Champions of Content – Q&A with Russell Goldsmith: Podcast Producer

Welcome to the next instalment of our new series: Champions of Content.

Content is integral to the way brands are understood and seen by their audiences, but developing content for different audiences, on different channels and even in different languages can be very complicated to get right.  

In Champions of Content, we’ll be speaking to passionate content creators we admire including marketers, journalists, writers, podcasters, and speakers about their experiences and sharing the wisdom to help others on their own content journey – whether your first putting pen to paper or looking to level up your content strategy. 

Russell Goldsmith is founder of Audere and has captured conversations with a broad range of leaders and thinkers, including Sir Marin Sorrell (S4Capital), Sir Ian Cheshire (Barclays UK), and Ian Stuart (HSBC). Audere produce B2B video and audio podcasts for global clients including AWS, Freshfields, Merck, SAP, and Octopus Energy amongst many others.

Russell is also the producer and one of the presenters of the c-suite podcast, an award-winning series that features senior executives discussing a wide range of topics affecting businesses today, including sustainability, diversity, innovation, and marketing communications. We know first-hand what it’s like to collaborate with Russell. The c-suite podcast is our partner for Tyto’s Unicorn CEO podcast series, in which we talk entrepreneurship, communication and culture with the leaders of some of the world’s most valuable startups. Over the course of our 30+ episodes we have featured guests such as Zeb Evans (ClickUp), Job van der Voort (Remote), Shane Happach (Mollie), and Jeff Lunsford (Tealium). 

In this edited conversation, Russell talks about the challenges of making video and audio content, his advice for making quality podcast content, and why the number of downloads and listens is not necessarily the real measure of a podcast’s success… 

Russell, please can you start by telling us about your own career journey as it relates to content and what role content plays in your work today? 

My background is in broadcast PR. I spent nearly 16 years with broadcast specialists markettiers, where I looked after the digital and social side of the business, creating, distributing and streaming content in the very early days of the web and social media. We were one of the first agencies to be producing podcasts for brands – way before podcasting became ‘a thing’!  

I left in 2014, when I founded Audere. Primarily, we make podcasts, but there is now a big push towards more video-based podcasts.  We also produce corporate video for clients, mainly in the form of case studies and customer success stories.  

Most of our work is within the B2B space, producing communications for some of the world’s biggest companies in sectors such as tech, healthcare and law. 

My main learning from producing this kind of content, is that you shouldn’t just think about it as recording an audio podcast for 20 to 30 minutes. How do you maximise this piece of content? You can transcribe it and create show notes to point people to on your website and link to all the different topics and case studies you discussed. This is great for SEO, but also for inclusivity: if people are hard of hearing and cannot listen to a podcast, then they can read what was discussed.   

You can take clips from the podcast to share on social media. A 60-second clip from a podcast we recorded for a client at an event achieved over 15,000 organic views on LinkedIn. More than 450 people had liked it, and a whole discussion thread began underneath the content. These bitesize, shareable clips often generate huge amounts of engagement beyond the podcast itself and show the real value of this content.  

How do you measure the success of your podcast content? 

The content we produce today is aimed at lots of different audiences and in some cases, they can be quite niche. For example, Inside Octopus, that we produce for Octopus Energy, is not aimed at their customers, although they are of course welcome to listen and learn about the organisation.  Instead, the show is aimed at current employees and potential recruites, at partners in the energy sector and government representatives. With SAP, their content is focused on their partner ecosystem and with Merck, it’s healthcare professionals. For the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), the content is purely for members only.  

But where many of our clients use podcasts, is as a way of either building upon relationships with existing clients and partners, or as a way of driving new business. 

For example, if a business has invested in research and written a white paper, they could use a podcast to bring it to life as part of the PR & promote around its release. However, assuming you want to get that white paper it in front of, say, a CEO, CMO, or CIO, etc., why not invite two or three of those people that you’re trying to reach onto a panel based podcast to talk about the research findings – hear their opinions, share their learnings and experiences. The worst-case scenario is that you end up with a really engaging conversation that your target audience will want to listen to. In the best-case scenario, you have built up a strong relationship with the people you wanted to engage with by co-creating the podcast, which may hopefully lead to new business.

