Women Of Influence

With me in this episode is Emily Bench. She's the host of the podcast Women Of Influence. She is also a reporter with Columbus Business First, a traditional media outlet focusing on local business news in Columbus, Ohio market.

This is an interesting story about a traditional media outlet giving her 100% support for this podcast.

Her idea of what her podcast is about, as well as the support Columbus Business First is giving her, is well worth the listen. Hope you enjoy it.

Recorded in Studio C at the 511 Studios in the Brewery District, downtown Columbus, OH.


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Brett Johnson:
Well, Emily thanks for joining me on the podcast. I appreciate it.

Emily Bench:
Yeah.

Brett Johnson:
As I start off with all my guests, I want to dig a little bit off topic, but get to know you better, as well - the nonprofits that you support; that you give your time, talent, treasure to. Who do you work with?

Emily Bench:
I do a lot of work with nonprofits. That's something I've always been really passionate about since I was in college. The one that I've worked with throughout college and then a little bit afterwards, which I'm still involved with, is called Young Life. We do a lot of youth development and coaching with students in local high schools.

Emily Bench:
Particularly for me, it was with Columbus City Schools. Did work with Beechcroft High School and then did a little bit with Dominion Middle School, which is a Columbus City School middle school. That's what I do outside of Business First. I also contribute some efforts to-

Brett Johnson:
Give us a little bit about your background and your history before you got into, let's say, the day of the podcast, but what you've been doing with Business First, your education background, as well, too.

Emily Bench:
I studied journalism and media communications at Otterbein University. Go Cardinals. I am from Westerville, and my mom had a job there, so I got free tuition, which is amazing.

Brett Johnson:
Can't beat that! Yeah.

Emily Bench:
I know, it's ... I tell people that, and they're always like, "That's freakin' insane." Very thankful for that. I've always loved writing and reading; they were always my favorite things, so I went into journalism because I- what could I get paid for to write and read all the time, and that was the thing that I could do.

Emily Bench:
I studied that, and I was really lucky to land an internship at The Columbus Dispatch, which is really hard to do. I was very, very thankful for that. That got my toes in the water a little bit more with the industry of journalism, and decided I wanted to keep going down that path.

Emily Bench:
Then graduated; was doing some freelance work for them at the same time that I was graduating; then started working at Business First. That was just ... I don't even quite remember how that happened. I think my editor knew someone that I knew, but I can't quite remember.

Emily Bench:
They had an opening, and I just called one day. I called Business First, literally just the receptionist - the very anti-millennial answer, right? People probably thought I would be too scared, but I just called, and I was like, "Do you have a job? I need a job and want to stay in Columbus. I love Columbus." Doug was like, "Yeah, I do."

Emily Bench:
So, I was lucky, and I got a job with Business First. Been there about a year and a half. We are very small news team. We're very scrappy. Most people don't realize that we are rather small. There's four reporters and three editors, so we all cover about four to five things.

Emily Bench:
I cover sports business, so that mostly meant Save The Crew over the past year; education, which mostly means Ohio State, unless something big happens at Capital or something; then, travel and tourism, arts, and nonprofit. Recently, I've started a- I want to say low key, but it's not an official beat yet, but women in business beat, which leads me to the podcast.

Emily Bench:
So, with that, women in business is just something that I am very inspired and passionate about. I started work just wanting to get a job, like most of us do right out of college. I never really thought about my career or what I wanted out of it and what trajectory I wanted for myself - where I could see myself in 20-30 years.

Emily Bench:
Once I started talking to women who are my parents' age or maybe a little older, who have been through that, I was just so inspired by them; especially since when they started working, it was such a different field than my experience coming in in 2019, or 2018 as a worker.

Emily Bench:
I just started talking to people in my own time and meeting with people for coffee, for cocktails. "Just tell me about ..." and having Business First as that platform was amazing. I could reach out to a CEO, which not a lot of 22-year-olds can do and say, "Hey, can we meet?" And they would.

Emily Bench:
I just was learning more about them, and I just thought it was so fascinating. I also just became much more passionate about, yes, we have come so far, but there still is a lot of space we need to work on. I wanted to create a space where we could talk about those things with the people who have lived it.

