The Successful Encore Career

I speak with Dr. Carol Ventresca, ED at Employment For Seniors about just that. With its first episode published in January of 2017, The Successful Encore Career Podcast has been a shining example of what non-profits can produce and utilize in their content creation.

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


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Brett Johnson:
Well, Carol, thanks for being a part of this podcast. I appreciate it. I've been wanting to do this with you for a long time, just syncing up schedule and me remembering to ask you to be a part of this.

Carol Ventresca:
Well, thank you for having me.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. Let's talk about Employment for Seniors a little bit, get a little prop, I think, that sets the table on why I wanted you here for this podcast to talk about a nonprofit doing a podcast.

Carol Ventresca:
Okay. Employment for Seniors is a 47-year-old nonprofit in Central Ohio. We are serving mature job seekers who we consider to be 50 years of age and older in Franklin County and the surrounding counties, so it's a seven-county area. We provide services to those looking for employment, free of charge. We also provide some services to local employers, including job postings, free of charge. Then, we also have hiring events for employers, and there are slight charges for those. We've been doing this for 47 years. The uniqueness of Employment for Seniors is that anybody is eligible for our services as long as they're are at least 50.

Carol Ventresca:
We don't do income eligibility, we don't collect social security numbers, we just want to make sure that we can help people become the best possible candidate they can be through resources and guidance and direction on those job postings. For employers, we're trying to enhance their applicant pool so that they have a diverse pool that includes those who are older and they're not missing out on the incredible resources, skills, and talent that a mature job seeker is going to bring to them. Again, the only thing that a client needs to do to register with us is to call the office, which is 614-863-1219 to make an appointment, and we'll get you started.

Brett Johnson:
What's your background in history before coming to Employment for Seniors?

Carol Ventresca:
It's sort of an array of things, which are all peripherally employment related, but I'm not a licensed career counselor. I've been doing career counseling for over 30 years. I started out in the workforce with the State of Ohio with the Bureau of Employment Services. When I finished my PhD at Ohio State, I went back to Ohio State and did continuing education programs for older adult students for almost 20 years, and I was able to see the need of older adults needing to expand that lifelong learning, going back to school to make their job search and their career path better. That's sort of where I started focusing on those issues. I had also, as a grad student, been an academic advisor and a career advisor. I have been placing students on internships. I still help place students on internships 40 years later. Again, I'm not a licensed career counselor, but I've been doing career counseling for a long time, and I've been at Employment for Seniors for over 10 years now.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, that's right.

Carol Ventresca:
I know. It's amazing. Time flies when you're having fun, and we do have fun every day. That's the one thing about this job that I love. I'm learning something new, and I'm having fun every day.

Brett Johnson:
Well, there's a lot of seriousness to the job.

Carol Ventresca:
Oh, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
You hear the stories from the gamut.

Carol Ventresca:
Yes.

Brett Johnson:
And you don't want to dread coming in.

Carol Ventresca:
Well, and I think too, the message that I would have, if anyone who's listening today is a job seeker is, it doesn't matter that the front page of the paper says the economy is great, there is still a lot of difficulty in getting a job in today's market, particularly, for those who haven't looked for a job for a long time. The application process is very different, and without some guidance, you're out there just pounding the pavement or pounding your fingers on a keyboard and getting nowhere fast, and that's very frustrating. National statistics are still showing that those who are even, actually, over 45 are having a harder time finding a job, and for those into their late 50s and 60s, it could take two years to find a job comparable to what they had before.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Well, full disclosure before we walk into the nuts and bolts of your podcast, the podcast, Employment for Seniors, The Successful Encore Career Podcast is that I was, personally, at the very beginning of that, helped bring the idea together. I co-host a lot of the podcasts released. I'm there being a part of it, let's put it that way.

Carol Ventresca:
You are the guilty party in this conversation, yes.

Brett Johnson:
There you go. I kind of want to lay that groundwork ahead of time, but my point in not necessarily promoting some podcasts that I am a part of is that I love the story behind what the podcast has done for the nonprofit. I think it's a good story that a lot of nonprofits, I hope, can take note, and learn from, that it's very possible to do. Beginning with that, so let's talk about the process that we began, discussing a podcast, how that began and we're, obviously, today. I think it's a good story, you can tell the story; how it began, actually.

Carol Ventresca:
Yes. For listeners, Brett walked into my office and said, "Oh, yeah, by the way, I've started a podcast for you, and I've called it The Successful Encore Career Podcast," and my question to him was, "What's a podcast?" He sort of caught me by surprise. I kept trying to push it off thinking, "Oh, God, not one more thing on my list of things to do," but it really revolved around, too, our move, our office had to move, and we were in a situation which was fine in terms of client services, but we couldn't expand. We would never have been able to pull off a podcast in that situation, so finding new space really gave it birth.

