Paul is a digital communications consultant with with 20 years experience in PR and Marketing. Winner of an impressive 17 Social Media Marketing awards, Paul has worked successfully with major global brands. He’s also the host of an excellent podcast called the Digital Download, currently in its fourth season.
I felt compelled to get in touch with Paul after reading some comments he made in a Twitter chat, where he was advocating the use of podcasting to Public Relations students and practitioners. I’m delighted he shared his views about this for Be a Bigger Fish.
How niche should your podcast be?
[3:45] Paul has worked with with a broad spectrum of clients on a wide variety of topics. He’s developed his podcast to have a broad appeal too, within the ‘niche’ of digital communications. He’s happy to explore all perspectives that can shed some light on communications, including interviewing a Grammy award-winning rock band.
Paul’s path to podcasting
[6:00] Paul took up podcasting after being ‘nagged ‘ to do it for months. He was reluctant at first; a successful blogger, Paul was daunted by the technology requirements of podcasting.
Through his work in digital communications strategy, Paul found himself recommending the rapidly-growing medium of podcasting to his clients. He finally decided he should try out podcasting for himself and began to research how to launch his own podcast series.
[8:00] Finding it much more simple than he anticipated, Paul set up his podcast with a modest investment in a microphone. He uses free editing software and free call-recording software.
Paul hasn’t upgraded his set up during the time he’s been podcasting, but he has learned some techniques to use them more effectively. He described how he surrounds his microphone with cushions to achieve a better vocal sound, for example.
How to help your podcast guests to feel at ease
[10:50] One of the pitfalls of podcasting is the variation in sound and the recording environment of your guests. Paul observes that many people are uncomfortable recording, or speaking into a microphone. He makes an effort to overcome this by making people feel comfortable. His aim is to achieve a more relaxed and natural conversation.
[12:22] I asked Paul how he puts his guests at ease. He talks through the recording and editing process upfront with his guests, so there are no surprises. He also makes a point of finding out something personal he can chat about, as part of the recording, before he gets onto the topic.
“It sets a more relaxed tone where people feel more open and it feels like just a conversation.”
The podcasting process
[14:30] Paul completes all the tasks for his own podcast series. He likes to take time to edit his episodes for a professional finish and consequently, spends a day’s work time for each 30-minute episode. He stresses that it’s not necessary to edit so carefully, so results can be achieved with less time investment.
[16:25] A really helpful tip for anyone planning their first podcast is to listen to a variety of different styles of podcast. This will help you to decide what style and format you feel comfortable with.
The potential of podcasting for PR professionals
[18:25] Paul observes that podcasts don’t currently seem to be used as much as they might in the communications and PR professions. He sees huge potential for PR people to reach an audience through podcasts. There is a staggering difference in the number of podcasts versus the number of blogs, making podcasting a much easier way for professionals to achieve ‘cut-through’, get their message heard and establish their reputation.
Common barriers to podcasting
[21:22] The biggest objection to podcasting Paul encounters is from people who didn’t want to hear their own voice, particularly their accent. This was the outcome of the live Twitter chat. We both agreed we had to get over that too – it is hard to edit your own voice at first but you really do get used to it after a while.
Paul empathises with people who are put off by the tech requirements of podcasting as that was his biggest barrier too. He accepts it takes a little time to learn, but it’s not any more complex than running a blog and really shouldn’t be the thing that puts anyone off. He points out the software like Anchor can do a lot of the work for you.
The benefits of podcasting
[24:20] Another point Paul made during the live Twitter chat was the fact podcast listeners stick around for longer than blog readers. The statistics show that the large majority of podcast listeners will engage for a whole episode. The way listeners engage with a podcast is different from the way readers engage with blog content – they are typically listening while multi-tasking. Podcasts aren’t associated so clearly with work time, but they are the accompaniment to a lot of people’s commute home, when they are more likely to give their time to the medium.
Podcasts can also be an ideal way for students to share and improve their learning and to get some exposure early on. There’s a huge opportunity for someone to take up podcasting as a PR student.
[28:30] Paul explained that his podcast is in seasons as he decided to set off with a set of ten episodes. That way, if the podcast ‘bombed’ he could walk away after one season!
Linking a podcast with a live event
[29:45] I asked Paul about his planned event, Digital Download Live. Although this annual event predates the podcast, he now finds the two things have become intertwined and explore similar topics in different, complimentary ways. Paul enjoys having the opportunity to meet and interact with his podcast audience in person.
“One of the benefits of podcasting for me is you create a far more personal relationship with your listeners than you do through writing.”
People get an idea of your character from a podcast and feel more connected to someone they listen to on a weekly basis.
The Call to Action
[33:50] Paul’s big call to action is for more people to try podcasting. It’s exploding in popularity and there’s no sign of that slowing down, so now is the time to explore the potential of podcasting.
To find out more about Paul, look him up on Twitter @ThePaulSutton
His podcast is the Digital Download Podcast. Details for Digital Download Live can be reached through ddl19.co.uk