“Who should host my podcast”, is a question that’s commonly asked. Should your host be an experienced media personality? Maybe. But depending on the goals of the content, polish may not be as important as authenticity.
As Sting sings in his classic song “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”:
– You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
– You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians
– They all seemed like game show hosts to me
In other words, slickness does not inspire faith. We often remind clients that people form loyalties to people, not usually to brands. In fact, the primary reason to produce a branded podcast in the first place is to humanize a brand. In the words of Edison Research’s Tom Webster, “An ad changes the perception of a product. True sponsorship changes how you feel about the people who work at that company.” (click here for more on True Sponsorship)
In many cases, the best person to host a branded podcast may be a coworker sitting in the Zoom square next to you during team meetings. In several popular podcasts from brands like Trader Joe’s or more targeted content like The Making Of: A Nat Geo Podcast, the hosts are carefully coached individuals from inside those companies. They share these 7 traits in common:
- A love for the brand. It’s obvious that the hosts love both working there and being customers/consumers of the brand.
- They are themselves. Being natural and authentic in front of a microphone isn’t as easy as it sounds.
- A deep knowledge of what makes the brand special.
- A great rapport between the hosts and the guests, or each other. They’re often playful. They’re always enthusiastic. Some of the best brand hosts tell us, “We kid around a lot at work, so this feels the same.”
- A focus on storytelling. Please don’t confuse the need for rapport with purposeless conversation.
- Preparation. Even the most clever and witty performers prepare their material. What appears to be extemporaneous often isn’t. For example, when Inside Trader Joe’s co-host Tara Miller is using slang words and calls co-host Matt Sloan “dope” in Episode 39, he took that as a compliment. Her clarification that, “I meant the original definition,” might not have been as spontaneous as they made it sound.
- They stay true to the brand. The best host exemplifies the character of the brand. Of course, no individual is a 100% match for the brand they represent. Their personality and content is drawn from the overlap. For example, whether Nat Geo host Chris Albert interviews a relatively unknown cinematographer or a famous director like Ron Howard, his awe for them and their work is equal – exemplifying the respect that the parent organization has for them also.
Whether your podcast host comes from within the organization or not, whether the podcast is in an interview or scripted format, these qualities are the requirements. Good podcast producers can help you find your host and coach them to exude confidence, sincerity and authenticity.