Follow these 7 steps to fix your podcast when you make big or little mistakes—even if you already published the episode!
We all make mistakes
We're all human and we make mistakes for a variety of reasons:
- False information
- Technical malfunction
- Brain farts
Sometimes, our mistakes may be so minor that they can go without correction. Not all mistakes are bad! Some may even be best to leave in for personality or authenticity.
But other times, a mistake can cost dearly:
- Your listeners may be unable to get your content
- You may be spreading false information
- Your reputation could be damaged
Before you do anything
Whenever we make a mistake, it's crucial to make it right as quickly as possible. Sometimes, this may require drastic measures.
Consider the impact of your mistake and take appropriate action to correct it. These steps will help you.
If you finished editing your podcast episode but haven't made it public yet, only steps 2–5 are necessary.
1. You may need to temporarily unpublish
Depending on your mistake, you may want to completely unpublish your podcast episode to prevent anyone else from downloading bad content.
In WordPress, you do this by editing your post and changing its status from “Published” to “Draft” or “Private.”
But keep in mind that any existing web links will break. You don't want your post to be unpublished for long, but if it will take a while to fix, then you might not want the bad content to continue spreading to the public.
2. Re-edit your master files
Go back to your master, editable files. Hopefully you saved an uncompressed copy. If you edit the MP3 or video file you published, then you'll end up recompressing already compressed audio or video, which will reduce the quality.
Find your mistake and fix it. Fixing the mistake in your media could done in one of several ways:
- Remove the mistake completely. Sometimes, the mistake can be removed without damaging the context.
- Replace the mistake with what it was supposed to be. Sometimes this can be done seamlessly where it will seem like you never made a mistake.
- Prepend a “notice” of your mistake and state the correction. This is best when you can't easily correct your mistake within the episode.
3. Change or keep the file name, depending on needs
Depending on your circumstances, you may want to save your replacement media file with the same file name, or something different.
- Same file name if you are replacing a minor mistake. Your download stats from your original file and the replacement file will combine.
- Different file name if you are replacing a major mistake and want to force redownloads (see step 6). Saving with “-fixed” in the file name will cause download stats to be separate from your original file's stats.
4. Re-upload to your host
If you already uploaded your podcast to your host, you can usually simply re-upload and replace the file that was already there.
If you use LibSyn or Blubrry to host your media, you can simply re-upload your recent file and they will seamlessly replace it if the file is still “active” (media files remain active for four weeks). But if you're dealing with an older episode, you may have to pay an extra fee to replace the archived file.
5. Refresh posts, links, and feeds
Whether you're still in draft or you've already published the episode, refresh any links to your media.
- Make sure that the media URL is the same (should be if you steps 3 and 4 work on your system). If it isn't the same, then update the links with the new media URL.
- If the episode is already attached to a post in WordPress with PowerPress, the checkmark “Modify existing podcast episode.” Update the URL if necessary. Then click the Verify button (you may need to watch for the auto-detected numbers to change). Some media formats may require that you manually update the length and file size information, but PowerPress will auto-detect for MP3.
- You may need to refresh your website cache, if you use a caching system.
- If you use FeedBurner, go to the Troubleshootize tab and click Resync.
6. Repost if you want all subscribers to redownload the correction
Sometimes, your accidental “bad content” could be so bad that you need all of your subscribers to redownload the episode. This is rare, but here are a two examples:
- The “bad content” was corrupted in some way (inaudible, out-of-sync, missing crucial video or audio, etc.)
- The “bad content” was accidentally an old episode.
Reserve this major step for major problems. Remember that forcing your subscribers to redownload an episode is an inconvenience and confusion-causer, even if it's automatic.
Simply updating your links won't force the redownload. Follow these steps:
- Create a new blog post. Do not use any tools to duplicate your old post. Creating a new post creates a new unique ID (GUID in the RSS feed) that is how iTunes and other podcast apps will recognize this as something “new” to download.
- Copy all of your information from your old post to the new one. This may mean a lot of field-by-field copying and pasting.
- Completely delete your old post. Don't just send it to the trash, delete it from there, too!
- Update your new post's permalink. With the original post now completely gone, you should be able to re-use the original permalink (for example, “tap095-how-to-use-chains-in-audacity”). Make sure a “2” doesn't get added, or else setup a redirect from your old post to the new one.
- Add something to your post title to indicate it's a correction. I suggest “[FIXED]” or “[REPOST].” For example, “TAP095: How to use Chains in Audacity [FIXED].” Make sure this doesn't show up in the post's permalink.
- Publish the new post. Because WordPress gave this new post a new unique ID (the GUID), all podcast clients will treat this post as a completely new episode and download it.
Following this method, your subscribers who already downloaded the original episode will get the new one and clearly see that it's fixed. Current or new subscribers who haven't download the original episode yet will only get this fixed episode.
After a couple weeks, you can come back and remove “[FIXED]” from the post title, because the fix may not need to be acknowledged after a while.
7. Release a correction or mention it next time
Some listeners or subscribers may never download your fixed episode. If the correction is important enough, you may need to mention it in your next episode, or remind listeners to redownload the fixed episode if they haven't already.
In extreme circumstances, you may want to release a completely separate, correctional episode. I did this for my clean-comedy podcast when my error was big enough that I needed everyone to know I had messed up and was correcting it.
In these extreme circumstances, you may want to reach out in more than one way. In may case, I reached out with a miniature audio episode and the above video. (Each of these are separate posts in WordPress, so audio-only platforms will ignore the video, and other platforms will get both.)
The 8th annual Podcast Awards are coming up! Get ready to nominate your favorite podcasts and get your audience to nominate you! Your podcast could even be a sponsor to give you even more promotion.
Beyond the To Do List joins Noodle.mx Network!
I'm thrilled to announce that Erik Fisher's fantastic new podcast about personal productivity has joined Noodle.mx Network!
Send your podcasting tips for 100th episode!
To celebrate the upcoming 100th episode (currently scheduled for October 15), send me your podcasting tips!
- Send written or recorded tips.
- Make them shorter than 30 seconds.
- Mention your name and website.
- Make each tip able to stand on its own, even if you have to send multiple recordings.
Please retweet this!
— Daniel J. Lewis (@theRamenNoodle) September 18, 2012
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.