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Is it worth entering your show for an award?

Man, holding a trophy, is congratulated by another person

Suji Owen and Holly Hourihan

Suji and Holly are campaign managers at Podspike. Suji, who has a background in design journalism, is one of the judges at the inaugural Independent Podcast Awards. Holly has previously worked in broadcast media, marketing and events management for the BBC and London 2012

Suji Owen and Holly Hourihan

It can be disheartening to see awards shortlists dominated by high-profile shows produced by major networks but it’s worth knowing that small shows with smaller budgets that punch above their weight (this is always about audience fit and engagement) regularly feature among the winners too. Most recently we saw our client Dominic Frisby win Silver at the 2023 New York Festivals Radio Awards with his podcast musical Kisses on a Postcard, fending off competition from the BBC, Lionsgate and the German national broadcaster Deutsche Welle. 

For the Independent Podcast Awards, one of the scoring criteria explicitly sought to compensate quality shows with lower download figures. Two of the shows that made it into Suji’s top five had fewer than 500 downloads two months ago, as compared with other shows in the same category that had more than a million! In short, if your show has a genuine USP and a clear target audience, you have a great chance of scoring well and getting your show in front of industry specialists who will be sure to recommend it onwards, long after the awards are over. 

Other scoring criteria take into account creators from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds – something we are so happy to see! We were in the emotionally charged room at The Podcast Show in London in May when Imriel Morgan, CEO of Content is Queen, read out an Open Letter to the Audio Industry regarding the persistent lack of support for marginalised creators. Recognising that awards ceremonies are only a small part of this formidable challenge, it is still great to see that both the Audio Production Awards and the Independent Podcast Awards structure this into their judging process, particularly at the APAs where judges are provided with a training video and notes on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and bias in judging.  

As ever, doing your homework and putting together a thoughtful application can pay off, especially if the entry fee isn’t too steep. The same goes for the event tickets – after a furore in July over the British Podcasting Awards initially charging £300 for a ticket to the ceremony, they now offer tiered pricing and bursary schemes. Entry fees start at £35 for the Audio Production Awards (who have offered a ‘pay what you can’ scheme for the past three years) and £30 for the Independent Podcast Awards. The IPAs closed to new entries last month but there’s still time to enter the APAs (closes September 20) as well as the International Women’s Podcast Awards (closes September 22). To get you started, here’s a useful checklist by one of The Podcast Clinic’s guest consultants Becky Lamb-Pritchard with some great tips on how to enter your show for awards. For BIPOC, queer and trans podcast creators, Podcasting, Seriously runs an awards funding programme. 


One more takeaway from being an awards judge

There were all kinds of show titles on offer featuring everything from joyful puns and evocative wordplay to say-what’s-in-the-tin and no-nonsense offerings. The possibilities are truly endless and that is why it comes as such a jolt to us when a podcast decides to go with a common idiom as its title. One show, which happened to score very well on all the main criteria, had this issue and a quick search found that there are fifteen other pods out there with the same name. Think about how you get your podcast recommendations. Someone might send you a link, if they are especially helpful, but generally it is by word of mouth. Any show with a common name is fighting for air from the get-go.

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