Curb Your Podcasting Enthusiasm

An expected side-effect of taking the Podcasting in Business class is that I’m more keenly than ever on the lookout for opportunities to propose to my clients that they launch a business-related podcast. Fortunately, I’ve learned to restrain my tendency to get excited about new technology-enabled marketing tactics and recommend them to everyone I meet — an impulse I think of as “when you have a shiny new hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

I leaned my lesson about a year ago while developing branding and web content for a company which shall go nameless, which provides market intelligence to government contractors, including bid announcements, competitor activity, and contact information on the decision makers. One project was to write series of educational web pages to help new and inexperienced contractors get started on the “How-To’s” of bidding and winning government contracts.

My source for this information was to be one of the company founders, whom I’ll call Fred. To download the info from Fred’s brain, I proposed that I record a series of interviews with him. Here’s where my enthusiasm got ahead of me:

Hey, since I’m recording these interviews, I reasoned, why no do it with an eye to slicing and dicing them up into podcasts? The client liked my argument that contractors will appreciate being able to get the content without have to sit still long enough to read it. They especially loved the idea of “multi-purposing” the interviews, which I said, would give them better ROI on the cost of Fred and I having these conversations.

I was about to produce my first podcast! I bought a few lapel mics and a small mixing device to enable me to record the interviews into Garage Band through my Mac laptop. My business is ahead of the curve, I thought. I imagined having a lucrative Podcast Division within months. Then I had my first interview with Fred.

It was in a company conference room with a loud fan. The first topic was, “Completing the necessary registration to qualify to bid on government jobs.” Fred had a monotone that could stop a runaway locomotive. Listening to the recording of our interview, the only sign of life I could detect was the edge of desperation in my voice as I tried in vain to get Fred to lighten up, get off the company script and convey some excitement to “our listeners” about the opportunities that lay beyond the process of filling out all the paperwork he was talking about. Fred did digress from the company line a few times, but only to tell mildly sexist jokes. In a monotone.

Lesson learned: Before you get a client, and yourself, all excited about having a podcast, make sure that you have something interesting to say and interesting people to say it. And no loud fans. I’m now considering proposing a podcast to a client that makes an email archiving solution, but before I say a word, I’m putting thought into topics, talent, production logistics, promotion tactics and budget. To be continued, I hope.

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