Express Yourself Locally
Specific is always better than general. It’s a fundamental rule of storytelling and it’s the backbone of comedy. Now, it might play an important role in podcasting.
Many of us think about our podcasts in terms of maximizing the number of downloads. Intuitively, that makes sense. The bigger our reach the more clout we ought to have. But, what is the clout you’re looking for? Revenue? Street cred? Leadership? Influence? What do you have to do to achieve those goals? And, what’s the competition? This is where localism makes sense.
Localism means creating a podcast that serves a geographic community. It doesn’t mean you give up your focus or niche. What it does mean is that you slant your content to the people in the community you’ve chosen to serve.
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive. The Internet serves the whole world. Why limit yourself to a small slice of that audience? Because radio has done it for years. Say what you want about the medium, it’s still the only one that reaches 93 percent of American adults every day. One reason? Radio stations connect with their local communities and those 93 percent of adults respond to that. Here’s what localism can mean for you:
- Great Content: You can’t be everything to everybody, but that’s what national or worldwide distribution forces you to do. When you create for a local audience, your references, visual images and choice of guests become more detailed, more specific. That rule about specific being better than general? It’s a fundamental rule of communication, too;
- Effective Marketing: It’s more effective to tailor an advertising pitch to a sponsor when you can address his or her specific needs. Yes, getting a slice of programmatic advertising dollars is easier, but it’s only a slice. When you sell your own spots you keep all the revenue;
- Long-Lasting Relationships: Face-to-face encounters with advertisers, community leaders and neighbors build a special kind of relationship you can’t create on social media. It’s those relationships that will lead you to people or topics that you can craft into unique content. The mayor of your town, your local city councilperson, a local club promoter, they are sources for content you won’t stumble across while you’re busy searching for national connections 3000 miles away;
- Unique Results: Even if you score an interview with a national figure, you’ll get interesting results if you ask questions that address problems and situations that arise in your community. That forces your guest to respond with specifics instead of generalities. Did I mention that specific is better than general?
- Universal Resonance: People live locally these days, but they engage globally. An interesting story about a homeless person in your town will resonate across the country. Your podcast can touch people globally even if it’s created locally.
Whether you want to generate revenue or build credibility, podcasting success is all about getting your audience to respond to your content by taking an action, an action that moves you closer to your goals.
That action is what advertisers call moving the needle.
Making the Scene
Because the Internet makes it possible to do business around the world that doesn’t mean it’s your only choice. Often, it’s easier to move the needle when you’re part of the local scene rather than an audio apparition that materializes from inside a smartphone. Owning the number one podcast in the south side of Chicago or North Platte, Nebraska may allow you to achieve your goals. Or achieve goals you never thought about while you were chasing those other ones around the world.
The radio industry stresses its localism for a reason. Being local offers radio a significant competitive advantage against other media—including podcasts.
Localism. It might take you everywhere you want to be.