Emily Bench:
Throughout that process of just meeting with people and talking to people, I just got really excited about it and thought if we want this representation in our paper, that's a void that I want to fill; rather than just saying, "Hey, I've noticed that we don't cover women in business as much as we cover men." Just leaving it at that is a bummer. I was like, "Hey, I've noticed this, and I want to help with the issue.".

Emily Bench:
My editors were amazing. I could not have been more supported. They said, "Absolutely. Go for it," and very much just left it up to me, which, my newsroom is very much hands-off and not super-micromanage-y, which I really appreciate; I know that means that they respect my opinion and what I can think.

Emily Bench:
They just left it up to me to go from there, so that was overwhelming, but also exciting. I started with doing a little bit more of women in business web coverage for the paper. I would just start interviewing; going around town to events or talking with public officials about this recent policy change that they've made for women, or whatever.

Emily Bench:
Throughout that, met some awesome women, and just sent out a cold email to all of them, which I don't know if I would recommend, because it was actually pretty overwhelming the amount of support I got back.

Brett Johnson:
Oh, good. Oh, wow, good.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, because I think ... Well, one, having Business First tied to it, that's great. Two, I think it really does fill a void that a lot of people at the local level don't get. We can listen to "How I built this," or all these other great podcasts about people in business, but, one, it's not local, and two, there's very few, "Let's talk to women and how they did this and how they built their own career." I don't think I've had a person say they wouldn't do it. It's just been great the amount of support I've gotten. I sent out those emails, and the rest is history, I guess.

Brett Johnson:
Great, yeah. Well, I think everyone going into business has a struggle, but I think women have a unique struggle, just from the lack of financial stream coming into fund - going to the bank, going to wherever it might be to fund this idea. It's statistically shown that it's a problem still. I think those stories can be very heroic. If nothing else, supportive of, "I can do this. I can do this."

Emily Bench:
Oh, my gosh, yeah. I have been so inspired by the women who come in; just the stories that they've told me; the things that they've gone through to get to this career that they love, but that was tough to build. Just me, starting out my career, it's literally just networking for free ... I mean, just learning so much from these amazing women. It's been a blast.

Brett Johnson:
How long did it take for the pitch? You had the idea. You just threw it at Doug, I'm assuming, and he said, "Yeah, go for it"?

Emily Bench:
It was kind of an evolution. I was thinking about it, and I started covering it with a random cover story - I don't even remember how long ago. Six-seven months ago, now, probably - about three women; the three leaders of Shadowbox, which is right down the street. They're three women; it's a COO, CEO, and chief marketing- CMO. They're all women, and they run up this organization. I thought that that was just such a cool business model, so I interviewed them and did a big cover story on them.

Emily Bench:
Then, I think just because I'm young, and a woman, they just were like, "You'll be interested," which luckily, I really am. There would be some pitches we'd randomly get from companies. They'd throw them my way, and I gladly took them. Then I started thinking maybe there are some ways that I can proactively cover this and would go to some things.

Emily Bench:
It took a while for me to think I actually want to rein this as almost like a beat and make it my thing to cover. Once I did that, I'm serious, I sat ... I have a weekly meeting with Doug, and my other boss, Mark, and Eleanor. I just was like, "Here's an idea ..." We'd been talking about podcasts for a while. We have a beer podcast, where we talk about beer and business.

Emily Bench:
Doug and Mark see the need for a podcast, and they think, like we've said before, that it is a great way to engage with our audience in a different way. Especially to people who might not be subscribers, it's a way to get them in, like, "Look at this great content! Subscribe!" Because we want to get paid.

Emily Bench:
I kind of just said, "Hey, I know we're talking about podcasts. I think from the stuff that I've been covering and the women who I have relationships with from just working out this paper, I think this would be a really good idea." I really wanted it to be not a "Tell me about your company" podcast; it was "Tell me about your career. What has it been like, from the highs and lows, everything in between.".

Emily Bench:
I wanted it to be a personal conversation. We sit at these big comfy chairs and just have coffee. It's casual. They seem to really like that, because I think it also adds ... We're Business First. We're very 'business all the time,' and I think it added a level of depth to our reporting.

Brett Johnson:
The after-five feel.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, right. Exactly. After that meeting, they were pretty much like, "Go for it." I went and did some homework; talked with one of my colleagues, who- he picked up doing the technical side of podcasts a little bit more in recent months. We said, "What do we feel like this could be like? What's our mission? Who do we want to talk to?"

