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A Panel with Podcasting Over-Achievers: Desai, Washington, Wilson, Lantigua-Wilson – Epi 33



ContentCast Speakers I had the good fortune of being asked by NATPE – the global trade association focused on the business of content, to help produce the first ever conference in the media/marketing industry dedicated to the topic of iterating IP from podcasting to TV and back again.

What the heck does that mean? Well, it’s basically around how TV shows are turning into podcasts to find new audiences and podcasting content has turned into TV shows and films.  Think Homeland, Dirty John, even Dirty Diana! So of course I made myself one of the moderators (oh, and a did a little co-hosting with actor Amy Hill (“Magnum, P.I.”)).

But I wanted my panel to feel a little more like a podcast. So you’ll hear some mini-1:1s with major insights from Steve Wilson, Chief Strategy Officer of QCode Media, Shaleen Desai, SVP of Adult Series for Warner Brothers Animation and their Blue Ribbon Content podcast division, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams (yes, from my “bonus episode,”) of Lantigua-Williams & Co., and Glynn Washington, Host/Executive Producer of Snap Judgment Studios.
There’s good news/bad news:
This conference streams free on July 14, 2021. If you missed the full four hour event you’ll want to join NATPE and to play that – and their myriad other conference about the content business, on demand. The good news is that at least you can hear some of THIS panel right here. The bad news? The audio is lifted right off of the conference recording. So some of the quality of the sound might not be perfect, but the quality of the content is excellent.

With that, hear why I called this a panel of over-achievers who will wow you with their accomplishments, and their insights.

Lantigua-Williams:  I am the founder of Lantigua-Williams & Co. We’re an independent podcast and film studio, and we adopted the slogan erasing the margins earlier this year, after three years of thinking about what it is that we want to do in the world. And that seemed to fit. We try to tell stories that make it really complicated to put things and people in boxes.

Washington: My name is Glynn Washington. I am the host of Snap Judgment and Snap Judgement Studios. We created the shows Spooked, Heaven’s Gate and Snap Judgement.

Wilson: I’m Steve Wilson. I’m chief strategy officer at QCode Media. We specialize in making original scripted fiction podcasts. We’re really trying to tell new stories, with amazing creators and see them become the next wave of content that we all love in the world.

Desai: I’m Shaleen Desai the senior vice president of Animation at Warner Brothers Animation. I also oversee our company’s scripted podcasts initiative for Warner Media.

Transcript:

Moss: Steve, you spent 15 years at Apple, you’re a font of knowledge. I think that you’re probably putting that to good use at QCode, which is a relatively newer to the industry. So, I wanted to start with you so that you’d give us some building blocks. What inspired you to join QCode and skip retiring with the ‘gold Apple watch’?

Wilson: Well, I certainly did enjoy my time at Apple, working with partners in the content space. I did editorial and partner relations and marketing for apple podcasts for some time. In working with partners, always envisioned myself, going to the publisher side, having the opportunity to, not just be on the platform side, but really work with original stories and amazing partners. Got to work with everyone in the podcast industry, some incredible people, including the panelists here. And, as I looked across the industry, I was fascinated by what QCode was doing.

The company that started about two years ago by a former agent named Rob Herting. And Rob had seen time and again how Hollywood can be risk-averse, and it can be challenging, to start new stories. QCode was founded to try to build new properties and audio experiences for people that the world had never heard before.

And something I’d point out at the top is it’s interesting in all the media that we consume how, fiction plays a really big role — except for in podcasts; fiction tends to be a smaller portion of podcast consumption, and we really see there’s there being a huge opportunity to expand in that area. So, I just had to jump at the chance to join QCode.

Moss: So it’s safe to say that you are bullish on narrative audio. When you and the team are deciding on that content do you do it with an eye to the long tail? How well will it get monetized and will it, you know, play in Peoria and across other platforms?

Wilson: Well, it’s a consideration. We want to tell amazing original stories that there are audiences for that can be really niche and specific content and different verticals. We are building content that’s all different genres — sci-fi through even female erotica, like our show with Demi Moore called Dirty Diana. We think broadly about the different interest areas consumers have. And then when it comes to things like derivatives and TV and film, that’s a consideration though we are primarily focused to ensure that the podcasts that we make is going to work on its own. And we turned down projects that won’t work as a podcast. So we do think about the holistic view of the stories and the content that’s being told though.

Moss: So, it’s not just QCode developing and finding the product, but it’s also those coming to you and you’re looking at it all through that lens of first will it play as a podcast?

