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Partnering with Conferences to Grow Your Interview Podcast

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Every podcaster wants to interview industry leaders. 

The reasons why are obvious. They’re the people who will deliver the deepest insights, tell the most captivating stories, and draw the greatest number of new listeners. 

This isn’t exactly a secret, which is why the most famous people in your industry are also the most difficult interviews to land. 

You could try the classic method: Spend a lot of time crafting a pitch, sending it to them on social media, and then following up again, and again, and again. That might work after a few years. 

Or you could work a little smarter and partner with an organization that can connect you to a lot of the brightest minds in your industry.

Yep, I’m talking about conferences. 

Think about it. Conferences are the one place where a significant number of thought leaders in any given industry will congregate at the same time. 

Even better, conferences need all the publicity they can get — a problem you as a podcaster and content creator can help them solve. 

In this post, I’ll share how you can reach out to the right conferences, establish media partnerships, and ultimately, interview lots of top tier guests in just a couple of days. 

By the way, none of this is theoretical. I’ve seen this strategy work on multiple occasions for podcasters and creatives whom I’ve worked with. So let’s dive in…

Step 1. Creating a Partnership 

There’s a conference for almost any interest these days. 

For example, there are multiple events for true crime fans. That might not surprise you, because there are tons of true crime podcasts. But did you know there’s a true crime cruise? It’s true. It’s called Crimecruise

The point is, the world has reached the point of peak conferences, and that’s a good thing. The more conferences there are, the harder it is to generate buzz for each respective event. 

This is where you come in. 

If you have a decent-sized audience (it doesn’t have to be massive by any means) you can establish media partnerships with conferences. In this arrangement, you’ll create content for the event by interviewing speakers (and perhaps some attendees) in exchange for tickets. 

In most cases, conferences love this kind offer. Why? Because you’ll be creating valuable content the organizers can offer to their audience. And because you’ll be marketing the conference to your listeners, who could become future attendees.

Podcasting at a conference
Here’s a former colleague of mine interviewing Sonia Simone at Authority, which was (is?) Copyblogger’s annual conference. Sonia was Copyblogger’s Chief Content Officer.

Here’s how to strike up a partnership. 

Find a conference that aligns with your audience. Then email someone in marketing and ask who’s in charge of partnerships. 

Once you get connected to the right person, pitch them on how you can help their conference produce great content that their audience will love. 

In the same email, include your media kit, if you have one. Mention the size of your audience and say you’ll zealously promote the content you create at the conference to all of your listeners. In exchange, you’d just like some tickets to the conference and a place to set up your equipment. 

This may sound far-fetched, but it’s really not. 

Conferences often have tickets to spare, and they desperately need to create buzz for their event. If you have a loyal listener base that overlaps with the conference’s target audience — even if it’s a modest one — you could be exactly who they want to partner with. 

You’ll want to start reaching out to conferences at least 3 months in advance, because there will probably be a lot of back and forth. 

Step 2. Scheduling the Interviews 

Once you get things squared away with the conference itself, it’s time to schedule interviews with some of the speakers. 

This process is now exponentially easier because you’re no longer a random podcast on from the internet. No, you’re now a podcast working with a conference that this person is speaking at, so it makes a metric ton of sense for them to be a guest on your show. 

Even with that ace up your sleeve, there’s still an art to scheduling these interviews. Remember, conferences are often very stressful for speakers. Beyond their actual presentation, they’re often required to do additional work, like meeting with small groups or VIPs.

So before you email any speakers, look at the schedule and see when they’re slotted to give their presentation and if there’s any other engagements they have to fulfil. 

The key here is to be flexible. Be flexible in your scheduling requests, and do everything in your power to work around their schedule. 

You also need to be flexible in the topics you’re going to cover. You should definitely suggest a topic that will be interesting to the conference’s audience, your audience, and your guests. 

But don’t be too rigid. Leave enough room for the show to flow like a conversation. In the end, the results will be better. 

Step 3. Setting Up and Recording 

Alright, it’s game time. Your interviews are scheduled. Now it’s time to go and set up

At the very least, you’ll want to have a table with two chairs to do your interviews. Ideally, the conference will have provided you with a booth or sitting area. 

You might have to get creative, but your goal is to have a welcoming area that’s clearly arranged to conduct podcast interviews. 

Another important factor to consider is ambient noise. In most cases, you’ll have to accept it as a fact of life. Being at a conference means there’s a low hum of hustle and bustle happening at all times. 

It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you spin it the right way in your introduction, it can even add a different type of energy to your show. You are, after all, on location. 

Interviewing at a live event
My colleague Joel interviewed over 7 speakers at STORY using the tactics I’ve just described. Here he is with NYT bestselling author Brad Montegue.

And finally, when you’re conducting the interviews, remember not to be too rigid in your approach. 

Yes, you want to talk about the topic you agreed on, but you always want to be a good host and make the experience welcoming for your guest. After all, these people have been in highly structured situations all day, so being able to kick back and have a free flowing conversation will feel like a much needed reprieve. 

Plus, people love to talk about their expertise, so your guests will naturally gravitate in that direction. You just have to be patient and let them get there. 

Partnering With Conferences: Summary

You may have heard marketers throw around the term growth hack. The words are used to describe tactics that provide exponential returns. 

You can probably guess that marketers are obsessed with finding and utilizing the newest hacks. The strategy I’ve just shared with you is a tried-and-true podcast growth hack. 

Sure, there are plenty of other ways to increase your listeners. You could get a super high quality microphone and enhance your audio quality. Or you could choose some great podcast music for your intro and transitions. 

Those things will work. But if you want to interview lots of high caliber guests in just a few days — which will probably have a significant impact on your audience growth — there’s just no substitute for partnering with conferences. 

This post was contributed by Zach Watson from Soundstripe, where you can find excellent podcast music for your show.

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