Podcast Powered Projects — An Interview with Matt Ballantine

Ben Newton
May 27 · 8 min read

In this episode of the Masters of Data podcast, I speak with a fellow podcaster who is no stranger to this show. The guest on this episode is a repeat guest and that’s a very good thing. Matt Ballantine is a multi-talented technologist who spends his days helping companies build and execute digital strategy with his company Stamp and also hosts his own podcast called WB-40 with co-host Chris Weston. I sit down to talk with Matt about his newest project which brings the worlds of business and technology together in a way that aims to be uniquely compelling for organizations struggling to innovate and communicate. Through the idea called Podcast Powered Projects, Matt uses the platform of podcasting to enable people and organizations to more effectively communicate with each other and the surrounding world as a format to get their much-needed message out to people. We sit down to discuss podcasts, their incredible usefulness in today’s world and how they are changing the landscape of communication for the future…by using a podcast themselves to discuss these ideas.

To start the conversation, Matt explains more about the backdrop for the Podcast Powered Projects idea and how as a social scientist he sees tremendous value in what podcasting can offer. He explains, “My WB-40 co-host, Chris [and I], we’ve been basically plotting and planning an experiment and it’s an experiment that we’re calling Podcast Powered Projects. And it started about six months ago…We’d been running our show for a couple of years by then and we were starting to think about how might we take some of what we’ve been doing and what we’ve learnt through doing podcasts and apply it to be able to help some of our clients.” He continues, “The podcast is a really good way to be able to have an excuse to be able to say, “Can I talk to you?” Because it plays to people’s egos and if you are curious about them and you’re curious about what they do or what they think, being able to say, “Can I come and talk to you, because I’d like to record an interview for a podcast?”, it’s a really good, open way about being able to start that conversation, so it’s a good way to open doors.” The advantage then to podcasting is it’s a much more approachable way to cultivate discussions with people and hear from them about important ideas. What podcasting offers is a much more relaxed forum to have conversations with people and engage with them.

As we discuss though, the real power in podcasting lies not only in it’s approachability but in the uniqueness of the platform and how it offers something that most other communication tools cannot. A level of thoughtfulness and intentionality. As Matt notes, “When people have got a microphone in front of them, they become more measured and more considered in their response and if you get yourself reasonably good at questioning, you get yourself reasonably good at listening, you’re able to able to help people to be able to tell a story. And the aim of it, of course, is to be able to create something that somebody else wants to listen to.” He continues, “There’s something about the medium that…if you do it right, can actually be more effective at communicating something you want to communicate than trying to do these videos or just sending out written documents, and for a lot of people, they actually absorb the information better that way.” The reality is, even in 2019, bland documents (or business cases as Matt says) and other lifeless forms of correspondence are still being used by brands worldwide to engage with people both internally and externally. Or alternatively they look to costly and overwhelming video projects which at times are not appropriate. But this is where the power of podcasts offers hope.

To put it more succinctly, Matt notes on his website that, “As well as being easy to consume, podcasts are very efficient and effective in production. They can be made to sound relatively professional at a fraction of the time and cost of video production. But there is also something more intimate about audio that means that people are more open in conversation in comparison to when they are confronted with a film crew. Distribution of the content is also inexpensive and easy. We believe that the skills required to create podcasts can help people outside of comms teams to get better at researching and communicating within and outside of their organisations: introducing Podcast-Powered Projects.” Podcasts offer an alternative approach to communication and thinking that is often missed by alternate platforms that brands currently use. And this is reason for celebration. “I’m really excited about it, because the idea of being able to give people a new set of faculties to be able to engage with people around them, to be able to help, ultimately, deliver better technology solutions within that organization. This feels like it could have some really interesting outcomes,” Matt says. And it’s no wonder.

Another advantage to podcasting that we hone in on is how it allows for the development and creation of communication to be kept internal and crafted by the thinkers and communicators within the organization itself. Too often companies will look for communication solutions that involve other people or other departments which often ends in unclear and missed messages. And this is a big problem as Matt alerts. “What you then get is people who can’t communicate very well outsourcing their communications to people who also can’t communicate very well, and spend most of their time not communicating. This is not healthy, and it leads to some of the challenges about projects get launched, nobody knows what the hell is going on, because nobody was informed about any of it before it started.” When brands need to be focused on concise and clear messaging and effective strategies, they often implement ideas that are anything but.

