We tore up our podcast schedule. Today we’re scrappy & immediate.

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All the awful things about the coronavirus crisis are obvious — from the economic calamity and disruption of social distancing to the virus itself.

But for podcasters, there are opportunities as well challenges. When the pandemic erupted, our team at “How Do We Fix It?” had to react in a hurry. We tossed our spring program plans into the trash.

Our weekly solutions journalism podcast does interviews about constructive ideas aimed at making the world a better place. Instead of carefully constructed shows worked out weeks in advance, we’re winging it, booking guests one or two days ahead. Many authors, journalists and thought leaders have time on their hands, and are easier to get. Scrappy and immediate is the order of the day. Quick turnaround time is essential.

The same is true for countless other content creators.

We are all being constantly surprised. And we have no idea how this thing will end. A Pew Research Center poll finds that the coronavirus outbreak is having profound impacts on the personal lives of Americans. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed in a moderate or major way.

Listening and viewing habits have changed. A new survey by the research firm, Podsights, says that the big fear among podcast publishers in the early days of the pandemic “was with fewer people commuting, we would see a massive decrease in people listening to podcasts.” But the results are mixed. While some shows have taken a dive, audiences for news podcasts are up by as much as 30%.

We run a podcast consulting business. At the end of February when the economy tanked, the fear was that our clients would trim their sails and shy away from making new commitments. As a consolation prize, I thought, maybe I’d be able to make a dent on the tower of books on my bedside shelf.

Instead, we’re busier than ever.

Along with countless others, we found new ways to work remotely. We learned how to record up to four people on separate audio channels — something we’d never tried before. The challenge was to make it quick and easy for guests to jump on the line and speak with us.

Companies and causes alike are in fast forward mode — searching for new ways to say something of value. Some are launching brand new podcasts, while others are producing them with a greater sense of urgency. Deadlines have gone from weeks to days to hours.

The corporate leadership podcast that we produce needed a 72-hour turnaround on an interview with a prominent CEO.

A cable TV company that we work with has turned their weekly podcast into a daily show about the pandemic.

Common Ground Committee, a non-profit group that brings together politicians and public servants prominent leaders, had to cancel public events. Instead, they put podcasts on the front burner, and are working an urgent new series of shows that address the current crisis.

Politicians and thought leaders are finding new ways to communicate. Andrew Yang launched a new issues-based podcast. So has Joe Biden. The now-certain Democratic Presidential nominee faces the daunting prospect of being shunted to the sidelines: ignored and disregarded before the convention. “Here’s The Deal With Joe Biden”, launched at the end of March, might help him stay relevant.

The Biden campaign said it will expand the conversations to beyond the pandemic. The shows are unscripted and allow for the possibility of surprise.

Many brands are in a Biden boat, facing a “WTF happened to my carefully orchestrated communications strategy” moment.

Podcasting during this crisis may help them deal with a gut-wrenching challenge, allowing them to face into the wind and demonstrate how they’re committed to the communities they serve.

Richard Davies is a podcast consultant with DaviesContent, and co-host of the weekly solutions journalism podcast, “How Do We Fix It?”

We’re Going to Fail 99% of the Time. And That’s OK.

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“Data is the new black” gushed one speaker at Advertising Week, the just-completed annual gathering in New York for the advertising and marketing industry.

Thanks to great improvements in data research on customer behavior, “now we are not guessing,” said another.

The wow factors here this week were data, video and Virtual Reality.  With good reason.  The rapidly changing advertising industry is always on the hunt for the next big thing that will turn heads and make a splash.

But the marketplace is more crowded that ever. “We see disruption in so many markets,” Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer at AT&T told one well attended session.

“We have an on-demand culture,” said Alex Sutton, Global Director of Digital Acquisition at Avis Budget group. “The number of customers engaging our brands on mobile keeps increasing and increasing and increasing.”

Which is why – with all the talk about change, disruption and the surge in mobile – I was surprised not to hear a little more about podcasting and the other creative ways brands can use relevant content to go deeper when engaging their customers and followers (Full disclosure here: I am a podcaster).

People consume media very differently. We engage in a multiplicity of ways.  Just look at a row commuters in a New York subway train.  Many are playing games on their devices. Others are reading and some are listening.

For marketers the future is about creating different versions of your message and let the consumer choose.

Tens of millions of Americans decide to listen to podcasts each week. The median age is 30. According to Steve Goldstein at Amplifi Media, 68% of people aged 13-24 listen to some audio on their smartphone every day. Podcasting is no longer niche.

Perhaps my argument to the advertising industry is pay attention not only to “wow!” but to “ah ha.”  Podcasts are the intersection of ideas and emotion. They don’t show something. You, the listener, imagines it.

I really like what Ben Clarke, Chief Strategist of the marketing agency, The Shipyard has to say about disruption and creativity.

“Even if you try a thousand things and 995 don’t work, the five winners are better than not trying at all.”

“We’re going to fail at 99% of the things we do. Not only is that OK, it’s essential,” he says.

Richard Davies is a podcast consultant and co-host of the weekly solutions journalism show, “How Do We Fix It?” http://www.daviescontent.com