Apple Podcasts’ New & Noteworthy list, and their podcast charts in general, were once what podcasters felt was proof that their show had “made it.” But it’s not the only measuring stick of success in podcasting. Spotify, iHeart Radio, and Apple all compete for the most influential listening platform. Meanwhile, various news sources claimed that it was possible to manipulate the Apple Podcast charts for as little as five dollars.
Some platforms claim to master the podcasting space with “exclusive” podcasts and celebrities. Apple, however, wants to feature your podcast. They’re open to promoting any podcaster, as long as they have unique, relevant content. How should you make the most out of the Apple Podcasts Promotion Request form, to promote your podcast with Apple?
Is This The Big Break?
If Apple promoted your podcast, what can this do for you?
For a brief period of time, Hostile Worlds‘ content was extremely relevant and news-worthy, covering the Cassini Mission to Saturn. Apple Podcasts featured Hostile Worlds (our astronomy podcast) on their front page. The number of downloads leapt from 26 to 241, and continued to climb into the thousands. This is the kind of momentum that can make or break a show. Apple also tweeted a mention of Hostile Worlds, further promoting the podcast to people who read social media but not necessarily the charts.
Was this growth sustainable? 37% of listeners followed Hostile Worlds from episode two to episode three. Despite the initial blast of interest, just over a third of the download trend turned into committed subscribers. On the 15th of September, 2017, the Cassini mission to Saturn ended. Hostile Worlds’ specific niche was no longer as timely as it had been.
Apple can get your podcast a lot of exposure. It’s up to you to take that momentum and keep it relevant. In the process of applying, you can learn a lot about how to describe your podcast, and give your podcast a self-audit. If you get to promote your podcast with Apple, think of it as a bonus to all the skills you’ll learn by sending them your info.
If you can promote your podcast with Apple, it’s a great opportunity. However, it’s not the end of your podcasting journey. The Great Work Continues.
Fill Out the Promotion Request Form
Here it is: Apple Podcasts Promotion Request Form
Sounds easy, right? Remember that technology makes communication easy, but knowing what to say and how still isn’t. The hardest part is removing your ego from the situation. Treat this application like you’re promoting someone else’s content, not your own. The people who will have to read these submissions will have to read thousands of them.
I recommend you do this:
- Take a screenshot of the Apple Podcasts Promotion Request Form.
- Type the questions into another document, or write them down.
- Take your time answering the questions. Make the answers shorter than you think they need to be.
- Save your answers for future pitches or other promotion. This is good intel and you can use it later. We’ll get to that.
Advice from The Pros: Let Go of Your Ego.
In a recent episode of Libsyn’s The Feed podcast, Elsie Escobar and Rob Walch went over Apple Podcasts’ promotion request form in detail, adding insight from their experience with promotion pitches. Rob said, “You have to find something, a hook, that will get Apple to say, ‘yeah, most people that come to Apple podcasts would click on that because it’s saying something to them.’ What’s your hook? Why are you different?”
Elsie reiterated that your pitch has to be about your show’s content, not about you, the host and/or producer. “I’ve been really pitched before when I was trying to find speakers for ShePodcasts Live. And I was really astounded by the amount of people who pitch themselves versus the content. Oftentimes, you are obviously a big part of your show. But… you’re looking for the content, you’re not looking for the person.”
Apple Has Some Specific Questions
Some of the questions are specific to the Apple platform and can make a difference as to whether or not Apple chooses to promote your podcast. For example, promotion territory and type. Pick whichever country you feel your podcast’s content will be most relevant.
The “type” is whether you want to promote an entire channel, podcast show, season, or episode. The date is extremely important because Apple needs at least two weeks of lead time to promote your podcast. They ask why this date is important, and timeliness increases your show’s relevancy.
Apple also wants to know what you can do for them. For example, they want to know the “Forecasted number of total episode downloads for first few episodes,” or how many downloads you think it’ll get. Be honest. Podcast download numbers depend on many variables. They’ll want to know how many people you can market Apple to: how many social media followers you have, and what you’ll tell them if Apple chooses to promote your podcast.
