Brothers and business partners Chad and Joe McLeod of McLeod Communications recently took a bold step: venturing into the world of podcasting to share some frank discussions on politics and public relations. We got the chance to catch up with Chad and ask him a few questions about their experiences so far with the PR & Politics Podcast. Here’s what he had to say:
With politics being such a divisive subject these days, what made you decide to launch a PR and politics podcast?
Talking about PR and politics is a natural fit for us. Joe and I have enjoyed these conversations for years, going back to when both of us were college students studying mass communications, aspiring to one day be the White House press secretary (kidding, sort of). Earlier this year, one of our firm’s interns was taking a course in podcasting, and we started to think there could be an opportunity for us to start our own podcast. When we were brainstorming ideas, we said, “What’s something we’re already talking about that could be interesting to a broad audience?” That’s how we came up with PR & Politics.
We know politics can be divisive, but we believe there’s a need – maybe now more than ever – for thoughtful debates and discussion. We also didn’t see anyone else out there focusing as much on things like messaging and the PR strategies behind the issues.
What initial feedback have you gotten, and how have you responded/adjusted?
When we first started a few months ago, we weren’t sure exactly where the show was heading. Several of our first listeners asked if we were planning to talk about local and state issues, in addition to the national stories you’ll find us discussing most weeks. At that point, we hadn’t considered local issues as much, but we decided to try it.
A few weeks ago, we focused on the strong mayor issue being debated now in our hometown of Lakeland. We interviewed representatives from both campaigns, asked them to explain why their position is best for our community, and talked about the communications tools they’re using to reach voters. It was one of our most popular episodes to date.
What are some of the technical lessons you’ve learned about launching a podcast?
There are many. There’s a big world of podcasting that we are still learning. For starters, you have to decide which service to use to host your podcast. SoundCloud, Podbean, Libsyn are some of the most popular. Then there’s editing software. We’re using Adobe Audition, but there are a number of programs you can use. If you’re like us, and you’ve never produced a podcast, there’s a learning curve to audio editing.
While we believe the technical side is important, we would also say it’s more important to get your podcast off the ground and be consistent with new episodes, even if it’s not perfect. There are times when we say, “OK, we’ve spent enough time on this one. We know it’s not perfect, but let’s release it and keep going.”
With talk in the PR/marketing community about the value of producing original content, do you see your podcast as a potential source of income for your firm?
There are a lot of podcasters who are going that route, hoping their show will one day produce income. Right now we’re not focusing on that, although we probably wouldn’t turn down offers for sponsors or advertisers on the show! We’re having fun every week with these conversations, and we hope that comes through to our listeners. I had someone tell me recently that they don’t have a lot of time to follow the news every day, but they enjoy listening to our updates and perspective on current events. If anything, we hope the podcast gives our firm and our work an additional platform that we might not have otherwise.
What advice do you have for PR practitioners thinking about launching a podcast?
Like any successful PR program, we recommend developing a plan before starting – whether it’s your own or a podcast for your organization or client. Several factors to consider: How often do you plan to podcast? How long will your episodes be? What type of information will you discuss? Will you interview guests?
Once you’ve decided it makes sense to start a podcast, however, don’t wait for your plan to be perfect. Your first episodes may not be your best – they may not even be that good – but you learn to adjust and improve as you go along.
Check out all of the PR & Politics podcasts on McLeod Communications’ Soundcloud page.