The amount of content produced by companies is growing with Trackmaven reporting that brand content production increased by 78% in 2014. With all this content being created, it’s easy to see how the topic of content formats comes up within a content strategy conversation. But before you think the addition of a new format is the panacea for all your content woes, it, like everything else in content creation, requires careful consideration. In order to decide if a new format type is the right fit, you must first go through a fundamental decision-making process to analyze whether the addition provides your audience something not already given to them, while meeting your company’s goals. Content Science CEO, Colleen Jones explains in “Clout:”

“Formats are where your content comes to life, so choose them wisely.”

We recently went through such an evaluation to determine whether adding a new format was the right additional platform for Content Science and its subsidiaries. The new format in question was the extremely popular audio podcast. Jones continues with her take on audio podcasts, again from “Clout:”

“Audio is ideal for people who speak well. Audio does much of the same work that words do. In addition, audio can showcase interactions, such as interesting interviews or friendly banter.”

The process we took to determine whether adding a new format to our already existing content is a universal one and is not exclusive to an audio podcast. From the beginning, you must analyze to determine whether you should or shouldn’t create a new content format, but for us just trying, like Yoda said, wasn’t an option. Here’s the four-part process we took to determine if adding an audio podcast was the right fit for Content Science:

1. Answer the Basic Questions of Why and What 

We started by answering this question: Why an audio podcast? Aside from podcasts being a wildly expressive medium, they are also a new frontier for us. We didn’t want to add content for adding content sake; it needed to go beyond the platform. To give our audience a glimpse of the personality behind our CEO, for us, a podcast seemingly made ideal sense. Also in this phase we had to answer the question of: What are we hoping to accomplish? In answering both the why and the what questions, you must approach this with honesty – not everything is a good fit and just because everyone else in your industry is potentially doing it is not reason enough.

2. Conduct Research, Research, and More Research

Developing answers to basic questions and even more complex ones requires excellent research. For this, we went into fact-finding mode, which brings up a lot more questions. Our research had us pondering questions such as these:

  • What will it take to actually make this happen?
  • Is this cost effective?
  • Do we have the staff to provide support in executing the podcast?
  • If not, can we outsource a writer / producer role to fulfill our needs?
  • Does our CEO have the time?
  • What is the required equipment and are there special capabilities needed?
  • Will the addition of an audio podcast grow our business in the ways that we want?

3. Create a Process

Once we started down the rabbit hole of research, creating a process became pretty clear. In this we identified each touchpoint required with producing a podcast. Our process included a slideshow to determine all the factors that would come into executing the production. This also included establishing whether this is completely new content or springboarding from our three platforms within our company: our digital magazine, consulting services, and evaluation tool. Some things that helped us:

  • Creating a mock-editorial schedule of topics we’d like to discuss.
  • Defining our audience.
  • Setting the criteria:
    • This included decisions on pacing and length, determining the format of the audio podcast, and establishing a frequency schedule.

4. Formulate a Timeline

We work in a goal-driven industry, so setting a realistic timeline of when we needed to A) make decisions on the podcast and B) if we were going forward with it, when it would actually begin, was critical. We gave ourselves a feasible framework of smaller deadlines to make the wisest decision surrounding our needs as a company, opportunities for growth, and tasks and time involved from specific team members to evoke ownership and responsibility.

Key Takeaway

Ultimately, when deciding on a new content format for your business there are many determining factors. We, like most businesses, had to weigh the pros and cons to determine if creating a new content format fit into our overall strategy. While weighing all the factors the Mark Zuckerberg quote came to mind:

“In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

So, is it worth the risk for us to create a weekly audio podcast? Stay tuned.

The Author

Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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