Playing it right: Entering the podcast game as a not-for-profit

In 2022, podcasts have become a staple in communications professionals’ toolboxes. Not-for-profits can leverage them – without having to start their own series.  

Podcasts are entertaining, informative, easy to digest, and their audiences are constantly growing. This year, some 8.9 million Australians per month listened to podcasts, up from 3.5 million in 2017. Pods reach a broad age group as well, with those aged 12-54 making up the biggest share of listeners in Australia.

They span an ever-growing number of topics, from broad, news-based discussions to intimate and niche panels on mental health or sports analysis – there’s a podcast to cater for everyone.

With the potential to reach thousands if not millions of people, podcasts really can be an amazing tool to highlight the work of not-for-profits (NFPs) while reaching audiences to create conversations and drive change.

Don’t forget about the price tag

It’s plain to see why NFPs are keen to enter the playing field. However, it’s easy to make it a losing game. Producing podcasts comes with a hefty price tag in terms of money and time commitment, both of which many NFPs are notoriously short of. 

Building an audience in a market as crowded as podcasting is a big strategic content challenge. Organisations opting to build their own series will inevitably have to grapple with this.

A clear vision is needed, not to mention decent equipment. Whilst the pandemic has made listeners more forgiving when it comes to sound quality, due to lockdowns forcing professional recording studios into make-shift rooms at home, you can’t get away with poor quality recordings and editing in the long term. 

Keeping the conversation going

If organisations still want to make the commitment, they face another challenge: finding talent. Producing and writing for a podcast are important skills, but presenting episodes is an art in its own right and one that organisations cannot go without if they want their series to succeed. 

Podcasts live off interaction between panellists and listeners – that means it’s usually not enough to just have the same one or two people on a podcast on a recurring basis. Instead, organisations need to make an effort to keep things exciting by inviting new guests who are good talkers and have fresh ideas that are relevant to their audience.

Last but not least, consistency is key. If organisations want to get a series going, they need to fully commit to a schedule. Listeners will expect episodes out on a certain day and can quickly lose interest if they’re delayed or cancelled. 

How to still win the game

While all of this might seem daunting, all is not lost if your organisation still wants to leverage podcasts as part of your strategic communications and engagement strategies. 

Instead of building a series from scratch, organisations should focus on scanning the market for podcasts that cover the area they’re working in. Podcasters constantly look for talent and interesting conversations and it can be quite easy to get a foot in the door – if you have the right pitch.

Get a seat at the mic

NFPs could opt to have one of their staff, board directors or members join an episode as a one-off. Organisations should pay attention to the topics the pod regularly covers and pitch to the producer how they could contribute to a discussion relevant to their field of interest. When aiming for a news-based pod, being proactive and basing the pitch on a recent news story is a must.

In other cases, some organisations run multiple series of podcasts, or offer to create a sub-series for your organisation if they’re willing to pay. Organisations will need a good idea and a narrative that makes it worthwhile running a multiple-episode series, and will absolutely have to provide talent for the discussions.

Send the comms team onto the playing field

To reduce costs, NFPs should aim to get their communications team to support by writing scripts and managing attendees. Maybe you even have someone on the team who has a few skills in the area, and could help with editing an episode? Podcast producers are often short on time, and any help they can get from you will be appreciated.

Don’t know where to start? Sign up a new player – like Fifty Acres

Podcasts can serve NFPs well – if they play their cards right. If you’re unsure who to reach out to for people and story placement onto suitable podcasts, consider working with us. Fifty Acres can create an outreach strategy, scan the market for you, and facilitate contact with producers who care about the topics that you want to discuss.

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