19: Launching a Podcast at Skidmore College w/ Jackie Vetrano

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jackie Vetrano, Social Media Coordinator at Skidmore College, explains the storytelling, content and brand benefits of launching a podcast, and why your college or university may want to launch your very own.

Attracting today's new post traditional learners meansadopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, andHelix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percentbrand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges.Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You're listening to enrollmentgrowth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaderslooking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for freshenrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the rightplace. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university.I'm Aericleson, AVP of marketing at Helix...

Education and we're here today with JackieBetrono, social media coordinator at skidmore college and cohost of a higher ad socialpodcast. Jackie, welcome to the show. Hi, thank you so much forhaving me. I'm really excited. Thanks for being here so much.We are going super podcast inception today. To talk about this is skidmore,a podcast that Jack and her team launched at skidmore college. That's three seasonsin. Now we're going to talk about lessons learned, impact and why yourcollege or university might want to launch a podcast too. But before we doget too deep into that, Jackie, can you give the listeners a littlebit better understanding of both skidmore and your rule there? Yeah, so skidmorecollege is a small erveral art school up in Saratoga Springs, New York,which is best known for its horse racing, but we're about three and a halffour hours north of New York City, for those who aren't familiar with NewYork state. So there at Skid Moore I am as social media coordinatoron surprisingly, in charge of all things social media for the college. Irun all of our main accounts and I also basically support other folks on campuswho are running their own social media channels.

I focus on engagement. I getto do some really fun stuff and they get to look at data.And then I kind of picked up this podcast thing. So I am theproducer, host, promoter, as it were, of this is skidmore andit's been almost two years, three seasons, of this show and it's been reallygreat. I Love I love it excited to talk to you about ittoday. When I first started listening to this is skid more, I thought, Oh, this is definitely a prospect tool. Jackie is designed this toaid in the recruitment process. Because I kept listening, I realize, boy, this is a great internal communication vehicle as well, though, and thenI think I heard one of your faculty guests and I realized, wow,this is absolutely a faculty recruiting tool as well. What actually were and andall your audience goals for the podcast? So I hate answering this question becauseas a marketer, I feel like you're supposed to have a very you know, you have a very specific audience. It's awful when someone comes in andsays that I want to promote this thing to everybody. You know, everybody'snot an audience, right. But truly,...

...we struggled in the beginning with whenwe wanted to enter this space of you know, who is this podcastactually for? And you know, we thought about is it just an enrollment, you know initiative? Is it just for alumni to promote more participation andgiving is it an internal tool? We saw all these pros and cons toall these different audiences and so we said, you know what, we can craftreally great content that will be relevant to at least two audiences for eachepisode at least. So we figured we could use this as really like abrand awareness piece and promote each episode individually, based on the content, to theproper audience. So when we talk about athletics on campus and what athletesare participating in as well as their studies, that's a great perspective student tool,but we can also sell that to our alumni because they may have beenathletes themselves and they can reminisce about how great it was to be a partof skive more athletics. So I want to say we have a specific audience, but we really do pro promote podcast to everybody. I love it.Let's talk about that promotion in terms of...

...three seasons in two years now.How is the podcast grown over the last two years and where are you promotinga specifically? Yeah, it's definitely grown in regard to the stories that we'retelling. In the first season we kind of grabbed the lowhanging fruit, whichI'm not ashamed of. You know, we talked about we talked with ourtour guides about, you know, like what does it mean to be atour guide on campus and what's your experience like? We talked to some facultyabout their classes. We talked about things that were relevant to the time.So we grabbed our women's basketball coach and a math professor who studies sports statisticsand actually put them in a room together during Mark Cabinets. That is awesome. So it's really great. You know, we we've really have the time tothink about the stories that we're telling because it's a biweekly podcast. Weget a little bit of leeway in between each of those episodes to think aboutwhat's relevant now, but also what can we talk about, you know,in the skip more experience. So it really has grown. It's obviously grownin listens in downloads episode over episode.

So it's been a success. Iwould say I really love that idea of that basketball stats episode during March madness. It was super flu but how conscious are you about trying to strategically newsjack things like that versus kind of creating evergreen content that that's still relevant?You know, three seasons in. Yeah, IT'S A it's a balance that we'vetried to figure out and we're definitely getting a lot better at it.We for example, during women's history month, we decided to put out podcasts thatwere relevant to women, you know, strong women on our campus. Sowe talked about a class with a professor and one of the students inthe class called disorderly women, which was a really interesting episode. I definitelyneed to listen to it. That probably was my favorite one for sure.It was really cool backcrafting. Our professor's amazing. So it was just areally great, you know, nod to women's history month. It wasn't likeHey, everyone, you know we're here, it's women's history months, so we'regoing to talk about women, but it was relevant at the time.We've done, like I said, March...

...madness, during the fifteen year anniversaryof nine hundred and eleven. We actually did a podcast episode about where ourstudents and our faculty in our staff were at the time of the attack.So we had this balance of things that are timely in the global or eventhe local conversation. But we also want to highlight the great things about skidmorebecause we also want to think about our prospective students audience, as well asour alumni audience and our current student audience. It's really awesome, jaggy. Mostpodcast launches start really fast and then they sizzle out. I believe I'veheard that the average podcast on we ever releases three episodes in total. Theyget excited, they have a hard time finding traction or knowing what to createnext May lose interest. How have you managed to personally maintain your own anddouce he has them to where your recording season three now at and what keepsyou wanting to keep it up? I think part of it is because I'mactually only two years into being a skid more, you know, member ofthe skip Moore community. So a lot...

