Before Seinfeld, you couldn’t make a show about nothing. In the not-too-distant past, shows had to have a central theme and narrative. Not only was Seinfeld a show about nothing, one episode was a show about making a show about nothing. Since then, lots of shows have been about nothing: Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, New Girl, and so on.
Your show can’t be about nothing, though. Your show has to be about something. You’re a business, you’re a brand. Your show needs a mission statement and core values. Right?
This is where a lot of business people get stuck. Thankfully, your podcast doesn’t have to be controlled by a central theme.
Many brands have a specific niche with an almost unlimited supply of topics. Dave Ramsey is a personal finance expert with a radio show and a podcast. The scope of his content is finely targeted to personal finance, but if you look closely you’ll see a wide variety of topics within that scope. Within each episode, you’ll hear a wide variety of anecdotes and advice.
The closer your topics get to the core of your business, the better. You want your audience to correlate your podcast with your brand, but there are no hard-fast rules as to what you can and can’t talk about.
Marketing expert and best-selling author, Seth Godin, says “podcasting is the new blogging.” Most of us are familiar with a blog format. A blog may have a series with a particular theme, but many blog posts are completely independent from the previous post. Podcasting, like blogging is simply “a way to share your ideas, to lead your community, to earn trust,” as Godin says.
Podcasts like Heroine, Bulletproof Radio, and How I Built This, are all built around a certain concept, but that concept serves as a loose framework, not a straitjacket. The key to a great podcast is creating engaging content, not sticking to a prescriptive formula. The narrative will work itself out over time, as you identify show topics and guests you find interesting in regards to your work.
As it turns out, Seinfeld wasn’t even really a show about nothing. It was a show about a comedian in New York City trying to navigate (often poorly) his career, his relationships, and his community. Characters come in and out, seasons change, and each episode tells a unique story, but in the end it all came together – as TVs greatest comedy.