Moderated by Joshua Croke, Public Hearing Podcast
A key part of the 2023 GRA Conference was its two skill shares on Monday, July 24, giving attendees the opportunity to learn something new from an active practitioner. I had the opportunity to attend the podcasting session, presented by Joshua Croke of Action! by Design and host of the podcast Public Hearing. Josh’s presentation was hugely informative for all of us, and they presented a high-level overview of what it takes to create a successful podcast.
Josh started by stressing three ingredients of such a podcast: research that can inform its content, storytelling to present research in a compelling and narrative-driven manner, and effective interviews with experts and leaders. Finding a way to translate research into a performance that listeners can use to inform their own lives is key, as, after all, for some the podcast might be their only engagement with the research itself.
Indeed, Josh emphasized the importance of creating engaging and understandable content for a wide audience. Part of creating engaging content could be the style of the podcast, whether live interview, narrative, or even round-table discussions. Organizations interested in making any kind of podcast should consider carefully the audience they are trying to reach and the issues that the audience deeply cares about.
Still, one could have a great idea for a podcast, and great production value, but have few listeners. There are a lot of podcasts out there, and organizations that want to use them to reach their communities have to find a way to cut through the noise. Building a following is key. One thing that Josh suggested was the use of short snippets of longer episodes to drive engagement. They didn’t suggest any one way was better than another, but one could use audiograms, photos, or quote posts on social media. A consistent release schedule is also non-negotiable if you want to be successful—people won’t tune in if your podcasting is posted erratically. Collaboration with other local podcasts could also be helpful to get downloads of your own.
Josh also emphasized accessibility and inclusivity in their podcasts. For example, captioning (when video is involved) and transcripts can go a long way to getting more engagement and reaching all audiences. Using inclusive language and being mindful of diverse perspectives can be helpful both in the room with your interviewees and with your listeners.
Finally, they covered some of the more logistical aspects of podcasting. For example, a pre-interview chat can be very helpful in keeping the podcast focused. Podcasting metrics can be difficult to measure outside of downloads; but talking to people in your community can go a long way in informing you of your reach. And, lastly, there’s no shortage of podcasting hardware and software that can be helpful in production. Overall, Josh’s talk was highly informative and got all of us in the room thinking about what it would take to present our research to the listeners of our community.
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