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How Your Podcast Can Ruin Your Credibility


Shocked Man Wearing Headphones It happened in all of about thirty seconds. The reading of one e-mail and her credibility was shot.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts. The host will occasionally answer e-mail questions from listeners. This particular show was no different.

Until this fateful e-mail came along.

I’m changing the names here to protect all involved.

She says, “This next e-mail is from Ivan in Waterloo, Iowa”. It wasn’t really Waterloo, but some similar small town. The e-mail author also had a unique name.

She continued on with the e-mail. It appeared Ivan works in his family business. His parents expect him to eventually take over the shop. However, Ivan has no interest in continuing on with this line of work. He as other aspirations. He was asking for advice with regard to telling his parents.

At the end of the e-mail, he says, “Please keep this anonymous.”

Ivan is obviously concerned that his parents would find out before he had the chance to discuss it with them.

The host says, “Well, I didn’t do a very good job of that, did I?”


The host said something to the effect of, “Let’s just hope mom and dad won’t hear this podcast.” How could any host just let that slide?

On the surface, she just let Ivan down. But it goes so much deeper than that. There are six major issues with letting that disclosure remain part of the show.

1. Ivan No Longer Trusts The Host

Ivan just revealed a deep, personal issue to the host. It is a conflict he has between his loyalty to his parents and his own dreams. The problem has obviously created some turmoil in Ivan’s life. Why else would he be e-mailing for help?

The seriousness of the situation is obvious when he asks for anonymity. He surely doesn’t want his parents to be aware of his dilemma until he can explain it on his own terms. If he didn’t have that concern, he wouldn’t have asked to keep his name secret.

By revealing Ivan’s name, the host just shattered any trust she had built with him. Ivan feels betrayed. He can no longer trust that the host will have his best interest at heart. Everything the host has worked to build was just shattered with Ivan.

2. How Many Customers Will The Host Actually Lose?

It is difficult to determine how far-reaching the host’s act will be. When it comes to word-of-mouth, there are as many theories as there are marketers. All agree that an upset customer will tell far more about their experience than a pleased fan.

Pete Blackshaw’s book “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business In Today’s Consumer-Driven World” describes the danger of upsetting clients. The power of social media has allowed upset people to share the story with ease. In today’s connected world, word spreads faster than ever.

It is obvious to see how the host may lose Ivan as a client. Under the surface, the damage could be much worse. By the time the damage to the overall business is known, it will be far too late.

3. Ivan’s Parents Are Not The Host’s Only Concern

There is probably a slim chance that Ivan’s parents will hear the podcast. Podcasts are still a niche medium. Unless Ivan turned his parents onto the podcast, mom and dad probably did not stumble across this one particular episode among the hundreds of thousands of podcasts available.

This show doesn’t need to be heard first person by Ivan’s parents to be damaging.

Maybe somebody else in Waterloo, who knows Ivan’s parents, heard the podcast. It is possible somebody in the same industry familiar with mom and dad heard the show. Word can travel to the business owners in many ways.

The show lives forever on the internet. It isn’t hard to imagine the show eventually finding its way into the hands of Ivan’s parents. Simply assuming they won’t hear the show is ignoring reality.

4. Others Will Have Second Thoughts

Those who heard the show will think twice before they e-mail the host regarding a sensitive subject. If the host was flippant with respect to Ivan’s identity, why would any listener think he or she would be treated differently? Most listeners of the show will find it hard to trust the host with their information.

5. Where Can I Trust You

If I can’t trust you with an e-mail, how can I trust you with my business? On the surface, the anonymity of the e-mail seemed inconsequential. Considering how the action affects the other areas of the business, it is easy to see how this becomes a much bigger issue.

People do business with people they can trust. If it appears you do not have your client’s best interest at heart, it is quite likely they will be looking for a new supplier. Trust is everything.

As is often said, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and minutes to ruin it. An action like this offers quite a blow to the host’s reputation. Rebuilding it will take a long time. The damage to the business could be serious.

6. Your Lack of Editing Skills

This entire issue could have been avoided if the host had simply edited the audio. That is the saddest part of this entire mess. Had she taken the time to edit the intro of the e-mail, the trust would have never been tarnished.

The show wasn’t live. There was no live studio audience. There was no reason the audio couldn’t be changed after the fact.

I realize the podcast is not the primary function of the host’s business. The show is just a part of the overall marketing plan. The host does the podcast once a week as a way to continue to spread the message. That does not excuse the issue.

If the host cannot be trusted with a minor issue like podcast content, she cannot expected to be trusted with larger pieces of business.

As you move forward with your podcast, remember that your show will exist for quite some time. Be careful with the content you choose to include. In most every case, you do not get hurt by what you leave out. Be completely confident with your content before you post your show.

Be sure you do not damage your reputation by one lapse in judgement. Your entire show and corresponding business is built on that trust. Protect your trust with everything you have.

I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Erik@PodcastTalentCoach.com. Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Image credit: Bigstock

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  • Bill Hartzer

    Was the podcast live? Or was it something that’s recorded that is posted later? Certainly they could have bleeped out some of the information–or edited it out altogether.

    • Erik Johnson

      Yep … it was a recorded podcast, Bill. The host records at the same time every week and posts a few days later. There was surely time to edit the piece. I believe they chose to not edit, because the podcast is only a minor piece of their overall marketing platform.

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