As Matt and I identify, by looking to podcasting, thinkers, idea-makers and companies with a message can have an open platform to have honest discussions, communicate clearly and engage with the people that need to hear from them. “It’s about an ability to be able to do curious research, to be interested in things, to be able to not have necessarily an agenda, which enables you to be able to explore things in a much richer way. And from that, to be able to make some conclusions about what path you should take, what things you should do, what it is your organization should head towards.” And as Matt and I clearly articulate in the course of our discussion, having projects powered by podcasts instead of traditional methodologies is an incredibly useful and effective way of bringing change to the world.

Outbound Links & Resources Mentioned

Learn more about Matt:

Learn more about Podcast Powered Projects:

Learn more about Matt’s company Stamp:

Follow Matt on Twitter: @ballantine70

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn:

Takeaways

  • A podcast is a really good way to be able to have an excuse to be able to say, “Can I talk to you?”.
  • It plays to people’s egos if you are curious about them and you’re curious about what they do or what they think.
  • It’s a really good, open way about being able to start a conversation and is a good way to open doors.
  • When people have a microphone in front of them, they become more measured and considered in their response.
  • If you want to know all that you need to know about the culture of an organization, you can tell most of what you need to know from their reception area; a concept known as semiotics.
  • Using semiotics you can glean an awful lot of information about what that organization is about, how they treat their staff, how they treat their customers, and you can get a feel of a place by just observing things around that are seemingly secondary.
  • Depending on technology like podcasts is a really hard sell for people who are very logical and don’t like abstract, nice, neat lines to connect things and like formulas and like it to be absolute.
  • There’s something about the medium of podcasting that can actually be more effective at communicating something you want to communicate than trying to do these videos or just sending out written documents, and for a lot of people, they actually absorb the information better that way.
  • Podcasting is a very intimate thing-much more intimate than any other medium. There’s an emotional connection that people will have with listening that they don’t get with watching.
  • Technology means that we are able to be able to consume audio content and distribute audio content into these devices that we all have sitting in our pockets.
  • We can listen to content when we’re traveling, we can listen when we’re driving, we can listen when we are washing up.
  • There are a whole bunch of ways in which you can consume audio content which aren’t dependent on you giving absolute, total, 100% attention with your eyes.
  • Podcasting is about the ability to be able to do curious research, to be interested in things, to be able to not have necessarily an agenda, which enables you to be able to explore things in a much richer way. And from that, to be able to make some conclusions about what path you should take, what things you should do, what it is your organization should head towards.
  • Business documents (or business cases) are an act of fiction that is written in a language that nobody would ever want to read. And it’s an act of fiction, because what it does is forces people who have an idea to emotionally and politically commit to that idea to such an extent that they will flex reality no matter what it is to be able to put something down that they, then, have to stand by, because to get forward in any organization, you need to get your business cases approved to be able to get funding to do things.
  • Podcasts enable you to be able to investigate research with a humility and a curiosity because the format you’re heading towards is a story, but the story has to be a compelling listen.
  • Podcasts enable you to communicate to your organization, because you’re producing this thing that is communicative in its own right, and could replace the business case.
  • The idea of being able to give people a new set of faculties to be able to engage with people around them, to be able to help, ultimately, deliver better technology solutions within that organization feels like it could have some really interesting outcomes.
  • There are lots of people out there who are selling corporate podcasting, but it’s as a production service rather than as a building skills.

Newtonian Nuggets

Thoughts on what's going on in technology, data, analytics, culture and other nerdy topics

Ben Newton

Written by

Proud Father, Avid Reader, Musician, Host of the Masters of Data Podcast, Product Evangelist @Sumologic

Newtonian Nuggets

Thoughts on what's going on in technology, data, analytics, culture and other nerdy topics

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