Brett Johnson:
Right. I think that the story behind that is kind of taking a look at where you are, the physical space. Is there space that can be utilized that's off the beaten path that has some quietness to it that can be, not necessarily 100 percent dedicated to creating ... Whether it's a podcast, video cast, whatever it might be, but media content, let's put it that way. If you have that space that can be utilized on a consistent basis, why not? I know we toured three or four different office spaces, and you did more than I did, but I was involved with a few places to take a look at. When we found the location that we did and that we are right now, I saw the room that we were going to use for a conference room and training room as well, and it caught my eye going, "This could work."

Carol Ventresca:
Absolutely. Let me also preface to say we didn't move because we were looking for podcast space, we moved because we had to. Our building had been sold, and so we had to find new space. We had intended to find some conference room or meeting room space if it would work out. When we walked into our present location, which is the First Commonwealth Bank building in Whitehall, it was perfect. It was perfect size, perfect, exactly what we needed, and we really wanted to have a designated training area, meeting area, which we can convert into podcasting in, literally, five minutes, so.

Brett Johnson:
Then, discussion did take a while between, obviously, the pains and gains of moving, but also realizing that room could be used multipurpose, and we had the discussions of looking at that room as, "Okay, we can use it as a conference room, but we also can use it for this, we can use it for this. We can also offer it to the community as a room to do this as well too, as a partner, that if they need something "off campus" to have a meeting in this conference room, or if they want to create a video cast or a podcast, let's open it up to them and have discussions.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, and serve the local community, the Whitehall community, which is an incredible partner of ours, and their small businesses or large businesses. I think, too, that to think about podcasting as a training tool was something new. I mean, people use podcasts to get trained, but I don't know that organizations have thought of podcasting as a training tool. They're doing webinars, they're doing Skype, and all of those other kinds of things. But, when we talked about podcasting, we started out with this notion of telling stories about clients who have gone through Successful Encore Career changes, but why not, also, as that place that people could go to forever and get information on a particular job search topic?

Brett Johnson:
Right, and that dawned on me looking at just, literally, coming into the office one day and seeing these sheets of frequently asked questions, or these cool tip sheets that you give clients as they walk out. Well each one of those tips are a podcast because you dive in deep into what this means to network, what this means to even just put a photo on a LinkedIn page.

Carol Ventresca:
It really is a prime example of using the resources you have and just expanding them because those were, I mean, it's taken us years to put those tip sheets together. We have 20 of them or so, and they're critical information. We've always had those tip sheets available on the website, but it's a PDF. It's a flat file. Now we actually have voices connected to that information with further explanation.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, and easily for the counselors to mention, "Hey, we also have a podcast expanding on this. I only have 30 to 35 minutes with you today, until our follow up or whatever next steps you are going to take, but we have this library, a podcast you can ... We talk to so-and-so expert about this, we talk to so-and-so expert about this, or we're bringing this one topic to life to listen to a little bit more than just a couple of sentences here.

Carol Ventresca:
I think, too, is it's another example that I can give to an employer who says older adults don't know anything about technology because guess what? We're using podcasting. We, as older adults, are creating a technology podcast, but also our clients, as older adults, are using them. We are not only utilizing the resources we have, one of the things that we do is to send out mass emails to clients, and we are including podcast highlights in those emails. When we're doing our hiring event, which I think we're going to talk a little bit more about later, we're doing podcasts with those employers, so it's a huge circle that we have created of enhancing the information that we give to our clients in a lot of different ways including using technology. Also, as an aside, when I gave testimony to our county commissioners earlier this year as opposed to inundating them with paper, I gave them a jump drive and said, "Yes, we know how to use technology and, by the way, here's my presentation and some of our podcasts on each of these jump drives for you," and so they got a chuckle out of it if nothing else.

Brett Johnson:
Well, that leads me to the next comment and question. Some factors that we discussed in measuring the success, the failure of what I term return on influence not just the ROI, Return on Investment. Yes, there is investment, of course, with this ... A little bit of money, and we'll touch upon that as we move on to the podcast. I think that our influence, our success, has been huge in regards to creating this podcast, but number one, we get that look of like, "You have a podcast?"

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Oh, yes. The other nonprofits just stare and go, "What?"

Brett Johnson:
Well, and it ups your professional gain by having one because you do take the time to create one, and it represents the organization very well. We've covered, and continue to cover, the topics that are core to our mission, our vision, as well as helping our, you know, it moves our clients forward, we hope.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and it's interesting too. I was thinking about this topic about ROI. For us, it's almost not measurable because there's no cost to it. Other than the outlay of the original equipment, we are going into our third year, and so far it's been free, basically. Your time, my time, our guests time, but in that time, that sort of goodwill that we're building, it is strengthening our brand, and I think maybe that's one of the keys here is do what you know.

