I've always told people that one of the best ways to make your podcast stand out is by putting an emphasis on format, audio quality and running time. When you consider how many podcasters DON'T do that, it's easy to understand why it can help you make your mark. However, another way to shine is through creativity. In other words, you don't just revert to what everyone else does, and instead, you think outside the box.
If you think about it, This American Life could be a typical interview show. However, Ira Glass masterfully weaves it all into a three-part theme mixed with music and narrative. On the simpler side of things, Michael Stelzner's Social Media Marketing Podcast IS a pretty traditional interview format. However, it's presented via an Australian explorer who is helping you navigate the jungles of social media. That's a fantastic example of doing something a little different than most other shows.
When I decided to launch a geek culture talk show, I knew I was moving into a crowded space. You'll find plenty of geek discussion podcasts out there today, and I needed to offer a reason for people to check out my version of one. So, Assembly of Geeks was a part audio drama-like story that set-up the talking points. It was presented as if the hosts, listeners and guests converged on a fortress to discuss what's happening in the geek world. When life outside of podcasting made it difficult to continue producing, I had to transition it into a more traditional talk show format. However, The Geek Directive features a virtual host that infuses challenges and questions into the program. So, I still managed to give it something unique.
My very first spin-off show was a podcast that covered each episode of the Agent Carter TV series. Now, I could've just produced a simple open, had us come on and discuss the show and conclude it. Many TV show focused podcasts will do that.
However, I wanted to do more with the theme, and it made for a better program. In The Peggy Carter Podcast, I opened each show with an old school reporter who set the scene for that week's episode. Plus, we took two breaks and played actual 1940s radio commercials (consistent with the show's time period).
I was asked to develop a podcast concept for a healthcare company, but they didn't want it to just be a boring medical talk show. There needed to be elements that made it a little more engaging. Their blogs consisted of advice/education on back pain, neck pain, muscle aches, body care and migraines. So, I took inspiration from them and developed an idea -
A "radio program" that showcased scripted skits that featured some of that same educational insight, and include an in-depth interview with an expert as the centerpiece. So, I wrote and produced a Car Talk parody, a Johnny Carson/Tonight Show parody, a old school film-like skit series, a Muppet Lab inspired skit and much more. They all had health lessons and tips mixed into them.
The other creative challenge was a title for the program. Typical healthcare/health/body/mind terminology was commonly used in a lot of content titles. So, I needed to break out of those words and go in a more "out of the box" direction. The show was focused on the mind and body. So, I took body and mixed it with noggin and made BodNog Radio: Radio That's Good For Your Body and Your Noggin.
So, there's plenty of creative routes to take when attempting to put your stamp on a podcast. It could be as simple as the open/close/bumpers, or production elements that add to the presentation. It can also be how you choose to talk about a topic. It doesn't have to re-invent the wheel; it just needs to be something only you bring to the table.