What happens when you combine some of the most important social issues impacting our society, over ten hours of recorded interview footage, and hours upon hours of writing, editing, re-recording, and editing some more? You get one of the most interesting projects we’ve ever had the privilege to work on. You get the Voices of America in One Room podcast.
In 2019, The Center for Deliberative Democracy (CDD) at Stanford University, NORC at the University of Chicago, Helena, and By the People Productions hosted a Deliberative Polling experiment that brought together more than 500 registered U.S. voters to discuss social issues like the economy, immigration, and the environment. The event was widely publicized, and was even the inspiration for an eight-part documentary series on Snapchat that’s currently amassed more than 15,000 subscribers.
And you know what the coolest part was for Tobe Agency? We got to build a podcast series around it all!
We were thrilled to partner with the CDD team at Stanford University to produce Voices of America in One Room, an eight-episode podcast series that features follow-up interviews with some of the participants from the event. The series was A LOT of work, but the end result was well worth it. In fact, we’re already looking ahead to the next project we’re set to partner with the CDD team on.
[HINT: it involves producing another podcast series that’s also going to be amazing to work on]
Building a Narrative Around Important Social Topics
The first step in the process involved prepping the interview questions. Fortunately for us, the host of the podcast series — Alice Siu, the Deputy Director of the CDD at Stanford University — did a great job of providing a set of interview questions for each participant that would help draw out discussion about their experiences and how participating in America In One Room had impacted their lives moving forward. During production, the Tobe Agency team had the opportunity to ask participants follow-up questions, helping shape a narrative approach that would serve as the basis for the podcast series.
Speaking of production, this was the part of the project that was the most informative, at least for us. Recording each session strictly for podcast audio, we helped all participants set themselves up for their optimal sound. We also started crafting the narrative of each individual episode. After all, even though we would have loved to include the full uncut audio tracks, we didn’t think that hour-long episodes would be as digestible as the 30ish-minute episodes we arrived at with the finished product.
After we had gathered our audio footage, we sat down and started to piece everything together. Like we do with all of our podcast productions, we carefully reviewed each take, noting any audio glitches that would need cleaning up during the post-production process. As we timestamped each clip for a more seamless narrative, we also started finalizing the additional narrative pieces of audio voiceover that we would still need to record. All in all, this step in the process took the longest — by far. But, when you’re editing a podcast, it’s important to remember that your listening audience needs to remain interested in order to keep tuning in to new episodes. So, as time consuming as it might be, making sure your audio tracks are not only interesting, but also flow well from one thought to the next is key to producing a series that people will want to listen to.
A Finished Product Doesn’t Necessarily Mean a Finished Process
Once each episode was edited, re-edited, and digitally mastered for a better listening experience, you’d think the project would be completed — but not quite! A finished podcast series needs to be built on a platform that’s going to provide hosting and help you disperse the series to the major podcast providers. For Voices of America in One Room, we used Casted, which meant we still had work to do getting every episode uploaded, show notes added, and every other detail built out. But once that process is completed and you have all of your episodes scheduled for publication, you can start to see the finish line! The last major hurdle, the one that a lot of podcasts seem to lose sight of, is promoting the podcast in order to help build an audience.
Podcast promotion can happen pretty much anywhere you have an audience that’s willing to listen. Email campaigns are typically one way you can help spread the word, especially if you have a robust email list that you can reach out to. Promoting your podcast via social media is another popular way to help increase engagement and raise awareness amongst your audience of social followers. Furthermore, creating audiograms and other media files featuring snippets of your podcast can be a great way to spread the word on social media by giving your audience short, digestible content they may be more likely to interact with and take notice of. Promoting your efforts via press release is another, more traditional, method of spreading the word about your podcast. With press releases, always be sure to include the most pertinent information, back that information up with cited source material, and make it a point to personally reach out to any contacts you might have who would be interested in sharing the press release themselves.
Are You Ready to Take Your Podcast to the Next Level?
These days, recording equipment and editing software are more accessible than ever. That means anyone and everyone can produce a podcast then, right? Technically, that’s true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean planning, executing, and promoting a podcast is a simple process that just anyone can be successful with. Like most creative endeavors, it’s important to recognize that just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. If you’re looking to grow your podcast, contact the professionals at Tobe Agency. We do this for a living, and we’ve figured out the most efficient way of getting a podcast series from concept to distribution channels like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.