Carol Ventresca:
Maybe that's a lesson in creating a podcast is I didn't know the technology, but I knew the career part. You knew the technology and are learning the career part with me, but we are doing what we know, and so the ROI, I think, is huge but it's more ... It's not numbers. There are numbers. We have sponsors, so there isn't dollars connected to it in terms of enhancing what we're doing, but it really is much more of the amount of goodwill that we're creating because we are allowing others to succeed with us and increase their brand. So, yes, we have a huge effort in creating and enhancing our own brand but, those what we bring with us, we're enhancing theirs too.

Brett Johnson:
Well, and it gives us the opportunity to talk to those that are experts in their field too. We have a whole series on LinkedIn and what to do with LinkedIn. Yes, other forms of content creation could have brought her to the table of maybe co-writing a blog, maybe doing a video series, maybe, but the comfort level that this podcast has created for us asking experts in their field to come in and talk about very specific pieces, rather than just hearing us talk about it, bringing someone in that knows about LinkedIn, knows about networking, has been fantastic. It's been enlightening in our world of contacts and HR have helped too to give our listener, our potential client or current client, a better view of what the reality is of looking for a job and how to approach it.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, and it's enhanced the agency by tapping our volunteers, who are incredible HR professionals to not just give information to clients, but to build their own resumé of skills, and it's also helped our board members with promoting their agencies and their industries. So, I guess, too, along with do what you know is to make it a win-win for everybody.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about who we're targeting with the podcast. Initially, I know it was the target of our clients to help them and, you know, the name of it, The Successful Encore Career, was to bring a lot of, you know, try to bring in these folks that are over 50, maybe over 45 and have done the turn, have, whether it been let go, or they saw another career path and they've grabbed the horns and they did it. Because there are some nuances to that adult over 50 that are different than the 25-year-old doing the same thing, so we wanted to spotlight that, but it turned into more than that.

Carol Ventresca:
Oh, it has. To only do Encore Career changes, which are phenomenal, and I just mentioned, we wanted to do work stories. We wanted people to talk about their career stories, but to not do the other things would, I mean, we'd get tired of just doing career stories. We really have three themes, one of which is that notion of the career changer, how to successfully career change, but then we've done the second theme, which is how to be a great applicant, and that's where all of our tips are coming in. Talk about adding ROI, we supported Congressman Stiver's Veterans job fair last year and then created four or five podcasts off of that event and posted those through November, Veterans month.

Carol Ventresca:
It's all tips on how to really be a good job seeker. Folks have acted like job seeking is a very informal process, and it's not, so that's where we're at. We want you to be a good job seeker, and we're going to give you the formal tips on how to do it. What we didn't think was going to happen, and a real surprise is, all of this work we're doing with employers and, oh, my gosh, that has just bloomed and has been great fun and a wonderful benefit that we can give to employers who are coming to us with the jobs they have to fill.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, let's dig into that a little bit more. We're kind of, actually, doing it almost twofold in two different realms, and let's talk about the hiring events and how we're doing that.

Carol Ventresca:
It started where we were highlighting the employers who are coming to the career fair, and so we've already done two, and we're going to do our third career fair this year doing the live stream. Although you've gotten me into this mess, this is your payback is to sit for four hours and talk to people through the career fair, so it started there where we really started tapping into the employers and highlighting them. Then we created, because of our new space, we have the ability to have onsite hiring events at the E0mployment for Seniors office, and this came not just because we had the space but also because employers loved the career fair and they wanted us to do it more than once a year, which would be literally impossible.

Carol Ventresca:
It takes us six to nine months to pull that together, and there's no way we could pull two of them off. We also realized they needed an opportunity to do more hiring at more logical times of the year, not just once a year based on their hiring needs. Also, over and above everything, it is a service to employers. The hardest part of a job search is getting your foot in the door for an interview. How many times do clients fill out an online application, and they never hear from the employer?

Carol Ventresca:
They really just want to be able to tell their story to that employer, so by doing those on-site hiring events, the employer is there, ready to talk to them. It may only be a 10-minute interview, but it could be critical. We have one tomorrow, and we have 50 people registered, and they have gone, usually, from 10 to 30, so we're really interested to see how this is going to go. It could be a madhouse. We'll see. We hope we're ready. We preface these hiring events with a podcast from the employer, to my long-winded story.

Brett Johnson:
No, no. To go into why we are talking to these employers about their business is it's part of, again, the research tool that we continue to harp on our clients. Research the business that you want to go interview with, see if it's a match for you, see what they're all about, and we hope that these interviews with the businesses will give them a little insight about what the business is like. Then you have some common ground to talk ... The culture is, what they, just dropping ... I know that you do this, but hey, I heard the podcast, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Carol Ventresca:
Exactly. It's finding out what the culture is like, not just the names of the jobs. The title of the job isn't going to tell you anything, and even the position description may not tell you anything, but the opportunity to hear that employer's voice and to really get a gist of what are they expecting? What are their assumptions on a great candidate? You know, what kinds of skills are we looking for? Position descriptions can be very vague, or they can be very misleading, so the more you find out about that employer and their expectations, the better you're going to be prepared to do a good interview, and this is ROI for the employer. We're charging them a fee to have this event at our office, but we are giving them this benefit of, literally, worldwide information about their company.

