By: Matthew Couto, freelance copywriter and journalist
Podcasting engages your community by creating a conversation that uses tone of voice to connect you to your audience in a way writing can't.
Consider podcasts as internet radio; they're audio files published online for listeners to stream or download. You can also subscribe to podcasts so that new episodes download automatically to your devices.
Podcasting is more labour-intensive than blogging. However, because your audience engages by listening, rather than reading, it allows you to reach a different segment - those who may not read your blog, but are interested in the conversations you're having.
They’re also an opportunity to make emotional call-to-actions. After you tell your stories, provide information to listeners, and connect with them, they will be more responsive to your cause.
Podcasting also provides a great way to network with other professionals in your field when you work with other nonprofits or expert guests.
It’s a useful communication tool when done right. We're going to outline some of the different approaches you can take, and guide you through planning your own podcast in three simple steps.
Step One: Choose your Podcast Style
There are two main styles of podcasting.
An interview-style podcast is a one-on-one conversation, or a group conversation that you moderate between two or more guests. In either case, your guests are the voice of your podcast, and you are the facilitator. As the host, you lead your guests through a range of questions that elicit relevant and interesting information for your audience.
Interview-style podcasts are more informal and conversational. They can also be recorded in one take, meaning it requires minimal time and resources to produce.
Here’s an example of an interview-style podcast that we created with the Ontario Nonprofit Network.
Tip: Asking quality questions creates a quality podcast. Learn more about interviewing here.
Rather than a conversation, radio-documentary podcasts follow a script.
You may still record interviews, but those interviews wouldn't be the focus; rather they're used to provide differing perspectives alongside your own narration to support your analysis.
They sound like a news story where you weave your narration in between audio clips of interviews you've prerecorded; your voice tells the story, while your interviewees provide supporting perspectives.
This style is more time consuming because it requires intensive scriptwriting and editing. For these reasons, interview-style podcasts are recommended for nonprofits with tight resources.
Here’s an example of a documentary-style podcast from the CBC’s Ideas.
Step Two: Choose your Topic
Your topic should reflect the interests of your audience. What do they
want to know so bad they'll dedicate the time to listen to your podcast?
Your topic can be whatever you'd like, but generally, the more focused the better. A focused topic brings out information you can't garner anywhere else. It makes your podcast unique and interesting, bringing value to your audience and making you stand out from the crowd.
For example, anyone can make a podcast about nonprofits. It takes skill and expertise, however, to make a podcast about registering your organization as a nonprofit.
A great way to tighten your topic is providing a focus statement. This is a one-sentence (two sentences max!) statement that describes exactly what your story is about. Everything in your podcast should relate somehow to your focus statement. But don't worry, you can rewrite your focus statement anytime you want, so that you have flexibility to make changes as you work.
Step Three: Choose your Guest and Script your Podcast
You always need a plan and outline for your podcast before recording. If you have a guest in mind, you can invite them to be on your podcast and then design the script around their expertise. If you have a great topic you really want to explore, you can also find a guest whose expertise fits your topic.
Regardless, you need to have an intro written and a line of questioning prepared that will guide the conversation and help it flow. This isn't to say you can't go off-script, but even if you do, the script provides a foundation that you can fall back on when lulls in the conversation arise.
This is another reason why interview-style podcasts are less time-consuming - they only require an intro, line of questioning and outro, while documentary-style podcasts need to be scripted from beginning to end!
We hope these steps help you create meaningful nonprofit podcasts that raise awareness about your cause.
Other useful tips!
- Think about visual design: the images you use should relate to your topic and entice your audience - you want to build a brand around your podcast.
- Include a table of contents: list time marks on your webpage that link to where each new section starts. If a listener wants to skip ahead to the part about nonprofit fundraising, they should be able to (or else they may lose interest).
- Find music to complement your podcast: good music complements your topic and entices your listeners. You can find royalty-free music to use without infringing on copyrights.
- Decide on frequency: You can podcast as often as you'd like, but having a lower frequency and higher quality is best. Use a podcast content calendar to plan releases and promotion to help stay consistent.
- See what other nonprofits are doing: Here’s a list of popular nonprofit podcasts to give you ideas of how to design your own.
About the author
Matthew is a freelance copywriter and journalist with marketing experience in the nonprofit sector. He has a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University and worked as communications coordinator with TechSoup Canada where his versatility brought out engaging technical and human stories. When he’s not at the keyboard, he’s playing the drums or studying French.