Similarly, if a client is attending an event or conference and paying for a booth, they could invite carefully selected attendees to record an interview on the booth.  We all know how hard it is to attract the right people to your booth and not those freebie hunters or people coming to pitch to you!  In fact, quite often, the people you really want to talk to, those keynote speakers, rarely wander the exhibition halls and instead, after their talk, either head back to the speaker lounge, or are whisked away for pre-booked meetings.  Offering them an opportunity to talk about their presentation or share more thoughts about the conference for your podcast, is a great way to draw them over to meet with you.  As well as producing lots of podcast and social media content in one day, this tactic also creates a huge buzz with so many people visiting your booth. Again, in terms of measuring success, hopefully one of those interviewees – if not more – may result in a major piece of business. 

Creating podcast content is not just about the number of listeners or downloads, it’s about building relationships between the right people – be that internal or external – strengthening partnerships or driving new business. Ultimately, my measurements for success are dependent on what impact the content can make to the client’s business objectives.  

We all want our content to stand out, what do you think are the main ingredients that make one piece of content stand out above another? 

For podcast content to be successful, it must be planned and prepped. You can’t just turn up and start chatting into a mic. We run workshops with clients to help with building the narrative and creating the right story arc with engaging moments that pique the listener’s interest.

You also need to think about how you are going to differentiate your podcast. Are you going to record one-on-one interviews, or a panel discussion. Do you have more than one host? Having different voices helps to maintain engagement. And where do you record? Recording on location, like at an event or conference, will create more atmosphere. 

For instance, when we worked with a client in the agriculture industry, we helped them produce a podcast series aimed at farmers and agronomists to listen to whilst working on their farm vehicles in the fields. Other farming podcasts we had researched had been recorded in an office and were very scripted. We decided to record on location, walking through crop fields on farms around the UK.  This sparked conversations with guests as we walked and recorded. It was a more interesting experience for the listener, as they could hear hay crunching underfoot, the sounds of farm vehicles and noises from animals. We also took great photos for social media, and for the client, it meant they got to spend more time chatting in person with people they wanted to meet – existing and potential new clients.

What are some of the challenges you face when producing content for different channels and audiences, and how do you deal with these? Here at Tyto, we often navigate the complexity of developing content for different audiences in different countries. 

As a result of lockdown, people have become more accepting of recording remotely. It also means you can bring together guests from all over the world, and so it’s certainly a very sustainable way of producing content.   That said, you need to prep.  Just talking into a laptop mic may produce a lot of echo and if your guest has poor wifi, they could cut out. Prep and test calls are therefore essential, and using the right application to record the content that allows you to record the individual local audio files if possible.   Of course, recording online also has the added benefit of recording video content at the same time, so again, some prep in setting up the webcams to get the best possible shot will help.

If you’re recording a podcast, this is part of your brand, and you want to make it sound as good as possible. People listen and subscribe to lots of podcasts today, so if your podcast sounds poor in the first 30 seconds, people will go and listen to something else. So, educating clients about this is essential. 

Another challenge is producing content in different formats for lots of different channels. It’s added a lot of time to post-production, as we need to cut and edit video clips into a square format for Instagram, vertical portrait for TikTok and YouTube Shorts, and landscape for YouTube. Some people watch video without sound, so we also need to add subtitles. And if you’re producing content for an international audience, you need to localise the subtitles in different languages. All these things add to time and budgets, and you need to plan for where you will use this content during pre-production, so you get everything that the client needs during filming, because going back to change it to how they want it can be very difficult and could affect the quality of the podcast.  

 And finally, Russell, for brands or individuals planning to level up their content in 2023, what would be your top three bits of advice for how they can increase the impact of their content? What should they be thinking about and looking at? 

There is definitely a push towards more video, which works as long as you make sure you remember that you’re producing a podcast. Keep the conversation and content informal, don’t turn it into a corporate video.

If you’re investing in attending an event, think bigger than just giving away a free pen. Use it as an opportunity to create content, and make your booth stand out and appear more engaging by having attendees come and record a podcast.

Similarly, consider repurposing your webinars into podcast content. Just make sure you plan to do this in advance, so you can check your guests’ microphones and have good quality audio, otherwise it will sound awful. You also need to edit it, cutting out any dead air, and give it a proper introduction. I’ve listened to podcasts where people have just taken the audio from their webinar and released it as a podcast, and there are always moments of silence. We tend to cut a 55-minute webinar into a 25-minute podcast: it’s snappier and easier to listen to.   

So, it’s great to repurpose content, but plan to do it at the start and you will have a much better piece of content at the end.