Brett Johnson:
Right, and we push it through our social media streams, we also give them a shortcut Bitly link to the podcast itself, too, that actually goes to our podcast platform, so we're really not necessarily promoting come back to our website, but it's easy access. It really is always focused about the client. Yes, we like to have the traffic to the website, of course, but we also know that our traffic to our website's pretty darn good anyway. The podcast obviously lends toward it but, I think, if we continue that focus on making sure the client has easy access to this information, we will win, and we do win with this.

Carol Ventresca:
Well, and I like the first question that you ask them is why do you work for this company? I mean, if you can hear why a recruiter works for a company, you're really going to get an idea of what to expect when you walk in the door as a new employee.

Brett Johnson:
Right, yeah. I asked that of one employer, and I've told you this story before too, but I thought it was an interesting answer that this young lady liked working there because of casual Fridays, that they had just ... In this very old, established business, okay? You would probably think it's kind of stodgy there, I guess, but that she thought it was the coolest thing that they implemented casual Fridays, or at least bring back the dress code. I thought that was an interesting answer because there could be someone in their 50s or 60s that all their life, suit and tie, suit and tie, and they are very uncomfortable with casual Fridays. They may not want to work there.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, or they may be excited because, "Oh, thank goodness. I don't have to wear a suit again."

Brett Johnson:
Maybe.

Carol Ventresca:
You know, at least for one day a week.

Brett Johnson:
One way or the other, but you know a little bit of information before going into that, that hopefully helps you make a decision as the process goes along.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Again, if we focus on the podcast to be win-win for our clients, for the guest, for the agency overall, you're going to hit a good sweet spot. You're really going to have great information out there that's going to last awhile.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Let's go into talking about our recording schedule, our strategy, our process of even finding guests. We don't just throw this on the wall and see what sticks.

Carol Ventresca:
No.

Brett Johnson:
I would advise, again, this is a piece of the success of how this is going on. It's not all on my shoulders. It's not all on Carol's shoulders. Actually, we have two or three other people that do some input in regards to topics. We open it up to the volunteer counselors too. It's like, "Hey, any topics that you want covered that we're not covering, or you're hearing clients coming in and talking more about that we haven't, please tell us, and we'll cover that as well too." Let's talk a little bit about how we do it.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and I have to say that starting with our tip sheets was phenomenal because, again, we have 20 tip sheets, so resumé writing, interviewing skills, job fair strategies, that kind of thing, and we haven't even gone through all 20. We have a bank of ideas that are out there that we can use, but we have also kept a list. I keep a master list of who we have talked to, what the topic is, who's been included, when it's posted, and sort of what stream of thought it falls in. Since we created this, we have had a list of ideas.

Carol Ventresca:
For the most part, we have always had a content expert. We don't want it to be just us, but there are a few topics that I haven't found a content expert, so it's still on my list. I mentioned just a bit ago, I would love to find someone who can talk about the nuances of position descriptions. Job seekers always assume that an expert has written the position description. They had no clue that it was the secretary or receptionist who wrote the position description who has no idea what that job really does, so somebody to really get people thinking about how to read between the lines of a position description. I may be the only one who sees that issue, so it may end up being me as the content expert at some point in time. I don't know.

Brett Johnson:
From the eyes of Carol.

Carol Ventresca:
From the eyes of Carol, yes. An example is what does it mean to be an expert in Microsoft Office? Does that mean that you have to be an expert in Word, or you just literally need to know how to type, or do you have to know how to do pivot tables in Excel? I mean, that's one extreme to the other kind of thing, so those are the kinds of things. It's kind of twofold. Again, do what you know, but start sort of exploring and expanding. We have recently started a new series within our series called "What is it like to work in...?"

Carol Ventresca:
Our first one was just posted on logistics. It was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal, and sort of a shout out to Jill. She did a great job. It was just posted. It's up there on our site, and it truly opened my eyes on what logistics was. It is not magic. Truly, it's not magic. It is something that people can work in. You don't have to be 20 and a Twitter expert to do logistics. Oh, in terms of scheduling, we sort of do it in batches. We come up with what are the next logical topics that we can go into. Maybe it has to do with the season or the time of the year or it's before expo or whatever and get those scheduled so that we're ahead. You don't ever want to be where, "Oh, my gosh. I have nothing to post, and it's going to be a month since I've posted kind of thing."