Wilson: A hundred percent. Some of them come in as original podcast ideas. Others came from different forms of media to begin with. So, the Left Right Game, for example, was a viral Reddit thread that we developed as a podcast, and it’s now in development, with Amazon. And, we have other projects as well, like Dirty Diana came in as a book. So sometimes the idea for the podcast actually originates in another media type and becomes a podcast and then can go be that other media type as well.

Moss: I want to do something that’s common in marketing podcasts: a little cross-promotion. I want to give props to AdLandia.  It’s a great B2B podcast about the industry, (unless you think insider interviews is even better!) You were just on that episode last month and it was packed with great information — and the hosts quoted Malcolm Gladwell, who said, ‘we think with our eyes and feel with our ears.’ Is that also how QCode approaches projects?

Wilson: Yeah, I think so. Of course, Malcolm Gladwell’s is a brilliant person to quote and put things so eloquently. You know, we definitely take a lot of pride in how we put our projects together. So Q code, um, you know, really one of our pillars is rich sound design. We invest heavily in that area. We have a head of music. Is incredible, you know, classically trained pianist, a guy named Darren Johnson. He was touring with Paula Abdul and discovered by Miles Davis. Has done all kinds of work in TV and film, and he’s the one who scores, uh, our podcasts. We also partnered with Adobe on Atmos and Dolby Atmos isn’t even really supported across the industry yet on the distribution side We’ve pre produced all of our contents to really have that immersive sound because we believe that sort of elevates and takes the stories to the next level.

And we’re seeing an increase in that side too, just in the way that TV and film progressed from, you know, television sets and, you know, CTRs up through, you know, 4k HDR. We’re seeing that same increase in audio quality. And we, we make that a core part of the projects we make.

Moss: Excellent. Thank you for being our first mini episodes. Continue reading A Panel with Podcasting Over-Achievers: Desai, Washington, Wilson, Lantigua-Wilson – Epi 33


Bonus Epi – On ContentCast and Lantigua-Williams Redux!



It’s been a busy couple of months for me in podcasting… so I didn’t get to podcasting! Here’s what I mean: This is a BONUS episode…actually a republication of Epi 12 featuring my interview with Juleyka Lantigua-Williams from exactly one year ago. She is a force to be reckoned with, a holder of two masters and embracer of two kids and a proud publisher of a show with 1 million downloads now. Yup, “Latina to Latina” just crossed the million listen mark this week. But there’s more you can hear in my interview with her as part of CONTENTCAST next week!

Whaat? Well, I’ve been busy with podcasting…and TV…in producing the first-ever conference about the intersection of those platforms as cross-over IP. That means a HECK of a lot of companies are turning popular podcasts into TV or film content and TV companies are expanding their shows into fan engagement podcasts. Trust me, it’s all the rage.
Want to hear it from the experts? Then register for free and catch this huge conference created by NATPE, the global content trade association, on July 14th, 2021: https://natpe.com/contentcast. Just look at the SPEAKERS tab! See what I mean? From Kevin Pollak to Glynn Washington…the heads of SiriusXM to Tegna to iHeartMedia to Triton Digital to…well, you get the picture. Did I mention I also corralled my friend Amy Hill into hosting?(And yes, you heard us chat around a year ago on my other podcast, “It’s Quite A Living!” Keep your friends close….)
So, that’s why this is Epi 12 REDUX. What Juleyka had to say a year ago is still important and appropriate today…only the numbers have changed. (But there are also twice as many podcasts published now as there were then! Yup, we also have Edison Research and Nielsen sharing info at ContentCast.

Thanks for listening…and learning… and I hope I see you at ContentCast!

From Print to Podcasts and Back: Kathy Doyle of MacMillian



Kathy Doyle embodies the early bird that catches the worm. Early into her freshman year of college she aimed to give the commencement speech for her class in four years’ time. She got the honor — and forty-eight hours later was offered her first job in media. Then, as you’ll hear her describe in this episode, Doyle was part of the earliest team building out The Wall Street Journal Online (yes, I sing the dial up tones for her). Then, being an early riser, she started to listen to podcasts well before Serial was even a thing. And guess what? She was an early-stage employee on the podcast team of Macmillan Publishing.

The Macmillan division of morphed out of a prescient move to team up with Grammar Girl podcast phenom Mignon Fogarty – and quickly evolved into the Quick and Dirty Tips Network of short form helpful content. (Perhaps it’s fitting that Doyle’s career was launched with a speech.) Now, with the addition of a narrative network, their podcasts garner millions of monthly listens – and recently also scored an inaugural Ambie Award for their stunning show, Driving The Green Book.

