’s device independent of Wi-Fi or a radio signal, making it possible for people to listen how and when they wish.
Establish a new demographic base.
Podcasts reach large audiences by providing an excellent alternative for people who may prefer listening to reading. For this very reason, many companies and charities find creative ways to repurpose the content that appears on their blogs and social media pages in audio format.
For newer organizations seeking to build their reputation, podcasts are a valuable medium. Because these programs often feature informal conversations and interviews, listeners have the chance to hear thoughts and ideas presented off-script. They also create an environment for discussing and sharing otherwise abstract data or complicated ideas in a more conversational tone. By adding this level of transparency to the regular output of information, nonprofits can increase their position as leaders in their respective fields.
Create new major donor opportunities.
Podcasters in the for-profit sector often host a program as their sole business. In other words, the podcast is not an extension of a larger company—it is the company. These individuals necessarily solicit the support of sponsors to fund their efforts. Similarly, nonprofits might enlist the aid of major donors not only to fund their podcasts, but also to support their broader efforts.