Last updated 24th of September 2020
Author Lisa Hartwell
What do Podcast Production Companies do?
What do podcast production companies do?
It’s a question we hear often, usually from business owners looking to expand their content marketing into the increasingly popular medium of podcasting, or internal communications professionals keen to see whether a podcast channel could help them reach specific employees within their organisation.
You may be new to podcasting and looking for guidance in putting a podcast series together or perhaps you have already started a podcast but find the process too time consuming or complicated for you and your team to handle. Whatever it is, here’s an overview of what services you should expect from any professional podcast production company. You might not require all of them – there are some aspects you may wish to handle yourself – but the options should be available for the full podcast package.
Sometimes the idea of starting a podcast might just be that; a little thought growing in your head that a podcast could work well for you. You may have seen the growing popularity of podcasts and decided that’s something you should add to your content marketing strategy. Or, perhaps you’ve realised that your target market is hungry for the kind of podcast you could create, and it would set you up as an authority in your industry. If you’re an internal comms professional, you might feel you are not reaching certain demographics of employees (such as remote workers) and think a podcast channel could overcome that.
Whatever your reasons, before you start recording, you need a good idea of who your target listener is and what will interest them, so you can decide what format your podcast might take, what kind of content it will contain, how often it needs to be produced and how you can implement it.
A podcast production company can help you formulate your podcast concept and offer advice on how to proceed. They should also be able to help you decide on technicalities such as:
- finding a presenter
- whether it should be an interview format
- how to target and find guests
- style of delivery (professional, friendly, relaxed, corporate)
- “scripting” each episode.
We don’t advise any of our clients to read directly from scripts, but each episode should have a framework. For example, what is the theme of the episode? What questions should be asked and answered? Who would be best placed to provide that information? What is the primary goal of that episode i.e. what do you want to convey to the audience?
Not all clients will want this aspect of podcast production. Many will have done this work, or some of it, before approaching a business to help them. However, if your previous experience has been with print or visual marketing and communications, it’s always worth asking for the opinion of professionals as to what may or may not work in an audio format.
We even provide podcast production packages for certain industries where the concept is already researched and planned - all you need to do is put your stamp on it.
Once you know your audience, have your concept mapped out and know how your podcast is going to sound, you can move into podcast production.
This may be the easiest part of the whole process, since many of us are now familiar with recording onto our phones or via Zoom/Skype calls.
The main area to consider is quality of your recording. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a presenter recording themselves onto their iPhone or recording interviews via a phone line (we do it ourselves for some podcast clients) but you want to ensure that the recording is as clean and crisp as possible, so you don’t have listeners turning off your podcast due to crackles or distortion.
A podcast production company should be able to offer you different options for recording and help you get the best quality out of the method you use.
The perfect scenario is your presenter and any interviewees record in the production company’s studio (or connected studios) using the best microphones available in sound-proofed rooms. However, this isn’t always possible. A good producer will be able to offer advice for any recording scenario, such as the best way to get a clear phone recording, the best home or office microphone to use (whether connecting to a computer or smartphone), how to minimise external noise etc.
We offer a number of recording options to clients, from recording in the studio to telephone link-ups (i.e. each participant calls into the studio and we record it directly) to high quality remote recording using one of our remote contribution kits.
This is the part of podcasting that puts most people off creating their own podcasts. Post-production is where the raw audio recordings are cleaned up, edited, and mixed with music, intros etc. depending on what is required to create the final audio file for distribution. Sometimes it needs very little work (in the case of a single voice, high quality recording that was all done in one-take) and other times it might require extensive editing and piecing together of different recordings.
A professional producer will handle everything that is needed to make your podcast sound good, including balancing out audio levels (to avoid that annoying instance of one voice blasting your eardrums and another requiring you to strain your ears to hear them) and saving it in a format that will work across your distribution platforms. They will submit it to you for clearance and be open to making further edits and changes if you feel they’re necessary. Professional producers can help you access appropriate music for your podcast and source any additional voiceover audio you require.
Another aspect of post-production you should consider asking of your podcast production company (which also straddles our next point) is pulling the best soundbites from the audio for you to use in your social media and other promotional material. They should be able to top and tail (add to the beginning and end of the soundbite) with appropriate audio that grabs a listener’s attention and explains how to access the full podcast. Or, as we provide for many of our clients, an audio-visual clip that works better on social media.
This aspect of podcast production is sometimes not taken as seriously as it should. Often there’s the mindset of “we’ll pop it on iTunes (now Apple Podcasts) and people will just find it”, or in the case of internal communications, “if we put it on the intranet, employees will listen”.
Unfortunately, with the increasing popularity of podcasts comes an increasing number in the marketplace on every imaginable topic, and this means working hard to make sure yours stands out and is found by your target audience. Apple Podcasts is no longer the only player in the game, even if it is still the most popular (at time of writing). Spotify and now Amazon are fighting hard for a bigger share of the podcast market.
You need to determine the best place to host your audio (your website server may not be the most reliable place, especially if your podcast becomes popular) and ensure it is distributed to the main podcast platforms. You should also make sure it is prominent and accessible on your own website and consider submitting it to other podcast databases.
In the case of internal comms podcasts, you need to look at how your target audience wants to access your podcast. Your intranet may not be the answer – or not the sole answer. A podcast production company like ours should be able to offer you options for distributing it via links to a download or playback system within text messages and emails, via a phone system or even using QR codes.
And don’t forget to market the hell out of your podcast! While this isn’t really the domain of most podcast production companies, they can help with aspects of your marketing such as:
- providing audio clips to your marketing team (as mentioned in the previous section)
- suggesting copy based on the audio
- providing a transcription service so you can offer a transcript on your website or via email
- offering cross-promotion to their own social media followers.
As you can see, there’s a lot that professional podcast production companies can offer when it comes to creating podcasts for your business or organisation. Hopefully, this outline will help you when seeking out a producer to work with and enable you to ask the right questions about what they can do to assist in making your podcast a success!