May 12, 2021

Expert Advice About Creating Effective Branded Podcasts

Expert Advice About Creating Effective Branded Podcasts

When companies like Slack, Charles Schwab, Adobe, and Facebook come to you to create branded podcasts, you know you are doing it right.  Steve Pratt at Pacific Content has created some of the most memorable branded podcasts, and he joined me to...

When companies like Slack, Charles Schwab, Adobe, and Facebook come to you to create branded podcasts, you know you are doing it right.  Steve Pratt at Pacific Content has created some of the most memorable branded podcasts, and he joined me to talk about why he has been so successful. 

He shares his expert knowledge of making branded podcasts that people want to listen to and why the most important focus is not your company but your audience. 

Contact Steve, or learn more about Pacific Content.



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This transcript is edited.

[00:00:29] Heather Osgood: Hello, my name is Heather Osgood, and welcome to the Podcast Advertising Playbook.

[00:00:34] Heather Osgood: I am excited to bring Steve Pratt from Pacific Content on our show today. Steve has been in the industry for a very long time. And actually, I'm surprised that our paths haven't crossed at this point. So today's the first time I'm getting to have a conversation with Steve. Steve, welcome to the program.

[00:00:52] Steve Pratt: Hey, thanks so much for having me. I can't believe we haven't met either. So this is nice. Yeah. 

[00:00:56] Heather Osgood: Yeah, for sure. It is. It's great to talk to you. And I think we were [00:01:00] just discussing how we both feel like we've been in the industry for a long time. You have longer than me. But it's nice to speak with someone who has a lot of institutional knowledge in this space.

[00:01:10] Heather Osgood: And I was hoping that we could start the conversation out by having you just tell us a bit of your background and precisely what Pacific Content does? 

[00:01:18] Steve Pratt: Yeah. Pacific Content is a weird little company we started in 2014.  And we had seen a few trends in the media industry, where we saw more people having more ways to bypass advertising on traditional linear media.

[00:01:35] Steve Pratt: We saw companies like Red Bull thinking and acting more like media companies, making programming that was getting huge audiences, and even licensing that content back to traditional media companies. And we also saw the return, or like the second big wave, of podcasting happening with the launch of Serial and Apple putting the podcast app in as a default on [00:02:00] iPhones.

[00:02:00] Steve Pratt: And a group of us had worked at Canada's public broadcaster, CBC, in the first wave of podcasting. And there's a group of us that were very passionate about it, who was in on it early. And when these three significant factors came into play, we were like, you know what?

[00:02:20] Steve Pratt: Maybe there is a business to be had of being very early in helping more companies, like Red Bull, learn to think and act like media companies.  And make shows that people love listening to, attract large audiences, and be the only one doing it in the podcast space. Or be the first one, doing it in the podcast space.

[00:02:39] Steve Pratt: That's the company we created, and oddly, we pitched Slack as our first meeting to talk about it. And two meetings later, they said yes. And so we had to figure out how to do it with them, and they were terrific. And the show had a grand launch, and we're still doing it seven years later.

[00:02:57] Steve Pratt: And I can't believe [00:03:00] some of the companies we're working with and the shows we're making, and all that sort of stuff. So, it's been a weird journey.  But I feel fortunate, and we have been working with a fantastic group of people and clients.  Having spent 20 years in TV and radio, I don't think I ever would have believed that saying this type of work is the most creative and satisfying work I've ever done.  But it's hands down the most fun I've ever had.

[00:03:22] Heather Osgood: So fascinating to me. I love hearing you say that. I'm curious, what about it makes it so fascinating and rewarding? 

[00:03:31] Steve Pratt: I think every project is a brand new problem to be solved with creativity. And I believe in my experience, in more of a traditional media career, you're either working for a show or a network that has a specialty, and you're making the same type of show or the same show repeatedly.

[00:03:51] Steve Pratt: But every single time we get a new client, it's a different group of people, in another company, talking to a diverse audience, other subject matter, different [00:04:00] industry. And every single company we work with has a lot of unique characteristics that will help them figure out how to be successful in podcasting.

