We’re starting a podcast…here’s why your institution should too!

It feels like 2019 is fast turning into the year of the podcast. It’s certainly the year where *everyone* is starting one – including us here at TAP!

Yes, our new show – Inspiration on TAP – launches this Thursday and we are very excited about it; check out the trailer.

Anyway, back to the growth in podcasting…

Someone, somewhere has let the cat out of the bag about how podcast listeners actually pay attention and give you their time. The result? Everyone wants a piece.

Just off the top of my head, I’ve seen new shows started in 2019 by Twitter, LinkedIn and BT, while viral specialists Social Chain have started their own podcasting brand, Cast Chain.

Essentially, we can’t move for podcasts nowadays. In fact, according to Chartable, there are now 700,000 podcasts available (up from 525,000 just two years ago). For comparison, there are just shy of 500,000 feature films listed on IMDB.

(Oh, fun but slightly morbid bonus fact, the average human lifespan – in hours – is 700,000, so you literally don’t have time to listen to all the audio content out there).

The problem with this huge number is that not all podcasts are created equal. There is some real dross out there, as well as a seemingly infinite number of recording of radio shows that are shoved out under the podcast label.

Not only that, podcasting is becoming big business; Spotify purchased the podcasting app Anchor and the podcasting network Gimlet earlier this year, the BBC has launched its BBC Sounds app and has put it front and centre of their corporate strategy – even removing their shows from Google podcasts because they didn’t like how the search giant’s results were showing BBC shows – and with the aforementioned Cast Chain, brands will soon be entering this space wanting big numbers, and quickly.

So, you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with the Higher Education sector, right?

Fear not, I’m getting there!

I’ve been saying this for a while now and will continue to champion the cause now; podcasting and Universities are an ideal match! Now, more than ever, we need the sector to contribute quality audio to this booming industry.

Let me tell you why.

After simply ‘being entertained’ the most popular reason that someone listens to a podcast is because they want to learn something. Call me mad, but I reckon Universities are pretty good at doing exactly that…there’s an audience waiting!

Also, think about all of the amazing and fascinating things that take place on a University campus on any given day. There’s plenty – you’ll never run out of content, you’ll always have stories to tell.

Lastly, podcasting offers an intimacy no other medium can match. Your stories are literally being whispered into your audience’s ears. Podcast listeners stick around. Give them quality content on a regular basis and you’ll build your brand and earn their trust.

And, all this is before we acknowledge that the medium is growing in popularity with younger adults; there was a *daily* podcast about Love Island last year for Pete’s sake.

The opportunities for HE podcasting are only really limited by your own imagination – it all depends on what you want to achieve and who you want to talk to. But, as far as I see it, there are five obvious ways in which your institution could get involved:

  1. Obviously, show off your expertise and your research – the University of Liverpool’s podcast does this brilliantly.
  2. Go a step further a take a deep dive into a particular subject area – just like Talking Politics from Cambridge.
  3. Thinking outside of the research box, how about making some cinema for your ears and capturing the atmosphere of your campus? Be your campus’ biggest fans!
  4. Or, go further still and let your people – staff, students, everyone – tell their stories. In turn, they’ll tell yours. It doesn’t matter if they’re no good on camera – just capture their voice instead.
  5. Lastly, how about offering careers advice? Even better, tie it into your alumni relations work – Glasgow has done this brilliantly with their Soundtracks podcast.

In short, there’s a real opportunity for Higher Education Institutions to make a great podcast and enrich the audio landscape. Everyone else is doing it in 2019, but you can do a better job than them – get involved!

Our brand new podcast – Inspiration on TAP – launches on Thursday. Subscribe now wherever you get your serialised audio nuggets.