When we hear our favorite podcast, it’s easy to imagine everyone involved being together in the same room. The audio quality is perfect. The timing is sharp. The banter is first class. It’s like you’re right there with them as a deeply engaged fly on the wall.
While that’s certainly the case for some shows, many have also had to adjust to a new way of recording and collaborating in the wake of COVID-19. It’s become increasingly common to have podcasts run remotely with hosts recording from separate locations.
One such podcast is Salesforce’s Marketing Cloudcast, hosted by Tina Rozul, Director of Product Marketing, and Megan Collins, Product Marketing Manager. The podcast duo doesn’t reside in the same city. In fact, they don’t even live in the same country or continent. Rozul is located in Sydney, Australia, while Collins lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.
But that separation hasn’t deterred Rozul and Collins from delivering a thoughtful and engaging marketing podcast. For them, Marketing Cloudcast is truly a labor of love. Even across two continents, they’ve made the podcast a success, thanks to their strategic approach to collaboration. Read on to learn how the team at Salesforce collaborates across continents to run one of the most successful SaaS podcasts.
When Rozul and Collins initially inherited the Marketing Cloudcast from a fellow Salesforce employee in 2017, they were already working remotely from different locations. The podcast was primarily an interview-based show, so the pair needed to find a way to coordinate the interviews remotely. The pair worked closely to divide and conquer show roles and responsibilities to ensure everything ran smoothly for all parties.
“Since a lot of the people we work with are based in the U.S., I tend to handle a lot of the day-to-day tasks of sending out emails, coordinating with our agency, and managing the show,” said Collins, the Indianapolis-based host. “That’s hard for Tina to do because she’s sleeping when a lot of that’s happening.”
While she is somewhat involved in sourcing new guests, Rozul agrees that the time difference makes it challenging for her to handle some of the day-to-day tasks. That said, she’s still very much involved in episode planning for the podcast, as well as splitting interview duties with Collins.
“Megan and the team in the States do a majority of the heavy lifting because, as she mentioned, that needs to keep going,” said Rozul. “I’m based out of Sydney, so it’s hard to balance that time zone [gap], but we do the best that we can.”
When the pair first started hosting the podcast, it was mostly just the two of them handling all the behind-the-scenes work. Both of them would work hard to brainstorm new topics and track down new guests. Now, they have a Marketing Cloudcast team in place that helps them keep the podcast engine purring.
“For the longest time, it was just Megan and me,” said Rozul. “We were dividing and conquering everything involved with the show, but now we have an incredible team behind the scenes that helps with editing and provides a unique perspective that rounds everything out.”
When you’re remotely collaborating with other people on a podcast, the responsibilities between team members can vary greatly. In the case of Marketing Cloudcast, it’s obvious that the time difference between Australia and Indiana plays a factor, but you should also divide responsibilities by strengths and likes.
If you’re co-hosting a new podcast with a friend or co-worker, pinpoint what each of you does best and what you actually enjoy doing. You might find, for example, that one of you is more technical and has experience with audio equipment and recording software. The other person may be better at guest outreach and more comfortable following up with people to get an interview.
Whatever the case may be, find the right balance between you and your collaborators so that everyone is happy with their responsibilities.
“Whatever the case may be, find the right balance between you and your collaborators so that everyone is happy with their responsibilities.”
All great podcasts start with a strong audio setup — which the pair learned about the hard way.
“I was in Barcelona recording remotely for the first episode that we ever actually did together,” said Rozul. “Because I was traveling and the audio wasn’t that great, our manager at the time suggested we start thinking about audio quality and where we could make some investments.”
Along with high-quality audio tools, Rozul and Collins needed a tech stack for collaborating remotely. They couldn’t discuss ideas in-person, so they needed a digital alternative for brainstorming.
“I love Quip,” said Collins. “We have our content calendar in there; we can tap in next action items, next steps, make comments, and tag in the rest of our team.”
Quip also allows Rozul and Collins to collaborate at any time they want. If Rozul has a thought or idea, she simply adds it into the collaborative Quip doc and tags the appropriate team members, and the same goes for Collins. Since everything is centralized in one place, it also makes it easier to access information and leave comments without worrying if messages were delivered to the right place.
Having the right collaborative infrastructure is critical if you want to run a podcast remotely. In addition to Quip, there are plenty of tools that can help you in that respect.
“Having the right collaborative infrastructure is critical if you want to run a podcast remotely. The easier you make your podcast production process, the easier it will be to get episodes up and running for your audience.”
Asana is a popular project management tool that can be used to divvy up tasks and keep work visible for all involved podcast members. Trello is another easy-to-use tool for collaborators to move different tasks or ideas through to completion. The easier you make your podcast production process with these tools, the easier it will be to get episodes up and running for your audience.
While Marketing Cloudcast has added a few new team members into the mix since the handover in 2017, it’s still a Rozul and Collins’ passion project. They always need to be in sync with all the decisions that go into crafting new episodes.
And sometimes, those decisions have to come on the fly.
Earlier this year, Rozul and Collins had planned to do a new series for their podcast — and then COVID-19 escalated. As a result, they decided to pivot and change the focus of the series to better align with challenges caused by the pandemic. The result was their “Leading Through Change” series, which included interviews with the likes of Mark Cuban and Common Sense Media.
In most cases, Rozul and Collins spend a lot of time mapping out a particular topic or series behind the scenes. It took the duo a full month to get their “Moment Makers” series off the ground as they had to really perfect its tone and style.
While it’s great to experiment and pivot with new podcast ideas, it’s also important to develop a core direction. For Rozul and Collins, that direction is all things marketing.
“While it’s great to experiment and pivot with new podcast ideas, it’s also important to develop a core direction.”
“We take kind of a grassroots approach, which a lot of people relate to,” said Collins. “We’re just like them. We’re just like our listeners. We’re marketers. We have a lot of the same problems they have.”
Finding a sweet spot for your podcast direction takes time, patience, and, most importantly, collaboration. In some cases, it might be tempting to bring in a high-profile guest you suddenly have access to. Before you do that, have a candid conversation with your collaborators about whether that interview is aligned with what your audience wants to hear. Getting quick listens in the short-term isn’t worth alienating your core listeners in the long-term and hurting your overall brand affinity.
Conversations between you and other podcast collaborators about your show’s direction may be difficult at times — and that’s okay! As the podcast gains popularity, you may see things differently than your collaborators. The key to navigating conflict is to have a clear understanding of your show, its audience, the goals, and to sort out any disagreements as early as possible before they escalate.
When you’re running a podcast remotely, there’s always going to be some bumps along the way. But as Marketing Cloudcast shows, there are also plenty of lessons to be learned from these missteps. Take the time to really hone in on all the details of your podcast and have open conversations about your show with your collaborators. With this approach, you’re likely to build a solid audience over time — even with your co-host halfway across the world.