[00:04:11] Steve Pratt: And it's almost like this unique fresh puzzle to solve every time you work with somebody new. And then, even when it's a season two, it's a different set of problems.  Or you have editorial issues, and then you have audience development or marketing problems. And all of those things need creative solutions.

[00:04:28] Steve Pratt: And so, if you have a brain that's wired to big creative problem solving, we have a lot of brilliant people that have come in to work with us, and it just feels like a lot of really engaging thinking and creativity. 

[00:04:40] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I could see that.

[00:04:42] Heather Osgood: And I think that you're spot on, because when you work for one company, and you're solving the same problem day-after-day or year-after-year, I think it can sometimes be challenging because it's like, oh gosh, we've already solved these problems. Like what next? It's [00:05:00] like trying to be creative around the same line of reasoning or the same brand, which can be pretty challenging.

[00:05:06] Heather Osgood: And so I see what you're saying, that every podcast, every brand that you work with, is like a new project, right? It's this new set of problems, a new set of solutions. And that, I would think, that seems like it would be amazing. As I was looking through your website, I was so impressed because you guys work with Facebook, Dell, and Audible, which seems like it would be the hardest for me to create audio content. Slack, Zendesk, Morgan Stanley. I mean, just a lot of huge names, just in the corporate world. What do you think has attracted those large companies? Starting with Slack, I'm sure it was a perfect foot in the door, but what attracts those large companies to come to you to create this branded content?

[00:05:51] Steve Pratt: I think there's a variety of different things. I think one, just the concept of being able to make your show and build your audience of people who are voluntarily [00:06:00] opting in to spend a half-hour with your company over and over again; it's a compelling value proposition for podcasts.

[00:06:09] Steve Pratt: And if you can turn the light on for people who don't know the opportunity, that's sitting on there. It's pretty exciting to think about how much time and engagement you can get in a great podcast compared to other mediums. I don't think there's anything like it.

[00:06:24] Steve Pratt: When we are talking with somebody, we'd say if you do a great show, and you lean into making something, that's a value for the audience, and it has a great story. You can get an 85 to 95% completion rate on a half-hour show over and over again. And you can see the job drop because that type of time doesn't exist on YouTube or Instagram or Tik Tok, or any of those sorts of things. And I think that time is one of the superpowers of podcasting and audio, which is how relationships are built. And that's how you can talk about big, [00:07:00] complicated ideas and get people to understand them.

[00:07:03] Steve Pratt: That's where people understand your values as a company. Yeah, I think that's a big one. I think the other one, maybe just for our approach, is that we're very excited to be working with them, together as one team, to work together where we're all bringing different areas of expertise to solve the problem for them, and for their potential listeners.

[00:07:25] Steve Pratt: It's not like we're going to go away and create our magic and come back with a show on a platter. It's that we're all sitting around doing the work together, and we're passionate about it, which I think helps a lot. And I guess maybe, honestly, it's that we've designed all of our processes for working with brands and third parties.

[00:07:42] Steve Pratt: I think when they talk to us, they can hear how thoughtful it has been done in terms of the strategy and the production, and being able to accommodate things like compliance departments or regulatory requirements, or legal reviews.  Or whatever those pieces might be. The fact that it's been designed that [00:08:00] way, I think, makes it easy to see. 

[00:08:02] Heather Osgood: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And I'm curious, you have mentioned obviously problem solving several times here, in the last few minutes already, so I'm just curious when you think of the problem to be solved. And I love that you use that terminology because I believe that we might often say, hey, we've got a solution in marketing and life in general. Still, we haven't first determined the problem before we come up with the answer. And so, really being clear on what we're trying to solve for will get us so much further ahead, ultimately. So we're going to end up with the result we want when we start with this clear basis.

[00:08:51] Heather Osgood: And I think one of the biggest challenges that I would see that brands would have in creating podcasts is, how do [00:09:00] you make a podcast that is engaging and entertaining? You know, something people want to come back to time-and-time again, when it's brought to you by Morgan Stanley. What is compelling enough about that show that makes it not a 30-minute ad for a company, that of course, no one wants to listen to.

