Connection & Collaboration Through Podcasting

September 15, 2021

Have you ever considered hosting or producing a podcast to advance your work or address an issue? Podcasts are a great way to raise awareness and make connections with listeners in your own community and around the world. However, it takes a lot of work to create, maintain, and promote a podcast to keep listeners regularly tuning in.

This presentation from The Democracy Group podcast network will help you understand the nuts and bolts of creating a podcast and whether it’s the right fit for your organization. We’ll also discuss how podcasts can be a vehicle for collaboration with other organizations and content creators.

Our speakers are:

Jenna Spinnelle, Host and Producer of the Democracy Works podcast in collaboration with WPSU, central Pennsylvania's NPR station

Brandon Stover, Host and Producer of the Evolve podcast where he interviews social entrepreneurs who solve global issues from climate change to education.

At the end of their presentation, our speakers will welcome your questions about all things podcasting and collaboration! We hope to see you there.


Jenna Spinelle

The Democracy Group | Democracy Works

Jenna Spinelle is the Founder of The Democracy Group and Communications Specialist for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. She is responsible for shaping all of the institute’s external communication, including website content, social media, multimedia, and media outreach. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Penn State and is an instructor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Prior to joining the McCourtney Institute, Spinelle helped market Penn State to prospective students and families in the University’s Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Brandon Stover

The Democracy Group

Brandon Stover is the Network Manager for The Democracy Group. With over 5 years of design and marketing experience, he is responsible for facilitating collaborations, growing the network’s impact, and designing promotional materials. As a podcaster, Brandon hosts and produces the Evolve podcast where he interviews social entrepreneurs who solve global issues from climate change to education. He also created the Power To Podcast 90 day audio course which teaches podcasting in just 10 minutes a day. Brandon is also in the early stages of building a startup focused on higher education, combining student’s passions with real world skills to solve global challenges.

No items found.


NCoC Learning Circle

Angela Holden: [00:00:00] My name is Angela Holden. I'm the project manager at the national conference on citizenship. Thank you so much for joining us today.

John Kilcoyne: [00:00:11] Hi everyone. My name is John . I'm the administrative manager here at the national conference on citizenship. I will be hosting today long Angela and I'm zooming in from my desk in Washington, DC.

Looking forward to hanging out with you all. Please take a moment to introduce yourself in the chat box. Please share your name, organization, and where you are zooming in from.

Okay, I'll go ahead and type my introduction into the chat box as well. And I will also include my pronouns. You are welcome to do so if you are so inclined,

if not mentioning Nixon from campus vote project zooming in from Philly. Great to have you at your Benjamin. It's great to see familiar names all the time. We love the work that campus vote project is doing Vanessa Rouse, the village square in Tallahassee, Florida got Eliza Carney who runs the civic circle, which uses music and the arts to empower young students to understand and participate in democracy.

Courtney breeze, with the national coalition for dialogue and deliberation, joining from Los Angeles. Devin cane with community schools slash Columbia college in Chicago, Illinois. Great to have you here, Kate Dalton from muck tracker, addressing media literacy and digital citizenship in Brooklyn, New York.

That sounds really cool. Rich Robertson Robinson with the fair elections center in Washington, DC. Thank you so much. Everyone for joining us today, we're excited to have this chat and learn a little bit about podcasting. Mark Sanders from Charlotte, North Carolina, with UNC Charlotte and faculty network for student voting rights, every important.

And thank you so much for the work that you're doing to advance our democracy, especially a young amongst students.

All right. Again if anyone is just joining us, we're encouraging folks to introduce themselves in the chat with their name, their organization, and where they are zooming in from Evan, Emily Kavanaugh, with HS sped, social studies in Annapolis, Maryland. Great to have you here, Emily. Thank you so much for joining us.

And it looks like we're slowing down on the introductions, even a chat. So I think I'll go ahead and pass it off to my colleague, Angela, to get us.

Angela Holden: [00:02:28] Awesome. Thank you, John. So looks like we'll get started. So, like I mentioned earlier, my name is Angela Holden and I'm a project manager here at the national conference on citizenship.

Our mission at NCOC is to grow the largest network in the country of local leaders, committed to full civic and political participation in their communities. Our community is committed to learning from one another sharing resources and asking for support in order to be successful. And we are so glad to have you all with us.

We've been hosting these learning circles once or twice a month on Wednesdays at 2:00 PM. And they provide members of the NCOC community, the opportunity to connect around a topic of a shared interests to learn from experts and from each other. And it's been a real privilege to learn and grow together over the last year of this program.

Feel free to reach out if you have any ideas about what kinds of programs and topics would be most helpful we're here to make it happen. And then before we begin we have a quick note about our shared definition of citizenship from NCOC. We view citizens as people who are actively and positively contributing to the civic health and democratic practices of their communities.