Brett Johnson:
Right, and couple that with experts that you know that you can interview, which is a great networking opportunity. That could be board members, it could be just professionals in the field, companies that you're working with already. All nonprofits work with businesses. I don't care what nonprofit you are, you are dealing with a business and, if for some reason they're tied in with you, there's an opportunity to talk to them about something, whether it's because why they're there with you as a nonprofit supporter or a piece of your mission or vision. We've done that too. We've taken a look at topics and say, "Yeah, we can talk about LinkedIn, but you know what? We have a person that can talk about that even better than we can because she deals with LinkedIn all the time," and this is a topic we really want to stress because we know our clients really aren't doing a lot with LinkedIn. I think we created a series of three about LinkedIn. We've created series on resumés and talking to different points of view on resumés.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and I think too, again, I really look at this as it's not just a podcast that's existing by itself. What are the other kinds of things we can do with it? For years, at our career expo ... This is new. I just decided this today, so this is news for you ... For years, at our career expo, we had a panel called "What do employers want?" It was a group of employers talking about what kinds of jobs they had open and what their expectations were on candidates and skills and all of that kind of thing.

Carol Ventresca:
We had a phenomenal podcast with five members of our board who are HR experts that talked about be the candidate an employer needs. Sort of being in the right place at the right time for the right job, and it was amazing, so we're going to change our career expo panel to be an extension of that, so we'll be able to, again, utilize the podcast, get people listening to it, come to that panel with questions. I think it'll be a great way to better serve the participants who come to our career fair.

Brett Johnson:
Anybody that's done any kind of research about doing a podcast, they've probably run across the, how do people find out about us doing the podcast? How do you promote it? That was a discussion we came with about this as well too, and I work with all my clients as well about this. We really didn't have a budget to really buy social media, to buy ads and such, which is a direction to go, of course. We took a look at okay, we have social media at our tips, we can utilize this. We really, probably, have been under utilizing social media because we didn't have much content to put on social media other than our events.

Brett Johnson:
The strategy behind social media is you just can't plop it up there and expect the world to go crazy because, "Oh, hey, I've been waiting for you guys to post something on LinkedIn forever. Thank goodness you did." The podcast really helped us consistently post information on social media, our discussions over which social media channel to work with. We knew there were, probably, three logical ones, and Facebook has been pretty good for us because it hits a couple of different audiences with events as well as anything important that's going on that has to do with our clients, but we knew we had to dive into LinkedIn a little bit more too. Let's talk a little bit about that, in your mind, too, why we chose those two to really go with.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well and, Facebook, because some of our events are more Facebook events like our 5k. I don't know that that's so appropriate for LinkedIn, but LinkedIn is huge for us, and we have a great following on LinkedIn, both my own page and the Employment for Seniors page. LinkedIn is the business social media. That's where people learn about jobs, so how could that not be our connector? So, we're really looking at how we look at LinkedIn and Facebook two ways, feeding into it, feeding out of it, so the podcasts are perfect.

Carol Ventresca:
If clients have questions, if they're asking us for things, kind of stirs the podcast pot, and can we somehow do it, satisfy their need there, or get that podcast information into the social media. Again, it is, it is enhancing our brand and letting people know that this information is there. The beauty, too, of social media and the podcast program is, yes, our target audience are mature job seekers, but everything we're putting on there is really good for any job seeker, and shout out to being on the Top 100 Employment Podcast programs for this year, so I guess we made that platform.

Brett Johnson:
Oh, sure, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, I think that's what has made the content so easy to do, really, is that we do keep in mind, yes, this is ... We're going for an older adult with this, obviously, but really everything we're talking about is true to really almost every age.

Carol Ventresca:
It is, because job searching is ... There are some definites you have to do in job searching.

Brett Johnson:
It's a job in itself, right.

Carol Ventresca:
Exactly, and it makes sense for all ages. It also makes sense for all geographic locations and, if we're talking about a resource in Central Ohio, we try to give other listeners an idea of where to go for that resource in their community because there is only one Employment for Seniors, but there are other programs that support older workers across the country, so we can provide them with that information. The other part of all of this too is, as I mentioned, we do mass emails to our clients. We have about 5,500 people on our email list who are regularly getting information from us, so we're using that as a vehicle to also enhance the knowledge of the podcast program as well as our other programs.

Brett Johnson:
We really weren't introducing any new social media to this, it just enhanced the content that we get put on social media, and I think that is probably the healthiest way without just over inundating you going, "Okay, I don't know about this I don't know this." Use what you're already using, and let the podcast give you more content.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, because for those listeners thinking about doing a podcast in your small nonprofit, you can't get any smaller than Employment for Seniors. We do not have a social media marketing expert on our staff. There are three of us, we work part time, we are serving anywhere from 500 to 1000 new clients a year, plus, as I mentioned, 5,500 on our current client list, and posting anywhere from 800 to 1000 jobs a year. We're already pretty busy over and above any marketing of any of our programs. In the hiring events I mentioned, we did 12 last year, we're gonna have at least 12 this year.