Emily Bench:
Then I came back with more of a solid pitch, and then, it was go time. Currently, we're working to get advertisement for the podcast, which is great for our paper. That's really exciting, because I think that that's something that they can sell and something that we can put our name on, so, it's exciting.

Brett Johnson:
Does some of the content turn into content for the print version?

Emily Bench:
Yes. Actually a couple of times. Some of the women I've brought in ... The first one I had was with Falon Donahue. She's the CEO VentureOhio. She's amazing. I had her turn into ... We have a special section in our paper called Newsmakers, which is a profile on a businessperson. Again, it's the story behind the businessperson ...

Emily Bench:
One example was Shayla Favor, one of our new council members. She used to be in culinary school, and how that shaped her career. It's always fun lighter things. Two of them, I had ... two of them. I had Falon and Liz Brown, who's also on council. They both ... I went back; listened to the podcast; pulled some stuff from what they said, and made a whole web story out of it, so it was nice, but, yeah, I've done that a couple of times.

Brett Johnson:
That's good. It's always nice to use content you have already.

Emily Bench:
Absolutely-

Brett Johnson:
And kind of a ... Not a throw-away story, at all. It is a good story, but it's like, "Okay, I can use this multiple times, and ..." [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Especially when they're so ... They're CEOs. They're city councilmen. They're very busy, so that helps a lot.

Brett Johnson:
You bet, yeah. You had talked about planning the podcast out. What was that process like of who you would be approaching? The C-Suite level, or ... Talk about that process.

Emily Bench:
That's still a work in progress. We're still figuring it out. What we really wanted was women at the top of their game; we're talking C-Suite level, executive-director level. Not that we don't think that directors in other departments or areas aren't awesome and bad-ass - I don't know if I'm allowed to say that - but that they're really cool, but we're really looking for women who are in positions that you normally wouldn't think they are, because they're women.

Emily Bench:
Which, unfortunately, we're talking publicly traded boards, publicly traded companies. A lot of times, we're just not seeing leadership in those areas. I started in that area, and then, I also ventured out there and looked into politics. Talked with Liz Brown on council; talked to some people in the nonprofit space. Wanted to get a wide swath of people,0 because I think the wider we are in our coverage, the more people we can get interested and drawn in.

Emily Bench:
I have some startups, some people in VC, some ... We have it all now. That's who we thought ... That's who we want to talk to. We do get a lot of pitches from other people, and it's always hard ... That's something that I'm just so thankful for that it's been so well-received from the community; that people want to be on it and tell their story. That's just been so fun.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. How's the podcast allowing you to showcase your expertise, as well as showcasing what Business First does really well? Is that a piece of- in the back your mind going, "Okay, yes, I want to interview the best of the best, of course, but I also want this to push us forward, as well, too, as a platform ..."?

Emily Bench:
That's a great question. One, I'm a journalist, so asking questions is what I get paid to do. That's definitely been really fun being able to do that background research and ask the hard questions, but also just give them an environment, at the same time, that's a little more relaxed than a sit-down with my reporter notebook - "Tell me the answer to this question."

Emily Bench:
I definitely think it's been able to showcase my question-asking skills, for sure, and just my curiosity. I've always been an extremely curious person. I think that's why journalism was very interesting to me, because I'm always asking questions.

Emily Bench:
I think that it also really showcases that, because a lot of times, we'll be in conversations, and we'll just totally derail which it's really fun ... They'll just say something, and I'm like, "That's amazing!" One woman I just recently talked to, her grandma used to own a jelly factory in the '30s and was this awesome woman business owner, when no woman owned a business. Unfortunately, it was because of unfortunate events, but she still owned a business. We just talked about that for forever, because I was so interested in that.

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Emily Bench:
I think that, as far as I go, and then as far as Business First goes, we want to be- we call ourselves 'the business authority of Columbus.' I think, moving forward as a paper, we want to be the business authority for everyone, not just the same people that look the same, talk the same, or are from the same area. We want to have more diverse coverage, and I think we've been doing that in our web coverage, but also with this podcast. That's just one small thing that I think our paper's really caught a hold of and really wanted to tackle. So, yeah, I'm part of an awesome team that really feels that same way.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Was any return on influence talked about in regards to what - in a year's time, in two years' time - the podcast could be doing, should be doing for you, and for the paper, too?