The national conference on citizenship does not include immigration status as a part of our definition of citizen and citizen. Our work in congressional charter centers, us on active citizenship and strengthening civic life in all communities for all people. So with that, I will hand it over to my colleague, John, who will tell us a bit more about our topic for today.

John Kilcoyne: [00:03:58] Thank you, Angela. I almost forgot to unmute. Today we are thrilled to be partnering with the democracy group. I met Rick of podcasts United around the goal of helping listeners understand what's broken in our democracy and how people are working together to fix. The network allows individual podcasts to collaborate with one another and provides listeners with a one-stop shop for podcasts about democracy, civic engagement, and civil discourse.

The group is funded and organized by the McCourtney Institute for democracy at Penn state, which produces the democracy works podcast in partnership with WPSU central Pennsylvania's NPR station. I'm going to go ahead and read the bios for the fabulous speakers that we're going to be hearing today. And then I will pass it off to them.

Afterwards, first we will be hearing from Jenna spinout. Jenna loves a good story and has spent the past 15 years telling them as a writer, podcaster and marketing professional. She's the communication specialist for the McCourtney Institute for democracy, where she hosts and. Produces the democracy works podcast in collaboration with WPSU.

She's also the founder of the democracy group podcast network. When she's not, not podcasting. Jenna teaches classes on news, writing, independent content creation and the gig economy for Penn state's Donald P Bellisario college of communications. Her writing has appeared in outlets inside including inside.

Current and in the publisher and after Jenna, we'll be hearing from Brandon Stover, who is the network manager for the democracy group. With over five years of design and marketing experience, he is responsible for facilitating collaborations, growing the networks impact and designing promotional material.

As a podcast or Brandon hosts and produces the evolved podcast, where he interviews social entrepreneurs who solve global issues from climate change to evolution education, excuse me. He also created the power two podcasts, 90 day power to podcasts, 90 day audio course, which teaches podcasting in just 10 minutes a day.

Brandon is also in the early stages of building a startup focused on higher education. Combining students' passions with real-world skills to solve global challenges with that, I'm going to hand it over to Jay.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:06:20] Wonderful. Thank you so much, John and Angela and the entire and COC team for having us today, going to go ahead and share my screen.

And while I do that, just take a minute to say hello to all the familiar faces that are out there. All the familiar names I see in the chat. So great to see Some friendly faces here on this call today. So Brandon and I are going to split this presentation. I'm going to talk first, just about the podcasting landscape in general.

Some of the sort of pros and cons of a why you might want to consider starting a podcast or perhaps not. And then Brandon will come in and talk about. But some of the benefits that we've been able to realize through the democracy group podcast network, and while we're talking, while I'm talking, Brandon, we'll be sharing some links in the chat and I'll be doing the same while he's speaking.

So keep an eye on the chat for that. And we are going to try and make this a little bit of a shorter presentation than the previous learning circles. Because we know people always. Tons of questions about podcasting. So we're happy to spend as much time as, as we have to answer them. So let's dive in without further ado.

You know, John and Angela already talked a lot about the democracy group then, and Brandon will at the end just to give you an overview. You can see our show is here. We have 16 podcasts from a variety of different perspectives, sort of mine. My mission as the organization's founder is that, you know, democracy is not one specific thing.

It's not one specific group of people, it's everybody. Right? So how can we create a podcast network that it encompasses and exemplifies that notion of all the diversity, that democracy brains. So we really tried to do that with the shows that are part of the network, both in terms of diverse political views, diverse racial, and ethnic views.

Trying to create that full picture of what our democracy means. And we'll, we'll talk more about our network as we go through here. But to, to zoom out and think about the podcast landscape it seems like everybody has a podcast these days, or is listening to a podcast. And that is in some respects, true.

According to Edison research, which is a leading market research firm in podcasting, more than half of the us population. Has listened to a podcast and that number is growing every year. If you think back to sort of the history of podcasts and you can see, you know, 20 16, 20 17 is when shows like serial really started to take off.

And that really, I think, fueled a lot of the growth that we've seen. And now of course, you know, there's all, all types of celebrities and big name folks in the space. So that has certainly brought in new listeners as well. And then going down from that, it's like, if you think of this, like a funnel about 116 million people or 41% of the U S population listens to at least one podcast per month.

So that's still a fairly sizable number. And this, this group in particular had its largest growth from 2020 to 2021. There's a lot of reasons why that could be perhaps related to the way people's habits changed during the early days of, of the pandemic and things like that. But we don't have time to really get into the nitty gritty of all that.

But just to say that people are buying lives, listening to podcasts more consistently than they have ever before, since the medium started back in 2008. And then going down there, if you think about the really hardcore podcast listeners, so to speak, the people that listen to at least one podcast every week that is 80 million people or a 28% of the population.

So a little more than, than a quarter, but again, still growing and still lots and lots of people, if you think about it. So there is a huge. Landscape a huge potential for podcasts out there as a way to reach people who are interested, curious, engage, not just in politics, but in, in any, any topic. I was just in a thread with some folks about climate change podcasts and, you know, Brandon can certainly speak to that.