Carol Ventresca:
The career fair plus two other large fundraising programs or events that we have, there's not a lot of time to do social media out there, so this just was a blessing in disguise, and an answer to prayers of like how in the world, like, I don't have even five minutes to spend on LinkedIn and Facebook every day. In terms of other opportunities, we do use Twitter kind of, more as feeding information than actually reacting. In terms of the other social media platforms, we're not finding our clients there. We could do Instagram, we could do all those others, but I think we have had success in what we're using. When I see that we absolutely have to be on the others, then we'll go there.

Brett Johnson:
Right, exactly. We utilize the hosting platform Podbean, and I know that comes up a lot in regards to what platform, how do I, "Okay, I've created the audio, how do I get it into iTunes and Apple podcasts and Spotify," or wherever it might be. You threw this question back at me, it's like, "I don't know how to answer that question," so I can answer this question to why our nonprofit, why Podbean? There are a lot of options out there to consider that are fantastic hosting platforms, namely, I would suggest that if you're looking into this, use a hosting platform, don't do anything that's free because free doesn't last. You're going to lose control of that. Podbean worked for us because they do have a nonprofit level of per month pay. Ultimately, it really is going to, I think, Podbean right now is maybe at $9.00 a month or something as a nonprofit status. I think that fits within anybody's nonprofit budget of $9.00 a month.

Carol Ventresca:
As I said, get a sponsor. We have several sponsors of our podcast programs, and people are sort of in awe of it. We have also worked those podcast sponsorships in connection to other programs, and that has really enhanced all of our sponsorships.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, let's dig in a little bit more about it because I have a note that I wanted to expand on the sponsorship piece to that. I think the sponsorship of a podcast is doable, but I think it does have to be married to other things that a nonprofit does because the numbers are not going to be there, initially, and may never be there for your podcast to support just truly sponsoring the podcast. It's probably an ad on, a "package" that you do other events, but we're also going to include you as a sponsor of our podcast. I think that's the healthiest way of looking at it, just make it something big that they just can't turn down.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. For instance, I had one of our former sponsors and a former board member contact me and said, "Hey, by the way, I got a little bit of money to spend before the end of the year at the end of June. What do you need?" I'm like, "Cool. This is great," so we put together a multi-event sponsorship for her, which included in it, because of the nature of this organization, it focused on hiring, so we made a major sponsor of the career fair coming up, and part of that was them providing us with materials that we could give out at the Expo to the client, to the participants, and you're talking about five to six hundred people as well as publicity, but in turn then I said, "Why don't we make you the sponsor of the livestream podcast for that day," and as well as bring them also into the 5k, which they have sponsored in the past.

Carol Ventresca:
Having a multi-event sponsorship package for her took care of her need to spend this money before the end of the year, it certainly took care of my need in terms of helping us to enhance the programs that we have, it gets their name out to a lot of people, and it sort of, again, it was a nice little win-win, but bringing in a sponsor for the livestream podcast was new. We had never done ... We'd done podcasting, in general, but now they're going to have a special sign there outside your little cubicle to do the podcast and saying so that entity will have a nice presence at the career fair.

Brett Johnson:
That's where you can't discount anything you do in regards to ... Recognize that it's worth something to somebody. You brought up, too, the email newsletter that you put out. You have the numbers that are very respectable that a sponsor with a podcast and doing this and doing all the little things that you put together, would love to be a part of that email newsletter that you're reaching X amount of people. The social media posts, all the different things you can put together, all that put together is strong, that you're becoming another little piece of marketing for them as a sponsor but ongoing with the podcast series, so be creative.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, and be timely. I mean, had we tried to pull this off when I started at Employment for Seniors in 2009 in the middle of the recession, it wouldn't have worked. Somebody listening to the podcast, yes, but employers seeing the value, no, because they weren't hiring, so it's just try to time and utilize what's working really well because in two years that may not be a possibility, but the value of the podcast is. Regardless of when we taped them, they are going to be good in this economy or in a bad economy.

Brett Johnson:
We got very creative in what we did with the equipment, finding monetary resources, let's put it that that way, to up our game. We knew we wanted this to sound good from the get-go, but we also tied it into a lot of different nuances with Employment for Seniors, that it was not just a podcast. We want to do a podcast, and it's like, great, but what is that and, really, what is your goal with this? I'll let Carol talk a little bit more about how we gain the good equipment that we did get, and I think that's made a huge difference in regards to what we're doing.

Carol Ventresca:
Not only in terms of those sound value but in terms of the look of it. I mean, when somebody comes and sees the equipment we have, they're like, "Oh, they really are serious about this." What the funding request also did for me was to force me to really think through that this is going to be a serious program. This isn't a one and done. This isn't "I can't afford to buy thousands of dollars of equipment and not really have a plan in place," and so it really did help us to create the strategy for the podcasting, overall. It kind of started as a joke. I went to one of the state agencies and said, "Hey, by the way, I need some money," and they go, "Oh, yeah, talk to so-and-so. They have more than we do," so I said, "Oh, I'll see her this afternoon," and sort of as a joke said, "Oh, yeah, by the way, they said you'd have money to give to me," and she just looked at me really seriously and she said, "You know, put a proposal together, and let's talk about this because it sounds kind of interesting."