Why Should Apple Promote Your Podcast?
Ask yourself, why is this a necessary listening experience, right now? In the case of Hostile Worlds, the Cassini Mission was about to come to an end. What’s going on in the world, and how is your podcast episode an important part of that? For example:
- Your nutrition podcast could explore the temporary ban on Mexican avocados.
- An interview with women entrepreneurs podcast could discuss Mastercard’s venture capital funding announcement.
- Your kids’ storytelling podcast could partner with advocates of an arts education funding ballot measure.
Generally, podcasters rely on the specificity of a podcast niche to nurture audience loyalty. This pitch is where you need to cast your net wide. If you want to promote your podcast with Apple, you have to find the hook that makes Apple say, “this is more important than any other podcast on any other platform right now.”
Most importantly, keep it short. Whoever reads your pitch will have to read thousands of them. Ask yourself the what, who, when, where and why questions. Then, focus this information into one or two short sentences.
Apple has tips to optimize the Apple podcasts promotion request form. Timing, relevancy, and brevity are critical.
What if I Don’t Have A Hook?
What if you’re hook-less? Should you change your podcast to fit what Apple considers important? No. Instead, keep an eye on current events related to your podcast’s topic. Think with Apple’s parameters, but in the back of your mind. Your hook may come along when you least expect it.
When Apple asks, “Why should your show be promoted?” this has nothing to do with value, or how much you want it. It’s because the podcast has specific, useful information, presented in a unique way, for the current moment.
When Should I Submit my Promotion Request?
Apple’s promotion request form states that you should submit it at least two weeks lead time for when you want to be featured. But, Rob Walch said, in The Feed, “If it’s less than three weeks, I won’t even submit it. It’s two weeks and six days, I’ll say no… four weeks is really what I recommend. Do not ask to be featured for an episode you have not recorded.”
Apple knows that visual art sells. The carousel at the top of the page is eye-catching, and you want your art to be there. That being said, make absolutely sure that your art meets Apple’s technical specifications. Which are:
Size: 4320 x 1080 pixels
File type: Layered PSD (Not a .jpg, .png. , .xcf or .gif, a .psd file.)
Colorspace: Display P3, 16-bit
This is not the same as your show artwork. They want your promotion art to provide a taste of what to expect while making it clear this pitch is special and different from the rest of your podcast. You want both to be good. Don’t submit new art for this pitch, only to have the user click through to art that’s sloppy.
.PSD files are Adobe Photoshop files. This is a narrow gate for the majority of podcasters to squeeze through, but it can be done.
If you hire a designer, the tech specs above should make sense to them.
You’ll need extra time and effort to get that piece of art exactly right, so plan ahead now.
Use Search Engine Optimization to Maximize the Impact of Your Text
SEO is an important element to make your podcast episode show notes and blog posts easy to find in search engines. Again, Apple has specific tips that make your podcast’s info more persuasive. Keep it brief and focused, and don’t use numbers.
Apple has a particular way of indexing numbers “Fly Fishing In Montana” is much better than, “I Think You Might Like These Six Lovely Though Remote Places To Go Fly Fishing In Montana, If You Like Trout.” If you’re typing it into the Apple podcasts promotion request form, and you have to stop and think about spelling and grammar, it’s too long.
What if Apple Doesn’t Accept My Pitch?
Wait two months and try again. Apple says that they encourage you to submit a new promotion request in six to eight weeks. Don’t recycle the same information you used before. Consider this a new pitch for the same podcast.
Meanwhile, use the pitch information that you write down or typed out before. This can be useful in other promotions. Just because Apple passed on the opportunity to promote your episode about the Kilauea volcano or Carrot Top’s birthday, doesn’t mean it won’t make a good tweet.
What Can Apple Podcasts’ Promotion Do for Me?
Apple wants a targeted message about your podcast. They want to know what, specifically, makes your podcast newsworthy, timely and pertinent. That targeted message is a tool you can use not only to promote your podcast with Apple, but anywhere else. It’s also a focused way of thinking about your podcast that you can use to strengthen your future promotion strategy.