University graduates lead increasingly dynamic lives, and alumni weekend just isn’t enough to keep former students in touch and in tune with their alma mater.
Alumni podcasts are on the rise because they are accessible and convenient, ideal for digital audiences. But unlike other digital communities, the podcasting world continues to be a space for humility and authenticity — a place that feels like listening to your old college friends.
So let’s see how universities are using this friendly medium to keep their alumni engaged.
Reaching Students and Engaging Alumni with a University Podcast
In Podcast Consumer 2019, Edison Research found that podcast awareness and listenership have been on the rise for more than ten years — and this growth shows no signs of slowing down. This study also found that podcast listeners are highly educated, so college students and alums are the perfect audience.
Before, university podcasts were strictly academic — think simple recordings of classes for that friend who always slept through lecture. But a new genre of podcasts is emerging.
In recent years, it has become clear that university podcasts are an incredible tool to boost student engagement and keep alumni involved. From graduation podcasts to mini-history lessons, alumni podcasts are as diverse as any other podcast niche.
UC Berkeley has always been a leader of innovation — so it’s no surprise that a student of Haas School of Business created The OneHaas Podcast to engage the “Haasie” community. First with current students and now expanding to include alumni, The OneHaas Podcast has proven to be a valuable tool for connection. Let’s see what they’re about.
The OneHaas Podcast — Keeping the Haas School of Business Family Together
The OneHaas Podcast started in 2018 as a student-run show. A space made “by Haasies for Haasies,” where the host and founder, Sean Li, spoke with fellow students in casual conversations.
Li founded the podcast early in his MBA journey. He was surprised that there wasn’t already a podcast of its kind at Haas Business School. His goal for The OneHaas Podcast was to strengthen the Haas community and bring together the three different MBA programs. To serve as a platform for real connection and dialogue — but also a place to talk to the Haas Dean about her most memorable concert experience.
The podcast tells the stories of Haasies from all walks of life and every facet of business. Like many great podcasts though, The OneHaas Podcast hasn’t been afraid to evolve. As its host remains passionate about the Haas community, it has transformed into an alumni podcast.
Li has passed the baton to host Paulina Lee — of the Here at Haas Podcast, now geared toward current students. While Li continues to host The OneHaas Podcast post-graduation. His new guests will be his peers and fellow alumni. In continuing with the podcast, he has already strengthened the Haasie alumni network.
Podcasts inherently build community, giving people the opportunity to learn from each other. And The OneHaas Podcast has certainly honored this long podcasting tradition. It should be looked to as an example — proving that university podcasts are a great way to promote meaningful alumni engagement.
Do Universities Need an Alumni Podcast?
Hopefully, we’ve already convinced you, but we’ll say it again — yes!
Universities count on a strong alumni network. So while they should be working on podcasts for both current students and former students — alumni podcasts are particularly critical. It’s much more difficult to stay in touch with alumni, but they play a key role in alumni giving and the longevity of any institution.
The 2020 VAESE Alumni Relations Benchmarking Study provides some useful alumni engagement metrics.
- 87% of alumni professionals report that they need to improve engagement.
- 90% of alumni professionals say they “need to do more” to attract young alumni.
- 80% of alumni organizations claim that “blogs, social media, and e-newsletters” have the most impact on alumni engagement.
- Content is 29% more effective as an engagement tool than any other category.
This isn’t great news. The obvious takeaway is that alumni relations are in need of some serious help — especially when it comes to young alumni.
It’s clear that there’s a very real need to improve alumni engagement and giving people original content is the most effective way to do it. So their findings overwhelmingly support our belief that an alumni podcast is essential as a core alumni engagement tool.
Think about it — as an on-demand, mobile-friendly audio platform, the podcast format is probably the most accessible and convenient form of media out there. A podcast is perfect for young alumni audiences who have already gone digital.
Now, you can probably guess that alumni engagement leads to alumni association giving — but the perks of university podcasts go even further.
Benefits of an Alumni Podcast to Universities
The benefits of university alumni podcasts will quickly convince any alumni professional looking to bulk up their alumni engagement campaign. But if you’re still skeptical, here are some additional benefits of starting an alumni podcast.
- Increased Engagement: A podcast is quality content, more interesting than the traditional alumni association subject matter. This type of content is proven to boost digital alumni engagement.
- Faculty Visibility: Show-case faculty talent to attract donors, and potential students.
- Collaboration: Any sort of alumni podcast will inherently create collaboration within the alumni population — potentially connecting current students, faculty, and alumni.
- Alumni Giving: A podcast targeting an alumni audience is sure to boost alumni giving rates. If alumni feel connected to their alma mater, they will be more likely to give back to the community.
- Networking: Much like a fraternity or a sorority network appeals to its members, a podcast would cultivate the alumni network, making its members more likely to benefit and learn from their fellow alumni.
- Feedback: Podcasts are distributed on a variety of platforms, all of which allow for anonymous listener feedback. This is an opportunity for very authentic alumni participation. There are few alumni engagement strategies that offer this sort of unfiltered information.
How to Launch Your Own Alumni Podcast
The best thing about launching an alumni podcast is that you already know your target audience — so getting started should be pretty straightforward.
Follow these steps to start reaching your alumni on a whole new level.
- Choose an angle: The best university podcasts will have a clear approach. You may want to highlight your most successful young alumni with weekly interviews. Or you may go in the opposite direction with a bi-weekly series on recent-grads struggling to find their way. Whether you choose a more structured storytelling format or casual interviews — the potential here is enormous.
- Define the production process: Make sure you nail-down detailed procedures for every aspect of production. Whether you’re a one-person show or an entire team, a lot goes into making a podcast. Make sure you have the audio equipment, editing software, and recording space you need.
- Market your podcast: Be sure to develop a marketing strategy so that your new alumni podcast gets the attention it deserves. It should have a presence on any relevant social media, a website, and accompanying digital content to bring-in listeners.
- Generate a podcast backlog: One of the biggest mistakes DIY podcasters make is launching too soon and then running out of episodes. Make sure to record a decent amount of episodes before launch, so you’re not scrambling to stay consistent.
- Distribution and logistics: Decide where and how you’d like to share your podcast and what podcasting software and management tools you’ll need to do so.
- Scheduling and launch: Make sure you stay consistent and have an episode release schedule to follow.
Doing a podcast on your own isn’t impossible, but it’s a lot of hard work. So you might want to bring in some help. Alumni.fm is a great option because it will make your life easier and get your podcast launched faster. Here’s why you might want to consider their services.
- Quality service from professionals: Because you don’t want to disappoint alumni with low production quality.
- Cost-effective: You won’t have to waste your valuable time learning how to edit, market, and distribute your own podcast.
- End-to-end service: Choose the all-in-one podcast service or assistance with specific aspects — it’s your call.
Whether you decide to go completely DIY or use a trusted service like Alum.fm, your podcast is bound to make waves.
Every University Needs an Alumni Podcast
An alumni podcast is a great way to improve alumni engagement, expand your alumni giving network, and foster meaningful connections among former students. All universities should have one. And since podcasting as an industry has a reputation for encouraging informal and candid conversations — you might just learn something profound from a fellow alum or an old friend.
So if you’re not already making moves to launch your own alumni podcast, what are you waiting for? Tell us why you agree or disagree with us about the importance of university alumni podcasts. What type of alum stories are you dying to hear? Share this article with a fellow podcast junkie or alumni professional looking for new alumni engagement ideas.