Carol Ventresca:
Good timing, we weren't asking for the moon, and we did really pull together a quick and dirty, but a good format for the expectation, and because we were already getting funding from this agency, they knew us, they knew we were being successful, they saw how we were going to pull it together within our other programs and what the potential was, and so they were willing to take the chance on us. It really did focus on a training room for older adult, so it's the room, per se, that got the funding, and the room needed this level of equipment, so it included podcasting equipment.

Carol Ventresca:
We have the coolest smart board from England and got it on a sale, literally, and a new video camera, new laptop, and then our part of it, the matched funds, got in the direct internet line, got in carpeting, got in lighting, that kind of thing, so we pulled it all together, and we really do a lot of training in that room. We have been doing, very successfully, getting great groups of clients coming in for workshops where we're using the smart board and the laptop. We've expanded our follow-up appointments with clients to do resumé reviews and practice interviewing using the video camera, but then too, then we were able to get the podcast equipment as part of it.

Brett Johnson:
Right, and explaining that the podcast is part of training. Whether it's a one-on-one situation, which the podcast is not necessarily we're having everybody in the conference room and they're listening to a podcast, but the conference room is creating a podcast that can be a training tool, is a training tool, for any client that we tell, "Go listen this specific episode, go listen to this episode," or just, in general, I think, if nothing else, we've seen that the hiring events become actually a great tool for new listeners to come in to the stream. Because, yes, it's very specific to a very specific date and time in a hiring event, but then all of a sudden it's a great little advertising tool that the podcast does exist, so we're bringing in new listeners with a totally different feel to this podcast with one episode at a time.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. I guess, too, to kind of expand on who our target audiences were for the podcasting, part of our stream of the employers that we're talking to employers includes also some of our funding partners because we're talking about issues of aging and how employment fits into that. We've talked to the age-friendly Columbus folks, we've talked to Central Ohio area Agency on Aging, we've talked to Franklin County Office on Aging, the groups that are pivotal to providing us funding work. We're going to, actually, have the Columbus Foundation in this week. They are pivotal to giving us the resources we need to give the resources to our client, so that's part of the beauty of us making the decisions on our podcast is we can bring in who we'd like to talk to.

Brett Johnson:
Right, yeah. What do you think the biggest challenges have been with producing the podcast? As the Executive Director, as a, at that time, board member, telling you, "We have a podcast we're gonna do"?

Carol Ventresca:
I've been to a lot of training programs that says be careful what you ask for.

Brett Johnson:
Of course, I presented it with ideas and the concept behind it, and you said, "Yes, that makes total sense. Let's explore this more," and we had many, many conversations. Beyond the beginning stages of the challenges, ongoing challenges, what would you say have been to keep it going?

Carol Ventresca:
I think I mentioned a bit ago that at Employment for Seniors we have fun every day, but we learn something new every day. We're always telling our clients to learn something new and to let employers know that you're a great job candidate because you are willing to learn. Well, guess what? It was my turn to learn. What is a podcast? What was needed? I'd been doing all types of interviews as the Director of Employment for Seniors, but to actually be in charge now of content over and above just my yearly visiting. Our buddy, Mark New, said WMNI saying, "Oh, the job fair's coming," you know, let's talk about that. It was a learning experience for me, which I'm greatly appreciative of for Brett holding my hand through the process and, needless to say, you don't give a PhD a mic and an open time frame because we just keep talking.

Carol Ventresca:
The first challenge really was not just to be comfortable in front of a mic, but to keep the conversation rolling. We started from the very beginning to make sure we had topics, and that has continued to be a challenge, but a good challenge. I don't think we've ever gotten to the point of there's nothing else to say. We've never gotten to that point. We have gotten to the point of making sure that we are scheduling it well, that it makes sense, that it's not a hodgepodge, and that it's flowing, but you have to be able to stay fresh. You have to be able to stay on the mark of what's relevant. You have to stay factual. I always tell folks, "You know, we can fix, we can edit out any mistakes, but we have to make sure we have a content expert who knows what they're talking about. We can't just have somebody come up and spiel old stuff."

Carol Ventresca:
I use the word newsworthy, but you had a better term and that's evergreen, that the information we're putting out there is going to last, it's going to be useful this year, next year, and probably the year after that. Over and above everything else, I think too, that to expand it outside of ourselves that, yes, it has to focus on Employment for Seniors and our clients, but to expand outside of realizing that there are content experts at other agencies, at employers, at community organizations, at governmental offices, wherever, that there are people out there that we can use, and to keep it interesting but, also, to realize that job seekers have a lot of questions, and we're not always gonna have all the answers. We have to look for those answers.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Yeah. So, future plans. I know we've kicked around a couple of ideas, but I think it's always good to be thinking what's next?

