Young & Healthy Podcast Has People Talking
Symfhani Pitts produces Cincinnati Children's flagship podcast.
For years, Cincinnati Children’s has provided patients and families with useful information to help children be the healthiest they can be—everything from tips on breastfeeding to disease management to recognizing signs of depression in teenagers.
The latest tool in the communications stockpile is the Young & Healthy podcast, produced by Marketing and Communications’ Kate Setter and Symfhani Pitts and assisted by occasional host Michael English and technician-in-training Bo McMillan.
The podcast debuted on June 4 of last year, with new episodes every Friday, except during holiday weeks. Now in its second season, the team has reset the schedule to a more manageable bi-weekly cadence that allows for more planning and research.
“Producing one new podcast every week was such a heavy lift,” said Setter. “Season One taught us that maintaining the quality of the content was more important than the frequency of programming.”
Building a Podcast
Each podcast, which can be 15 to 45 minutes long, starts with a good topic, according to Setter.
“We typically look at what’s happening in the world, particularly things that parents are concerned about,” she explained. “Then we seek out a subject matter expert who can give some context to the issue and answer questions. We want topics that lend themselves to having a conversation, something meaty and meaningful that will give our audience a deeper perspective and better understanding of the matter at hand.”
Pitts schedules the interviews and works with Setter to develop a list of thought-starter questions—always with the parent’s voice in mind. Normally, podcast episodes are recorded in a specially equipped room at Vernon Manor, but the team can travel, as they did for a feature on dental health.
“We interviewed two of our talented dentists in the dental clinic,” said Pitts. “They were so much fun to visit with, and they shared important information about pediatric health and how important teeth are in that equation.”
Once the interview is recorded, Pitts edits it and sends it to Setter for review. After final corrections are made, Pitts uploads it to PodBean, the hosting platform, where it is then available to listeners via outlets such as Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Google and Apple. Links to the podcast also appear in Connect, on CenterLink and CincinnatiChildren’s.org.
A Strong Start
So far, the Young & Healthy podcast has been well-received. It began with 100 downloads per episode and now averages about 400 downloads. They’ve covered subjects like COVID, suicide prevention, bullying, social and emotional learning, child abuse, and how to have difficult conversations with kids. Some topics generate more interest than others.
Said Pitts, “We did one episode on eating disorders, and within the first hour of posting, there were 600 downloads. Ultimately, it reached 1,863. Obviously, we touched on something that families are really worried about.”
Promotion of the podcast has been organic to this point, but the team plans to increase awareness with paid advertisements to reach a broader audience.
“Our goal is certainly growth, but we also want to ensure we’re delivering high-quality content that is relevant to patients and families,” said Setter. “There’s some overlap with our blog, but it’s all part of a steady drumbeat to bring the voices of our experts to our audience in whatever way they want to consume it.”
Added Pitts, “The podcast has something to offer everyone. I’m not a parent, but I still find a useful nugget of information in every single episode we’ve done. I hope everyone will listen.”
Finding a Niche
Podcasting is relatively new to Cincinnati Children’s, but the virtual world is awash with the medium.
In putting together a compelling case for Young & Healthy, Setter and Pitts knew it would have to offer something different.
“There are many healthcare podcasts about medical conditions or treatments that use a lot of scientific jargon, but I only found one or two directed toward parents specifically,” said Setter. “Our approach is to have heartfelt conversations with experts—and sometimes our experts are parents—that people can relate to. I think that’s what sets us apart from the others.”
If you would like to learn more about podcasting at Cincinnati Children’s or have ideas for future conversations, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.