[00:09:20] Heather Osgood: I'm curious as these different brands come to you, and you're developing these podcasts, what is that problem that you're solving? And of course, I'm sure it's different for each of them, but can you give us some examples of the motivation, perhaps, behind creating these podcasts? And the development process you would go through to solve that problem?

[00:09:40] Steve Pratt: Yeah, sure. I think you're right. It's not a one-size-fits-all. And recognizing that every client is different, and you can't just have a template, like, here's how to solve the problem, is a vital part of it.

[00:09:52] Steve Pratt: You have to think about the audience as much as you're thinking about what your business goals are. And we almost think of it as like a Venn Diagram, where [00:10:00] very clearly, we know what the business goals are, and we know what the values of the business are, and we know who the target audience or the customers are on that business.

[00:10:11] Steve Pratt: And then it's a question of saying what is the show the target audience will voluntarily listen to because they love it. Not just once, but something that they're going to come back to multiple times because it's creating value for them. And that's the strategy work that has to happen before you come up with what the show is.

[00:10:30] Steve Pratt: I overuse this term a lot, but I think it resonates with people, which is the idea of creative bravery and helping infuse clever bravery in the program development concept for our clients, which is essential. And it's like pushing yourself to say, what is the best show that we can make?

[00:10:50] Steve Pratt: If we think like a media company, it must be a show. It can't be an infomercial. It can't be a showcase for executives. [00:11:00] It has to be audience-first. And thinking about the show that only you can make, you can deliver with your values, knowledge, or the things that people want.

[00:11:12] Steve Pratt: And you're uniquely suited to deliver. When you find that Venn Diagram overlap, that's a huge win, that's the instant win, where it works for both sides. And it's interesting; I think it's a little bit controversial. I'm not super sure, but we don't respond to RFPs. Unless there's an unusual circumstance, and for that reason, we don't know what the problem is.

[00:11:34] Steve Pratt: Most of the time, it's a one-page thing. And we started early on, not coming from that universe. So we'd get an RFP, and we'd reach out and say like, oh, we have a bunch of different questions. Can we have an hour to talk?  This is why everyone has to be treated equally. Just take the paper, and that's all you get. And please come up with a bunch of show ideas, and we don't have enough information to know what the right show is for [00:12:00] you. And if we make a bunch of pitches or a pitch, we might get into a strategy room and realize that's not the right show because we don't know what the problem is.

[00:12:10] Steve Pratt: We've got this piece where, you know, before COVID, we would go to a client's office to kick-off and spend two-to-three days in a boardroom, doing precisely that work of what's the problem we're trying to solve. And what does success look like? And now we've figured it out into a series of shorter zoom meetings across the board.

[00:12:29] Steve Pratt: But that's, I think, a great question because it's a crucial part of figuring out what the problem is and how we are going to solve it with audio. 

[00:12:39] Heather Osgood: Yeah. And do you find that they tend to have an audio strategy period when you're working with these companies?

[00:12:50] Heather Osgood: I know we, and I feel more-and-more in this space, and I'm interested in getting your take on this.  But, as podcasting is developing, it's becoming more mainstream.  [00:13:00] You know, this last week, we've learned that Facebook is now jumping into the podcast space. Clubhouse made this big splash, and I am looking at the podcast space, and I'm seeing it potentially morph into less of a podcast space and more of the audio space.

[00:13:18] Heather Osgood: So, I'm curious as you're working with these companies, are they attached to the idea of podcasts, or are they wrapping their podcast into an overall audio strategy? 

[00:13:32] Steve Pratt:  I think it varies. For the longest time, it was hard even to find people who knew what podcasting was and knew what the opportunity was.

[00:13:42] Steve Pratt: And I think we're at this point where many people know what it is, and they get the benefits of it. And then boom, Clubhouse shows up, and other social audio. And now there are paid subscriptions with Apple, Spotify, and many other places. And I think honestly, even from a brand perspective, there are [00:14:00] different places in the funnel for an audio strategy. There's audio branding, and there's the audio advertising piece. So here's what's your on-hold music or on-hold content. Some clients think about that whole universe and want an integrated strategy if you have phone lines.

