RubyApps Insights: Podcast Renaissance

RubyApps Insights interviews Scott Rubenstein, Partner and Director of Client Services, about the return of podcasts, where they went, and how professional services firms are incorporating them into their content strategies.

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Episode transcription

Voiceover:             Hello, there, podcast listener. Is this your first podcast? Of course, not. If it is, though, welcome to RubyApps Insights. If you're part of the 40% of our population that already listens to podcasts, welcome to you, as well.

Voiceover:             Today's conversation focuses on, well, podcasts. What brought them back, how they're serving the professional services sector, and how you can start your own. Our very own Scott Rubenstein, podcast expert and digital guru, joins us for another edition of RubyApps Insights.

Alexander Kotler:             They were here. They went away. Somebody spread a rumor that they were living with the alligators in New York City's sewers. It was never verified. Then, like the McRib, they were back. I'm talking about podcasts, and I'm talking with Scott Rubenstein, Partner and Director of Client Services and expert on podcasts. Scott?

Scott Rubenstein:             Howdy.

Alexander Kotler:             Welcome back. You have recently written an article on podcasts. They were here, they seemed to go away, and now they're back. What's the deal?

Scott Rubenstein:             I think the podcast renaissance is really due to Serial, which was a podcast that came out ... I guess it's a few years ago now, that had widespread appeal.

Alexander Kotler:             (singing)

Scott Rubenstein:             (laughs)

Scott Rubenstein:             The-

Alexander Kotler:             Theme song is catchy, I know.

Scott Rubenstein:             Th-there's, the theme song is catchy. It appealed to different audiences across, you know, age, gender, socio-economic strata, and it was something that was well-received by everyone and it was open conversation everywhere from the subway to the boardroom. And, it brought podcasts back into the limelight after they had, had somewhat of, of a day when iTunes had first come out, but in my opinion, laid dormant for a while, and then came back.

Alexander Kotler:             So, in preparing for this interview, I was looking at some stats that were published by Fast Company, Variety, both on the topic of podcasts. And here are a few from Variety.

Alexander Kotler:             "Apple Podcast features more than 500,000 active podcasts in more than 100 languages. More than 40% of the population has listened to a podcast. Nearly 50% of podcast listening happens at home. 80% of listeners consume the entire episode and listen to an average of seven shows per week."

Alexander Kotler:             Are you surprised?

Scott Rubenstein:             People who are in to podcasts are really into podcasts.

Alexander Kotler:             (laughs)

Alexander Kotler:             Okay.

Scott Rubenstein:             So, some of those numbers don't surprise me, others do. The fact that there are so many of them ... 40% does seem pretty high, as well as a lot of them ... you said 50% of all podcasts are consumed at home, which seemed odd to me, as I always thought of them as something that I would listen to on the train, or while walking or running.

Alexander Kotler:             Do you think, maybe, that's a little bit of, like, the urban bias about how we live when you're close to a city?

Scott Rubenstein:             Perhaps. I can imagine someone in their home, cooking dinner, listening to a podcast. Or relaxing on an afternoon in the weekend, listening to a podcast.

Alexander Kotler:             (singing)

Scott Rubenstein:             (laughs)

Scott Rubenstein:             Or even, you know, eating dinner. The 80% of listeners consuming the entire episode does not surprise me because, as I said, people who are into podcasts are really into podcasts. The fact that they listen to an average of seven shows a week seems high to me, but again, the audience is, is very into it.

Alexander Kotler:             So, you cite two reasons ... and, of course, our focus is mainly on the B2B space, and the reason for some of this renaissance, beyond Serial, is around the notion of easiness. Why are podcasts, from a publishing standpoint, easy?

Scott Rubenstein:             It's a form of thought leadership. And, when we think of thought leadership, the first thing that comes to my mind is writing an article, and reading the article, and editing the article. Sharing the article with someone else to give me notes about the article, and proofreading and giving me feedback, and publishing the article, and ... That sounds like a lot of work just saying it, whereas a podcast is a little bit more informal to produce quicker, and easier.

Alexander Kotler:             So, let's just say that I'm a marketer of professional services. My firm has a particular area of expertise. I already have something of a content strategy, but right now it doesn't include podcast. So, this is a two-part question. Should I consider them? And, what should I be thinking about?

