Ask Us Anything: Association Podcasts

By Association Adviser staff • September 24, 2020

The rise in popularity of podcasts in the last few years was evident during our August 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking webinar. The group of questions below answers your questions about how associations can use podcasting to spread industry knowledge, connect with more people and improve their brand. We love answering questions like these and welcome your input about this topic. Email Kelly Clark, manager for online marketing, with your experiences about association podcasting.

Download the free 2020 Association Communications Benchmarking Report here!

If we wanted to start an association podcast, what would be our first steps?

We started our Association Adviser Podcast by knowing what we wanted to podcast about. Knowing your area of expertise and how you can talk about it over a podcast is your first step.

The next step is lining up a few months of solid content. If you’re going to host guests, line up a short list of confirmed and potential guests who can speak about a variety of subtopics. You’ll also want to decide on a name and a brand for the podcast.

You’ll need a podcasting platform to record and host your episode files. Some are free while others charge a fee, but those that charge often offer more storage than some of the free platforms. We use Anchor.fm, but we know other podcasters who are very pleased with Libsyn, Spotify or SoundCloud. The best platform for you is one that fits your budget and your storage needs. We also recommend choosing a platform that will automatically help you distribute your podcast to the more popular podcast networks such as Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify or Stitcher.

The final podcast startup step that we recommend is to just have fun with it. There are thousands of podcasts out there, but it is still a relatively new, untapped channel. That means there’s a great opportunity to really make your podcast stand out and to carve out a niche for yourself. People listen to podcasts to escape for a few minutes or longer. They listen to learn something. They listen to meet people virtually and know that there is someone out there with the same challenges and successes that they have. Let your personality shine through and have some fun with it!

Are any other associations monetizing their webinars or association podcasts? If so, how are they determining appropriate price point for those?

Yes! It’s possible to monetize your association’s webinars or podcasts. Many associations charge a fee to attend their professional development webinars, especially for non-members. Attaching a monetary value to a webinar demonstrates that the planning and content that goes into webinar production has value and is worth committing to attend. Webinar revenue is often an important piece of an association’s income.

Regarding podcasts, check out the American Bankers Association’s podcast or the National Retail Federation’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Both of these associations monetize their episodes through sponsorships and recognize the sponsor through messages embedded within the episode as well as logo and graphics placements on the episode’s web page. Click here to listen to a conversation with representatives from both associations about how they balance new forms of member communication like podcasts with standbys like print.

The price point depends on the size of the podcast’s audience, how frequently it’s produced and, as with any market, what the demand for advertising is. We recommend offering a few sponsorship packages for your podcast and seeing what works.

Can association podcasts be successfully done with people located geographically all over the country, and not on the same mic?

Absolutely! You can successfully run a podcast even though your guests might be on the other coast or in another country. Most of the time our podcast guests are not recording with us in person; in fact, our two podcast hosts are not even located in the same city, and we make it work.

Through experience, we’ve found a couple ways to enhance our podcast. One is to prepare your podcast guests ahead of time by sending a loose discussion agenda so they know what we are going to ask. This way, they have some time to organize some thoughtful answers ahead of time. This advance exchange of questions can also help ensure your guest(s) understand what you are asking and that they’re confident they can answer it thoroughly.

Secondly, we’ve been trying to record episodes while on webcam. Nonverbal communication is a big part of how people communicate. If you can see how someone is reacting to a question, you can feed off that excitement, and it will come across in your voice on the podcast. So try to take advantage of video technology as a way to still see the people you’re talking with during your podcast recording.

The third thing we recommend for successfully recording long distance is to invest in some good quality microphones. As simple as that sounds, a quality microphone can make a huge difference in the audio quality and how good you feel about your podcast. Mics are not that expensive, either. You can easily find them through Amazon, Apple or at most electronic stores. We highly recommend investing money in a microphone, and maybe even purchasing an extra or two that you ship to your podcast guests. We know of podcasters who ship microphones to their guests, along with prepaid shipping boxes so those guests can return them to the podcast hosts. This ensures that no matter what equipment situation the guest has, the audio quality on their end can be just as good as the host’s.

What are your thoughts on member testimonial podcasts to drive renewal and acquisition?

We love this idea! If we were an association, we’d make sure 3 things happen with member testimonials:

  1. They are easy for the member to record. No special equipment should be needed. They should be allowed to practice and record a version they feel comfortable with, but not required to spend hours capturing a perfectly polished take.
  2. The testimonial should be detailed enough that it’s substantial and meaningful, but not so long that it drones on and loses listeners before the end.
  3. It should be easy to access anywhere people go for podcasts (iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Anchor.fm, Podbean) in addition to being prominent on your association’s website and your social media pages. You could also look into how to connect your podcast to the Google Home and Alexa systems (“Alexa, play XYZ Association podcasts!”). Potential members should not be able to visit your owned media without stumbling across these audio snippets and getting excited about becoming a member!