[00:14:22] Steve Pratt: And I think some things are evolving. So like on the audio funnel side, Charles Schwab is the first one that we've worked with. It's just brilliant thinking about that, where we have a show that we make with them called Choiceology with Katy Milkman. It's about how to make decisions, how to make better decisions.

[00:14:40] Steve Pratt: And it's all behavioral psychology. It's a great show that is not directly about finance or investing or any of that, even though decision-making applies to all of that. That's their top-of-funnel show. It does well. It feels like Charles Schwab is the media company making a fantastic show hosted by [00:15:00], a brilliant Wharton Professor who is an expert in decision-making.

[00:15:06] Steve Pratt: And there's also a call-to-action. If you want to know about how this applies to finance investing, there is a show called, The Financial Decoder that is also in there, that is more of a mid-funnel show with a brilliant financial guy who works at Schwab hosting that show. That, to me, is like one example of just really thinking smartly. But like an actual podcast, full strategy, and not just a single show.

[00:15:30] Steve Pratt: Right. And I think we will see more companies having, almost like their own network or slate of shows. But I will say, the things like Clubhouse or social audio, it feels like different needs are served by time interactive audio, which is different from podcasting.

[00:15:48] Steve Pratt: And that brands inevitably will say, there's an opportunity there that is not podcasting. And we should probably think about both of those, and it's perhaps not a copy-and-paste strategy. [00:16:00] We always talk about leaning in and playing to the strengths of the medium, and I, even though they're both audio, I think social audio and podcasting played some pretty different strengths.

[00:16:12] Heather Osgood: Yeah, I agree. And one of the things that you mentioned that is fascinating to me is the engagement and the intentionality behind podcasts. So you had mentioned what other mediums could accompany and create, where they're going to get someone to engage with it for 80 to 90%.

[00:16:31] Heather Osgood: Which tends to be over like 20-or-30 minutes that they're listening to your content. And one of the things that are so valuable about podcasting is that there are hoops that people have to go through to get to the content. So you essentially have gone through all of these layers of qualification.

[00:16:50] Heather Osgood: And then, when you're there because you want to be, and you're going to listen to the information, you're going to listen to the content. And you're going to feel invested in that content, especially [00:17:00] as you continue to listen to episodes. And for me, that value is different from most social media or even video. Because I find that it's either in Clubhouse, you can say like, I'm on Clubhouse. I'm here because I want to listen to this specific conversation. But, I'm curious, and it's probably too new, or maybe I've missed studies that have come out, but how many people are going on Clubhouse, and just like popping into rooms, right?

[00:17:31] Heather Osgood: Oh, this looks interesting. I'm going to listen here for a few minutes. Oh, maybe that's not as interesting as I thought it would be. And I'm going to go over here and listen to what they have to say. Now I'm going to go over here.  So it's the level of engagement.  And I'm not saying; there are lots of very long conversations that tend to be happening on Clubhouse. So obviously, there's engagement there too. But I feel that what podcasting does is it sucks that person in, in a way that other mediums don't.  And [00:18:00], my concern with moving into a more broad audio space is that we lose that definition of the strengths of each medium. Okay, I'm curious what your thoughts are about that? 

[00:18:15] Steve Pratt: Yeah. I think it will be a question of, if people try and say like, well, we're going to record our podcasts in Clubhouse, and then we get a two-for-one, where we do social audio and podcasting. And I think that's dangerous, and I think it'll work for certain types of shows.

[00:18:28] Steve Pratt: Like for certain types of shows, I think it could be a win. I think, just to go back to your comments a few minutes ago when you talked about how hard it is for a brand to differentiate itself. It's almost like the bar is higher for a brand when you're talking about jumping through hoops. So any brand that puts out a show has got to also jump through an extra hoop compared to any other podcaster. Are you making an infomercial for me?