Scott Rubenstein:             You should consider them, mainly because the people who do listen to podcasts are very engaged with them and the rates and the metrics behind them are so strong. Also, the people who listen to podcasts are very focused on a particular issue, or particular subject. And I'll also wanna add on to the easiness point before, in that, you know, it's easy because it's not too difficult to get somebody in a room and talk about an idea. It's almost easier to get two people in a room to talk about an idea, and they'll may, they may even be talking about it for longer than one person would.

Alexander Kotler:             Case in point, I got you into this room.

Scott Rubenstein:             There you go. And, so ... but going back to your, to your question, it's really great to do podcasts because they're easy to produce. They are focused on a particular subject, as well as, you said the podcast renaissance is bringing people back, and so it's, it's a great way to focus your efforts on that, that particular subject, th-, that, those particular people.

Alexander Kotler:             I believe I said renaissance, and you said renaissance. So, I just wanna ... Is there a, an appropriate way to pronounce the word?

Scott Rubenstein:             I would go with renaissance, but that's my Long Island roots.

Alexander Kotler:             (laughs)

Scott Rubenstein:             The-the question about the subject of the podcasts is very important. So, you mentioned the content strategy, they may have a content strategy, they may not. I would always recommend having a podcast about a specific subject as opposed to about everything. So, if you're in a professional services firm, you shouldn't have a podcast named Professional Services Firm, Inc. It should be about energy, or a specific area of your expertise or your services or offering.

Scott Rubenstein:             For example, if you do have a podcast about energy, you can create multiple podcasts about natural gas and oil, et cetera. You could also create a podcast just about natural gas, and get really granular and have series and-and different podcasts about natural gas and things that are going on, like fracking, et cetera

Alexander Kotler:             Yeah, and just another one comes to mind as I was doing a little bit of research for this conversation. I see that BCG has one around making the workplace work for dual-career couples. It focuses on women, from women, about women, by women and that's a focused that comes out of a particular vertical, or business unit at BCG, that being Boston Consulting Group.

Scott Rubenstein:             As one member of a dual-career couple, I-I do think that that's a great podcast. Mackenzie also does a great job at producing podcasts and presenting and displaying them on their website, and also other, other outlets …

Alexander Kotler:             I wanna start a podcast, and it sounds like a great idea, it's easy enough. I am a marketer, I've got some content, I've got some expertise, I got somebody in a room. What do I need to do to get it from, "I got you in a room," to "Let's get this wonderful conversation out into the world?"

Scott Rubenstein:             It's really not too difficult. You first need an audio file of the podcast. So, you need some way to record it, whether that's through your iPhone, or if you have, if you need to buy a special recorder, or anything along those lines, you need to have an audio file on a computer. And then you need an RSS feed because iTunes and Google Play, the way that they, the way that you set up a podcast is by entering an RSS feed URL into the system to set it up. And so, RSS feeds can be provided through RSS providers on, on the web, and also through your website, which is the place that I would recommend you have your podcast, and also an RSS created.

Alexander Kotler:             So, you are pushing forth the idea about putting a podcast on the website. This is a recommended best practice, but what are some of the best practices beyond what you've already stated that publishers need to keep in mind?

Scott Rubenstein:             You want to start with content, like anything else. It's thought leadership, you wanna start with content and focused content. I gave the example earlier about natural gas and energy. You also ... Once you create an audience with your podcast, you wanna maintain that audience. So, don't neglect them, continue to make podcasts, and also build your audience. And that's, that's very important. It's something that sometimes gets dropped off from, from the content strategy and best practices.

Scott Rubenstein:             You wanna also have an engaging topic, and something that's trending and trending that an audience can be created from. Like fracking and/or natural gas, and/or best practices around podcasts. And, most importantly, you wanna amplify that content, and have it on the web so that you can put it on ... well, specifically, you wanna amplify that content and put it on your website, so that you can amplify it further via social media and other ways.

Alexander Kotler:             Amplification to optimization. You're an expert on SEO. Not only do you want to be able to broadcast it, but you want it to be found. So, how important, if it is important, is search engine optimization as it relates to podcasts?