The fact that there's tons of entrepreneurship podcasts and really podcasts for everything. Right. So there's, there's lots of listeners out there to be had. Podcasting is also a crowded marketplace. There are more than 2 million podcasts out there and counting, there are thousands and thousands more added to the directories of apple and Spotify and the podcast apps every single day.

And so that is more and more shows competing for listing. Time and attention. So that means that, you know, both new shows and existing shows have to work harder to, to find and retain their audiences. It's just like any type of, of media. So that was another key driver and why we started the, the democracy group to help leverage cross promotion and.

You know, build off of each other's audiences, kind of the rising tide lifts, all boats model making a podcast is also a lot of work. You know, even if you just do a bare bones interview show, or even a solo show where it's just you talking, you still have to think about what you want to say and find someone to talk to.

Okay. Do all the recording and write the show notes and upload it to the apps and promote it. And there's a lot of pieces that go into it. So it's important to think about, you know, how much time have to devote to creating a podcast where a podcast fits in terms of your overall communications goals, whether that's for your organization or for yourself as an individual, you know, what do you want to get out of it?

And what is realistic to get out of? Frankly, many of us on this call worked in a very niche area, right? This sort of civic engagement, democracy space. Doesn't reach everyone as much as all of us would probably probably like it to, I know we're all working very hard, trying to bring more and more and more people into the fold, so to speak.

You know, it is in the grand scheme of things unlikely, but not impossible that our podcasts are ever going to be at the top of the apple charts or the Spotify charts. And that's okay. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If you think about the type of attention that a podcast listener is, is giving you, and I'll talk more about that here.

One more bit of perspective, and this is always surprising. So whenever I ask people, you know, I have people come approach me fairly often saying they want to start podcasts. And if I asked them, you know, what they think is a, a good estimate of the average number of downloads. That that a podcast gets.

They usually say somewhere around 10,000 where at least 5,000. But the, the real numbers are closer to 140. So according to Libsyn, which is a podcast hosting the median number of downloads across all of the podcasts out there. All 2 million is 140 downloads per episode, after 45 days. So they always say on that show, if you have more than the median number or you're better than half the shows out there.

To get to that 5,000, 10,000 number. You're really up into like the top 5% of all podcasts and, you know, the ones that we think about the ones that are on the tops of all the podcast charts, those are the top 1%, the top 0.01%. Right. So there's you know, that's often humbling for people or sort of refreshing to see like what the numbers really are.

But I think for many of us, if we had an in-person events where we had 140 people, or even two or 300 people show up, or even even a virtual event, you know, we would consider that to be a resounding success. At least I would. And we do at the McCourtney Institute. So, you know, if you think about the fact that you know, that number of people are giving you their attention, Week after week or biweekly or however often your podcast comes out.

That's nothing to sneeze at either. I mean, that is a huge amount of attention and investment, especially when there are so many things competing for our attention today, not just podcasts, but all the other media that we consume, all the other demands on our time. Those, those sorts of.

Brandon Stover: [00:14:54] And one, one point to add to that.

If you think about those hundred and 40 people, if they were the most important people that you're trying to reach, for instance, say it's the president and a bunch of Congress, people and policy makers that you're reaching those hundred and 40 people, they make a lot of big decisions. So the hundred and 40 people are not always created equal in the quality of person that you reaching.

So if you're putting out a good show, reaching up higher quality people you can still make a big impact with a small office.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:15:23] Yeah, that's a great point. Brandon reaching those, those influencers, those, those help, those high-level people can really help both, both expand your reach and make sure your message gets in front of the people it's intended for.

But you know, it's not all about the downloads and it's easy to lose sight of that. In the, the, that big picture in that grind, I talked about finding the guests, doing the recording, writing the, the show notes, all of that. It is, there are lots of, of. To podcasting beyond just the sheer number of people who, who listened to your show.

You know, I think of it. And I think for us in the McCourtney Institute, it's, it's been like a calling card of sorts. Right. It gives us a reason and excuse to reach out to people that we would not have any business contacting otherwise, but it's a great. Introduction to say, Hey, do you want to come on my podcast?

Where fans of your work, we want to talk further about this thing you're doing or you're working on and everybody loves to talk about themselves. So it's usually a pretty easy ask to make. And so it's, it's just a great way to, to reach out and, and. About new things happening in the space and, and meet people doing interesting work.

It can also be a funnel for other activities like, like presentations or I know people are starting to use podcasts more and more in curriculum and, and those types of things. So there there's potential there to, to really have that hone in on that educational side of. And it really just lets you punch above your weight class.

That is probably the only sports metaphor you'll ever hear me use. But I think it's, I think it's a good one here, you know even if your podcast is small and has, has a niche audience, that's still more people than somebody who doesn't have any of those things. So it's going to be a net benefit for them to come on your show or collaborate with you in some way.

