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 means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand 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 enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. 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 Jackie Betrono, social media coordinator at skidmore college and cohost of a higher ad social podcast. Jackie, welcome to the show. Hi, thank you so much for having 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 seasons in. Now we're going to talk about lessons learned, impact and why your college or university might want to launch a podcast too. But before we do get too deep into that, Jackie, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both skidmore and your rule there? Yeah, so skidmore college 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 half four hours north of New York City, for those who aren't familiar with New York state. So there at Skid Moore I am as social media coordinator on surprisingly, in charge of all things social media for the college. I run all of our main accounts and I also basically support other folks on campus who are running their own social media channels.

I focus on engagement. I get to 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 the producer, host, promoter, as it were, of this is skidmore and it's been almost two years, three seasons, of this show and it's been really great. I Love I love it excited to talk to you about it today. When I first started listening to this is skid more, I thought, Oh, this is definitely a prospect tool. Jackie is designed this to aid in the recruitment process. Because I kept listening, I realize, boy, this is a great internal communication vehicle as well, though, and then I 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 and all your audience goals for the podcast? So I hate answering this question because as 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 and says that I want to promote this thing to everybody. You know, everybody's not an audience, right. But truly,...

...we struggled in the beginning with when we wanted to enter this space of you know, who is this podcast actually for? And you know, we thought about is it just an enrollment, you know initiative? Is it just for alumni to promote more participation and giving is it an internal tool? We saw all these pros and cons to all these different audiences and so we said, you know what, we can craft really great content that will be relevant to at least two audiences for each episode at least. So we figured we could use this as really like a brand awareness piece and promote each episode individually, based on the content, to the proper audience. So when we talk about athletics on campus and what athletes are 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 been athletes themselves and they can reminisce about how great it was to be a part of 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 promoting a specifically? Yeah, it's definitely grown in regard to the stories that we're telling. In the first season we kind of grabbed the lowhanging fruit, which I'm not ashamed of. You know, we talked about we talked with our tour guides about, you know, like what does it mean to be a tour guide on campus and what's your experience like? We talked to some faculty about 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 statistics and 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 to think about the stories that we're telling because it's a biweekly podcast. We get a little bit of leeway in between each of those episodes to think about what'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 grown in listens in downloads episode over episode.

So it's been a success. I would 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 news jack 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've tried 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 that were relevant to women, you know, strong women on our campus. So we talked about a class with a professor and one of the students in the class called disorderly women, which was a really interesting episode. I definitely need 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 a really great, you know, nod to women's history month. It wasn't like Hey, everyone, you know we're here, it's women's history months, so we're going to talk about women, but it was relevant at the time. We've done, like I said, March...

...madness, during the fifteen year anniversary of nine hundred and eleven. We actually did a podcast episode about where our students 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 even the local conversation. But we also want to highlight the great things about skidmore because we also want to think about our prospective students audience, as well as our alumni audience and our current student audience. It's really awesome, jaggy. Most podcast launches start really fast and then they sizzle out. I believe I've heard that the average podcast on we ever releases three episodes in total. They get excited, they have a hard time finding traction or knowing what to create next May lose interest. How have you managed to personally maintain your own and douce he has them to where your recording season three now at and what keeps you wanting to keep it up? I think part of it is because I'm actually only two years into being a skid more, you know, member of the skip Moore community. So a lot...

...of this when I get to interview faculty, 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 this and also be able to tell the story to all these folks who either have some sort of connection to skid more through their own studies there, maybe their child went there, you know whatever, or say hey, high school student, see yourself here. Listen to these students talk about their experience and think about how this could be you one day. So it's really exciting, and I mean being on a college campus. We're lucky. We have a ton of stories to tell. You know, we've got amazing faculty. They're doing awesome research, our students are participating in that research. They're winning these amazing awards. I'm not only in the classroom but in things like athletics or out in 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 me for a half hour is a lot easier...

...than trying to put that down on paper 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 audio from 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 create new 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 college communications. Yeah, that's kind of how I see the PODCAST, and I won'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, the same 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, any audio equipment or production advice or lessons learned that you wish you would known before you started? Yes, a big lesson learns. So I myself and my cohost 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 it will 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 be fine. Don't do that. It is not a good idea. So it took us about a season, I think, to really figure out that that was not the best way to capture clean audio, and so we connected with our 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 within a reasonable amount of time and let everybody have a chance to talk. So everybody 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 microphone you'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 can get 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 just recently 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 started in a a management editing requirement on your part, but what kind of investment would colleges and universities be looking like before pursuing starting a podcast? Really not a lot of money, to be honest. You know, the microphone. The cost of that definitely varies, but they're not expensive and odds are your media services or anyone that's doing audio on your campus probably has a microphone or two. That you can use or you can connect with them and say this is 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, wherever you're hosting the PODCAST, to provide the RSS feed. You know, soundcloud has like a monthly subscription. There's other ones out there that have either one year subscription based or monthly subscription based, but in the the grand scheme it is 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 this is right for them. Any final advice you have for for listeners who are thinking about thinking about starting a podcast their institution? What should they keep in mind before pressing record? Yeah, I think you definitely want to have a plan. I think it's hard to I think when you say that most podcast when the launch, about three episodes, it's because you haven't really thought that far 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 of the podcast. How frequently are we going to put out this podcast? You definitely want to be on a schedule. Ultimately, we chose Bi weekly because we knew that there was no way we were going to be able to support a 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 are two things. And then really there's going to be this point, and I think 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 and you're trying to you go over the plan, there's all these details, you switch up your mind and there's going to...

...be this point where you feel like you'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 it right away, and I would recommend launching it actually when you have a couple kind of ready to go, so that you're not trying to keep up with yourself. You're always a little bit ahead and listeners really like the opportunity to binge listen. So if you were to release, you know, the first three episodes right away and then start yourself on your schedule kind of that following week, your listeners would appreciate, you know, the opportunity to binge, you know, or in this this world of Netflix and Hulu and, you know, all this on demand type stuff, now people are used to sitting and listening or watching for a long period of time. So if you did release more than one at once, that's actually not something we did, but going back, I would probably try that check. You're the best, such good stuff. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have 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 want to connect with me on Linkedin, please let me know that you heard me on this podcast, because I don't like...

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

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