The popularity of podcasting isn’t slowing down anytime soon. As of January 2020, there were more than 30 million podcast episodes available for download and 900,000 different shows to choose from. This number is sure to climb, especially as a way to reach audiences facing continued travel restrictions and social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, how do we reach audiences in an already saturated market, particularly when starting a new podcast? For the answers, I reached out to Christina Rowe, MSOL; founder of The Collaborative LLC and co-creator of the Conversations by Association podcast. Conversations by Association was launched last year and is a podcast for individuals who work in or would like to explore a career in association or nonprofit management. On the podcast, Christina and co-creator and host Steve Smith discuss career pathways, mentoring experiences, resources and opportunities that have helped successful professionals learn and grow.
Why did you create the Conversations by Association podcast?
Conversations by Association evolved out of many discussions about building collaborative leadership skills in the field, the importance of mentoring, and introducing more ideas of what a career path in the field could look like. There was also the goal of helping build tools that were easily accessible to the industry that helped individuals connect and understand the field, and the potential of the field. It had broken our hearts to see highly talented and driven people leave the field, especially when it was due to a lack of awareness of how varied careers and opportunities were in the industry. We wanted to help people look closely at their options and walk away with new tools to apply to their own career, and a stronger sense of individual leadership at all levels in the industry.
How did you determine the target audience for the podcast and what content and speakers would be most valuable to this audience?
Our audience was fairly easy to define, because it was our own industry, which was a niche in itself. We try to listen to what our peers are looking to learn about, and create interesting exposure points to people who that well.
The learning curve is who you think within your niche will listen is not always who actually does. It's been fun to meet a lot of new people who are listening that hold a wide variety of roles in the industry.
What advice do you have for an association considering adding podcasting to its marketing mix?
Have specific goals. One of our major goals was to open up new conversations with and for our peers, and that started happening within the first few episodes. During the first season I had multiple people reach out who had been touched by something that was said, and then at conferences or by email I was able to connect individuals with the same passion. Some of those conversations have evolved into peer mentoring, mastermind discussions and new support systems. So not only have we started new conversations, we've been able to change the conversation and create new relationships.
Once an association launches its podcast, how can it effectively promote episodes and draw in listeners?
The ideal is really to start before the podcast launches, to tell their potential audience that it's coming. The best thing we did was to release three consecutive episodes when we first launched. This meant listeners could get an immediate feel for what the series would be like, and decide to subscribe. Once the podcast has launched, we've had a lot of success creating images for the individual guests to share, and sharing bonus content in industry newsletters. Getting your network involved is also a very powerful tool!
For some excellent podcasts for association management professionals, check out:
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Amy Thomasson is a strategist, content creator, and storyteller with extensive experience in marketing and communications, membership development, and volunteer management. She has worked in a variety of business environments ranging from the Fortune 500 to professional associations. Amy currently serves as the marketing director for the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. Amy is incredibly passionate about volunteerism within the association and nonprofit management community, and currently serves as co-chair of Association Forum’s Content Working Group, as well as a mentor to Forum’s Emerging Leaders. She is also a highly-rated speaker and article author, who has partnered with ASAE, Association Forum, AssociationSuccess.org, and standalone associations to deliver engaging content. Amy is a 2018 recipient of Association Forum and USAE’s Forty Under 40® Award. She has a BA in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia, an Executive Leadership certificate from Cornell University, and a Professional Fundraising certificate from Boston University.