I don't want you to just take my word for it. Here. We reached out to some of the shows in our network to ask how podcasting has benefited them and their organizations. And Brandon will be sharing the links to these shows in the chat. As I run through these here. So one of our partner shows is democracy matters from the center for civic engagement at James Madison university.

And their show is really focused on serving the student community at JMU and beyond. So those of you who work in the campus vote space, I would recommend checking out democracy matters and perhaps connecting with Cara on Whaley and Abe Goldberg. Particularly on student voting, civic engagement types of things.

So they've been able to really expand their connections in that room. Future hindsight is an independently produced show in our network. Mila Atmos, the host was so passionate about civic engagement that she decided to start the show completely on her own. She went out and assembled a team and has produced some really, really amazing episodes.

And she's all about facilitating change. And that takes, takes a variety of forms, but she's used her show to build a community of change-makers and people looking for that inspiration. As many of, you know, it's a slog to work on, you know, to, to be involved in organizing and activism, these types of things.

So Mila show, I think, is really an uplifter for folks who are doing that work. A, another show in our network is another way by Lawrence Lessig. I'm sure many of, you know, Larry from, from his work with equal citizens. And so he's just a really great conversationalist. He has sent some amazing co-hosts as well.

Adam ICANN and. And so they're all about democracy reform, both in Congress and other parts of, of government, other institutions. And so they both seek to explain how those institutions and processes work and how we can reform them. So they are really using their show to advance democracy reform goals, and building a, again, just like feature hindsight, building communities of people who are interested in those same types of reforms, like HR one.

Reforming the electoral college, those, those types of things are, are what they focus a lot on, on. Another way podcast, a couple more to go through here. One of the newer shows in our network is democracy paradox, which says, which is another independently produced show. Probably one of the more intellectual shows in our network.

Justin Kemp is extremely well-read. He's not an academic by training anyway, but she has this. Reading background of someone who's got a PhD in political science or something like that, but super smart. He's learned a lot from his show and was able to use that to create really intellectually compelling content.

So if you are a fan of big ideas, deep dives, that kind of thing. Definitely check out democracy, Paris. And then finally we have, let's find common ground from the common ground committee and, you know, podcasts are unique in that. It is a very in-depth medium. You can really have extended nuanced conversations.

It's not a fight on Twitter or a. Bite on the local news or on the radio or something like that. You can really dive deep on issues and have those nuance conversations, which is what they do on what's find common ground. So podcasting again, is that is the perfect medium for that. And with that, I'm going to turn it over to.

Brandon Stover: [00:20:47] Thanks Jenna. So I'm going to talk a little bit about what we do as a network, bringing all of these podcasts together. As Jenna mentioned, you know, bringing these people together really helps to lift all boats, as I say, and push this mission forward. And we're not the first people that do this in the space.

The bridge Alliance, you know, has over 200 members and that they're bringing together everybody for the same common goal and the NCOC, which you guys are a part of right now is doing the same thing, trying to bring these people together that are doing the work in order to lift everybody's mission.

So the question is why should we collaborate with others other than, you know, it's a good thing to do. As I mentioned before, we're all working towards the same goal. So it makes sense to use the leverage and the power of everybody else's organization to help move that goal forward. You also get to leverage their brands, you know, as Jenna mentioned, sometimes when we are interviewing people on our podcasts, we get to start punching above our weight.

We get to start using their social power and their brands to better instill a brand recognition in our brands as well. It gives us more distribution PO channels for our messages and gives more awareness to each one of our organizations. So when we are collaborating with an organization, they may.

There are a media channels, whether that be podcasts, newsletters, social media YouTube channels, all these are places that you can put your message out in front of their audience. People also trust who they know. So when you're collaborating with another organization, when you are speaking with them and to their audience and get a recommendation from that organizations, leaders they're more likely to try.

And then it's really important if we are coming to these people saying, Hey, we should collaborate to try and move these missions forward that we demonstrate it ourselves as leaders so that everybody can see what that actually.

So a little bit of marketing education for you. This is an image from a marketer of Russell Brunson. And what he talks about is gathering your dream 100 of people that you would like to work with. And then. Collaborating with them in a way that you either earn your way in or you buy your way in.

So earning your way in would be doing some sort of collaborative project with a other organization, buying your way in some organizations may have a way for you to advertise to them. Specifically like here at the democracy group, we sometimes read ads in our podcasts or in our newsletters with organizations that we really aligned with.

And we think our audience would align with.

So a little bit of the nitty gritty of how we do it at the democracy group. This is a program called air table and it's basically a really fancy Excel sheet. But what we went ahead and did is looked at all the organizations that are within our space and then democracy and civic engagement space, and looked at the ones who do we want to work?

The most, and we start getting their contact information and running basically outreach campaigns. We have a wonderful intern with us, Claire Denner from PSU that she is been reaching out to these organizations making introductions, and then afterwards I'll schedule calls and get to know the organization really, really well and find out what ways we can work together, which is one of the ways that we actually got part of this presentation with the NCOC.

