PODCASTING NOTES 070516
- Do it regularly, but don’t let it run your life. You want your podcast (or Facebook Live session, etc.) listeners to make checking out what you do a habit because that helps build your audience, but if breaking news or something in your “real” life prevents you from doing it on a regular schedule, don’t freak out. It happens. But if you set out to do a weekly or bi-weekly podcast and can’t do it, let people know on social media that you’re not doing it that particular day and time but you’ll be back to doing it soon. I set out to post it on the same day of each week by a certain time, which gives me a little bit of flexibility. (If you’re doing it live that’s a little bit tougher.)
- Also think about doing a “bonus” podcast anytime something big happens on your beat. They don’t just have to be regularly scheduled programming. Sometimes with breaking news there are a lot of loose threads that we can’t get into the stories or a there’s a big-picture perspective that you can give readers/listeners/viewers in the podcast format. Just make sure you tell people about any additional podcasts via social media.
- Promote it – in print, on social media and when you interact with anyone who might be interested in your topic. It doesn’t do you or the News & Record any good to do a great podcast that no one knows about. You also need to use any podcast or similar things you do as a way to promote stories or features (or other podcasts) that are coming up in print and on our website. If you’re not prepared to do a little shameless self-promotion, you probably shouldn’t be podcasting.
- Bring your personality to it. You’ve got expertise or you wouldn’t be doing the podcast, but it’s not just for sharing information. It’s about you, too. It’s about building your brand and the News & Record’s brand as a source of information and, yes, even entertainment. As much as that goes against the journalistic credo of not making yourself part of the story, don’t be afraid to be who you are when you’re in front of a microphone or a camera. Podcasting is a lot more interesting when you enjoy doing it and actually look forward to it and when readers (print or web) get to know you a little bit better and build a connection.
- Be prepared, but be unscripted. I did some early podcasts where I wrote out a lot of what I was going to say and, frankly, those podcasts sucked. What I’ve found is that it’s a lot more interesting for the listener and a lot more fun for me when I have information and even bullet points in front of me but I’m conversational. It’s more natural for everyone involved.
- Podcasts are better and more fun with a friend. Whether it’s an interview subject or another reporter, a second voice (or face) on your podcasts makes them more lively. Sometimes I start out interviewing a coach or athlete, then when I finish with them I move on to other topics. As I get better at editing, I can do those segments separately, but until now I’ve been doing it as one long take.
- Plug yourself and the News & Record at the beginning and the end of the podcast (during, too, if it’s not forced). I always mention the print, the website (HSXtra.com, in our case, because it’s the brand) and my Twitter and Facebook accounts at the end. I also plug the other person’s social media if they have it. You never know when somebody listening or watching you can be drawn into other features in print or on the website, and getting your social media accounts out there obviously helps with follows and likes.
- Mics and cameras. Spencer can tell you how to record professionally. I’ve been pretty amateurish to this point, but I’m learning from him and I’m getting better. What I’ve already learned is that the best audio is when everyone is in the same room and the mic or cellphone is close by. I’ve done some where the other person or persons were on the phone (either via speakerphone or via the mic I can plug into my cellphone and place in one ear), and while that’s still usable, it’s not nearly as good. For video, the more natural the environment and the more natural you are the better. But the same general rules apply about trying to avoid being near other sources of sound such as air conditioners or even some fluorescent lights. If you think you need equipment that you don’t have, ask around the newsroom first, but don’t be afraid to ask an editor to get you something. The worst that can happen is they say, “No.”
- Listen to it before you post it. That obviously doesn’t apply to live stuff, but listeners/viewers are a lot more forgiving when you’re live. When you finish recording/editing something that isn’t going out live, try posting it but preview the page before you publish it. Then play it back in the format the listener/viewer will be using. Minor hiccups are OK, but if you get a fact wrong, you need to go back and re-record it or fix it in editing. The same journalistic standards apply to podcasting that apply to print.
- Learning is a shared experience. Meetings like this one are great, but don’t hesitate to ask your fellow journalists for advice or feedback. If we’re all podcasting (or trying whatever else gives us a way to connect with an audience), we’ll all learn from each other.
- Try it. If you’ve got an idea for a podcast, do it. If we’re going to grow the digital side of the operation, we all have to be journalistic entrepreneurs. Use your good judgment, but jump in as soon as you can.
Source: Joe Sirera, News & RecordHigh school sports content producer