Steve Goldstein: “Oh, You’re Going To Clean Up My Hot Podcast Mess”

Steve Goldstein’s Amplifi Media works with media companies and podcasters in developing audio content strategies. Goldstein writes frequently at the Amplifi blog. Steve can be reached directly at 203-221-1400 or sjgoldstein-at-amplifimedia-dot-com.

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Image by DALL-E

The quest for time, money, and attention is everywhere. In response to economic worries, changing consumer habits, and competition at scale, Meta, AT&T, Ford, and many other companies have called 2023 the ‘Year of Efficiency.’ The goal is to chop away extra tasks and paperwork, simplify processes to free up time, create more efficient organizations, and likely drop head count.

As many podcast companies have hit a speed bump, they are also looking to get more done with fewer people and streamline operations.

With our clients, we have been thinking a lot about improving podcast workflow by prioritizing what’s most important. For podcasters, this feels critically important as new tools and tricks are increasing the time it takes to execute what’s “needed’ to make and package an episode. Often, we can look to technology to help but sometimes it just adds complexity.

It’s taking more time to make an episode of a show or traffic an ad 

Every day it seems there is another shiny new tool or service for podcaster creators. There are many clever options in the name of “helping” podcasters be better at getting the word out, publishing, and editing. Plus, evolving platforms like YouTube require examining and rethinking.

New services and companies all seem to add tools to the production of podcasts, but far fewer focus on simplifying the process.

Some of the latest tools are fantastic and smart. Others might be more incremental in their benefit. Whether it’s AI social posts, audio sweeteners, automatic posting, subscription, video publishing, engagement aids, interactive ads, or new consumer-facing apps (please, please stop with the new apps that can’t possibly garner enough traction to be successful), the list grows every time we read a podcast newsletter.

How to choose the right tools for you

New services and companies all seem to add tools to the production of podcasts, but far fewer focus on simplifying the process.

I advise a company called Frequency that has developed smart software to improve the workflow between audio creators and advertisers. Frequency uses automation and centralized ad management to unblock the crazy traffic jams in getting an ad from creation to approval to activation in less time. Clients report 3 times faster response rates and as they say, “time is money.” At Podcast Movement, we met with a potential client who said, ‘oh, you’re going to clean up my hot mess.” That’s it. Once the podcast business moved from baked-in ads, the manual process of creating, trafficking, and inserting ads quickly became a lot more complicated and stuffed with phone calls, Slack, written approvals, unanswered emails, and everyone’s favorite time kill: “I’ll get back with you.”

As complexity hit the podcast business, even some of the biggest companies have been jammed up using bloated spreadsheets.

Streamlining is essential in any business. 

In business, manual work and silos are the enemies of streamlining functions. Each new tool or process has its own nuance and learning curve.

AT&T is going after its efficiency problem with an initiative called Project Raindrops – love the name – which is whacking away at everything from expense reporting to email and manager approvals, anything that slows down a worker’s daily flow. AT&T estimates they knocked off 300 million mouse clicks just by simplifying connection to their corporate network. One mundane process may feel like a single raindrop. Still, when you have a “multitude of that within the employee ecosystem, it creates a flood of extra work,” said Elizabeth Veazy, a VP of AT&T’s technology organization, who oversees the project.

Jeff Bezos famously rebooted Amazon meetings with a six-page narrative and no PowerPoints.  The result is faster meetings.

Speaking of faster, this season, Major League Baseball added new rules to shrink the duration of games. Over the years, games have gotten longer and longer, and the audience has voted by tuning out. Last year the average game ran a grueling 3 hours and 8 minutes. MLB added a 15-second pitch clock, larger bases, and other rules to streamline the sport this season. It seems to be working. Games are already down 29 minutes so far this season.

Good tools are critical, and with the heat around everything AI, there are many new, powerful, and exciting tools for podcasters and broadcasters – some fantastic and others unsustainable blips.

Get rid of things that suck time. Make a Zoom call into an audio-only call. Cut some meetings entirely. Get software that easily integrates with your workflow (BIG one). Be ruthless with removing manual work. Then spend the rest of the time focusing on making a smarter, better, more compelling, and easily monetizable podcast.

Steve Goldstein