Macmillan is the only one of the “big five” publishers with its own podcast network. As Doyle says, “It’s been our vision to serve our authors the best way possible. And audio emerging the way that it did certainly created an opportunity for us to use podcasting as best advantage whether that’s through an audio book excerpt or interviews or guest series…” In a media world where everyone is aiming to flow content cross platform it’s a surprising exclusive advantage. (As a matter of fact, we discuss the conference I’m producing for NATPE about the proliferation of TV brands leveraging podcasting, as well. Please register free to attend ContentCast on July 14th!)

While she provided many serious business takeaways, we also learned how one phone call, and frequent dog walking, helped lead to Doyle’s career success, and of the drama of “dial-up days” during early-stage internet jobs.

And you won’t believe what’s got Doyle’s gobsmacked about podcasting these days (yes, I checked the spelling, Grammar Girl fans out there): the evolution of the host read ad. I know, I wasn’t expecting that answer either. But you’ll appreciate how she illustrates the issue with an example from a men’s underwear advertiser.

In all seriousness, host read ads are a major topic in the business of podcasting as we balance the goal for perceived alignment with an influential personality with personalization enabled by companies like A Million Ads or Frequency. (Note: I’ll discuss the power of influencers in the upcoming Epi 32 with Danielle Wiley of Sway.)

For Doyle, the learning was about balance: how to deliver a strong response while preserving the integrity of hosts and authors. But another balancing act is tied to revenue and the competition for ears and ad dollars.

Another business consideration is discoverability. That’s where Doyle and team did a wide scale collaboration with Apple for the notable Driving the Green Book. Hear how they did, in fact, leverage cross-platform promotion in innovative ways – from reading lists to playlists. (Note: Hear show producer Juleyka Lantigua Williams on this from Episode 12 of Insider Interviews.)

“I think it keeps a lot of us in this industry up at night. We talk about revenue diversification a lot. In fact, I just did a panel for Digital Hollywood on revenue diversification. …You can’t just rely on the ad model anymore. You have to find new ways — like exploiting a podcast into a book or a film and TV. I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how podcasters leverage new tools that are available now through Spotify and apple, which have been available through Stitcher and Luminary, to be strategic about your content and then finding ways to expand and enhance that through a premium subscription. I think three or four years ago, I would’ve said absolutely not, but now I think there’s probably opportunity for that.”

“As people expand their listening and really become hooked on some shows that have that have a big ad load then spending a few bucks for a premium subscription to eliminate that might be very attractive.”

(This was where I noted that you can support THIS podcast and just “buy me a coffee”. Just sayin’ …. )

But don’t worry; there was more: Doyle also prognosticated on the future of consolidation in podcasting…and shared some of her favorite shows these days. So, make like that early bird, and catch all of Doyle’s words. You’ll be ahead of the curve.

More about Macmillan Podcasts: https://linktr.ee/macmillanpodcasts
Kathy Doyle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kdoyle2/
If you found this helpful, or liked any of my Insider Interviews episodes, please add a review on apple, share this episode, and of course, “buy me a coffee!”: https://buymeacoffee.com/mossappeal
If I can help you connect YOUR podcast/tv/content dots, or just get started, please reach out to me at podcasts@mossappeal.com

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Heidi Zak: Supporting Women with Brand Purpose



Heidi Zak has been in finance, in retail and in tech. Like most women, she’s also been in plenty of dressing rooms trying to find the right bra, leading her to build ThirdLove, one of the largest online bra and underwear companies in America.

Close encounters with the NOT ThirdLove kind of shopping experiences, meaning the universal ick-factor of cold hands and awkward measurement moments with in-store underwear salespeople, were part of Zak’s a-ha moment. So, putting all of her professional and personal experience together, she created a brand that disrupted an entire industry — to the great relief of uncomfortable women everywhere.

Her first-to-market service as a DTC bra retailer hit some, ah, curves, along the journey but Zak has been named everything from Goldman Sachs’ 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs to a Fortune “40 Under 40”, and more.

Part of the accolades stem from how Zak has embraced not just brand marketing but brand purpose. Inclusivity at ThirdLove means being the only brand to offer more than 80 bra sizes, including their unique half cup sizing – and donating over $40 million worth of products to women in need. It has also helped evolve an old school industry previously defined by a narrow concept of beauty with a focus on inclusivity.

“We didn’t want to look like any other bra brand which mostly photographed skinny, generally white women with small boobs and generally did it in a really sexy way. So, we set out to build something radically different from scratch…. Back then there were barely any plus size models.”

Further iterating on inclusivity, ThirdLove launched a new initiative during COVID-challenged 2020: The TL Effect, to support entrepreneurial women of color.

