I am taking Audio storytelling for journalists: How to tell stories on podcasts, voice assistants, social audio, and beyond” from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. These are my notes from the third week.
How has your idea for an audio project evolved over the course?
A successful audio project/podcast takes planning, strategy, and thought long before you pick up the mic. Pre-production and planning are so important for creating a successful project. Each step of the process requires its own planning whether it is developing a plan for finding your audience or creating a game plan for each interview.
Recipe for story success:
- Find a good story, the actual story and why you are telling it.
- Do everything to serve the story, every decision, everything – production. Find every way to put the story out there.
- This mean use the right tool, find the right people, the right artists, the right voices, the right marketing push – every way, the more the better.
There is no shame in going back to the drawing board. Honestly, this is frequently part of the process of creating a great audio project.
Whether you are doing audio or any other type of journalism or media production, thinking through who your audience is and how you can serve them is so crucial for creating a successful work.
Audio storytelling is a skill (and multiple skills within skills). You can learn to do it. It takes practice. Then you have to go out into the world and do it. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn from those mistakes. Create the Anne Lamott style “shitty first draft” and then through a series of audio rough drafts, rewrites, and edits you will make it compelling.
To build an audience: create social media pages to get the word out. Partner with anyone that has a roster of contacts Create social media polls and other posts to get feedback from listeners. Do live events to get more people to listen. Write to journalists who cover podcasts and see if they would interview me or write an article about the podcast.
Plan on project appearing on the various podcast platforms, including Apple and Spotify. Make supplementary materials to keep viewers engaged (like swag for answering a call to action or contests). Need a logo and a social media page that posts images from recording sessions and of experts who would appear during episodes.
Social audio: Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Spotify greenroom, Facebook live audio rooms, TikTok live.
It is really, really hard work to launch a successful podcast, and frankly, it gets harder by the day to build an audience. There are about two million podcasts out there.
You really do have to have a strategy for building an audience, and that means having a marketing strategy.
To create a successful audio project, you need to know who you’re trying to reach, who is your intended audience, know why they care about your project, need to have a clear focus,
Map out three months’ worth of shows. . If it’s a limited run, map them all out, and if it’s an ongoing project, at least know what your first few months would look like. When you pitch a project, also try to put together a pilot, if you possibly can. It really helps when the people you’re pitching can hear what it is that you can do and actually hear your vision.
Do a market analysis.
- What are some other similar shows or projects and how are you different from them?
- What is their audience size and how do you expect to stack up against them
- And how are you actually going to build that audience?
- Will your audio story project have a companion piece in a newspaper, or maybe a magazine or on a highly listen to podcasts that’s already established?
- And what ideas do you have for funding the project?
- Are there grants or likely corporate sponsors?
- And how are similar projects funded?
- One, what is your project really about?
- Two, who is your target audience?
- And three, how will you let that audience know your project exists?
Start is by telling small audio stories, maybe by using Twitter spaces or even clubhouse. This is a great way to hone your technique. Test out ideas and build a following for when you do launch something like a podcast.
Be the expertise in how to tell the story.
People who are really new to audio and don’t have a clear understanding of what it takes to make something.
Best things come from collaboration.
SHORTFORM AUDIO – shareable, short audio clips.
participatory audio experience