[00:18:55] Steve Pratt: And is this a secret way to talk about how to become your [00:19:00] customer to buy something? Which almost doubled down on that creative bravery thing. You have to make a show and play your strengths of what differentiates you in the podcast space. And sometimes that is that brands will have budgets to make better format shows, or not better, but more labor-intensive and higher narrative-driven formats that will be differentiated from a lot of talk formats. And that's not something that ports into Clubhouse. Clubhouse, I think you could say, like, what's a differentiated strategy for a brand is probably producing a live event more than, I show up and talk and thinking about, like,  how do you produce an event? Many people are amazing at doing that, you know, and brands do all sorts of live events in physical locations.

[00:19:51] Steve Pratt: I think the next piece will be like, let's figure out how to do that in Clubhouse. And I hope that when people go into it, [00:20:00], it's leaning into the fact that we have to be extra good, or extra differentiated because we're a brand doing this, that we have to earn people's attention and trust by showing them that we're being awesome and making a show that's a gift for the listener. 

[00:20:16] Heather Osgood: I love that. I love that. That's such a great way to look at it. So that you're creating a gift for the listener and, ultimately, they're making a gift for their client. Do you find that most of the brands you work for are looking for some direct return on their investment?

[00:20:34] Heather Osgood: Are they producing this podcast in the hope that they are going to increase their sales somehow? 

[00:20:42] Steve Pratt: It's a really wide mix. I think most of our clients are coming in at a more of a top-of-funnel, brand awareness, brand positioning piece of what we want people to think of when they think about our brand?

[00:20:57] Steve Pratt: And that's an amazing place to [00:21:00] start. Thinking about being a media company, because just making shows around specific areas or topics.  And telling amazing stories, and having the consistency with that, you will automatically say, oh, that's the company that makes the show about topic X, or that area—that thing where I'm learning about decision-making, or how teams work, or business disruption.

[00:21:20] Steve Pratt: Like those are all things I may want to be associated with my brand. And, it's exciting thinking about, I don't know, like how to map those things. I think sometimes the default is well, let's have our team on, and talk about all the things that we're interested in, and we'll say, well, you know you couldn't do that, but you can also, because it's your show, and you can invite everyone else on the planet who has an interesting story. And everybody, like all the smartest people on the planet, to be part of your show, and they will help associate you with that in a much more authentic way than you talking about it. So, as in, look at all the things that we're excited about.

[00:21:57] Steve Pratt: There's definitely like a light switch that [00:22:00] goes on. And when you can play audio, like when you make a pilot, and you can play something for people, there is real magic and pride in making your show that you would listen to, even if you didn't work there. You can be passionate about something and think about the best way to get people excited about this or understand it.

[00:22:19] Steve Pratt: And if you don't have to beat people over the head with who's making it.  I think I overuse this example, but most people know who makes Game of Thrones. It's HBO. But Game of Thrones has nothing to do with, like, no HBO executives in Game of Thrones. There are no plugs of people subscribing to HBO inside Game of Thrones, but we know who made it. And we're grateful to HBO. We know what HBO makes cause they do it consistently. And when you apply that as a brand and think like it doesn't have to be about us, it just has to be about the things we're interested in, and we should just make the best show humanly possible.

[00:22:56] Steve Pratt: That's a win. Yeah, for sure. There [00:23:00] are clients who want to figure out how this translates into sales and after how long?  And there are different approaches to doing that. And some of it is, how many people end up on a podcast landing page, and what kind of revenue gets generated from people who end up there?

[00:23:16] Steve Pratt: Companies like Chartable have done a fantastic job of delivering attribution marketing metrics. We can see what marketing spend does for listening to a podcast. If you buy an ad on another podcast with Chartable tags, I can see how many of those people listen to our podcast.

[00:23:37] Steve Pratt: I can see how many people listen to our podcast and then go to a client's website. So, I think that some of those traditional marketing measurements are here in podcasting, and not many people know about that.  And helping them understand how to track that marketing effectiveness. And the people who end up from the podcast onto a website, or something like that, is also really valuable for [00:24:00] figuring out the right way that they would like to measure ROI.