Once you have your list of 100 people, then you need to think about, okay, what are the key activities that we do as an organization that we can collaborate with another organization with? So here at the democracy group, we're all about audio. We're all about podcasts. So we do three things. We do podcast cross-promotion.

If the other organization also has a podcast really great way to grow a podcast is by having your ad and a third party. We also do newsletter cross-promotions. We have a newsletter at the democracy group and we try and get that in front of other audiences with these other organizations. And then we've also been ramping up our virtual events and webinars series starting those up, but we like to bring our podcast hosts on as panel speakers and then bring in experts or hosts from other shows or the other organizations.

And finally, once you are working with these. Other collaborators, your goal is really to bring them to your assets. So at the democracy group, we have our main podcasts that gives a sampling of all the different podcasts from our network drops in episodes. So you can get a sample of that. And then we also have our newsletter and both of these assets are ways that we can talk to those audiences directly.

So what's the results of doing this sort of work. It's a lot of work to set up these collaborations, but it gets us a, quite a bit of reach for our organization. So network-wide about to all the podcasts in our network. We're over 200,000 on. We have 387 newsletter subscribers currently. And right now on our dream 100 list we're actually over that number.

We have 200 potential partnerships. That's where it's starting to get into the works. We've executed on 12th and we have 17 planned currently coming up. And again, this is ways that we get our brand out further. We get our message out there more. Also we have some. Opportunities for early and potential revenue streams.

We're looking at, you know, how can we package our podcasts as curriculum showing that with other higher ed institutions, like say we run advertisements sometimes on our podcasts. So it gives us a little bit of leverage there. But most of all the biggest thing that it is doing for us is helping us to fulfill our mission.

As we said before, the democracy group's goal is helping our listeners to understand what's broken in our democracy and how people are working together to fix it. And here's the, a few of the testimonials that we get from our listeners. We actually. I interviews with some of our listeners to find out ways we can serve them better.

And they are very appreciative of the work that we're doing, helping to get this mission out there to make more educated voters and more enabled citizens.

So if you guys would like to collaborate with us, we are always open to any creative projects collaborating with cross-motion any sorts of way, that way. You can reach out to me. I'm the network manager at the democracy cube. My email's

Angela Holden: [00:27:46] Awesome. Thank you so much. Let's give a huge round of applause to our fabulous speakers or oppose your response. That was an amazing conversation about podcasting. So with that, we're going to transition to a quick question and answer session. So we pulled some questions from the chat, but we have some pre-submitted questions that.

I can just start us off with, and then feel free. If anyone has questions that they want to drop in and we can grab them and share those out. So the first one was submitted by Christian Perez and they asked how much time should you plan to launch a podcast effectively?

Jenna Spinelle: [00:28:23] Do you want to take a stab at that one first bourbon?

Brandon Stover: [00:28:26] Sure. It really depends. You have to start thinking about. As an organization, you know, as Jenna mentioned, what are your goals with the podcasts and what kind of showed you want to start doing? If you are doing one where you're just solo speaking it may be a little easier to launch. You're gonna still gonna need to plan out you know, the things that you're going to speak to.

If you're doing an interview podcast, it's going to take a little longer, cause you got to schedule out those guests and Most people launch with three to five episodes within the first couple of weeks. And so if you're doing an interview podcast, that's three to five people that you need to go interview.

Edit the podcast all of that. If you're doing an educational one where you're teaching people a good example of this is the Andrew Huberman pod podcast out of Stanford does a really in-depth education about health and neuroscience and those sorts of things. But he has to put together those all of that education to basically teach people.

So that takes some time as well. So I would say that if you are going to do it well and have a successful launch that you're going to need two to three months of good preparation to launch your show.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:29:33] Yeah. And I would just say to, to keep thinking about, you know, so you have that, that initial launch, that first group of three to five episodes.

You know what comes after that? Right? So what's your, are you going to be a weekly show, a bi-weekly show, a monthly show, you know, you need to, in order to really establish a listener base, you need to have content out consistently. You need to just like a TV show or anything else in your life that you subscribe to.

You need to know when you can expect the episode so people can start to make you part of their routine. So, you know, democracy works. For example, it comes out on Monday mornings and I know that our listeners tell me that they listened while they walk their dogs. First thing in the morning, or while they're, they were commuting more in the pre COVID times and now, but you know, we're, we are part of, of people.

Monday morning routines. And so that's, that's important to make sure that, you know, whenever your content is, is coming out to make sure it's consistent.

Angela Holden: [00:30:36] Awesome. And then I have some related questions. Thanks Eliza for dropping those in the chat. So Eliza asks, how often is it recommended that you run a podcast? Realistically build audience.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:30:47] So I think that the shows in, in our network the, the sort of the least frequent that they come out as is biweekly.

