If you’ve listened to my podcast before, you know that I’m a big fan of playing podcast promos. Besides the fact that I genuinely enjoy listening to them, I feel like they legitimize what I’m doing by making it feel more like a real radio show. Taking breaks between segments also gives me a chance to gather my thoughts before transitioning to a new topic.
When I started podcasting in 2008, everybody was making and sharing promos. It’s how I discovered some of my favorite podcasts like Anime World Order and Fast Karate. People don’t do that anymore, and I’m not sure why.
Because of this, I’m playing podcast promos that have been out of date for years. I still like listening to them, but it doesn’t benefit anyone if they can’t actually listen to the show I’m promoting.
That’s why I’m sharing some tips on commercial production that I learned from the years I spent voicing and writing ads for radio.
What is the ideal length a podcast promo?
The length of your promo is something to think about before you start writing. If it’s too short, it might not leave an impression. And if you make it too long, you run the risk of people tuning out or skipping it.
Radio spots are typically one of three lengths — 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds. The reason for this is so the day remains on schedule. Ad contracts often specify a time of day. If every commercial was an arbitrary length, things would quickly get out of hand.
Podcasts are on-demand so making a promo that’s exactly 30 seconds isn’t as important. However, I would still recommend staying within the 30-60 second range. If your promo is significantly longer than a minute, you may want to consider breaking it up into two.
This part should be easy. Sort of. It’s your show, so you already know the important information without needing to do additional research. You just have to figure out how to convey those thoughts in 30-60 seconds.
Think of your promo like an elevator pitch. You have one minute to tell a group of strangers who you are, what you do, and why they should care.
The first thing you want to do is decide on a format. There aren’t really any rules. Just be creative. You could write a skit. You could parody a popular commercial. If your podcast has a unique hook, then a simple script saying what your show is about might be sufficient.
If you’re not up to writing copy, an easy and effective method that I’ve been using for years is to showcase a funny clip from your show. If you’re not listening to my show, this is what you’re missing!
Listen to a few promos you like for inspiration. Try to figure out what you like about them, and use that as a template.
Choosing the right music
Music isn’t always necessary, but it’s a good way to make your message pop. But finding the right music bed for your promo can be a headache. It comes down to the feel that you’re going for and the resources available to you. That could mean time, money, or both.
While choosing the right song is a matter of taste, there are a few things to consider in your journey.
Popular music is problematic for a few reasons. When people hear a song they recognize, they tend to focus on that instead of your message. You’re also at the mercy of the feelings that person has about that track. If someone associates negative emotions with the song, it could negatively impact the likelihood of them checking out your show.
There’s also the vocal track to consider. Most popular music will have someone singing in it. Not only will that clash with your copy and make it harder to understand, people may get distracted and start paying attention to the lyrics. If you absolutely insist on a popular song, try to find an instrumental version.
Using royalty-free/podsafe music for your promo might not be cool, but that’s the point. You aren’t supposed to be paying attention to the music. It’s there to convey a feeling and bring the copy to life, not be the star.
Send me your promos
These tips are only meant as a starting point. They aren’t hard rules. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you’re having fun.
Let me know if you have any further questions about commercial production. And if you have a promo that you’d like me to play on our next show, send it over.