“…Brand purpose has to be authentic, true to who you are and what you stand for, and what you’re building. Otherwise it can fall flat, or a consumer sees through it.”

While Zak and I commiserated about finding a proper fitting and comfortable bra I was a bit discomfited to discover that this rock star CEO/mom of two has managed to use her homebound pandemic time to also hyper-organize her home, when I haven’t even organized my sock drawer. In a conversation perfectly apropos Women’s History Month, hear how, in addition to organizing her home, this efficient CEO/co-founder has organized her company for success through adapting to the changes of the pandemic.

Envy aside, we discussed:

  • Her path from small town Main Street to Wall Street, Herald Square to Silicon Valley
  • How an encounter with the founders of Lyft drove her to solve another consumer problem, one bra at a time

“In 2012, if you look at what had existed [for bra shopping] at that time, there were department stores, Victoria’s Secret and some big box stores. There certainly weren’t online bra brands at the time. And that was the idea: better brand, better product, better online shopping experience for women.”

  • Zak on disruption and her definition of DTC, and why it was important for ThirdLove to “have a direct way to speak to our customer, to educate her, to bring her along the journey, to make her feel really comfortable.”
  • The product evolution — from one bestselling bra to their recently launched Fit Finder — and the pivot required by pandemic-era marketing
  • Navigating manufacturing and funding, especially as a woman seeking financing from primarily men (Note: McKinsey reports women are still only 21% of the C-suite and of those are mostly white women.)
  • Early-stage ThirdLove marketing tactics and positioning
  • How their innovative “try before you buy” program along with ads that asked if women were ‘Ready to graduate from Victoria’s Secret?’ drove 1 million new customers
  • How and why they leveraged podcasting as one of their main ad vehicles in 2015, baffling some investors
  • The pros and cons of linear and OTT TV
  • How ThirdLove spans Black History Month to Women’s History Month and beyond by uplifting women, in all senses of the word

“We were trying to figure out how ThirdLove was going to help support and impact change in the broader community. The TL Effect helps give female founders of color a little more of a voice in a crowded marketplace. We launched in June and picked our first recipient, Arra Simms, founder of Kewtie Nails.”

  • How ThirdLove keeps the conversation going with unconscious bias training required for all employees
  • The value of brand purpose to the bottom line
  • Aside from having Katie Couric in the ThirdLove influencer camp, Zak describes her use of micro-influencers: “real women who act as an advocate or a friend to the people who follow them.”
We wrapped with Zak projecting which industry, just as she disrupted one, could be ripe for a revision next.  Whatever it is I am certain Zak will be first to leverage the next new thing.

For those who caught my mid-episode mention of my podcast and content marketing services please reach out for help with podcasting to grow your brand. Click here to request a copy of my Seven Steps to Setting Up a B2B Podcast.

RAB’s Erica Farber: A Sound Strategy for Radio



In interviewing the Radio Ad Bureau’s CEO, Erica Farber, my worlds collided: it’s a podcast, but about radio, the medium I grew up in and started my career in. Certainly radio IS about community, but it was still surprising to discover zero degrees of separation with Erica and two important people from my past: my dad and my first female boss, Joan Gerberding as well as a recent Insider Interviews guest and radio aficionado, Carl Fremont!

Erica and I took the conversation from the evolution of radio to the present, to how it’s defined today – audio? is digital radio still radio? – to its challenges, success stories, and current career opportunities.

We discussed:
  • What is radio today?

It’s broadcasting, but Radio is also available on any platform: If you want to hear it on your smart speaker…If you’re sitting in front of your computer or in your automobile. It’s multi-platform and available in any form and full of diverse content. It is a companion. It is a trusted source of information, news and entertainment. It’s available 24 seven. And there’s no cost to access it.

  • The ways everything is audio-focused today – with sound and voice;
  • The power of personalities;
  • Why Theater of the Mind is still key to listener engagement/conversion;
  • How radio served — and recovered from — the Pandemic;

I’ve never been so proud to say I work in radio as I have since March 2020. No one knew what to do…But radio rose to the occasion and stations did what they do best: they put their arms around their communities, consoled listeners and brought some humor and information. …They said to businesses that were open, ‘let us help you communicate to the market your protocols’. How can we raise money to feed or clothe people, to help people keep their homes? We have example after example of retailers who said that if it wasn’t for local radio they would have lost their business.

And yes, host E.B. Moss finds a way to sing in yet another episode….