I know that there are some podcasts that are monthly. And that, that may work again, depending on your, your staff resources and things like that. But I think my recommendation would be either weekly or bi-weekly depending on, on your resources. If you have a team or. You know, unless the help of a, of a production partner, maybe, you know public media like we do with, with WPSU or there, if there's, if you are, if you can collaborate with a production organization in some way, if you have that budget, those resources, maybe you can think about a weekly show.

But if you're doing it more, On your own or your team is doing a completely in-house and I think biweekly is probably more realistic. And I think too, the other thing that I'm starting to hear more about sort of in the industry, I just got back from a podcasting conference called podcast movements.

And you know, one of the things that they talk a lot about. Shorter episode, just as people have more and more and more shows that they're subscribing to, like, don't be too precious about your episode content. Right. Don't be afraid to make it short and just give people, like, get right to the heart of it.

You know, very few people want to hear. What you did over the weekend, unless it's like people you already know, or you're a celebrity or, you know, something like that. So, you know, it's shorter episodes can be an asset and they may require less production time than something that's an hour long or, you know, something like that.

How short? Yeah, I think half an hour or even, even like 15 or 20 minutes. I mean, if you can really have a. You know, this is what you need to know. This is like, you know, one of my podcast I listened to regularly is today, explain from box. And those are usually 20 or 25 minutes. Now it's a very well produced 20 or 25 minutes, but they sort of get right to the heart of whatever it is they're talking about.

And so, yeah, there's, there's all types of, of, you know, shorter form podcasts. I know civics 1 0 1, which is a show, some of you might be familiar with as well. They're focused more on the K-12 space, but they do some really great short, even like 10 minute episodes. Like this is what you need to know about.

I don't know the filibuster or, you know, some other topic that's going on in, in politics. They'll just have maybe one expert that just explained. That's the chase and that's it.

Brandon Stover: [00:33:24] I think a really good way to look at this is they look at how much resources you have as Jenna was mentioning. How big is your team?

If you don't have much resources, you don't have much time to put towards this. Then maybe doing bi-weekly or one a month is recommended. But if you have the time and resources to put towards it, I would lean more towards weekly. Even better if you can do, you know, a couple of week or three times a week.

But that's very that's hard to do and to be consistent with. The other thing is looking at it with how long the podcast should be versus how frequent you come out. So if you're going to do, you know, a two hour long podcast, That's probably going to take a lot of material to produce that podcast.

And maybe you only do that once a month. If you have, are, you know, doing current events and are doing short 10, 15 minute podcasts, you may be able to do two or three of those a week because they're shorter. So that's leveraging pre Quincy against how long the podcast should be. Gives you a nice.

Angela Holden: [00:34:29] Great. That's super helpful. Thank you. So we will move to the next question. So Elaine grant pre submitted this what are some new strategies that organizations can use to collaborate with others through podcasting, including learning from failures?

Jenna Spinelle: [00:34:48] Hm. I mean, I think that like what Brandon touched on, you know, the, the sort of the standard in podcasting for a long time has been, you have to have a podcast in order to collaborate with.

But I think that that's changing you know, we've had, as Brendan mentioned, partners that have other services, they're trying to promote, for example, do audio ads across our shows. So for example, if your organization has a virtual events that's coming up and you think that the podcast listening audience would be interested, you could.

You know, work with podcasts to put an ad for that episode on the feeds of, of the shows that you're interested in. And a lot of the, the technology has improved such that you can have ads that are what are called dynamically inserted, which means that you can set it up on the, on the, your hosting platform, that it automatically will drop the ad into the episode in a prediction.

Date range. So if you're, you know, your event is on September 30th and you want to run the ad from September 20th to the 29th, we can set all of that up to do. The same thing, you know, I have this vision and, and Brandon has heard this multiple times by now, but of, you know, authors using podcast advertising as a way to promote their books.

I know people like to be guests on podcasts when I have books coming out. Not enough time. And there's, you know, the podcast to book ratio doesn't quite line up so that every author can be interviewed on every show that they want to go on. But you know, you can have a 62nd ad where you give your.

Plugged for your book and where people can buy it and all of that. And it still gets that message in front of people who, if you know that a certain podcast interviews other authors in your genre, then that, that list that audience is probably going to be interested in what you're doing as well. So, and that can also be a great first step to get your foot in the door with, with, with the podcast and maybe be on as a guest one day just to sort of.

Making those introductions. So those are, those are some of the things that we've been thinking about.

Brandon Stover: [00:36:56] And then I think about some of the content and media that you're already creating as an organization. If you were doing. Video or, you know, virtual events like we're doing now. You can repurpose the audio for that and put it into podcasts.

It's something that we do as an organization as well as if you are writing, you know, really well-written articles or books, I've heard many podcasts stirs you know, either read chapters of their book out on the podcast or, you know, An article that's they're frequently talking about within the podcast.

So you can start to send those types of mediums say articles or videos to pod-casters and, you know, ask if they could feature that on their podcast.

