Behind the Scenes of OUTdrive

Cliff Callis and Sarah Arnett's headshots in circles with green border on top of a green field. OUTdrive episode 55: Behind the Scenes of OUTdrive across the bottom in white text. Available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

OUTdrive Episode 55 with Sarah Arnett

Communications professionals are riding the growing wave of nearly 2 million podcasts across audio streaming services. In this episode of OUTdrive, I visit with Sarah Arnett for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce a quality podcast.

Sarah is a Marketing Coordinator at Callis and is a key team member behind the development of OUTdrive. She oversees the production, promotion and content creation of our weekly marketing podcast. Sarah is passionate about digital marketing and how marketers can use new technologies to provide better insight and services to clients.

Keep reading to get an in-depth look at the makings of OUTdrive, and the rewards, and challenges, that come with creating a weekly podcast.

Tips for a Successful Podcast

Podcasts can be incredibly valuable to rural marketers and businesses alike. Consumers of audio podcasts typically listen in while doing other things, like driving long distances, spending full days out in the field, or working on a project. This means a podcast has commanding attention over a listener for long periods of time, if it’s done right.

Callis has produced an OUTdrive episode once a week for the last 52 weeks, along with a preparation period that started right before the pandemic. Most of that preparation included hammering out the details, like finding the best audio editing software, choosing a hosting platform, and even picking the right microphone.

Other details podcast producers need to focus on is the actual content of the show. For someone marketing to rural Americans, one needs to consider how to customize the interview questions to get the answers your listeners are tuning in to hear.

“You have to keep thinking of new ideas,” said Sarah. “Whether it’s thinking of questions that are creative for the guests, or thinking of how we can improve the written content, you have to be willing to adapt and change and experiment with things just like any other project or area in the industry.”

Sarah says that one of the biggest challenges of creating a podcast is producing consistent, quality content. Although we are excited to be celebrating the one-year anniversary of OUTdrive, behind that milestone is a mountain of hard work that Sarah refers to as “the grind.”

“Know that podcasting is a time-consuming effort,” said Sarah. “A lot of people produce a couple of episodes and get burnt out and don’t continue. But I think in order to produce a great podcast, you have to keep working at it.”

Making the OUTdrive Rural Marketing Podcast

When asked about her main responsibilities for the OUTdrive podcast, Sarah put it into layman’s terms. “To put it simply, I take what Cliff gives me and turn it into what everybody hears on streaming services, reads on the website, or sees on social media.”

Once the podcast is recorded, Sarah listens to the rough track to make audio edits, often known as a “clean-up” process to get rid of background noise and filler words. From there, she will make notes on important topics to translate into written content that will serve as emails, insights for the website blog, and summaries for streaming services.

“We also publish content through our email newsletter OUTthink,” Sarah explains. “Then the content that people see on Spotify, Apple, Google podcasts, all the individual platforms, and how it ties into our social media, as well.”

Despite being primarily a production meant for audio consumption, most quality podcasts include strong written components to draw in listeners. As a marketing coordinator, Sarah is always looking for new ways to bring the podcast stories to different mediums and reach all audiences.

“It’s so interesting to hear everybody’s stories and then to tell their story through the written component,” said Sarah. “Being able to share individual stories through various platforms and reach new people, it can be a challenge, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.”

Effective Digital Marketing

In her role as a marketing coordinator, the OUTdrive podcast is just a small portion of Sarah’s role. Her day-to-day responsibilities include supporting the Callis creative and digital teams through campaign execution, analysis, attention to detail and content creation. Basically, she does “a little bit of everything.”

“I support the digital team,” Sarah says. “Whether it’s websites, campaign strategy, the actual execution of a campaign, or reporting, revising, and reviewing. I also help a lot on the development, edits and updates for websites.”

To do her job well, Sarah stays up to date with the latest industry trends by attending digital conferences and subscribing to several newsletters. She most recently returned from an Agency Management Institute (AMI) conference in Chicago, Ill. where the main topics were implementing core web vitals, influencer marketing on social channels, and new tracking laws that affect client privacy and data.

“It’s amazing, all the tools and strategies that we have available to us,” noted Cliff, “which makes it challenging to prioritize and really figure out what’s going to be best for a particular client, campaign, or product offering.”

“I think our team does a good job of strategizing, planning, thinking things through before we jump in,” responded Sarah. “Just because it’s what you did last year doesn’t mean that it’s going to continue to work the same. And that also doesn’t mean it’s the best option for that client.”

Paying attention to detail and narrowing down what strategies are best for the client is one of Sarah’s favorite parts of her job. She is currently working to implement new tools, like search engine optimization and specialized digital ad campaigns, into client projects.

Opportunities for Marketing Agencies

Sarah’s insight into digital innovation provides new opportunities for agencies moving forward, but one of the most powerful tools an agency has is maintaining their expertise in the industry. Sharing that marketing expertise was the driving motivation behind the launch of the OUTdrive podcast.

“I think the big opportunity is just continuing to improve on what we do and make ourselves irreplaceable to our clients, because we’re the experts,” said Sarah. “We have to continue learning and maintaining that expertise as we go forward, and you do that by asking questions and learning.”

Sarah describes herself as a “very curious person,” which directly correlates to her success as a young professional in the industry. She has spent a lot of time researching digital strategies to bring to clients based on their needs. Sarah has also expanded on those new strategies in recent agency blogs, covering topics such as first-party data, core web vitals, and, of course, podcasts.

“There are a lot of opportunities to continue offering the same services we offer here at the agency, but also finding new opportunities, whether it’s marketing automation, or artificial intelligence (AI), or other new technologies like that, learning how we can take those new technologies and offer them to our clients.”

Tune in to this episode to hear from Sarah and I about the makings of OUTdrive and the new strategies that are driving the direction of marketing to rural America.