CMO Kim Wijkstrom: Start with the Brand Story not Silver Bullets



Joakim (Kim) Wijkstrom, SVP / CMO of Vanda Pharmaceuticals, has learned to “Think Different” and have “Lending Done Human.” He has sent little, teeny Absolut bottle-shaped Christmas sweaters to readers of the New York Times, and leveraged Andy Warhol style pop op to promote schizophrenia drugs. A Swede who grew up in West Africa, Kim also opened the Latin America markets for two TBWA\Chiat\Day clients. If that sounds like the start of a good story, then that’s the point.

Because for this marketer it always starts with the story, not the silver bullets.

Kim has developed a “cultural curiosity” from both moving around and a liberal arts degree, which has been a big asset in his marketing career: “I think advertising lends itself naturally to someone who is interested in how we shape and creatively express our worldview, how we understand the things around us, how perceptions are shaped. So, I think it made sense for me to land there. But as it turns out, I’m half a humanist, half of something more analytical. Perhaps I was never going to be the next Leonardo…[but] you figure out the way to take whatever you’re equipped with and put it to use where it is best applied.”

This attitude is also encompassed in his top performing article in The Continuum, the publication I edit about “brand and demand” marketing. In that, and in this follow-up conversation about the origins of his branding philosophy, Kim sticks with the story that brand always must start with the story! The delivery tactics — what he has called the silver bullets – are secondary.

But when you’re talking to a storyteller you cover a lot of ground. We also discuss:

  • How movies are an analogy for Kim’s point of view about storytelling first
  • Why our obsession with technological solutions to everything don’t drive brand loyalty (“You can now have your car tell you that you’re low on milk because your smart refrigerator is coupled with your car, and so forth. But are you going to buy the refrigerator based on that? Do you think it’s a quality refrigerator?”)
  • Why too much emphasis on bells and whistles and focus on demand or performance-driven marketing “offends” him (“Fundamentally, all marketing is for performance purposes… to grow your market share. You need to start with what is it you’re trying to say and why would it be compelling to people, as opposed to just being the method by which you can deliver the message.”)
  • Why even DTC companies’ product is often the story… such as Warby Parker’s design
  • How our obsession with metrics and attribution is not wrong but often misses the point entirely, focused on the ROI, as opposed to just “can you see if it’s working?” (“If people are talking about your TV spot or have a positive reaction to it somehow then that’s probably more important than any sort of little blip of metrics.”)
  • And, just as he learned from hovering around Steve Jobs, Kim offers advice for junior marketers.

But wait, as they say, there’s MORE!…

Kim also explains the story of Vanda, and his move from marketing men’s suits (Perry Ellis) or financial services (One Main Financial) to pharma. He gives an example of how the same story (for a particular drug) can be extended into different spaces, like digital to video without having to be, well, prescriptive! (And, yes, we discuss the challenge of pharmaceutical advertising and FDA constrictions. But check out their innovative approach to Fanapt for insider insights on  how it can still be impactful.) And I finally got to understand what’s behind drug NAMING!

So, how did Kim finesse his own “brand story” – or POV about storytelling? Well, that starts with a guy named Steve Jobs.

“I was really lucky I got to work on Apple when it came back to TBWA\Chiat\Day … and that was the launch of the now-iconic Apple campaign “Think Different.” I was a junior person then, so I’m not claiming any credit for the campaign…but what was amazing was encountering Steve Jobs and seeing the process by which that campaign came about. That was a ton of learnings about what actually really matters. He couldn’t give a crap about ROI or metrics, frankly. …if people react to it, that’s what matters’. And Apple sells a lot of product. So, it’s not like the brand doesn’t work in selling or performance.”

Kim shares the three-point “a-ha” takeaways he got from Jobs. And that, my friends, is how you do a cliffhanger.

So, I hope you’ll listen to the full conversation with Kim Wijkstrom. And if his learnings from Apple aren’t enough, wait til you hear what he says marketing an odorless, tasteless product: vodka. Or, how an MRI machine proves out his belief that the brand is what drives ROI.

Okay, okay, I’ll also share that he says when you DO add in those tactics for delivering the brand story, he’s still a believer in different forms of direct marketing.

 … [But] to me, the point of a brand in the mix is it’s going to amplify your ability to get pull through on those tactical pieces. Because if people receive something in the mail, whether email or online, it’s really easy, of course, to dismiss it and throw it out. If you have a brand, it’s not as easy. They may actually open it. So, it basically primes demand. That’s what a brand does.”

I hope you’ll get some good insider scoop from this episode of Insider Interviews with me, E. B. Moss, and I hope you’ll follow Insider Interviews on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. And let me know if you have a question or suggestion for our next guest. My theme music was composed and performed by the incomparable and Grammy-winning John Clayton.
Thanks again for listening.