Emily Bench:
I definitely think that ... This was something that we're still trying to figure out; unfortunately, if we run through all of the women C-Suite executives, we're gonna get to the end at some point, because it's not ... It's a great list, but it's not a super-exhaustive list.

Emily Bench:
We want to make sure that we're spreading that out, and we're figuring out ways to venture into other spaces, whether that be professional athletes ... Just trying to be more creative with who we're bringing in, because eventually, we're gonna get to the end of CEOs, and we want to be more than just that. We want to be able to speak into all different kinds of industries. I would hope, in a year or two from now, we're talking to people in all different industries leading up different initiatives and different organizations. I think that that would be really the goal in a year, two years' time.

Brett Johnson:
You've put the title of the podcast "Women of Influence," so it's pretty broad.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, it is.

Brett Johnson:
Depending on your target ... Of course, it's C-Suite right now, but there are many levels, and even the definition of women, and influence can really mean anything you want it to be, as it goes along.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, that's a good point.

Brett Johnson:
Which is kinda cool,

Emily Bench:
I still am just so floored by how many women want to just talk about that, or they know another woman. I think that that's been so interesting. Other women I've brought on the podcast give me a list of six other women to reach out to. It's just that kind of a community, where they're like, "Hey, this woman's doing awesome things, and I want them to have a spotlight on themselves, as well."

Brett Johnson:
I wonder, when you mentioned that, about that the list may come to an end ... It may not, though, if you think about it, because you will get those referrals, because you're doing such a good job with the interview. They were impressed. They were happy with the end result. They're more than happy to give you three more [cross talk] you hope that two or three of those were never on your list, so you just added to it, or they have developed over the time that- all of a sudden, they're at a level that you do want to interview them, if that's what you want to do at the time, which is intriguing; which is great ...

Emily Bench:
Right, yeah, and I have a list of ... Yeah, I have a list of my idols, who I would love to talk to that I haven't heard from yet, but fingers crossed.

Brett Johnson:
I think that that's ... What's intriguing about podcasting right now is you do get those results; that feedback; that email back; that phone call back a little quicker than you do with a lot of even just an interview for a blog, or an article for a paper-

Emily Bench:
Sure. it is crazy.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, it's ... Especially when you've got quite a few under your belt. You've published. They listen to how you do it, and they listen to it going, "I could talk to her ..."

Emily Bench:
Right..

Brett Johnson:
"Yeah, I like how she does this." You've created a platform that's probably very attractive to these women.

Emily Bench:
It has been so interesting. I found that, yeah, women ... People really do want to talk to us at Business First. I think they see great value in that, but adding another level of a podcast to it ... There's been so much interest, which has been really fun.

Brett Johnson:
With an interview podcast, there's a strategy. There's good ways/bad ways of doing it. You've got to schedule them; you've got to figure out a time to get this all done, and fit your schedule; fit their schedules, as well, too. What's been working so far for you, in terms of how did you think you were gonna do it, and how's it evolved into how you're doing it, or maybe it's the same?

Emily Bench:
That has been a trial by fire. As we're journalists, we're just kind of all over the place. Some days, I will have days where I am so busy; I'm just swamped. Then other days, where it's a slow news day, and we're like, "What are we doing today?" We don't know. It really depends on the day, and that's what I always tell people.

Emily Bench:
As far as scheduling for my podcast goes, that has been definitely a learning experience. It's just hard to schedule all these dates with these really important, busy women who- they have a certain time slot of like an hour that they can meet with me. I'm more than willing to do that, but I also have to make sure I'm looking through my reporting schedule, because that is my first priority and then figuring out where I can fit that in. It's kind of been just like a puzzle, as far as scheduling goes.

Emily Bench:
I do no more than one a week, because otherwise, I would just be very overwhelmed, and our tech staff would be way overwhelmed with editing those, as well. I try doing one a week and spacing them out. We've taken a break for a couple weeks, because my colleague is overseas for a couple weeks, and then, in a couple weeks, I'll be overseas, so we're just ...

Emily Bench:
We have a lot on back-file, so we can keep publishing them, which is great. I really recommend that. We filmed about six or seven, before we even published our first one, so while I'm gone, we can still publish a podcast that week, which is really nice.

