When most people think of PR interviews, newspapers and TV jump to mind. Audio interviews, conducted by radio stations and podcasters, are often an afterthought.
However, these interviews can be valuable for two big reasons. First, radio remains quite popular, boasting large, engaged audiences. Podcasts, too, can have sizable followings in their subject areas. Second, audio interviews are often made available as MP3 downloads, which means you can place them on your website, share them on social media and blogs, and email links to your customers and prospects.
With such value to be had from audio interviews, it makes sense to do them right. Here are some tips for pulling off great audio interviews.
7 Tips for Great Audio Interviews
- Maximize sound quality. I know this sounds like the station or podcaster’s job, but there are lots of things you can do to maximize the audio quality of your own interviews. Make sure you’re in a quiet room, windows and doors shut and mobile phone off. If you’re doing a telephone interview, use the corded handset to your phone, not a speakerphone and not a wireless handset. Do not use a mobile phone for your interview. If you are doing a Skype interview, shut down all unnecessary programs on your computer. The better the sound quality, the better you’ll come across.
- Be prepared. Just because your interview is going to be a conversation doesn’t mean you can do it off the cuff. You should prepare for an audio interview as thoroughly as you would for a newspaper or TV interview. The good news is since it’s audio, you can have your notes right in front of you and nobody will know. So, create good talking points and practice a few times before the interview. You can even get on the phone and rehearse with a colleague or your publicist until you feel ready.
- Don’t be too prepared. You may think I’m crazy but hear me out. Lots of people try to script out their audio interviews — and this usually fails badly. It’s hard to read from a script and make it sound like a conversation. And if the host throws in a question you’re not expecting, you can get flustered. It’s better to use talking points, at mentioned above, so you can just scan the bullet points to keep you on track. If you’re familiar with the material from your preparation, you should be able to stay on message just fine.
- Keep it steady. This idea is terribly important. You want to keep a steady, fairly slow, relaxed vocal pace as you go through your interview. When people are nervous they tend to speak far too quickly. When listeners hear someone speaking too quickly, they assume the person is nervous, which is always a negative. This is something to work on when you practice. Keep your pace relaxed. Don’t rush to get done. Sound like you’re enjoying the interview and have all the time in the world. This will give your interview a confident feel that will help win over listeners.
- Refer back to previous points. This speaks to a big difference between audio interviews and print. Audio is 100% linear. There’s no looking back at the prior paragraph if the listener loses his or her place. So, if you’re going to make a point that relates to something you said 5 minutes earlier, understand that the listener may not recall your reference. Better to refer back to the previous point explicitly. For example: “You’ll recall at the beginning of the interview I mentioned the sky is blue. Since our product evokes the sense of flight, we’ve chosen a blue color palette for our latest generation…”
- Counting always helps. I’m sure you’ve heard this construction before. “There are three points I want to make about our newest product. One…” This approach is perfect for audio interviews. It helps listeners keep track of what you’re telling them and it gives them a sense for how long this part of the conversation will run. Remember, since audio is linear, anything that will help listeners follow along is of great value. Make sure, however, that if you say you’re going to make four points, you don’t stop at three without some explanation. Otherwise, you’ll create confusion and undo your good work.
- Use examples. This is a good idea with any interview, but it is particularly useful with audio. When you use examples in describing a situation, product or service, you are bringing an idea to life, giving it flesh and blood. Audio is a very intimate media format to begin with — after all, you are hearing real voices and picking up real emotion — so examples are particularly powerful. For example: “Our new product is very popular with young adults. There’s a great story about one college student in Maryland who bought it for three of his friends and…”
Audio interviews are much easier than you think. As a podcaster, I’ve conducted many, many interviews and coached lots of folks through them. Everyone has the capacity to pull off a great audio interview. Just follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to becoming an audio star.
For those who think podcasting has grown a little long in the tooth, chew on this…
New research from Edison Research and Arbitron released this week shows that not only is podcasting holding its own, but it is a particularly good fit with two of the biggest trends in media and communications today — social networking and mobile devices.
Podcasting Still Going Strong
The study, titled The Podcast Consumer 2012, shows:
- The percentage of Americans who have ever listened to an audio podcast is 29%, up from 25% last year and 13% in 2007.
- One in five smartphone owners (20%) have listened to an audio podcast in the last month.
- Nearly four of every five podcast consumers (78%) use or have a social network profile page, compared with 56% of the broader U.S. population.
There are lots of other great details in the report that support these points. Just click through the slides below to review the data.
Overall, this research tells me that audio podcasting — video, too — is a great way for marketers to tell their stories, particularly when used in conjunction with mobile and social networks.
In fact, there may never have been a better time to be podcasting. So pull out your mics and start recording.
Podcasting is a wonderful way for businesses to communicate ideas. It’s compelling. Intimate in a way text can never be. And producing a professional show is surprisingly affordable.
It would be easy to assume that podcasting has been eclipsed by social networking over the past few years and is no longer a compelling medium. But this is just not the case. In fact, podcasting can be particularly effective when used in conjunction with social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
If you think of a podcast like any other type of online content, then you can approach it the same way on your social networks. Create great content. Promote your episodes directly on your network feed. Watch your audience grow.
Here are some specific tips for making the most of podcasting in the Facebook era.
Best Practices for Podcasting Today
- Choose your format wisely. Audio or video? Each has particular advantages, so choose based on the type of show you want. Audio is quicker, easier and cheaper to produce. And it can be consumed on the go. Video is, obviously, more visually compelling. Which should you select? Ask yourself what kind of story you want to tell. If your show is one person speaking in a studio, audio may well be stronger. If you’re out and about, video can bring your viewers there with you.
- Keep episodes short and sweet. While there’s no definitive rule on the perfect length of a podcast episode, a good rule of thumb is to keep it as short as possible. There are, of course, exceptions, such as in-depth interview shows. But generally, keep your episodes tight enough for listeners or viewers to consume in one sitting. We are talking primarily about business podcasting here, so be mindful of the needs of your audience. Businesspeople want their information quickly.
- Make sure your episodes are useful. If people going to take the time to listen to or view your show, make sure they’re getting something they can use. Podcasts are a great way to share ideas and teach the skills you’ve developed over the course of your career. Structure your show in a way that highlights information your audience can put to use. A self-centered or promotional show won’t get you anywhere.
- Build a good web home for your show. In order to take advantage of social network promotion, your podcast has to be set up correctly. That means not only does it need its own home on the web — complete with RSS feed — but each episode must have its own, unique URL. This way, you can promote each episode on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. And if each episode has a URL, you can also use SEO to make your episodes easier to find.
- Make subscribing easy. Most people still don’t know what an RSS feed is or what it does. So, you’ve got to make subscribing to your show dead simple. Create big, bold buttons for subscribing via RSS feed and subscribing via iTunes. Make it possible to subscribe via email, for those who still prefer getting their episodes the old-fashioned way. Also, make sure there’s a download link for each episode for those who want to consume your content manually.
- Promote. Promote. Promote. By all means, put your show on iTunes so that anyone with an iPhone or iPad can download your episodes easily. But, don’t stop there. Make sure you are constantly promoting your podcast through your social networks, linking to the podcast episodes themselves. Some social networks even have plugins that can be used to embed episodes directly into your social media feed.
Podcasting is still going strong in the Facebook era. It’s a highly convenient and easy-to-use technology that allows you to tell complex stories and push them to a receptive audience that’s interested in what you have to say.
Through podcasting, you can establish yourself both as an authority and as a personality people want to hear. Give it a shot.