Case Study: A podcast for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is a member association representing 25,000 medical and trainee specialists in Australia and New Zealand. Since 2015, Mic Cavazzini and Annie Fredrickson have produced a CPD-accredited, in-house podcast for the College called Pomegranate Health.

The Aim

The RACP’s podcast offers its Fellows compelling stories about medicine and society, and is produced to “inspire excellence in practice”, by examining how doctors “make ethical and clinical decisions, how they can communicate with patients and how health delivery can be made more equitable.”

Furthermore, the podcast series is CPD-qualified — each episode officially goes toward a Fellow’s continuing professional development.

The Audience

Although aimed at the College’s 25,000 members, it is also available to the wider public. It’s available on Apple Podcasts and other free-to-access podcast channels.

“We made a deliberate decision not to put it behind a login password wall so that anyone could listen,” says producer, Mic Cavazzini.

“I think it’s good to build that relationship with the public so they understand how the health care system works, how doctors see their relationships with patients.

“Our most downloaded story so far is one about the impact of medicinal cannabis. It’s something that doctors are still uncomfortable with, and the media and the politicians have hyped this up so much that the public doesn’t know what to think.”

Key Insights

Like a lot of medical associations, RACP publishes a high-quality magazine on a quarterly basis, as well as fortnightly newsletters. But, not everyone may have the time to read; and many emails tend to get buried in inboxes and therefore are left unopened. 

In contrast to written material and video, podcasts allow people to listen while they’re doing something else.

“You can fit them in anywhere in your day that might otherwise be downtime like your commute,” says Mic.

“And once you get into the podcast archive, there’s a list thereof interesting topics that are calling out to be listened to. Even our older episodes get 20 downloads a day.”

The Format

The podcast is narrative-style with very high-end production values. It has been compared with Radiotopia and NPR, and has been awarded an Australian Podcast Award for the category of Career & Industry.

As such, it takes significant time and effort to craft each story. 

“It might take me a week or two to research every story,” admits Mic.

“[It] takes a couple of weeks of editing and restructuring and scripting the narrative, and then sending off drafts to a group of doctors that edit it for me — and then re-editing.”

Distribution & Amplification

The podcast is marketed on RACP’s current social media channels, Twitter and Facebook, as well as its fortnightly newsletter. There is also a mailing list for those who want to be informed each time an episode is launched.

The Results

There was a bit of trepidation at the beginning from the College. It wasn’t sure whether the investment into resources to produce the podcast was worth it, and whether RACP’s message could be controlled.

That’s all history now.

“It’s a conversation starter,” insists Mic Cavazzini. “So I think people are much more comfortable with it now as a platform for conversation. I think the moral of the story is that it’s a popular medium. All sorts of people now are embracing podcasts. And it’s versatile: so many different institutions could fit their message into a podcast of some sort.”

All sorts of people now are embracing podcasts. And it’s versatile: so many different institutions could fit their message into a podcast of some sort.

Mic says each episode receives 3,500 downloads within a month of launch, which puts it in the top 10% of all podcasts produced worldwide.

Lessons Learnt / Advice to other organisations

Although there are many ways to create audio content, Mic Cavazzini believes it needs to be high quality and promise something. 

“You can’t just assume that the audience is going to be invested because you’re a big organisation or because they’re paying members and they’re going to get CPD credits. If it’s boring or if they don’t have enough time then they’re not going to put their time in,” Mic says.

“People want to hear a story. Good production makes the world of difference.”

“[If] it just goes straight to some echoey room with bad audio or it’s a crappy phone interview that you can’t hear really well, I can’t engage quickly I’m out. And similarly, good editing and scripting I think can really make a difference. 

“It’s amazing how many podcasts these days just have the premise that they’re going to sit with someone for an hour and just ask them stuff and back and forth for an hour.

“You need to trim that down; you need to respect your audience.”

We interviewed Mic Cavazzini on Episode 8 Season 2 of BE Podcasting.