Podcasts are everywhere these days—and for good reason. According to research from The Podcast Exchange, 30% of English-speaking Canadian adults listened to podcasts each month in 2020. And over 11 million Canadian adults listened to podcasts in 2020. Among these listeners, 47% are aged 18–34—a difficult-to-reach demographic. This article will explore why your association should start a podcast.

Research shows that a podcast is a great way to reach younger professionals, a challenge that associations are currently facing across Canada. My colleague’s article, Connecting Your Association: Millennial Communication, explores ways to engage this demographic and their yearning for “why” messaging in communications.

Podcasts easily answer the question, “why should I engage”, simply with entertainment. Even a 30-minute bite of compelling content related to one’s industry is a great way to engage association members in this digital age. This is especially true for podcasts in an audio-only format, where listeners can engage passively—maybe on their daily commute or while they do laundry at home. And at the end of the day, podcasts are so easily accessible, anyone can tune in!

Starting Up a Podcast

If your association wants to start a podcast, you’re in luck—getting started has never been more accessible for podcast creators. There are a few challenges, but the results, in addition to the enjoyment you’ll receive from this creative endeavour, will be worth the work.

Purpose and Goals

The first thing you’ll need to determine is the purpose of your association’s podcast. Whether you’re trying to engage members, share stories, or just entertain, it’s important to have clear goals in mind. Ask yourself, “How do these goals/this purpose fit in with the position of my association?” and “Who is this podcast best suited to target?”

The Means to Record

One of the best things you can do for your member listeners is to invest in a solid microphone. It does not have to be a studio quality piece of equipment, but more than your laptop’s built-in mic. Especially when it comes to audio-only podcasts, no one is going to stay tuned in to fuzzy, choppy, or distorted audio. There are many options for USB microphones that plug straight into your computer and provide more than enough clean audio quality for your podcast.

Recording software is your next step. Almost every audio-recording software offers a free version—again, we’re not talking about recording your hit-platinum album on a studio reel to reel. A simple software like Audacity that allows you transfer audio from your microphone to your computer will work great.

Another option for recording is an online platform, such as Zencastr. Zencastr, for example, allows you to meet with co-hosts and guests virtually, record quality audio and video, and edit your recording. Editing is crucial to this process, as you will likely need to cut out segments or dead air for the sake of member engagement.

Distribution and Planning

By far, the biggest challenge for an independent start-up podcast is gaining listeners. Fortunately, as an association, you likely already have an audience—your members! You are already in regular communication with your members through newsletters, e-blasts, and event invitations. This communication channel is a great place to slide a link for your podcast into members’ view.

There are many channels for podcast distribution. With all the different streaming services like iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, etc. it can be dizzying figuring out where to look first. Luckily, there are several services (paid and free!) that distribute to almost all the major streaming platforms. One such service is Anchor by Spotify. With this service, you’ll hear your podcast almost anywhere that podcasts can be heard. Members will find accessing your podcast a breeze, without having to waffle over the benefits of Spotify over Apple Music.

Advertising with Podcasts

Maybe you’re not really keen on starting a podcast yourself; that’s fair! However, there are still ways to utilize this trend to your association’s benefit. Often, podcast creators fund their project through paid sponsorships and advertisements. If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, you’ve likely heard host-read ads in the middle of the podcast.

Do some research on podcasts related to your association’s field and listen to what kind of ads they read. This could be another way of advertising your association membership or events to your target audience. You can buy ad space by reaching out to individual podcasts or by using a podcast ad networking service.

Podcasting Made Easy

Now more than ever, podcasting is easy to start, and with the advantage of an existing membership, your association could do it successfully. Podcasts are a great way to engage your members and extend your reach to young professionals in your association’s industry. This could lead to new members, partnerships, or even thoroughly satisfied fans of your show. All you need now is a clever, snappy podcast title!