A common piece of advice for those who take on new management jobs is to sit back for a couple of weeks and watch what's currently happening before you change anything. In other words, assess the situation for what it really is, not what your initial impression may be.
Sometimes you need more info to make a good decision.
That being said, you can't just sit back and watch if you want to move forward. You need to make a decision and take action.
"We're In A Difficult Time – Now What?"
No matter what spin you put on it, this is a difficult time for people. Throughout the world, we're wondering, "What's going to happen?"
I don't have that answer. But I do know that life goes on and there is always an opportunity to be helpful, even in the worst of situations.
Which brings up the question, "How can you be helpful to your listeners?"
Simply publishing your podcast can be helpful. In this time of "social distancing," the people who listen to your podcast need to hear from you more than ever.
They need hope. They need direction. They need to know they're not alone. Many need distraction from very harsh economic and/or health situations.
And they're looking to you to provide these things.
Your Job As A Podcaster
Social distancing doesn't mean social disengagement. Your #1 job as a podcaster is to connect with the people who listen to you. And right now is a great opportunity to do that.
We're vulnerable. We're sitting at home not able to go out like we normally do. And we're hungry for all the things I mentioned above – hope, direction, connection, distraction.
How can you deliver on these things?
Here's a great example from Rik Roberts, host of a podcast for comics, School Of Laughs:
As you can imagine, a shutdown of live venues can be very difficult for anybody making a living by performing. So in this episode, Rik shares his insight from 25+ years as a professional comic about options for comics who have been taken off the road due to fears about COVID-19.
Grant Baldwin, host of The Speaker Lab, has an audience in a similar situation – professional speakers. To help his listeners work around this, he's gone from a weekly release schedule to daily, giving different perspectives (and options) to help them get through this time.
What To Do Next
First of all, know that any action you take doesn't have to be perfect. We're all learning as we go in this situation. And because things are changing so quickly, what works today, might not work a week from now.
Don't let a changing landscape keep you from jumping in. You're not going to get this right, but you're also not going to mess it up, with one exception – you need to make sure you share accurate information about COVID-19 itself, not spread misinformation.
General COVID-19 Information
One of the easiest and most helpful things you can do when it comes to information on COVID-19 itself is to share a Public Service Announcement put together by the National Association of Broadcasters. This can be attached to existing programming.
More information and the announcement itself can be heard here:
Also included in this episode is information on how to create your own PSA.
Note that you can also share this (and any other information) via other ways in which you connect with your audience, like Instagram:
A Specific Solution
If your podcast is for a specific group of people who have been affected by COVID-19 in a specific way, such as performing musicians, standup comics, or professional speakers, you can offer specific advice, such as that offered in the School Of Laughs and Speaker Lab episodes mentioned above.
General examples that you can modify for your listeners:
- How to work with clients while maintaining social distancing and other safety practices
- What to do when your business (or income) slows down
- Ways to modify an existing business
- Ways to modify an existing routine
- How to maintain good mental health
A Human Connection
As mentioned above, connecting with listeners during this time doesn't always have to be via your podcast. It also doesn't have such a serious tone.
An example of this is the "Work-From-Home Happy Hour" series on Instagram from media host Podcast.co, showcasing its employees and how they're working from home during this time.
Here's a serious reminder delivered in a humorous way that podcasters, at least those involved with the audio engineering aspects of podcasting, will understand:
The Bottom Line
People listen to your podcast because they like you. They are looking to you for something, whether that's information, or distraction, or hope, or entertainment, or connection.
Don't disappear on people when they really need what you have to offer. Jump in when and where you can, so we can keep moving forward.