How to Start a Corporate Podcast: Technical Requirements
In part 1 of this series we covered the content considerations of a corporate podcast – go back and check out that post before you read this one.
Now that you have an idea for a show, the ideal format, and the right host, it’s time to start thinking of the technical side of podcast production.
You can go in a lot of different directions when it comes to podcasting technology, but the one thing you can’t compromise on is your recording environment. The right recording conditions will make everything that comes next – including equipment purchase, editing and episode production – much easier.
You want to find a room where you can produce acceptable audio. That means:
Very few reflective surfaces. Glass and concrete reflect sound, but soft carpets and furnishing absorb it.
Low traffic areas. A meeting room right next to a noisy office kitchen or the front lobby won’t work.
As little ambient noise as possible. Office HVAC systems are the enemy of clean audio. Put in the extra effort to find a room that’s far away from any noisy vents, or else you’ll spend way more time than you want to trying to remove the ambient noise from your recording later.
It can be hard to find the right environment in an office, especially if your décor leans toward modern and open concept, like our office here at March. If conditions aren’t great in your office as-is, your options are to:
Treat your space: If you have the space and budget to build a sound studio or add a modular one to your office, you’ll be in better shape than most. If you’re on a tighter budget, you could add sound-dampening foam or acoustic panels to an existing room, or even just invest in some thick drapes or areas rugs to soften up the space.
Find a different space: This could mean a professional recording studio – some places offer hourly rates for renting studio space – or a home office. Keep in mind: some of your favorite podcasts are recorded in linen closets and home garages. You might have to get a little punk rock here.
More than any other factor, it’s worth the extra effort to get your recording environment right. When you record clean audio at the source, the rest is (relatively) easy.
The right recording equipment
Your bare-minimum requirements are a microphone and a recorder.
It’s worth investing in a good quality microphone (or several, if you’re planning to have guests). Be sure to check audio outputs: USB microphones can plug directly into a laptop if you plan to record directly into your editing software. Microphones with XLR outputs can only be connected to external recorders or audio interfaces, so you’ll need to transfer the file over to your editing software later (normally using an SD card).
Vendors like Shure, Heil and Rode make some of the most frequently recommended podcast microphones on the market. If you’re looking for a lower price point, you could consider products from Audio Technica or Blue Yeti.
Most microphones will come with their own stands, but these can be very short. You may want to think about investing in a desktop stand or boom arm, as well as accessories like foam mic covers or pop filters, which prevent any annoying “pops” from appearing on your audio.
You need something to capture your audio. Some podcasters record directly into editing software on their laptop, which makes it a breeze to move from production to post-production. That’s fine for single-microphone shows, but if you want to accommodate multiple voices or want a more portable recording solution, you should use a standalone recorder, like the popularly recommended Zoom product line. They have lots of models, including the H4N, which allows up to two mics, or the H6, which allows up to four.
An audio interface
If you want even more control and quality in your recording environment, you might want to invest in an audio interface. It’s a piece of hardware that sits between your microphone and recorder, and it helps you filter out unwanted noises, balance out the levels for each guest, and accommodate many more microphones. An interface may be a little sophisticated for most first-time shows, but it’s worth considering if you’re serious about audio quality. Focusrite Scarlett is considered one of the best lines of professional-quality USB audio interfaces on the market, as it can accommodate lots of extra inputs and it’s relatively affordable and portable while providing great-sounding audio.
Once you have your vocal and music files, you’ll need to clean it all up and stitch together an actual episode. That’s where editing software (also known as Digital Audio Workstations) comes into play.
Everyone seems to have their own preference, and it really depends on your skill level. Professional audio engineers or musicians will be comfortable with top-of-the-line solutions like Pro Tools or Abelton, but you can get the job done with much simpler – and more affordable – tools.
Audacity is very popular among podcasters because it’s free, open source, and easy to learn and use. There are plenty of YouTube and wiki tutorials to walk you through its advanced features.
Another option is Adobe Audition. If you already pay for the Adobe Creative Cloud, then you can download Audition as part of your existing subscription.
A hosting solution
You also need a place to store your audio files. File size will vary depending on the length of the show, the bit rate of the mp3 file and other factors, but it’s not unusual for 30- to 60-minutes of audio to range anywhere between 20 megabytes to 60 megabytes in size.
You don’t want to just upload these files to your website’s server and hope for the best – downloads of large audio files will slow down your site every time a new episode is published. It’s better to find a third-party file storage solution.
Some people advocate cloud storage solutions like Amazon S3, but we’ve found that it’s ultimately easier and more affordable to store files through a dedicated podcast hosting service. The benefit is that these services are purpose-built for podcast hosting, meaning the price can normally scale better with the growth of your show that it can with cloud storage. They also include a lot of “out of the box” features that make podcast management easier or more dynamic, including analytics, customer support, monetization opportunities, and more.
A few popular ones include LibSyn, BluBrry, Spreaker, BuzzSprout, PodBean, to name a few. You can shop around for the best monthly price and features for your needs.
The most important thing you get from a podcast hosting service: an RSS feed that’s optimized for the different podcast directories (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, etc.). The RSS feed is how you’ll get your show on those networks and others.
A publishing and distribution strategy
Podcasts are an inherently mobile medium, so you’ll want to make sure your show is available for download on all the most popular listening apps. To do that, you need to submit your RSS feed to the major networks. This is a manual process for most directories, but it’s also a one-time process.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to have at least one episode of your show published to your RSS feed in order for each network to acknowledge and “verify” your RSS feed. Here are links to all of the most important submission forms and details:
Apple Podcasts: Apple has created a whole platform for podcast management called Podcasts Connect. You’ll need to use an active Apple ID (or create one) to add your show to their platform. But, once you do, you’ll have access to unique Apple podcast analytics. Click this link to start.
Google Podcasts: Google is moving from Google Play being its primary podcast player to a standalone Google Podcasts experience. They don’t offer a manual submission process, which is why we’d suggest reading this very useful guide from PodNews, “How to get listed in Google Podcasts.” You can still upload shows to Google Play at this link.
Spotify: Most podcast hosting services allow you to submit to Spotify through their platforms – in many cases, it’s as simple as pushing a button. But Spotify has also created a manual submission process available at this link.
Stitcher: You’ll have to sign up for an account to fill out Stitcher’s submission form, at this link.
TuneIn Radio: TuneIn is the default podcast player for the Amazon Alexa, so an added bonus of submitting here is that you’ll be able to hear your show on any of their smart devices. To add a new show, click here.
iHeart Radio: They provide a simple form as well.
Once you are in the major directories – especially Apple Podcasts – your show will start to get picked up by third-party apps, like the very popular Overcast. So, ideally, no one should have a problem finding your show.
Of course, you should also publish your podcast to your owned channels – like your blog, or even a dedicated podcast landing page on your website.
Given how much work you’ve put into your show to this point, you really don’t want to drop the ball with a subpar promotional strategy. So, you’ll want to give a lot of thought as to how you’ll fit podcast promotion into your overall social media, digital marketing and communications strategy.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to March if you’re looking for professional help developing, distributing and promoting your first corporate podcast.