Emily Bench:
As far as my research goes, before someone comes in, I have a template laid out of- I guess you could call them segments that I'd like to say. I'll just do an- I have an intro for the podcast, obviously, which is pre-recorded; we say the same thing every time. Then I introduce my guest, and normally, I'll just do research beforehand and do a little brief bio on them.

Emily Bench:
Then, we go into business questions: How do you do what you do? What is it like for you? Very specific to their industry and their position. Then, we'll talk about broader concepts like negotiating for yourself, or talking about salary; just things that are very important to women in the workplace, but they might not know who to talk to, and they can listen to our podcast and get advice from a CEO. I think that's very useful. We wanted to give something to our listeners that's very tangible, and useful, and practical.

Emily Bench:
After that, which is obviously the bulk of our podcast, I go into a rapid-fire section, where I just ask a couple fun questions, which I ask each guest that comes on, and they just give me the first thing that comes to their head. That one's always really fun.

Brett Johnson:
Oh, I can imagine. Exactly, yeah.

Emily Bench:
The one that gets them every time is what is the biggest myth about being a female executive? They always get stumped, and they have to think about it for a while. I think I could count ... There have been very few of my guests, who have immediately known what to say to that answer, but they always have amazing answers.

Emily Bench:
That's how that goes. That's fun, and we're always trying to think of new ways to do things. We, as a team, are trying to think of ways to be more multimedia with it - getting photos, and doing teaser videos, and all sorts of different things with that.

Brett Johnson:
That leads me into the next question about social-media strategy. What has evolved in doing it? What was- at the very front, "We gotta do this; we gotta do that ..." What other things are you doing, then? What platforms are you utilizing to promote podcasts?

Emily Bench:
As reporters, we all are expected to really promote our stories and engage with our audience really well, just because we know the results of that. Our plan is always ... Dan, my colleague, is really great at making these little teaser videos, where he pulls out these awesome little one-liners that the women on my podcast say and loops them into one 30-minute teaser, and we'll tweet that out the week before and be like, "Hey, listen to all this great advice. Tune in next week, and you'll hear the whole podcast." That's been really fun.

Emily Bench:
Even that alone has just been so well-received - so many retweets, so many likes. Twitter is Business First's, and this podcast's main way of reaching people. We also, obviously, this being Business First, LinkedIn's very important to us, and we have Instagram, too, but we do more Instagram for longer-form stories and whatnot.

Emily Bench:
I would say Twitter's our most-utilized platform, for sure. We just make sure we do one the week before and then the week of. Also, throughout that, I'm doing web coverage on women, and business stuff, so that always links us back to the podcast, because I think people are starting to click- connecting the podcast with me and how that's my thing within Business First, so that's been really cool.

Brett Johnson:
Which is cool to have. That it is-

Emily Bench:
Yeah. Sometimes, I think about it, and it's just I'm so young and inexperienced and the fact that Doug, and Mark, my bosses, just were so for me doing this. I'm just so appreciative, and it's been really fun.

Brett Johnson:
Are you utilizing video then on LinkedIn platform, as well, for those snippets?

Emily Bench:
Yeah, we'll do the teaser videos only, then-

Brett Johnson:
Okay, on there, too [cross talk]

Emily Bench:
Yeah, and-

Brett Johnson:
-I know LinkedIn's wanting video.

Emily Bench:
Yeah-

Brett Johnson:
Big time, yeah.

Emily Bench:
-and the great thing about LinkedIn is we really try to get our interviewees to share it on their LinkedIn, because if you're a CEO of- like Kristy Campbell was one of my podcast guests, and she's the COO of Rev1. That's big time, and she shared it on her LinkedIn, and then, all of a sudden, we were getting all of these shares ... People loved it, because I think they see that ... Columbus 2020 shared it ... Those kind of things are just always great.

Brett Johnson:
Right. You're on SoundCloud for the platform to publish. What was that choice process of going with SoundCloud versus, you know, there are lots of other options out there ... What were you thinking with that decision?

Emily Bench:
SoundCloud is where Columbus Business First has always done their podcasts. They started one back a couple of years ago, and we've still done it intermittently, if we bring in the mayor, or Alex Fisher, or someone very important in the business community. We'll do a quick interview with them, and we would post it on SoundCloud, and they would have a really good response..

