By Eric van Damme, The Hoffman Agency London
“Mic check, 1,2”
Those were the first words recorded in our podcast studio after some time experimenting what the best setup would be to launch our own audio sessions. Rewind to a few months ago, and I would have told you confidently that it would be a piece of cake having worked in radio and TV environments before.
Interestingly, I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In this first post in a series, I will detail the five things we learnt while preparing to launch our own agency podcast.
While we haven’t officially launched our podcast series yet, we have broadcast a few ad-hoc sessions, so at present, this is a list of do’s and don’ts while planning your podcast project. In our next series, and after our podcast launch — hopefully in January — I will share our thoughts and experience on content and structure.
1. Why a podcast?
While there are already a lot of podcasts out there (750,000, with over 30 million episodes as of June 2019), there is still a lot of growth in perspective as the latest figures show that 1% of Android users currently listen to podcasts, while 10% of iPhone users already regularly enjoy their favourite podcast shows.
Consider that Google was quite late to the scene, and that we have just entered the IoT era with Echos, Dots, Google Home speakers, Apple HomePods, connected watches, glasses and other IoT devices. This surge in devices will massively increase podcast adoption in the coming years.
2. Define your objectives
As simple as it sounds, defining what you want to do is not necessarily the easiest part. While immediately looking at broad objectives such as increasing your notoriety or raising the agency’s awareness might seem a priority for many, you should first make sure the technical and editorial guidelines are well in place, so you can solely focus on the content in the long run.
Choosing simple objectives and steps — like setting up a comfortable environment for recording sessions and planning your editorial calendar — is a good start, instead of shooting for unrealistic KPI’s before you’ve even started your project. This will help to make this audiophile journey as easy as 1,2,3.
3. Advantages of outsourcing your studio …
Recording options depend on your budget, previous recording experience, and willingness to accommodate your own internal setup (think available space, noise isolation vs. hiring a podcast studio). Studio hire prices vary from £35 per hour to £500 to produce an entire episode. They offer the professional flexibility and convenience to record your content and generally on relatively short notice. But don’t forget to plan for additional editing budget if you don’t have internal resources to finalise your shows; also remember that not all studios will come with a sound engineer.
Having said that, hired studios are the best solution for agencies that don’t want to invest in their own audio equipment or don’t have enough internal resources and just want to record on-the-go sessions.
4. … and advantages of producing in-house
Initially, I tried convincing my boss we should first buy our own podcast kit to start recording, but as a wise Jedi and notorious rock and roll fan, he came up with an interesting musical analogy.
“It’s like being a rock and roll band; you don’t need to buy top gear to start practising in a garage!”
So, here we were, recording our first “mock” show in a professional podcast studio — thanks to our good friends at Markettiers in London.
At that point we were ready to buy our own podcast kit. It turned out to be a wise choice, as it not only gave some of our colleagues the opportunity to see a proper studio and record a “mock” show in professional conditions, but it also enabled us to test the alchemy between team members during a live recording session.
Very wise, my boss is. Herh herh herh.
5. Studio/podcast equipment
At first, I had opted for a more traditional setup of 2-4 mics, a mixer and audio interface from one of the big audio brands available on the market (Mackie, Steinberg, Yamaha, Native Instruments), but then we spotted that amazing podcast kit: the RØDECaster Pro, every podcaster’s dream. It enables you to record entire shows on a small SD card that you then plug into any laptop to edit your show, and with very basic sound acoustic knowledge, anyone can manage the microphones and get the podcast rolling in no time. There are, of course, many other cheaper alternatives.
Even though we haven’t launched our podcast yet (watch this space in January 2020) and it has been a bumpy road at times, this exciting adventure has already helped us develop new communications skills, and our team has become passionate about podcasting. In our next series, we’ll share our thoughts and experience on content and structure.