Podcast episodes about current events (including fan shows) may not have a long life, but you can still use them to promote and grow your podcast!
A current-events podcast might cover news, politics, sports, TV shows, movies, books, music, and such. Essentially, anything that has a schedule and isn't as popular after it has passed.
If your podcast can offer timeless content, then listen to my previous episode 308, “6 Ways to Make Your Content Live Longer.”
1. Build reputation in related communities
Many timely things have fan communities all over the Internet: Facebook Groups, Reddit Subreddits, Google+ Communities, and more. Your ideal audience hangs out in these communities, and they may be interested in your podcast.
But don't start spamming a bunch of communities with your self-promotion. That will quickly get you banned.
Instead, pick a couple or few places where you can participate in the community. Post questions, share answers, comment on things. Become an active, contributing member of that community. Then, when it's relevant and appropriate, you may find opportunities to share an episode of your podcast.
Here are a few specific ideas you can use.
- When someone posts a question, respond with an answer in your comment, and link to your relevant podcast episode for more information.
- If you don't already have relevant content for that topic, incorporate that person's thought in an episode and then share it with them.
- If you spot your existing audience members in the community, ask them to become evangelists for you to share your podcast episodes.
- When you have something special that truly appeals to everyone in the community, ask the moderators for permission for you to share it. They may even be willing to share it for you!
- Find the extremely active community members and invite them onto your podcast, either as a guest for a whole episode or suggest they submit a segment. (You might need “How to Get Good Audio from Your Podcast Guests.”)
- If you're allowed an introductory post, be human and also use the opportunity to tell about your podcast.
- Ensure your personal profile and signature (if applicable) contain something about your podcast.
- Share relevant content no one else has shared yet and that's not your own.
2. Participate live
Anything that's live-broadcast, either simultaneously or time-shifted across time zones, could give you a great opportunity to connect with other fans.
Find the official hashtag and participate on Twitter. To make it even easier to join the conversations, use a tool like tchat.io or TweetChat. These will let you see the hashtagged tweets in real time, and respond or post with the hashtag automatically added.
If you already have an audience, you could host your own live chat during the event. That could be powered by your own hashtag or by a chat room embedded on a /live page on your own website. ChatWING, Chattango, Flyzoo, and Chatroll are some chat rooms great for this.
This is especially easy when the event is simultaneously broadcast across multiple time zones, such as with sports. But if the live broadcast is shifted with each time zone, then you need to always be clear what time zone your live participation is in. Due to broadcasting schedules, Eastern and Central usually broadcast together and might have the most audience. More on time zones later.
3. Live-stream after the event
Doing anything live during the event you podcast about could be too distracting for you or your audience, so you may get more participation by hosting a live aftershow. I recommend that be no more than 15 minutes after the event, which is probably enough time for you and your audience to transition.
This could be a great time to share initial reactions, incorporate instant feedback from your audience, or set up conversations that will happen later in the week.
As with participating live, a live aftershow may reach the most people if you host it from Eastern or Central time zones for national broadcasts.
It's especially good to live farther East for such events because you might be able to record and publish your aftershow before Western audiences even finish watching. Then, your episode is already available when the event is over in their time zone.
4. Align publishing with the event schedule
Publishing quickly and consistently are the most important things you can do with a current-events-based podcast. But if you want to incorporate audience feedback, then you'll need to allow enough time for your audience to watch and send their feedback.
It is possible to wait too long, as well. If you publish your episode too close to the next event, then your audience may not have time to listen or watch before that next event is public. Even worse, you could sound dumb if your theories are proven wrong so quickly from your audience's perspective.
For weekly events, I recommend publishing between 2–4 days after the event occurred, which gives your audience 2–4 days to consume your episode before the next event.
If your source events are far less frequent, such as book or movie releases, then you could allow for more time to incorporate feedback. But you'll still get the best results by publishing as quickly as possible because that's when there's the most interest around that thing.
5. Account for other time zones
Whenever you do anything on a schedule with your audience, try to accommodate different time zones as reasonably as possible.
For example, hosting a live stream at 7 pm Eastern may conflict with people still at work when it's 4 pm Pacific. Or a 10 pm Pacific event is 1 am Eastern.
That doesn't mean you can't do anything at those times, only that you should be aware of how such choices may limit your audience's participation.
Eastern and Central seem to be the best places to host a TV-show-fan podcast from because of how most TV shows broadcast to both time zones simultaneously (when you see two times listed, like “8/7 Central”) and because of the population density across those two time zones.
Thus, if your live show coincides with a live TV broadcast, you may get more participation if it's based on the Eastern and Central schedule.
And always include the time zone when you mention a time. You could use either your own local time zone, or consider using Eastern if you're in the USA. That's considered the official time in the USA because the capital is in Eastern Time.
I'm not a fan of giving multiple time zones because people can look it up themselves. If you give four numbers, it's more likely they'll forget the correct one. But if you have an international audience, I do recommend you share the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) offset for your time.
Unfortunately, GMT doesn't follow Daylight Saving Time (DST), so if your time shifts with DST, you'll have to adjust the offset, too. For example, Eastern Standard Time (EST) is GMT-5, and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is GMT-4.
Lastly, I recommend you also try to be technically accurate with your time zone abbreviations. “EST” applies to standard time, while “EDT” applies to Daylight Saving Time. But if you don't want to mess the DST and GMT, simply saying “Eastern Time” could be enough.
6. Promote quickly
Assuming you publish your relevant episode quickly, you need to promote it as quickly, too! It would also help to promote it for days following the event.
In fact, you could create a recurring schedule for your promotion that could look something like this:
- Day of event: Promote live chat and after show
- 1 day after: Promote after show episode
- 2 days after: Promote after show episode and ask for feedback
- 3 days after: Ask for feedback and promote upcoming mid-week episode
- 4 days after: Promote mid-week episode
- 5 days after: Promote mid-week episode and encourage upcoming live participation
- 6 days after (day before next event): Encourage upcoming live participation
As you may notice, it's a balance of looking back and looking forward. Yes, that schedule is designed for two episodes per week, but you can adapt it based on your own schedule.
People will care most about your podcast when the subject is already on their minds. So the more quickly you can publish your content about the current event, the more your existing and potential new audience will be interested in your episode.
7. Watch for timely opportunities
The actual event may not be the only opportunity you have to leverage the audience's energy. Watch for breaking news, birthdays, special releases, and other announcements you can use to create or promote relevant content.
Also, the latest event could be connected to something from weeks, months, or even years ago. So this could be a great time for you to promote that older content. For example:
- “It's been two years since we've seen [that character]! Here's the episode where we discussed his story. [Link]”
- “Happy birthday to [person]! This was our favorite conversation about her: [Link]”
- “The DVD and Blu-Ray for [movie] are now available! Listen to our original review: [Link]”
- “[Movie sequel] was great! We reviewed it in [link], also hear what we thought of the original: [link]”
Even if nothing is happening around the scheduled source content, you could have some hiatus episodes to feed the fandom. These could share news, spoilers, hindsight on the past year or season, hopes or theories for the future, and more! You could be a hero for keeping the conversation going when your audience isn't getting new content directly from the source.
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