Emily Bench:
About a year ago, I would say now, the men in my office started a beer podcast, just because Dan, my colleague, covers beer, and Mark, and Doug are huge craft beer drinkers. Again, this is them just being so awesome. They were like, "Emily, do you wanna be a part of this podcast, because we just don't want to be a bunch of old men up here talking ..." I mean, they wouldn't say [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
You were brought in for the coolness factor, then-

Emily Bench:
Maybe [cross talk] yeah, the coolness factor, but I don't drink craft beer, so it's actually very fun. We all just-

Brett Johnson:
Sure.

Emily Bench:
They're all like, "Well, I taste hints of this, and that," and I'm like, "Eh, I didn't really like it." I've promised that I'm gonna bring wine into one of these craft beer podcasts, but that's kind of ... SoundCloud was where we started, and then we just figured we have followers; we have a base on this platform, so that's where we're going to publish. We're also on Apple, or anywhere else where you can listen to podcasts-

Brett Johnson:
Gotcha, sure. Okay, yeah. Recording space, literally, where are you recording? How are you doing this?

Emily Bench:
Again, we're just- I'm just really lucky that we have an amazing built-in studio to our newsroom. Rick Titus, it's technically his office, and he's our jack of all trades. He's amazing at everything. He does a lot of our design; a lot of our digital photography. It's so great ... That's his office, and he gives that up for me every week to be able to do my podcast, and it is just so gracious of him.

Emily Bench:
We have a built-in sound-specific studio, and we have all the correct equipment. I have a great team who are professionals, and they know the exact equipment that we need, and how to use it, and what to do with it.

Emily Bench:
Luckily, that takes the pressure off of my shoulders a little bit that I don't have to preplan how to set up all the equipment and figure out how to mic my guest up. I just bring them in, get them some coffee, and we sit down and start talking.

Emily Bench:
Rick, and Dan, who is my colleague who's really taken the reins on podcasting stuff, they do all that hard stuff for me, which is ... I can't thank them enough for that, because that makes my job way easier.

Brett Johnson:
It's hugely relieving. It is. You bet it is. Oh, yeah, yeah.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, oh, my gosh, it's ... It's great, yeah ... Sometimes, I'll mess stuff up, and we'll have to come back, and I'll just rerecord it, but it's always so easy. Dan always edits them, and they just- they sound amazing. I could not do it without them. I'm just the one talking.

Brett Johnson:
Well, and that's usually the brick wall of a lot of people wanting to podcast, and going, "Okay, wait a minute. If I record this, and it's not perfect, I need edit, and I have no clue how to edit."

Emily Bench:
Yeah.

Brett Johnson:
That stops a lot of people, probably. You see that a lot posted up in Facebook groups and such, that just, it's stopped them from doing it. It stopped them.

Emily Bench:
I would say if there's someone who has those skills and you know is technically savvy in that way, or maybe doesn't know how to do all that stuff, but is a quick learner and likes technology, work with them. It doesn't have to be a one-person show. It definitely is not a one-person ... It's not The Emily Show at all. I get to interview the awesome people, but it's definitely a team effort.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Beyond the scheduling problems that you were ... I don't really want to call them problems, but you have to match up people's schedules, of course-

Emily Bench:
Sure, yeah, it's difficult.

Brett Johnson:
What other challenges have been, along with producing this podcast, that you've recognized and overcome?

Emily Bench:
Well, definitely figuring out ways to diversify the content. We obviously are trying to get people in different fields, in different industries, and different positions into the studio to talk with me, but we also want to make sure we're not asking them all the same questions. We have the last segment, where I do. It's kind of the whole point, which makes it fun, is asking the same questions.

Emily Bench:
But, when I'm talking about their own career, I don't want to ask the same three guests, "How do you negotiate for yourself?" It's definitely important. I want to mix it up, and I'll repeat questions, sometimes, but I really want to make sure that I'm, one, just tailoring to their specific industry and story, which takes a lot of research.

Emily Bench:
Just making sure that I'm not boring our readers, who, if they're bingeing on a- listening to three episodes in a row ... Which, I am a podcast binger. I love podcasts, which also really got me the idea of thinking about doing a podcast, because I love them, and I find them so interesting. They're so easy to do while I'm cooking, or going to the gym, or whatever.