...of this when I get to interviewfaculty, Staff Students, I'm learning a lot of things for the first time, and so I think that's what makes me so excited to keep doing thisand also be able to tell the story to all these folks who either havesome sort of connection to skid more through their own studies there, maybe theirchild went there, you know whatever, or say hey, high school student, see yourself here. Listen to these students talk about their experience and thinkabout how this could be you one day. So it's really exciting, and Imean being on a college campus. We're lucky. We have a tonof stories to tell. You know, we've got amazing faculty. They're doingawesome research, our students are participating in that research. They're winning these amazingawards. I'm not only in the classroom but in things like athletics or outin the community. So we don't really run out of things to talk about. And really podcasting is easier than writing up a text based story. Sometimes, you know, sitting down with someone and saying Hey, talk to mefor a half hour is a lot easier...

...than trying to put that down onpaper and it's a lot more engaging. So I really love doing it.It's really fun, it's awesome and I love seeing how you're taking the audiofrom the podcast and you're repurposing that content, like you mentioned, for instance,I've seen you in bed stories within related articles in your website or createnew articles from the stories all together. You're not just creating a podcast,you're creating great audio content and great stories that you can repurpose throughout your collegecommunications. Yeah, that's kind of how I see the PODCAST, and Iwon't say all podcasts are kind of storytelling, but really this is skin more.Is just a way to tell our story in an engaging way, thesame way that we would look at like a video or a photo gallery.This is just another tool that we have at our disposal. Jackie, anyaudio equipment or production advice or lessons learned that you wish you would known beforeyou started? Yes, a big lesson learns. So I myself and mycohost at the time didn't know anything about audio and so we said, Oh, we have this snowball mic. It's...

...an omnidirectional mic, meaning that itwill pick up any sound that is around it three hundred and sixty degrees.So let's just put that in the middle of everybody that's talking and it'll befine. Don't do that. It is not a good idea. So ittook us about a season, I think, to really figure out that that wasnot the best way to capture clean audio, and so we connected withour team at media services and they said, yeah, that's that's really silly.You know, there's a much better way that you can do this.So all of our guests we max out at for people on a podcast episode. I think any more than that it just gets hard to keep it withina reasonable amount of time and let everybody have a chance to talk. Soeverybody in the room has their own microphone. I don't even know what they're called, to be honest with you, but they're basically the type of microphoneyou'd have. It like Karaoke. They're nothing super fancy. You know,as long as you have a pretty solid room and a good setup you canget really, really clean audio. So now that everybody has their own mic, you could tell if you listen to...

...episode one versus one that we justrecently released, you'll definitely be able to tell the difference between the two microphones. It's awesome. And so, from an initial cost requirement to get startedin a a management editing requirement on your part, but what kind of investmentwould colleges and universities be looking like before pursuing starting a podcast? Really nota lot of money, to be honest. You know, the microphone. Thecost of that definitely varies, but they're not expensive and odds are yourmedia services or anyone that's doing audio on your campus probably has a microphone ortwo. That you can use or you can connect with them and say thisis something we want to invest in. You know, can you help us? So that's pretty cheap and then the only other cost associated is, whereveryou're hosting the PODCAST, to provide the RSS feed. You know, soundcloudhas like a monthly subscription. There's other ones out there that have either oneyear subscription based or monthly subscription based, but in the the grand scheme itis not a huge investment to get started. Awesome Jack, you really good stuff. I think you've probably got folks...

...really starting to think about whether thisis right for them. Any final advice you have for for listeners who arethinking about thinking about starting a podcast their institution? What should they keep inmind before pressing record? Yeah, I think you definitely want to have aplan. I think it's hard to I think when you say that most podcastwhen the launch, about three episodes, it's because you haven't really thought thatfar ahead. Like yeah, you know, there's all this energy behind it,but you really do have to make a plan about what's the goal ofthe podcast. How frequently are we going to put out this podcast? Youdefinitely want to be on a schedule. Ultimately, we chose Bi weekly becausewe knew that there was no way we were going to be able to supporta weekly podcast along with all of our other actual job responsibilities. Yeah,because you know, I'm not hired to produce a podcast. So those aretwo things. And then really there's going to be this point, and Ithink everybody feels it when they're they're starting to come up with a podcast idea, where you are just thinking all about it. You've made this plan andyou're trying to you go over the plan, there's all these details, you switchup your mind and there's going to...

...be this point where you feel likeyou're overthinking it, and that's the point where you should record your first episode. And really, when you record it doesn't mean you have to launch itright away, and I would recommend launching it actually when you have a couplekind of ready to go, so that you're not trying to keep up withyourself. You're always a little bit ahead and listeners really like the opportunity tobinge listen. So if you were to release, you know, the firstthree episodes right away and then start yourself on your schedule kind of that followingweek, your listeners would appreciate, you know, the opportunity to binge,you know, or in this this world of Netflix and Hulu and, youknow, all this on demand type stuff, now people are used to sitting andlistening or watching for a long period of time. So if you didrelease more than one at once, that's actually not something we did, butgoing back, I would probably try that check. You're the best, suchgood stuff. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if theyhave any follow up questions? Yeah, you can find me on twitter.I'm there all the time. I'm at Jackie the Toronto. If you wantto connect with me on Linkedin, please let me know that you heard meon this podcast, because I don't like...

...quid people I don't know, butdefinitely let me know. I'd love to connect with you and you can findme at my website, Jackie Potrontocom if you want to shoot me a messageor see anything else that we're doing. It's get more awesome. Thanks againstso much for joining us today, Jackie. Sure thing you've been listening to enrollmentgrowth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank youso much for listening until next time.

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