For people to become invested in your nonprofit or social good organization, they have to: A. Know you exist and B. Care about your cause. One often overlooked way to do both is by starting a podcast.
Podcasts have been around for a long time, but over the past few years, they’ve become more popular than ever. Having a podcast associated with your company can be a great way to reach and inspire your current and potential supporters in a new way. It can give you the chance to humanize your organization and its goals as well as providing content, context, and entertainment.
So, how do you go about starting your own podcast? First, you need to decide what the show is. All you need to do is answer four questions:
Question 1: What's your compelling topic?The best stories are, ultimately, about people. You need to find a way to tell personal stories that connect with, and grow, your brand messaging. Does this mean featuring different employees in each episode? Interviewing recipients of your organization’s work? Doing something completely unexpected and creative?
You know your brand best and what would speak to your audience in an authentic way. The more they know about your company and the good it’s doing, the more likely they are to want to help. Right from the start, you need to keep in mind how you can include listeners and motivate them to contribute to your cause. This should be a thread that carries all the way through the finished product.
Question 2: What will your format be?Do you want to do a chat show? A documentary series? Something more abstract?
The chat show:
A chat show is where you have a host and one or more guests talking about an issue. This format is the cheapest, as far as editing and production times go, and it can give your participants an opportunity to riff off of each other and have a free-flowing, and sometimes surprising, conversation.
WTF by Marc Maron is a good example of a chat show format.
The documentary series:
A documentary series features stories that are highly edited, combining a number of different sources into one polished, carefully told piece.
You may have more complex stories you want to explore, or go in depth into someone’s experiences, in which case you may choose to do a documentary-style show. A great way to get people to get on board about your cause is to show people caring about and taking action for your cause in a meaningful way.
This American Life is a good example of the documentary format.
The abstract concept:
You don't have to let what you've heard before confine you.
One incredibly popular podcast, Hello from the Magic Tavern, is an improvisational comedy show set in an alternate universe filled with shapeshifters and wizards. That might not be adjacent to your brand, but something equally unique might. You should only be limited by your imagination. (Well your imagination… and your budget.) Just be careful to make it clear to your audience if your piece is a work of fiction. You don’t want anyone confusing fiction with fact.
Question 3: What will you call it?Once you have your topic and format, you need a great name. This is one of the most important attributes of your show, and once you settle on it, you’re stuck with it for the life of the series.
The show’s name should be unique, short, clever, and easy to spell. Once you settle on some options, search to make sure there isn’t already another podcast with the same name.
You will also need to be able to turn that name into a URL. Adding the word “podcast” at the end of the title is one way to find an available URL. Another is to explore beyond the “dot com.” “Dot show” is a great option.
Once you have a title, work on developing a tagline. A good tagline will give the title more context and explain what your show is about in a few words.
Question 4: Who's on your show?You should have a clear idea of the types of people you’ll have as guests, and preferably, you’ll have a list of guests for the entire first season ready to go before you even start production.
You will also need an interesting host. That person could be your CEO, a talented contributor, or even your company’s best talker. You want to make sure you select someone who can speak in plain terms and make the show accessible to all listeners, as well as someone who is charming and who can help carry your show’s story along. You want your host to be inspiring above all else, because every show’s take away should be how the listener can help your cause.
Once you have the answers to all of these questions, you should have a clear idea of what your show will look like and how you can pitch your podcast to your company. After you get initial buy-in, you’ll need to put together a staff, production schedule, graphics, equipment list, budget, and distribution plan, all before you go into production.
Starting a podcast for your company is by no means a small undertaking, but the potential for growing community engagement, developing positive PR, and enhancing your brand can make it all worthwhile.