There are many similarities between newsletters and podcasts, not least they share the same low cost of entry; all a publisher needs is a phone or a computer. Peter Kafka, writing on Vox, put it like this: “Newsletters, it turns out, are just like blogs and podcasts – they’re super simple for anyone to create.”
The formats have other things in common:
- Both newsletters and podcasts are very individual media
- Personality matters in the podcast and newsletter space
- Audio and email are used to build habit with subscribers
- Most successful newsletters and podcasts are niche offerings
The synergies between the formats have led some publishers to repurpose newsletter content into podcasts and podcast content into newsletter formats.
Writing on The Fix, David Tvrdon describes how CNN’s 5 Things morning newsletter became a podcast and how The Washington Post’s The 7 added audio through text-to-speech technology before becoming a podcast in its own right. He said:
The two publishers found a strong sub brand and used it to expand into other forms.
Tvrdon wonders why more publishers aren’t extending their most popular newsletters and podcasts into complementary formats and lays out three clear reasons why they should consider the strategy.
Exploiting existing IP
Imagine a Hollywood movie executive with a successful franchise on their hands. Their thoughts would immediately go to sequels, theme parks, merchandising and licensing. Tvrdon says publishers should be applying the same kind of thinking to fully exploit the intellectual property in their most successful brands.
Beyond realizing the best ROI possible, the more ‘habit building’ touchpoints a publisher can establish for subscribers, the longer they are likely to stay subscribed. He explains:
If it is a reader or listener, being subscribed to the newsletter and podcast at the same time makes them more likely to become a paying subscriber.
Repackaging and republishing
Another reason to look at established newsletters and podcasts to see if they will support companion formats follows SEO repackaging and republishing logic. The basic repurposing concept rests on the idea that strong content in one format will drive traffic in another.
Tvrdon suggests creating straight audio versions of newsletter content, either author read or using a text-to-speech tool. This can be published as a podcast to start building an audience. Working in the other direction, podcasts content can be republished in a newsletter with the same sub brand to drive listeners.
Content consumption options
Whether it’s inbox or earphones, choice is good for audiences. Tvrdon gives the example of a technology news podcast that he was involved with. About two years after it launched, the team introduced a companion newsletter as a way to publish content that never made it into the podcast. He said:
There are so many tech topics in a week that we never got to everything, and we have almost always left the studio with a few prepared topics we didn’t get to discuss, so the audience never heard them.
The newsletter was created from podcast research that was being done anyway, but it gave audiences extra content, items that didn’t make it into the podcast as well as links, images, memes or videos mentioned on the show. Tvrdon said:
It worked – one third of the audience also subscribes to the newsletter, and these two features are repeatedly mentioned by them as the main reasons they get it weekly in their inboxes.