Public engagement matters. It can provide fresh perspectives, increase your profile, and foster new collaborations and connections. The benefits are clear, but the question always arises: how can I engage the broader public? Do I utilise social media? Create an engaging presentation? Get creative with posters? For scholars wanting to get their research and message ‘out there’, the sheer volume of options available can be perplexing.
The possibilities are endless. But there’s one method that shouldn’t be ignored: podcasting. So much of the great work that happens in a research project is in conversation, discussion and debate, and podcasts are the perfect avenue to capture it all. Not only are they the fastest-growing media format, but are a creative and compelling communications tool that can unlock the puzzle of public engagement. With the number of podcast listeners worldwide is expected to reach 424.2 million this year – wouldn’t it be great if your academic research could get a slice of that pie too?
Reach new audiences
Podcasting is a format that can reach new audiences in a way that traditional whitepapers, PDFs, and reports simply cannot. In bringing your content to a brand new, mainstream platform, you are making your content discoverable to audiences who may not otherwise scour the archives of traditional journals for interesting information. Behind paywalls and subscriptions, the public has little access to your ideas. With its increased accessibility, podcasting remains a low-barrier medium where truly anyone can access knowledge and learn on the go.
Audio content conveys authenticity and intimacy in a way that can’t be replicated through written or visual content. Podcasting is an opportunity to speak one-on-one with the listener as if they were there with you in the room.
“For me, the podcast format is like a fireside chat – it allows listeners to hear experts discuss their work in their own voices, and allows the experts to express themselves more freely than in the usual academic forms of dissemination.” – Todd Landman, Professor of Political Science at the University of Nottingham
Aside from the obvious broader impacts of making what you know accessible to the wider public, it also has a key benefit for your team internally: clarity. Where written documents allow you to add in extra detail, podcasting forces you to consider carefully what you want to say. This can help you to fully crystallise your concepts and get comfortable in telling the world your findings along the way.
Not only is podcasting a great way to deliver research findings and best practices, but it also provides an opportunity to discuss important subject areas with industry experts and other academics. What’s in it for them? The opportunity to grow their network and gain free publicity – it’s a win-win!
“I’d undoubtedly be unsuccessful if I e-mailed a distinguished researcher to ask if we could meet up for a chat about their most recent book. Yet in the time I’ve been podcasting, I’ve sent precisely this sort of e-mail to scores of academics and none of them have turned me down.” – Mark Carrigan, University of Cambridge
Generate impact on a budget
If you’re operating on a tight budget, then good news – podcasting is incredibly affordable. If you have access to an Internet connection, a recording device, and editing software, then you’re already halfway to creating a killer podcast for your research. Moreover, just one podcast recording can provide multiple content creation opportunities. From sharing snippets on social media to transcribing the episode into a blog, there are unlimited ways to repurpose your podcast recording to maximise reach.
Inspired? Learn from the masters
The best academic podcasts all have four things in common: good guests, good questions, good editing and good branding. Need some more inspiration before you embark on your own podcast journey? Here are three of our top picks that are united in their ability to teach listeners something new in an engaging and accessible way.
Life Solved from the University of Portsmouth explores the latest ideas and discoveries in research and their real-life impacts. The weekly podcast covers a diverse range of topics and is packed full of interesting nuggets of information to keep listeners engaged.
The Big Switch
The Big Switch podcast from Columbia University is hosted by Dr Melissa C Lott and explores how to rebuild the energy systems all around us. This podcast proves that no subject is too niche for a podcast, and is a masterclass in making complex subjects interesting and simple to understand.
Low Carbon Business Podcast
The Low Carbon Business Podcast is a by-product of the University of Derby’s DE-Carbonise project. Although its roots are in academia, the podcast draws on the expertise of local business leaders to give small businesses the support they need to reduce their carbon footprint.
It takes hard work and persistence to create impact from research. By making your research accessible and engaging to listeners from a wide range of backgrounds – from policymakers and fellow academics to the wider public – you can not only increase the visibility of your research but improve the quality and its impact too.
Ready to turn your research into a podcast?
If you’re looking to make your research more digestible for maximum impact, you’re in the right place. We’ve got the skills to simplify the complex and help you to turn your findings into a podcast that audiences will love. Get in touch to learn more.
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Written in collaboration with Naomi Couper