Angela Holden: [00:37:47] Great. The next question is from Al Zeto Wilson. Shout out to her from junior state of America. That's our next learning circle opening October 6th. So I'll put that plug in there. She asked how to make a podcast stand out in an oversaturated market.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:38:06] Yeah, that is the question that every pod caster has.

I mean, I think at a, at a basic level and this, I don't mean this to sound like trite or anything, but make a show that people want to listen to, you know, really put the listener first. I think, especially as organizations, we're very internally focused and we can. Site about, I know I'm certainly guilty of that.

You know, what, what is w you certainly, we we've talked about in this presentation, like you, a podcast should absolutely achieve your organization's goals, but that should not come at the expense of the informational or educational value that you're delivering to listeners. So just think about that.

You know, as you are. Take any opportunity that you can to ask for feedback, whether that's, if you are just starting out, you know, make a pilot episode one to see if it's something you enjoy doing and you want to keep doing, you have the bandwidth to do and send that around, send it to your friends, your colleagues, just people get some feedback on how you can make it better.

And you know, really, really go to market. So to speak with a really well-known. So I think that's another change in the industry as you know, more money and more big name players come into it. The days of like figuring it out as you go in your first couple of months are sort of going by the wayside.

Now, everybody. Bigger launches. And they sort of have these campaigns around launching a show to try to build that, that buzz at the, at the get-go. So if you don't have like a product that's ready for prime time right away, it's going to be hard to build that, that critical mass right out of.

Brandon Stover: [00:39:49] Yeah, I don't have anything more to add to that, to that was perfect. I mean, the, the big takeaway is, you know, put out a show that people actually want to listen to you and it sounds trite, but it's, it's very true. Yeah.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:40:00] And there are other ways that if you have, if you have a budget, you could do some paid advertising.

The different podcast platforms. They have different promotional options for as little as a couple hundred dollars. If you have say 2000 or $2,500, you could do a pretty robust ad campaign. I don't know that we have time to get into all the details of that, but definitely reach out to us. If you want to learn more about the, the nuts and bolts of that kind of stuff.

Angela Holden: [00:40:31] Awesome. So we have one more pre-submitted question. If anyone else wants to add anything in the chat I'll just read this one out from Stephen Buckley asking what are the best platforms for democracy advocates?

Jenna Spinelle: [00:40:43] So I think if I can couple that with the question, Steven, just posted in the chat. One of the things that, that Brandon has been doing for us is making on our website topic guides. And we done some collaborations. I know we did one for example with, with my tracker Tate and her team there too on misinformation, for example, and we have both you know, lists of episodes and.

Written content on particular topics. So Steve, I don't know that we've done anything specifically on measurements. But if you want to reach out to Brandon with some more information about what, what you're looking for he and I, and our intern Claire can work together on putting something.

Together that might help meet that need for you or help sort of call through all of the content we have across our shows. And that goes for anyone else on this call, too, if you have ideas or, you know, there, I really am looking for podcasts about this specific topic, but I don't know where to start, or you want something to use in, in teaching or other programming that you're doing.

Please don't hesitate to, to reach out to us. We're happy to work with you on those types of.

Angela Holden: [00:41:55] And I did want to mention to a, to that point that you just made Jenna, we are going to send out an email with the recording for today's session, and then we'll include all the links shared today. And then contact information too. So if anyone wants to reach out, has any questions or feedback, ideas happy to, you know, Speak with you about that?

We do have about 13 more minutes. I don't know in Jenna, if you want to expand on anything else, if there are any other questions. I know there were some topics, so you all said could go into more detail, but we also don't have to. But just wanted to open that up. Yeah,

Jenna Spinelle: [00:42:30] sure. So I'm happy to, to continue taking questions if anyone else has.

One thing. Usually the first thing that people ask me about when they say they want to start a podcast, it's like, what kind of microphone do I need and how do I actually record? And you know, there are lots of options out there for all of those things. And the pandemic has made some of that much easier.

There are recording services like squad cast, and then caster are, are two that I know or are specifically set up for podcasts. It works much like a zoom, Paul, that we're all on. Right. Except it puts everyone on their own separate audio track, which gives you more control when you're editing later on.

There are lots of people that record podcasts on zoom, too. Depending on how you have your zoom set up, you can mimic some of those same features. You know, I know Brandon has a very nice microphone there. Maybe you could tell us a little bit Brandon about gear and you know, how you make it work as a, as somebody running your own.

Brandon Stover: [00:43:29] Sure. Yeah. So I'm a one man team. So I do all the all the research, the interviewing the production, all of it, myself. So a little bit about the gear here. Specifically speaking with a pod mic roadmap. They're just at a a hundred dollars. So it's very affordable. I have a couple of other pieces of equipment that make it sound deeper and better that aren't necessary when you're first starting out.

And actually one of the mics that I suggest when you're first starting out is the 80, 2100, or I think they just updated to the 80, 2200. Very affordable. I think it's just under a hundred dollars or out a hundred dollars and a great quality sounding mic. And it plugs right into your computer right into your USB which there's a lot of mikes you have to look at.