[00:24:03] Heather Osgood: That's awesome. Yeah. I'm really glad that you use those attribution tools because I think that I'm sure it helps. And I'm curious, and you may not know the answer to this, but what percentage of your clients would you say are running podcast ads as well as producing these podcasts?

[00:24:24] Steve Pratt: A lot. And it's because we strongly encourage it as part of our playbook. But, honestly, I should have said this off the top. So we have three big chunks of our business. First, we talked about one strategy piece: solving the problem and figuring out what the right show is.

[00:24:40] Steve Pratt: We do the production, but we also do a lot of audience development, and it's an unusual area of specialty for us. And I think that's also one of the reasons why people come in and choose to work with us because we've been very nerdy about learning how to build audiences from zero in the podcast space.

[00:24:57] Steve Pratt: And again, brands have some real [00:25:00] superpowers in doing this. They have a budget to be able to spend. They often have very powerful large channels to market podcasts on their email newsletters, social, or websites. So it could be apps that they have. In one case, we worked with Mozilla, and they had their browser. So that's part of that problem solving, too, is almost doing an audit of what your brands' superpowers are, that you have for promoting shows, that you might not even realize are amazing channels for promoting shows.

[00:25:31] Steve Pratt: But almost always, the best converting thing is figuring out exactly which other podcasts to buy ads in, and getting custom differentiated creative.  And real authentic host-read ads on those shows, where there's a match for subject matter, there's a match for the target audience. So we can put in a Chartable measurement.

[00:25:52] Steve Pratt: And when I explain this, it's going to be like, of course, it's successful. But when you find the right show where your [00:26:00] existing audiences are already listening, and the host that they already know and like and trust has listened to an episode or two of your show and tells their audience, if you like my show, there's a brand new show, and it's an outstanding show.

[00:26:14] Steve Pratt: Trust me. And we can measure the effectiveness of how many people listen to that show that then listens to ours. It's a huge success. It's almost like we've started doing media buying for our clients to help them do that effectively and to be able to set up and measure those sorts of things. And it's been very effective for audience development. So, that's great. 

[00:26:37] Heather Osgood: Yeah. Very good. I'm so glad to hear you say that.   And I think, yeah, I am pleased to hear that you, obviously these brands you're working with, do have a lot of assets that you can leverage, which is incredible.

[00:26:49] Heather Osgood: So that helps with audience growth. But, I find that people often produce branded content, but they don't market [00:27:00] or grow the show at all. So it's like they put all of this time and energy into creating a great podcast, and then a hundred people listened to it. And ultimately, if no one's listening to the show, what kind of value is that show providing to the company? Would you agree? 

[00:27:17] Steve Pratt: Yeah, it's so funny you say that because you know what?  When we first started the car company, we did not have audience development as an area of specialty. And I think when you work in the media, you almost take distribution and audience for granted. So if you have a broadcast frequency, there's a lot of people who are going to watch or listen to your content.

[00:27:34] Steve Pratt: And when everyone starts at zero in podcasting. And I think we got fortunate with Slack, our first show because it got a lot of press coverage. There was a headline when it first came out; I think it was in like Forbes, or something like that. And that the headline was, "Slack is making a podcast, for some reason." I think this is the best headline ever. This is weird; why is Slack making a podcast? And so [00:28:00] it did well. And we were like, oh, this is easy. We just make the shows, and many people show up and love it. And then we got into space where we started making shows, and they were good, but they didn't get that press coverage because it wasn't a newer novel.