Emily Bench:
I want to make sure that if they listen to three in a row, they're not like, "Okay, Emily's just asking them the same questions every time." That takes a lot of research. I've definitely learned along the way; there's been ... Like I said, I'm very lucky that it's not live, because there's been times I've asked questions and been like, "I shouldn't have asked that." I'm very lucky that I also have a great colleague who edits out my mistakes. Research, research, research, for sure.

Brett Johnson:
This is over the holiday parties ... Here's the best of the bloopers from Emily.

Emily Bench:
Yes.

Brett Johnson:
Those are actually kind of fun to listen to, because you forget-

Emily Bench:
They're certainly-

Brett Johnson:
-and it's like, "Wow, did I really say that? Thank goodness he cut that out!".

Emily Bench:
Yeah, or I'm just babbling, like I don't even know what I'm saying, so-

Brett Johnson:
You just came out of the Brews podcast, and it's like, "Yeah, that was not smart to do that first ..." Yeah, but-

Emily Bench:
Someone suggested- someone suggested ... Our beer podcast is called News and Brews-

Brett Johnson:
News and Brews, right.

Emily Bench:
-and my podcast is called Women of Influence. Someone tweeted at me the other day and said they wanted to do a Beer of Influence podcast. I guess that means bringing in a woman and having a beer instead of coffee? I don't know, but-

Brett Johnson:
It could work, too-

Emily Bench:
We'll figure it out.

Brett Johnson:
Exactly, yeah-

Emily Bench:
I guess we'll try it.

Brett Johnson:
Well, that leads me to future plans for the podcast. I can tell you're the creative person-.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, definitely.

Brett Johnson:
You've got to have a vision in your head about, okay, I want this to do this in 18 months, in 24 months, as well as, if you can spill the beans of who you'd really love to interview, as well.

Emily Bench:
Oh, yeah. Don't mind ...

Brett Johnson:
Talk about that. Where would you love this to be in a year's time? That's always evolving, of course, too, and, like I said, who would you love to talk to?

Emily Bench:
One, we would obviously love to increase the amount of people who subscribe and listen to the podcast, for sure; ultimately hoping that that ends in subscriptions to our paper. I think, right now, we have a very specific community of either my friends who are awesome, and love me, and want to listen to my podcast and people who already subscribe to our paper, but I think we want to really expand that beyond that group of people.

Emily Bench:
Maybe kids who are in their senior year of college and want advice on what career- whatever their career path they're going into or who have been working for 15-20 years and just need to get out of a funk and be inspired. I want it to be something that really can reach all swaths of people, so I think, obviously, growth is one of those.

I would also love just to use it as a platform for ... You hear a lot of times really successful podcasts have- they moderate discussion panels, and they talk with women at live events. Then, that turns into a podcast, and again, that diversifies what the reader ... The readers ... I mean, the newspapers, but what the listeners are hearing, and that makes them excited and intrigued.

Emily Bench:
I really want to make sure I'm diversifying the content and having it become a source for people, not just this great podcast that's really cool, but it's kind of just, here, I want it to be, "Oh, that podcast, I want to listen to that; I want to be a part of that community."

Emily Bench:
It would be really cool for it to become one of our community spaces, where women can be able to talk with one another, get advice from each other, set up mentorship opportunities - hands-on mentorship opportunities - for women. I think that would be amazing.

Emily Bench:
Obviously, that's very lofty. My boss is probably like, "What?!" I think that would just be a really great thing to go broader than just a podcast of how can we help each other tackle our careers, and what is it to be ambitious and have that not be a bad thing? That would be my goal there.

Emily Bench:
I would love ... I know it's lofty, but Abigail Wexner is like ... I want to talk to her so bad. She's so amazing; does so much work in our community. I feel like she would be a wonderful guest on the podcast, or just ... You hear that name, and you know who she is, and that's-

Brett Johnson:
It's multiple episodes there, I do believe-

Emily Bench:
I know! Oh, I could do ... It could go on forever. She's definitely on there. I think the First Lady, Channing Gunther, would be another really great one. There's a lot of great women leaders in our community.

Emily Bench:
Again, I really want- I want it to be an area where women can feel empowered and inspired to go into their job every single day and do good work, but also want more for themselves than just ... What I feel like a lot of times women do is just talk themselves out of things. I want it to be a space where they can talk themselves into something.