As you can see, there's this big wire coming out of mine. And that's an XLR cable and you need a special board to run. With your computer. So that's a little bit about equipment on my computer to do the editing. One, a really great program that just came out within the last year, last couple of years, it's called descript.

And instead of having to edit on your computer with the audio wave forms you can edit with texts just like you're editing a blog or something. So it makes it editing and go a lot faster, a lot easier for those that have never edited audio. And then once you have it edited you're going to have to distribute it on the internet and to all the podcast apps.

And there's plenty of podcast hosts. I would just Google a podcast host and you'll find them. I happen to use simple casts. It's a really great one. As Jenna mentioned, it allows you to drop dynamic ads in has lots of great stats that you can follow with your podcast. But there's also free hosts like anchor, which allows it to get up and running very, very fast.

But again, just Google those look at the different benefits each one has. And that's kind of the, the quick nuts and bolts, like if you're just getting started very fast and then you can always, if you really enjoy podcasts, you can start upgrading and getting a little more into it. As you can see.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:45:22] Yeah, and I will just, co-sign that eighty, twenty one hundred microphone. That is my go-to for, for democracy works. My co-hosts all have them. They're very easy to use, really no technical knowledge required. And I, I feel like let's see Eliza and Benjamin in the chat, you guys should like connect cause Eliza saying you have.

You know, you're interested in learning more about the, the technical side of it. You have journalism experience and Benjamin saying you have the sound design, audio production experience. So there might be like a budding podcast collaboration happening right here. But, but hopefully Eliza's that covered some of your, your technical questions?

And it sounds like Benjamin might be a resource there too.

Angela Holden: [00:46:06] Great. And then I also wanted to highlight Mark Sanders question in the chat. So can you say more about the outreach campaign that you have, can organizations reach out to you? And if so, who exactly for folks beyond one of the democracy group podcasts. And there's another couple more questions in there.

Does it have to be for a specific event promotion or can it be that or can it just be that you can contact the organization if you think they'd be valuable to have on one of your podcasts?

Brandon Stover: [00:46:32] Okay, I'm going to take a moment to take all that in.

So I got, I'll just work my way down these questions. So with the outreach campaign, people can absolutely reach out to us. In fact I'll drop it here in the chat. We have a partnerships page that talks about our organization and how we run collaborations and some of our numbers for the network.

And it's a really great overview. On there. If you're interested in working with us, we have a short application to just find out what are your goals with the collaboration on your guys's end? It does not have to be specific for an event or a promotion. We are very much open to creative collaborations ones that are unique to your organization. We have a few that might be coming up in the works where we're placing like our podcasts with, on the their website and helping Nicole topics around the things that they're writing about and their blog.

So pairing, you know, written a text with audio. So that's something unique that we don't do with a whole lot of other organizations. If you're looking to collaborate with us again, you can contact me at Brandon at democracy group dot. Or fill out the form.

And then yeah, if you guys have people that you would like to have interviewed on our podcast, definitely reach out to me. Give me a little bit of information about that person, bio you know, other interviews that they've been on and I can absolutely put a call out to our hosts. Many of them are.

Four guests and pass those along. And then the ones that are excited to do that, I can connect you with them.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:48:17] Yes. Podcasts are beasts that need to be fed. So we are always looking for guests and the shows aren't at work have different frequencies, different publishing schedules. So yeah, so don't hesitate to, to reach out if you have a guest again.

Angela Holden: [00:48:36] Awesome. Sounds good. So I think I don't see any other questions in the chat. So I think we can maybe get. Six more minutes back. So just wanted to thank our amazing speakers, Brandon and Jenna for joining us. And for all of you for being here and like I said, previously, we're going to share out the links that were in the chat in the email and then also the recording of this session, and then feel free to reach out to me.

If you have any thoughts or feedback about NCOC program and hope everyone has a great day.

Jenna Spinelle: [00:49:06] Thank you. Thank you.

Brandon Stover: [00:49:08] Bye.

Presented by

The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is dedicated to strengthening civic life in America. We pursue our mission through a nationwide network of partners involved in a cutting-edge civic health initiative, our cross-sector conferences and engagement with a broad spectrum of individuals and organizations interested in utilizing civic engagement principles and practices to enhance their work. Connecting people for the purpose of strengthening civic life is our goal. At the core of our joint efforts is the belief that every person has the ability to help their community and country thrive. Learn more at

The Democracy Group

The Democracy Group is a network of podcasts united around the goal of helping listeners understand what’s broken in our democracy, and how people are working together to fix it. We see the network as a public service dedicated to creating a more informed, civically engaged electorate.

The Democracy Group is organized and funded by The McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State, which produces the Democracy Works podcast in partnership with WPSU, central Pennsylvania’s NPR station.

No items found.


Subscribe to our Newsletter