[00:28:12] Steve Pratt: And we tried to get them to activate things, or like, we don't own your social channels. We don't hold that stuff. And it was a great show, and no one showed up. And so we've taken that creative bravery concept and turned it into a graph where that's one axis, and the other axis commits.  Which is, and we talk about it on day one, which is that you have to commit to marketing this thing, and you have to build an audience, because otherwise, you're going to have a hundred people who you're making their favorite show, and no one else shows up. I feel so lucky working with this guy and his team, Dan Meisner, on our side, runs audience development. And he has just developed a fantastic suite of strategies and tools for doing that. And part of that is unlocking the superpowers of [00:29:00] brands.  But those are people they're already reaching, and there's a value to that. And that they're talking to a lot of people who probably haven't listened to a podcast before. So they're growing new audiences, but they're already audiences in the brand's wheelhouse. Advertising on podcasts is preaching to the converted of people who are already podcast listeners, who are already listening to a podcast about that subject matter.

[00:29:23] Steve Pratt: They are much easier conversions, and they're probably most people that are outside of the brand who's making it their reach. So, you have to balance both sides of those to have an effective strategy. And honestly,  you can't make a show without having a big plan like that. So it's, to your point, if you build it, they will come. It's not like you have to develop, and you have to tell them about it because if you don't tell them that, no one's showing up to your baseball field of corn.

[00:29:50] Steve Pratt: Exactly. Exactly. For sure. It's in a cornfield. No, one's going to find it. 

[00:29:55] Heather Osgood: No. And I love that. I love that. I could say that all day because I think it's true. [00:30:00] People feel that way.  And I'm thrilled that you brought up Dan because as I was reading through some of the blog posts on your website, which by the way, you guys have some fantastic blog posts.

[00:30:12] Heather Osgood: So, definitely go check those out if you haven't. But I was fascinated by the Paseo app that Dan created and this concept essentially of search optimization within podcast players. And I was hoping maybe you could just touch on that briefly. 

[00:30:31] Steve Pratt: I'll touch on it briefly because Dan understands it much better than I do.  But Dan has done some fantastic work on several things. So there's the idea of search engine optimization inside podcasts or podcast apps, and thinking about the search terms you want your podcast to be the answer for, and how do you do that? And certainly some of that, honestly, and there's way [00:31:00] more things than I have time to go in for, but it's everything from what are you naming your show?

[00:31:04] Steve Pratt: What is the description of your show? What are the descriptions of your episodes? And knowing that some of it will be read by humans, and some of it will be read by machines.  And thinking about the first bits, before it ends up in the read, more cutoff is. Humans matter a lot, but there's also a lot of room for making sure that machines know what your podcast is about, thinking and being conscious about that, and writing and designing to make it easy to be found.

[00:31:35] Steve Pratt: The other crazy tool that Dan built is this neighborhood analysis thing, where he has taken a lot of data around. What other shows do you listen to if you listen to this show? And building a network analysis of that, visualizing it. It's so you can look at a show, or you can look at a category of types of shows, and you see these tiny neighborhood clusters of shows that are all [00:32:00] related to each other.  And it means that they all have listeners in common with each other. And so you can see pockets, and it might be, there's an NPR pocket of people who all listen. So if you listen to one NPR show, here are the other ones. It could be, I'm Canadian, so I'll just say it could be hockey podcasts in there.  And at hockey podcasts, it could be here is ones from broadcasters, individual team shows, fantasy sports shows, and all those sorts of things. So yeah. When you're making a show, or you're planning on buying ads on shows, thinking about what's the neighborhood I want my show to live in, and designing a display. That's going to be a fantastic fit in a particular neighborhood and differentiated from everything else in that neighborhood.

[00:32:43] Steve Pratt: But then you can buy ads on all the other shows in the neighborhood, and tell them about your amazing new show, and make sure that people are searching for those terms in that neighborhood. You can see how it does in the Paseo thing too. Anyways, there is an art and science, and I kind [00:33:00] of love that mix. And Dan does a fantastic job of thinking of fresh new ways to find solutions for it.

[00:33:06] Heather Osgood: I love it. I love it. The other thing that he talked about that I thought was great was the different categories in which podcasts are released. And, if you're thinking, gosh, I could potentially release a show. Some are very straightforward, right? Okay, this is an automotive podcast. It should be in that category. That's right. That's very clear-cut. But there are some shows where it's, gosh, maybe it could be in this category, or that category, and why not pick one where you could rank higher.

