What is podcast production?
There are several stages involved in bringing a podcast to life, which is known as a whole as “podcast production”. Every element involved has a place in three overarching categories – pre-production, production and post-production – and there are obligations and pitfalls in each which can go on to determine the overall success of your project.
Why are high podcast production values important?
It is often said that launching a podcast is relatively easy, and this can be the case. An individual may start a podcast in their bedroom by reading advice online and increasing production values over the course of many episodes through trial and error – and what’s more, have great success in doing so.
For a hobbyist beginning a podcast at home, the stakes are low. Audiences will forgive an enthusiastic amateur for muffled sound or inexpert delivery if they find their content interesting enough, but for brands and more well-known individuals, podcast production is often a different story.
While it remains true that podcasts are still an easy-to-access form of media, good podcast production is still vital for brands who need every piece of collateral they create to reflect well on them. Without the goodwill that may be afforded a normal podcast newbie, they also need to skip the “trial and error” part of podcast production to create something that will capture the attention of their audience and ensure good ROI.
It is also the case that with developing technology audience standards have changed. Any YouTuber who started with a webcam knows that retaining and growing audiences – more often than not – requires a quick evolution in production values, and the same is true for audio. Unless a ‘homespun’ feel is a careful branding decision that the audience can immediately understand and appreciate, businesses need to avoid any part of their production feeling amateurish.
What are the stages of podcast production?
When setting off on any project, having an awareness of what lies ahead is vital to ensuring you make the right decisions as you move forward, as well as avoiding any nasty surprises.
Pre-production is, naturally, the first step in creating any podcast, and no matter how clear your vision it is really important not to rush or fudge this first stage. Covering all the planning and preparation for your podcast, this is the time when you can stress-test ideas, conduct research and pin down your strategy, all actions which can make or break a project.
During pre-production, some of the tasks you may complete include:
Deciding on a podcast name
First impressions count. When someone stumbles across your podcast in their library for the first time, it’s unlikely they will know what yours is about. But that doesn’t mean you need to go for the most eye-catching name that cleverly describes your podcast to stand out. Instead, it should be a name that you’re comfortable and happy with, related to the content contained within – whether directly or indirectly. Remember: it’s much easier to change your mind now than later down the line when you’ve built up an audience.
Undertaking competitor research
How do other podcasts that cover similar topics or follow a similar format work? It’s never a good idea to copy your competitors. A better idea might be to go in a different direction, bolstered by the confidence that your idea will prove just as valuable – if not more so – than theirs.
No matter how good an idea seems at first glance, it’s important to think around it, interrogate it and explore all the possibilities. Any creative process can involve the need to “kill your darlings” if it becomes clear even a much-loved concept isn’t going to work, and putting in the work at the ideation stage can turn a good podcast into a great one.
Defining your objective
What do you want your podcast to achieve? Is it there to build brand awareness, connect to others in your industry, or build your personal profile? Having clear goals is key to measuring success.
Identifying the target audience
Once you understand your objective, identifying your ideal listener is the next step in making sure your podcast gets in front of the right people.
Deciding on the format
Podcasts can take many forms, including interviews, solo hosting, episodic narratives, documentaries, panel-style discussions and more. It’s important to undertake competitor analysis to ensure the podcast in your mind doesn’t already exist. Then, of course, there’s the question of a name – make it catchy, relevant and memorable, ensuring that it strikes the right chord with your listeners, and allows it to cut through the noise – after all, there are over five million podcasts in existence.
Choosing presenters and guests
Your choice of who delivers your podcast will naturally relate to its format, although it goes without saying that charisma and good delivery will be a must for any presenter. There are also strategic objectives to take into account for any guests on the podcast. If you, for example, are a B2B business, you may invite industry figures that you hope to later form a commercial relationship with to be interviewed. Alternatively, it might be better for your brand to choose popular interviewees who are most likely to raise your profile through their existing audience.
Planning episodes, and/or writing and editing your script
Not all podcasts are scripted, but they will be planned. Getting everything in place well ahead of time ensures you have what is known as “runway” when it comes to recording and editing your episodes. This avoids the scenario of scrabbling to work out what you are going to do with episode 11 when you’ve just released episode 10.
Choosing your recording equipment/booking studio time
Microphones, headphones, recording equipment and editing software are all vital tools in podcast production. Using a recording studio can take away much of the headache and place the responsibility of capturing good audio in a professional’s hands, while good remote podcast recording software also exists nowadays – allowing you to seamlessly produce high-quality audio without being together in person.
Planning your podcast marketing strategy
If you want to increase your chances of making an impact, marketing your podcast is just as important as making it, and requires the same amount of thought. This can include setting up dedicated social media channels, creating visual assets, planning podcast PR, email marketing and paid media campaigns.
This is the exciting bit! After all the organisational tasks involved in pre-production, it’s time to get recording and make your podcast. As explored above, good sound quality is very important in corporate and branded podcasts, and everything from the placement of microphones to the acoustics of your recording space is important in achieving the best results.
You should always test your equipment before jumping into recording the episode, and it is helpful to have a warm-up conversation with your guests to build rapport and ensure everyone’s voice is being captured correctly. Hearing this back can also help your presenters and guests understand the tone of their voice, the phrases they are using and the speed at which they talk, and adjust accordingly.
Post-production is where a podcast truly comes together. During production, no matter how tightly scripted, you are likely to have recorded several takes and variations of your material, and editing is where this can all really come to life. The post-production of a podcast involves:
- Importing your recordings into audio editing software.
- Sound design, including the addition of intros, outros and sound effects.
- Deleting unwanted material and arranging the audio to make narrative sense through seamless transitions.
- Removing any background noise and cleaning up extraneous sounds.
- Mix and mastering, including equalising frequencies.
- Exporting the finished product into the correct formats.
Editing can transform a podcast and is a vital part of the overall production values which will determine its quality and success. Once the effort of planning and recording is finished, getting post-production right is the last hurdle on the way to an excellent final product.
How can Broadcast Revolution help you with podcast production?
At Broadcast Revolution, we have a vast depth of experience in the world of audio, and understand the place of podcasts in modern marketing. Podcast production involves many steps and considerations, and brands can benefit hugely from an expert eye as they work through the process of bringing a new podcast to fruition. If you need help with podcast production, get in touch today.