The winner of the Publisher Podcast Hero of the Year award at our first ever Publisher Podcast Awards in 2020 was Christopher Phin. We were constantly impressed by his efforts to not just transform DC Thomson’s podcasting efforts, but also to help others in the industry improve through shared knowledge, resources and endless enthusiasm.

Peter caught up with him later that year to find out how his role as Head of Podcasts had come about at DC Thomson, the value podcasts bring to a publishing company, and more. He also shares six essential reasons publishers should look at podcasting, and how to warm editorial staff up to being in front of a microphone. We’re releasing it as a special bonus episode as part of our mini series looking at lessons publishers can learn from award-winning podcasts, showcasing best practice, hints and tips from the best in the industry.

Here are some highlights, lightly edited for clarity:

Why push into podcasting

I wanted DC Thomson media to be in podcasting. And I wanted myself to be in podcasting. I like podcasting. It’s a good and rich and rewarding medium. But I wanted us to be there.

If you really boil it down, it’s because we should be there. We’re the classic kind of organisation that should be delivering some kind of content through through podcasting. I’m very wary of saying that publicly, because that very often sounds like, ‘Oh, we’re doing it because we should be doing it,’ and it’s the old line about ‘We should do video, because we should do video, we should have a website, because we should have a website, we should have an app because we should have an app.’

I’m very wary of that kind of reactive strategising. But by the same token, there is value in that a little bit because you got to be where the eyeballs are, or the ear lobes. You’ve got to be with the audiences. And podcasting is still exploding. We’re still in an exponential growth phase for the medium, not just in terms of the number of podcasts, number of hours produced, but in terms of the consumption rates for it as well. So so we’d be fools if we weren’t in that space.

The indirect value of podcasts

There’s definitely a lot of value that comes from podcasting, that is less tangible than [sponsorship]. Some of that is direct revenue from sponsorship for sure. And we’ve had some really nice successes with that some of its in terms of brand partnerships, that are doing interesting things, and some of its in terms of onboarding people into the brand ecosystem if you like. And that’s been really successful.

If you look at The Dirt for example, which is our gardening and allotment podcast, we’ve had a lot of success with that in doing what might be seen as reasonably basic onboarding stuff, but my God, I see people not doing it. And so we do a subscriber offer for the magazine in the podcast. It’s the end of every episode and we had a take up rate of something like one in 400 take up rate of that offer, which was decent.

But then actually, I’m even more pleased with the fact that of that number, about half retained at the end of the trial period. So that shows me that, while yes, we can and are generating revenue directly from people giving us money to be on our podcast, we can also generate direct revenue into the company by onboarding people into a subscriber role.

That of course doesn’t just mean the the pounds and shillings and pence that you bring in on the day. We all know that we love subscribers. We love them being part of our community, because they are our superfans. And that’s one of the things podcasting is really really good at is turning either fans into superfans, or passing trade into superfans.

The essential ingredient in a podcasting plan

Marketing, marketing and more marketing. I think it’s a problem right across the publishing industry. I’m not singling us out as particularly bad or particularly good at this, but I think across the industry, as far as I can see – and I’ve worked in all my professional career – we don’t tell people enough about what we’re doing. We sort of have an ‘If you build it, they will come’ attitude.

You need to do better than that to create an audience for podcasting. So that’s planning a marketing campaign that is both ambient advertising of your podcast, but then also per episode But I’m saying this first, because this needs to be baked in from before you set pen to paper, whatever the podcast equivalent of that is. Before you can do anything, you need to make sure you’ve got your marketing folks on board and engaged to help you make the best success as possible.


This year’s Publisher Podcast Award winners will be revealed on April 27th at a live event in London, as well as streamed online. See our tickets page for more details. Entries for next year’s Publisher Podcast Awards will open in September. Think you’ve got what it takes to win an award? Sign up to our mailing list at www.publisherpodcastawards.com