Carol Ventresca:
Something new.

Brett Johnson:
Well, and kind of going back to the challenges, you can plan, and plan, and plan, but I also think have fun occasionally. We've thrown a couple of episodes together that I just suggested at the beginning of this year 2019 I said, "Let's do a top nine things you have to do."

Carol Ventresca:
Exactly. New job, new year a couple years ago, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
Those have been one of the most listened to episodes outside of the hiring events, and it really had nothing to do with any tip sheet, any fact, it just is that utilizing top nine, you know, there's key phrases but having some fun as well. It was a little bit of work to put together, but we had fun doing those, as we do with all episodes. I should say that. But we kind of went off a little bit, off center, and just say, "Okay, let's just do a top nine list."

Carol Ventresca:
Well there was an article in The Columbus Dispatch that you called and said, "Let's talk about this," and we did it with no research, really, it was just our own expertise.

Brett Johnson:
Other than just commenting about the reality of what that story was about.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. I think that this kind of parallels one of the things I talk to clients about when they're doing their job search. They have to look at what's posted, and apply for those jobs, but to also think of a second path of being creative and thinking about, "Well, here's where the jobs are posted, but who do I really want to work for and how do I get information and how do I network my way in and how do I find out what their future plans are?"

Carol Ventresca:
So, taking that notion and bringing it to the podcast is the same thing. We have to have a plan for the next few months, the next six months, the next year, of here are some potential topics, but to also think about be creative. One of the things we just started by just being creative, because we had people asking us questions, and we were trying to figure out how do we grab those questions and answer them? What is it like to work in? And, so, we're going to start this series off of conversations, so we've just posted the first one is on logistics. We're going to do one on, I'm calling it personal transportation.

Carol Ventresca:
I'm not really sure that's the correct term, but we're going to talk to people who are in different kinds of transportation areas and pull together a podcast on, you know, I've been a mailman all my life. I love to drive. It's okay. I don't mind it, so here's a place to go become a limo driver on your own schedule, on your own time, with somebody else's car, and have fun with people because they're going to a party kind of thing, so we're going to be putting some time and effort into that.

Carol Ventresca:
Again, I said there are some things, some topics, so we haven't found our content expert, so we'll continue to look for those. I want to think of other creative ways to utilize the podcast to better enhance our other programs, but also what resources we have in place to better emphasize the podcast. Again, we're starting to add it into our mass emails. Are there other kinds of things that we could do besides just posting it up there on Facebook, getting reactions from people or something, something along that line? I think there are lots of things that we can do. We're just going to be creative.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Some advice for a nonprofit that's kind of taking a look at this, kicking the tires going, "Okay, you guys got me convinced. I've listened the last half hour, 45 minutes," however long this podcast is gonna be and, "I'm in. I can do this," what would be some advice to get started and to keep going?

Carol Ventresca:
Well, as I mentioned, Employment for Seniors is a little group, but that doesn't mean that we don't have idea people, people with ideas. I can only pull out so many tricks up my sleeve, but we just ask people what they're looking at, what they need information on, what would be interesting to listen to? If they're willing to, also, help. I have a counselor who wants to do a podcast, but we haven't quite figured out what topic she wants to talk about, so you have to have ideas. You've got to have a plan and have ideas. You just cannot pull this out of thin air. It's not going to all, necessarily, flow together so we've been really, really lucky with that, but also have a marketing plan.

Carol Ventresca:
I think that we had a basic one, and we probably could have had more of a plan, but I'm not sure it would have made any difference at the end, but you do have to have a plan on how you're going to get the information out. It's no use putting all this time, cost, resources into it if nobody's listening, and make sure you really want to do it. This is not a one-and-done issue. You can't have a podcast program and only be up there for a couple of months, you have to be willing and really commit to doing it. If you're a nonprofit, get your board on board, get those folks ready, and realize that they can make it a win-win for themselves, not just that they are going to allow you to do it, but they're willing to jump in both feet.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, I think up to this point now, we have gotten almost every board member on a podcast in one form or another, and I wouldn't have thought that 18 months ago that we could, that, number one it was a goal. I don't think it ever was, but we started to look at the makeup of the board going, "We could tie," a couple of them we would have never thought to bring on, and all of a sudden they have a story to tell about their transition-

Carol Ventresca:
As career changers.

Brett Johnson:
And it's like all right, let's bring them on.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. We've had career changers from board members. We've had our content expert on the local economy. We have had HR experts talk about what makes a good candidate, so yeah, I think we've pretty much pulled everybody in.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, which is nice because they get to know what this is all about.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and it helps me as the Executive Director because then they can see what I'm putting my time into too.

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