Project: Go With Me On This
We’ve just wrapped up the first season of Go With Me On This, one of three podcasts we produce for Pearson. It’s a different kind of podcast from Nevertheless and the forthcoming Standing On The Shoulders, but no less impactful.
Go With Me On This is a debate style podcast that, through its format, delivers new insights on topics and issues that surround the U.K education system.
Hosted by the wonderful Ndidi Okezie from Pearson and journalist Laura McInerney, each episode sees one of the hosts trying their hardest to convince everyone in the studio that an idea they have about education is not quite as crazy as it first seems.
It’s been a big hit with the target audiences, who mostly work across the board in education. It was featured in iTunes ‘New and Noteworthy’ section and peaked in the Podcast Charts at No. 3 in education. I think its success is down to a couple of factors.
The first is the hosts. They’re naturals. They spark off each other brilliantly. Most importantly they’re not afraid to deliver strong personal opinions about a sector they are genuinely passionate about. The conversation can get heated.
We’ve had episodes on controversial subjects, like “Stopping Knife Crime: Ndidi thinks that schools cannot be expected to solve knife crime” and “Parental Engagement: Laura thinks that parents should leave the educating of their child to the school” and “Careers Education: Laura thinks that Careers education is not a good use of school’s time.”
Remember, this is a branded podcast, and you might think brands would want to shy away from difficult subjects. But we’ve been working with Pearson for a couple of years, and they let us go to places other branded podcasts wouldn’t dare to go. They put their trust in the Storythings editorial team right at the beginning of our relationship, and over they years that trust has gone from strength to strength. That freedom releases us from one of the biggest challenges of making branded podcasts - how do you make it feel authentic?
The second thing is the format. One host has to convince the other host, and their two guests, that their idea is worth considering. It’s a three against one scenario. This format came from my first meeting with the hosts, who have been friends for years. We were discussing ideas to cover, and Laura came out with a statement about the parental role in education that genuinely shocked Ndidi. Here were two people, great friends, who share many beliefs on education, but had opinions at opposing ends of the spectrum. Again, I go back to the word ‘trust’. When two people trust each other you can have serious and heated debate without it tipping over the edge or becoming click-bait. So that’s the tension that we built the show around.
Our audience frequently comment on social media that the three to one balance makes it almost impossible to win and that we should make it two against two. But they’re missing the point. The three to one balance is what ensures we are finding complex problems that don’t have simple solutions, whilst having fascinating conversations about subjects our hosts feel hugely passionate about.
Our social media campaign has helped build deep engagement too. We’ve launched accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter seems to be where the best engagement is happening. We’ve been running Twitter debates with the hosts and guests after each of the shows and it’s got lively, almost too lively at times.
Finally, we’ve been asked to produce a live version of the podcast for a couple of education conferences over the summer, which is perfect positioning for the brand. We’re also thinking about what a schools version would sound like. The search is on for the next generation of Lauras and Ndidis!