Scott Rubenstein:             It's incredibly important, especially for emerging topics that people are gonna be searching for. The first thing you wanna do, of course, is put it on your website. It's another source of content for your website, it's a way to boost your domain authority, which is an increase in your SEO when people are searching for things, if they're searching for an emerging trend. If your website has a higher domain authority, it will rank higher in results.

Scott Rubenstein:             A way to boost the SEO is also to transcribe your podcast, and a lot of the bigger firms, consulting firms, people who have ... and firms that have been doing this for quite some time, are transcribing them because you need those valuable keywords. And I'm not talking about the meta keywords and the code, I'm talking about the actual keywords like fracking, natural gas, you know, distribution, pipeline. These, these keywords that would be in a specific podcast, are extremely important, and if they're just in the audio file and not written on the webpage, then you're gonna miss that.

Scott Rubenstein:             Having the transcription, of course, is good for web accessibility, which is an ... extremely important. People can read the web, the podcast if they don't, if they can't listen to it, and also, th-the flip side is true if they can't read it, they can listen to it. Linking to iTunes, I-I'm an Apple guy, so I always think of podcasts as iTunes, but, of course, Google Play and-and SoundCloud, and other providers. Linking to those reputable websites, and having those reputable websites link back to you, is extremely important for SEO. Having the social media shares is also important. Google and Bing, they take likes and retweets into account when they talk about relevance and quality of content.

Scott Rubenstein:             So, all that is, you know, one ecosystem, it's, it's one, one podcast nacho, and you definitely wanna get a bite.

Alexander Kotler:             A pacho, if you will.

Scott Rubenstein:             A pacho.

Alexander Kotler:             So, (laughs), before we go and actually get some nachos, 'cause it's nearly happy hour, we wanna do a little bit of gossiping, which we would typically do at the pub. So, let's name drop. Who's doing a great job, or good job, or decent job with creating podcast content?

Scott Rubenstein:             You mentioned before Boston Consulting Group. I do think they do a really great job, and their topics are also very interesting as well as Mackenzie and company. Akin Gump, which is a law firm, does a, does a great job on, on their website, particularly having emerging trends in their podcast, as well as some other firms, like BCLP, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Steptoe & Johnson.

Scott Rubenstein:             Other firms and media outlets that I think do a good job of their podcasts, NPR. I mentioned earlier Serial, which was an NPR podcast.

Alexander Kotler:             (singing)

Scott Rubenstein:             (laughs)

Scott Rubenstein:             And the Wall Street Journal also does a great job. I think of, not just their podcast content themselves, but also presenting it on their website in a way that's easy for users to access and also filter down to get to podcasts that would be of interest to them, in particular.

Alexander Kotler:             So, we're gonna close out, but before we do ... We talked professional services, and let's get personal. What, for any purpose, whether it be entertainment or informational or otherwise, besides the RubyApps Insights Podcast, are ones that you recommend for the 50% or so people that are listening exclusively at home to podcasts?

Scott Rubenstein:             The TED Hour Podcast is something that I find interesting. It has a lot of ... it's difficult to pin down the subject of them. I mean, it's-it's technology, entertainment, and design, all of which I'm a fan of, and they're all very interesting. The perspective of the speakers in the podcasts are off-podcast authors, it's always very captivating and something I always find, I always learn something from it.

Scott Rubenstein:             Another podcast that people always tell me to listen to is Pod Save America-

Alexander Kotler:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Rubenstein:             ... as well as, there's a lot of comics doing podcasts, so Marc Maron, and Sebastian Maniscalco lots of funny podcasts out there as well. And, you know, celebrity chef podcasts.

Alexander Kotler:             Hmm. Well, there's a lot of people cooking up some content out there, thank you. And we hope that this was another dish that can be served up ... well, preferably not cold, to those millions of people listening to us at home. Scott Rubenstein, author, expert, (laughs), and director of Client Services, as well as partner, friend, and very entertaining man. Thank you for participating in this interview on the RubyApps Insights Podcast.

Scott Rubenstein:             A pleasure, as always. Thank you.

Voiceover:                 RubyApps Insights is recorded at Studio 55, and is hosted by Alexander Kotler. For more insights, and detail on RubyApps and enterprise software developed by RubensteinTech, visit Until next time, have an awesome every day.