Brett Johnson:
There you go. I like that. That's good. I like that idea of talking themselves into it. That's great. Let's end with this: advice for anybody that's considering doing a podcast, holistically ...

Brett Johnson:
What's some advice would you give them to get them going to make sure they don't stop at certain points, which I'm sure you ... You realized, going, "No, get over this," that sort of thing, to get this done, whether it's technology; whether it's support that you have within the business, itself, or just internally - you just can't seem to get the gusto going to hit Publish that first time ... What's some advice?

Emily Bench:
I think it's extremely important to do your research, especially in our oversaturated podcast sphere, but also just media, in general. You have to have a mission, and you have to have a very clear hole that your podcast is trying to fill.

Emily Bench:
For me, that was local women in business . I didn't feel like I was seeing that anywhere, and I felt like, hey, we could really do something here. Doing your research and seeing ... If it's something that other people have covered, too, that's great, but figuring out the angle that makes yours different, and stick out I think's extremely important, because ...

Emily Bench:
If you just want to do it because you want to do it and have that creative space and creative freedom, that's great, but if you're doing it to actually reach a large amount of people, I would suggest you do research on how you want to speak to that dialogue and be different. That would definitely be my advice to start with.

Emily Bench:
Making sure you have a team of people, if you, yourself, don't feel like you ... You probably have a full-time job, or a family, and this would be a large side hustle; making sure that you have a team of people that would want to do it with you.

Emily Bench:
I hear so many great podcasts of friends who just go into it together. That back-and-forth dialogue is also just so fun to listen to, from a listening standpoint. Having a team and making sure you're making those connections.

Emily Bench:
I was so lucky that I had the name Business First attached to my name, because it would be so hard for me to reach out to some women and say, "Hey, come over to my house and record a podcast with me." They'd be like, "Who are you?".

Brett Johnson:
Nothing creepy about that. No.

Emily Bench:
Right, exactly. Luckily, I had that name behind me, so I didn't have to do as much of that at the beginning. I would recommend, if you don't have that- or maybe you do have great business connections, and that's awesome, and I would suggest you start with that, but if you don't, go to networking events and start meeting people and give them your card.

Emily Bench:
Also just remembering, too, that it's okay ... It's a learning process, like anything else. I'd never done a podcast before this, and I'm sure the first couple episodes that was obvious, but the longer I think you get into it, the more comfortable you are and the easier it starts to become.

Emily Bench:
Another thing I would suggest would be doing what we've done, which is getting a lot of podcasts on file, in case ... If you want to be consistent and publish, whether that's weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, whatever that may be - ours is bi-weekly - but making sure that you stay consistent with that, so your audience, who's tracking with you, can expect things. I think that's important. Making sure to have some on file, in case you're sick, or you're out of town, or something. Consistency is really important, too.

Brett Johnson:
Well, congratulations on finding the niche.

Emily Bench:
Thank you.

Brett Johnson:
I agree, I don't know of one that is, so I think you've found it, which is great. Congratulations on the feedback that you're getting and the emails back, and the phone calls back that they want to be a part of the podcast, which is great. That means you're doing a good job. They are good episodes. I've enjoyed the three that I got to listen to-

Emily Bench:
Thanks.

Brett Johnson:
-probably because I did want to hear what you're doing with it, and was just impressed that ... Not that I didn't think Business First would do something like this, but I'm glad that they are.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, absolutely.

Brett Johnson:
I'm very happy that there's an outlet for this, because I think it's well-needed. I work with a couple of female-focused podcasts, as well, in the business arena. I think the stories are amazing. The content is out there, and it needs to be published.

Emily Bench:
Absolutely.

Brett Johnson:
It needs to come out there, whether it's on a regional scale, national scale, doesn't matter. It's a story that I think needs to be told. I think it's great.

Emily Bench:
Yeah, I agree. Thank you.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, great. Thank you for being a guest, as well.

Emily Bench:
Yeah.

Brett Johnson:
I appreciate it. Congratulations all the way, and good luck getting to month 18 year five, episode 100 - all those benchmarks. Those are great.

Emily Bench:
Thank you. Yeah, I'm very excited to see that happen.

Brett Johnson:
Cool.

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