[00:33:35] Heather Osgood: So really, there's a layer of strategy that goes into place, and that's important for branded podcasts. But just podcasts in general, right? You know, how are you essentially, maybe doing your due diligence and taking it a step further? Again, going back to that problem-solving. So what is the problem to be solved, and how can you create your podcast, or [00:34:00] even modify your podcasts at this moment to produce optimal benefits? And it seems to me like that's what you have perfected, which is incredible. 

[00:34:09] Steve Pratt: It's funny. I think just the thing on the categories is so interesting. I think Dan was saying recently that the show 20,000 Hertz it's a fantastic show if you're a podcast or just about sound. 

[00:34:19] Heather Osgood: I haven't listened to that, and I'll have to check that out. 

[00:34:21] Steve Pratt: Yeah. It's amazing. Just as a recommendation, my favorite episode is one called the "Boosh." It's about the sound in movies where, or like in movie trailers where, it's dah, this happened this time, and then this happened, and then you hear this boosh, and if you get a whole episode about it, it's amazing. Awesome. But I think they changed their categories regularly based on the episodes. And that's been an experiment they've done. 

[00:34:47] Heather Osgood: Oh my gosh, that's interesting. 

[00:34:49] Steve Pratt: And then I think Dan, I also did some analysis on like, again, what are the least crowded categories?

[00:34:55] Steve Pratt: Like If you want to start a swimming podcast, it could be number one very quickly, or [00:35:00] something like that. And I find all that stuff interesting, like, where can you be a big fish in a small pond versus, yeah, a tiny fish in a very crowded pond. 

[00:35:09] Heather Osgood: Yeah. No, exactly. Yeah, for sure. Well, Steve, I know we need to wrap it up. It was so great chatting with you. I'm sure we could probably talk for an hour more. And I hope that we can have you on our show again.  If people are interested in reaching out to you, potentially they're a company interested in having you create a branded podcast for them, or maybe just someone in the industry that would like to connect with you, where can they find you?

[00:35:31] Steve Pratt: Our website is excellent. We've got all the contact information everywhere there. And if anybody wanted to look at any of the weird Paseo podcast app search engine optimization, neighborhood graphs, or whatever, it's all on our blog. So I think it's a

[00:35:50] Heather Osgood: Excellent. Thanks so much for coming on the show, and I'm excited to watch what you guys do because you've been up to some great things. And as the industry changes, I'm sure you will [00:36:00] continue to create some greatness. Thanks. Thanks for being on the show today. 

[00:36:03] Steve Pratt: Thanks for having me.

[00:36:04] Steve Pratt: I'm so happy we met, and this is a great conversation, and yeah. More to come. Thank you so much.

Steve PrattProfile Photo

Steve Pratt


I am fascinated by what grabs people’s attention, what keeps people’s attention, and what makes people share stories with their friends at the watercooler… or on social media.

I love experimenting with novel ways of telling stories, reaching and engaging people, and creating sizeable audiences. That passion led me to a rich and varied career in the media.

Nothing has been more exciting than my current work at Pacific Content. We are specializing in a totally new form of programming: the branded entertainment podcast. We produce the Slack Variety Pack with the amazing team at Slack - you can check it out at or

I spent ten years working in television for major media brands including CTV, MuchMusic, YTV, and Citytv, producing everything from journalism to comedy, from kids programming to lifestyle shows.

Then… I discovered the internet. I moved to AOL, where I got a crash course in digital culture, digital content, and digital audiences. The result was a content strategy that delivered traffic over 200% above company projections.

CBC offered me a phenomenal opportunity – running an innovation lab to integrate traditional broadcast radio and digital web culture. CBC Radio 3 became an award-winning music service. Our team increased traffic by over 1000%, launched one of the world’s first legal music podcasts, and was called “perhaps the world’s best radio station” by influential American web magazine,

The success and learnings from CBC Radio 3 led to an even bigger project – the launch of one of Canada’s biggest and most successful digital music services, CBC Music. It reached over 1.1 million unique users and served over 5.5 million page views a month in 2013.