The global pandemic has turned Zoom into the modern-day conference room, made sweatpants the new business-casual attire, and created a laundry list of challenges that podcasters have had to overcome at a moment’s notice.
Between working with the kids at home, recording crisp audio without access to a proper studio, and adjusting to every team member’s schedule — it’s arguably never been a more challenging time for podcasters and creatives. However, with adversity comes creativity, and many creators are embracing constraints and continuing to produce great content.
How, you ask? Well, we asked five of marketing’s top podcasters how they’ve adapted to the remote-first world. Read on to hear how they’ve gotten crafty with their podcasting process during quarantine and how you can, too.
Jay Acunzo: Founder of Marketing Showrunners
Problem: Less work time due to daycare closing
Solution: Created a condensed version of his show
“Quarantine has meant daycares closing, which has meant 50% of my schedule is now taking care of my 18-month-old daughter. My wife and I split our days evenly between watching her and working. I relish the time with her, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m working half-time on a job as a founder/entrepreneur that always seemed to require time-and-a-half.”Jay Acunzo
“This meant revisiting the documented strategy (aka show bible) behind our podcast, 3 Clips, in order to answer two questions: How can I change the show to fit this new schedule while still serving our editorial mission? (That mission is to help people find and share their voices and make a difference through the shows they create.)
“The answer was Clipped, a quarantine-friendly version of 3 Clips. Rather than five to six segments per episode, I used just one: the segment where I play clips from a podcast I admire and dissect what makes those moments work. Then, rather than play three clips, I decided to play just one. Finally, to ensure this radically reduced episode still supported our editorial mission, I focused Clipped episodes and the one clip I selected on a narrow but incredibly pressing question or challenge facing our listeners.
As with any tough choice, resetting back to why you do something (your editorial mission) makes it easier to decide what you do and how you do it.”
“As with any tough choice, resetting back to why you do something makes it easier to decide what you do and how you do it.”
Kerry O’Shea Gorgone: Educational Content Director, MarketingProfs
Problem: Editing audio with kids at home
Solution: Recording live stream interviews
“Like a lot of folks, I’m doing more live video content during quarantine. At first, I struggled to make time for live streams and podcast interviews. Then I realized: I could ask guests to record via live stream, then release the audio after. I was like, ‘DUH, Kerry!’”Kerry O’Shea Gorgone
“Since then, I’ve gotten double duty out of my live video streams and kept my calendar manageable. This also helped with another aspect of podcast production that became especially difficult during lockdown: editing.
“My kids have been at home since March 3rd, then a tornado destroyed their school building. With the onset of the pandemic, they weren’t able to go back at all, so we’ve all been in close quarters since then.
“They’re good about keeping the noise down while I’m recording, but my editing process has always been pretty immersive. That’s tough right now!
“By recording via live stream, I minimize the need for post-production because people accept that ‘live’ can involve some bumpy spots or weirdness — and they’re cool with it. So by recording live, I’ve actually saved time on both scheduling and editing!"
Matthew Brown: Senior Audio Producer, HubSpot
Problem: No studio access
Solution: Built a blanket fort studio
“If you’re producing a podcast in this pandemic, you’ve become privy to the slightly embarrassing world field producers have long called home: the blanket fort. It’s cozy, it’s sweaty, and above all, it’s the best way to get high-quality audio outside of a studio.”Matthew Brown
“To pull it off, just conjure up those childhood memories of yours. First, find the heaviest blanket in your home. Then, grab your recording equipment and take a seat — if you’re like me, that seat is right on the floor. Throw the heavy blanket over you, with your head acting as the proverbial tentpole. Shake off those feelings of looking silly, (yes, you do, but who’s watching, right?) and start recording.
“Great audio starts at the source, and a heavy blanket helps dampen excess noise. You can also use a closet full of clothes if you’re looking to channel your inner Ira Glass. Just make sure to don your favorite suit and remove your socks to complete the look! Dampening sound gets you the cleanest tape and is one less audio migraine for you to deal with while producing remotely.”
“Dampening sound gets you the cleanest tape and is one less audio migraine for you to deal with while producing remotely.”
Lauren Hall: Brand Marketing Associate, Privy
Problem: Recording audio with kids at home and spotty Wi-Fi
Solution: Record in any room that’s quiet and loosen deadlines
“Our quarantine set up forThe Ecommerce Marketing Showhas been pretty hilarious. At first, our host, Dave Gerhardt, was recording from any (and I really do mean any) quiet space he could find away from the kids. For this Masterclass-turned-podcast episode with Kurt Elster, Dave holed up in the closet.”Lauren Hall
Check out the full episode here.
“For another, he was in the bathroom, which, acoustics-wise, wasn’t the best option. Later, a guest even suggested that we change the show’s intro.
“Our normal intro is ‘You’re listening to The Ecommerce Marketing Show, presented by Privy,’ so we ended up adding the ‘live from my closet’ bit onto the end.
“Once we finally learned our lesson and started being more strategic about timing (not during the kids’ lunch or wake-up-from-nap time), we hit another roadblock: Dave’s Wi-Fi situation got, well, grim. He ended up having to dial in from parking lots, trying to find a place with enough signal to record, which, honestly, was entertaining for everyone but him.
“The last few months have forced us (and the rest of the world) to be flexible. If we have to skip a couple episodes (and we have), it’s not the end of the world. But because of that, we’ve become more creative about using it as a distribution channel for other things. We started publishing our Masterclasses, which are more tactical than our traditional podcast episodes.
“We also started a new segment of the show with an ecommerce expert and superstar, Kristen LaFrance, called Ecomm Noms. So while many podcasts were seeing numbers decline significantly, we had our highest-ever number of downloads in May.”
Problem: Coordinating team schedules and workflows
Solution: Better communication and dedicated pre-production
“As a remote team, we’re used to creating our weekly show from different parts of the world. I produce and edit the show from my home near Cambridge in the UK, and our two hosts record from London (UK) and Virginia (US) with guests joining from various locations across the world — Milan, Idaho, Colorado, for example. So from that standpoint, not a lot has changed.”Ash Read
“The biggest change for us, however, has been adjusting schedules and becoming more fluid with our production process based on team energy levels and what’s going on in the world at that moment in time.
“Before quarantine, we were in a good routine of writing, recording, editing, and publishing on set days of the week. But as teammates across the world have all been impacted in different ways over the past few months, our production process has had to become a little more fluid, and no two weeks really look (or feel) alike anymore. We’ve also switched to a four-day workweek at Buffer, which means we have to work a little smarter with the time we have.
“From a production standpoint, we’ve been trying to communicate more as a team about what’s going on with the show. I’ve also tried to spend extra time in pre-production to make the recording sessions and my own editing sessions run smoother. I’ve found that time put in ahead of production tends to be repaid through the process — if an extra 30 minutes pre-production saves an hour in the edit, it’s worth it. For example, if we’re recording an interview with a Buffer teammate on a set topic, spending extra time to prep the interviewee and map out what we’d like to cover helps to enhance every step of production.”
“I’ve found that time put in ahead of production tends to be repaid through the process — if an extra 30 minutes pre-production saves an hour in the edit, it’s worth it.”
Creativity in the workplace is more important than ever — but not just in terms of marketing. During quarantine, your workflow and process need to be just as inventive as your next video series or podcast. Because even though times are tough right now, adapting to them can smooth out some of the biggest bumps on the road.