Launching a Podcast at Skidmore College

Most podcasts won’t make it past three episodes.

They’ll start with incredible momentum and grand ambitions, but most will ultimately fail to find that sustainability to keep producing week after week.

Our guest this week on the Enrollment Growth University was Jackie Vetrano, Social Media Coordinator for Skidmore College, who launched the college’s podcast, This Is Skidmore, which is now in its third season.

We asked Jackie what it takes to not only launch a podcast, but how to gain traction and keep the momentum going once that initial launch energy fades.

Here are the highlights from that interview.

How To Determine Your Podcast Audience

Marketing 101 says to know your audience, but practicality says it’s not that easy.

When Jackie and her team set out to launch This Is Skidmore, they started a pros and cons list for all their potential audience targets. Would the podcast be an enrollment initiative? Would it be a push for giving from alumni? Would it just be an internal communications tool?

Looking at their lists, they realized they could actually craft content relevant to more than one audience per episode.

For example, an episode about athletics on campus doubles as both a prospective student tool, but can also be promoted to alumni who were previously involved in the same athletic program.

Lesson learned? If your content can support it, don’t be afraid to tap into more than one audience to see greater returns.

Podcast Strategy Matters

For their first season, This Is Skidmore stuck to what was relevant on campus at that time–talking to tour guides or faculty–and slowly started to find some creativity within that scope.

One of Jackie’s favorite examples of this was their March Madness episode, where they sat down their women’s basketball coach with a math professor well-versed in sports statistics. Not only was it relevant to what was happening in the collegiate world, it was also fantastic peek into the Skidmore College experience.

It’s a strategy the This Is Skidmore podcast team has continued to rely upon that allows them to consider the various audience targets they have, from prospective students, to current students, to alumni.

Endless Higher Ed Stories Encourages Podcast Longevity

It’s hard to keep up momentum when producing a regular podcast, whether that’s due to lack of content or lack of creativity.

Even though This Is Skidmore is well into its third season, Jackie and her team have maintained their enthusiasm through finding and telling engaging stories–and a college campus has no shortage of engaging stories.

There are faculty doing incredible research, students winning awards both inside and outside the classroom, and students making a difference in their community.

For Jackie, who has only been on staff at Skidmore for two years, her excitement and motivation is in the telling of these stories and crafting that connection across multiple audiences. There’s a natural ease in sitting down with someone and drawing out their story as opposed to writing original scripted content episode after episode.

Advice For Getting Started with Your Higher Ed Podcast

What was Jackie’s best advice for creating a long-lasting, engaging podcast for your college or university? Start with a plan.

Energy and enthusiasm are great to help you launch, but you need to have a plan in place. What’s your ultimate goal for your podcast? How frequently can you reasonably produce an episode with your current responsibilities? What ideas do you have and how do they fit into an overall theme?

Practically speaking, consider what gear you have and make sure you have what you need to produce quality content–whether that’s having the right microphone or the right number of guests in your recording space to keep your audio clear and understandable.

And when it comes to actually launching, it doesn’t hurt to have a few episodes ready to go at that point. We live in a world of media-binging, so it’s not unreasonable to think that people might want to listen to more than one episode at a time. It’s also helpful to have a few episodes in the pipeline to give yourself a buffer to keep ahead of your production deadlines.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Jackie Vetrano from Skidmore College. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Enrollment Growth University.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.