How do we work with a podcast production company? What is my involvement as the agency?
Podcasting is exploding in popularity, and with good reason. Podcasts are a powerful tool for businesses to build their top-of-funnel brand awareness. The depth of engagement is the best of any communications channel and they help reach new audiences to spread their messages. Just like the agency world, podcast production companies vary. On the small end, you’ll see single individuals who are able to juggle a few shows at a time. Their “style” is the same. Their services are based on what they know, and how much they can solely handle. On the large end, you can work with agencies (like JAR) that specialize in branded podcasts. They are made up of a diverse team of talents. And they are able to handle every step in the production as a turn-key solution.
Your agency has probably already had many inquiries from your clients on the medium. Or perhaps you are creating shows already.
You likely outsource your video production, audio production. Wouldn’t it be wise for your agency to outsource your podcast production?
These days, you can engage with a podcast production company to white label services. Or be a third-party production partner.
A lot of agencies reach out to JAR Audio, given our professional podcast production services. Some are media teams, some from PR agencies but most are from integrated agencies. They have a lot of questions. You might have the same. So we wanted to help you navigate the world of branded podcasts by producing this guide.
I also get nervous about outsourcing.
Sourcing a project to a team outside of your agency can be scary. As a Type-A perfectionist, I have a hard time passing something off to someone else – and because it’s your client your butt is on the line. I get it. I spent the past 20 years of my career working in some of North America’s top agencies. The pressure is real. What if they do it wrong? Will they complete it on time? Do they understand the client’s brand and voice?
However, if you find the right fit for your project, trusting a credible agency to take the reins on a podcast should be easy (in theory). Just because someone else is involved doesn’t mean you’re not.
What sort of podcast production services are available?
Just like your agency the services can vary. They can include research, strategy, concept, writing, recording, editing, distribution, data analysis, and marketing. But these services should be scalable depending on what your agency wants to continue leading. The process that you are presented with should include project management and client service baked into the offering.
Pricing can vary as well.
Some freelancers have packages available starting in the hundreds of dollars per episode. Other agencies will base their pricing on the specific project and range in the 5 figures per episode. Just like all other marketing mediums the price varies depending on a number of factors including team size, complexity, timeline, host cost (ie. celebrity), and on-site recording needs. Be upfront with the production company about your budget and, just like your creative ideas, they will provide you with options that work within the numbers.
When is the right time to engage with a podcast production company?
The earlier the better, as if you were working with a new client. Some agencies engage with us during their campaign planning. Most brands roll out their podcast outside of a campaign. After all, the podcast should not contain any marketing messages (or very little). The podcast topic should not be specific to a campaign but can complement it.
It’s important to get the podcast company involved upfront. This includes strategy and concept development. Podcast production companies specialize in this medium. So they’ll be able to work with your planners and creative team to develop a series of concepts that are on brief. Then they’ll work with you to produce a presentation deck for the client.
The deck should include the following:
- How the brand can make an impact in podcasting
The podcast landscape in relation to the brand
High-level thoughts on a launch plan
Overview of cross-promotional opportunities
High-level thoughts on a media plan
You should be given the opportunity to collaborate on the deck. You know the client best, what will resonate with them and what’s right for the brand.
What are the typical steps?
1. Strategy Call
Discuss the brief with the agency. At this time the client can join that call, or it can be the agency and the podcast company.
It’s important to be clear with the podcast company on why you think a podcast is right for the client. Provide a brief if possible. Like your campaigns, establishing clarity on the purpose of the podcast will result in a better show.
Also, you should provide the podcast production company with as much information about the audience:
Any data and insights available
A persona is great if it exists
Explore early ideas with the podcast team. This ensures there is a show idea that would be interesting to listen to. But it also confirms there is enough content/runway to produce a season (or seasons).
You should be ready to answer the question: “is this idea a long ad disguised as a podcast?” If it is, it’s not worth producing the show at all. Nobody wants to listen to a 30-minute ad on their own time.
For this brainstorm, call include your client lead and/or Project Manager as well as the Creative Team.
3. Further Collaboration
The podcast production company will help flesh out the ideas further. Cull the list down to 3 concepts. You’ll then flesh out the concepts further, expanding on the show premise. Also a season arc. The season arc consists of potential episode topics. We develop one so that every stakeholder is comfortable that there is an actual show to produce. But also so that key stakeholders can see what a season’s worth of episodes could cover.
4. Concept Presentation
The podcast production company should help to present the concept to your client.
With an approved concept, the podcast company can get to work. You can lean on that company to provide the following services:
Concept Development – Comprehensive meetings with agency and client team to develop overall podcast concept and rollout strategy.
Executive Production – Start-to-finish supervision of the podcast production process, ensuring adherence to the agreed-upon schedule, budget, creative goals, and company values.
Chase Production – Finding, prepping, and booking interviews with guests according to the agreed-upon production schedule.
Research & Writing – Topic area research, interview question lines, individual episode script development, narration script, sound effects, and creative scene treatments.
Casting – Sourcing voice talent most suitable to the project goals.
Technical production – Professional-level recording, mixing, and editing of the podcast. Including original music composition and technical integration with your digital platforms.
They should take all of this off your hands.
Keeping you in the loop
The Project Manager should schedule a series of check-in conversations. These should occur during production to ensure you are staying on the same page. It also gives you a chance to ask and answer questions. Along with troubleshooting any challenges.
You should also be looped into the company’s project management software (Basecamp, ClickUp, etc.). This allows you to review the audio versions. You will also have a format for providing feedback. Once feedback has been delivered by the agency, and a new version has been created it can be sent to the client for their feedback and revisions.
Who handles the cloud hosting of the show?
The podcast production company handles all of the cloud hostings of the show including pushing the show out to the most popular podcatchers (including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, etc.). They will also write titles and show notes for each episode, and any other metadata. Your team can be consulted, or this task can be handed over to you.
What about analytics?
The data gathered from the show’s analytics are vital to producing a great podcast. Through the host server, you will be able to access all of the show analytics and report back to your client. This includes downloads, listens, and listener engagement in detail. The podcast production company will also use this data to guide future episodes.
What about podcast artwork (show artwork)?
The podcast production company should be able to provide you with custom artwork. Or your agency can take the lead on the show artwork.
What about promoting the podcast?
The podcast production company should be able to provide the full promotion and marketing services that are critical to the podcast’s success. From the design of the website landing page to creating and executing a media plan. The company should be able to take it all off of your hands and grow the audience. The process can be scalable depending on the needs of the agency.
I know that as a creative agency, you want to bring your ideas to life. But we also know that podcasting is a relatively new medium and the time needed to create a quality podcast is immense, and the skills needed are unique. Let a podcast agency take the work off your hands and guide you through the podcast space. Reach out and begin a relationship with one. They can work to bring those ideas to life plus give you a whole new service to offer your clients.