By Abby Hassler, Director of Creative Strategy and Executive Producer of Energizing Tennessee
Launching a podcast for the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council began with a simple conversation.
In early 2021, Cortney Piper and I discussed the results of an internal survey where TAEBC members indicated that the organization was their number one source of advanced energy news in the state.
To build on this momentum, we wanted to find additional ways to champion the industry, but we were stumped. We were already educating lawmakers about the industry, drafting guest blogs and op-eds, sharing the latest industry news on social media and in newsletters and holding annual events for our members and stakeholders – what more could we be doing?
A new medium to champion advanced energy industry
Those who work in the energy sector might not be surprised at the amount of energy innovation coming out of our state.
During my few years at Piper Communications, I have seen the rise of the electric vehicle supply chain, the implementation of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s flexible generation program, the introduction of two cleantech accelerators, the installation of large-scale solar arrays and so much more. But large portions of the population aren’t familiar with Tennessee’s exciting advanced energy developments.
To reach this wider audience, I threw out the idea of starting a podcast, yet Cortney and I weren’t sure how to make it happen. I have been an avid fan of podcasts since the early “Serial” craze, but I had no clue how to start one myself, let alone for an organization. Who would host? Would people want to listen to such a niche podcast? How do you even get your episode on Apple or other streaming platforms?
As a professional communicator, translating compelling content into the audio space made sense. But I needed equipment, a detailed plan of attack, technical expertise, a promotion strategy and guests willing to talk to us for a yet-to-be-released podcast.
Even so, I knew a podcast would be an incredible tool for us to advance TAEBC’s work in the state. So I got to work.
Research, research and more research
Anytime I begin a new project – big or small – I start with preliminary research. I want to learn everything I can about a new subject or tactic before moving ahead.
Starting a podcast was no different. After my conversation with Cortney, I began learning about podcasting structure, the best microphones for an echoey office and virtual recording software – not to mention how to brand and promote it. I took classes, read countless articles and watched how-to videos until I felt comfortable enough to pitch the draft concept.
Thankfully, Cortney instantly bought into the vision (though I did have to convince her to host it – sorry about that) and presented the proposal to the TAEBC Board of Directors. Once approved, we began spreading around the idea to potential partners.
Later that year, we were lucky enough to meet with members of the FirstBank team who were both enthusiastic about the growing advanced energy sector and wanted to help us launch the podcast. Thus, Energizing Tennessee was born.
Producing Energizing Tennessee
Once we had buy-in and a basic vision, the planning process began in earnest. It’s one thing to say you want to have a podcast, but another thing entirely to make it happen – not to mention ensuring that it’s interesting.
Thankfully, TAEBC has an expansive network of members and partners who are doing incredible work in the state and beyond. We put together a list of topics based on feedback from our membership and got to work organizing interviews, finalizing branding and coming up with a launch date and promotional plan.
There were hiccups along the way – moments where recordings were thought to be lost or mics that cut out – but there were far more moments of excitement and possibility. I’m so grateful for a supportive team who brainstorms ideas and provides encouragement that we’re headed in the right direction.
In the first six episodes (and a bonus feature), we have been proud to welcome guests from some incredible organizations – Ameresco, TVA, Techstars, Ford Motor Company, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Pilot Company, Wärtsilä and FC Renew.
Our first episode defined advanced energy and emphasized why we care about the topic. The following few tackled the question “How can we electrify Tennessee?” With so many electric vehicle manufacturers and OEMs relocating or expanding operations in our state, it was a conversation we wanted to explore in greater depth. After all, to quote Tricia Martínez-Saab, Managing Director of Techstars Industries of the Future, in Episode Three: “The future is 100% electric. Full stop.”
For the final six episodes of our first season (coming January 2023 – stay tuned), we’ll continue to explore the ways energy leaders are transforming our state. From rural solar to green manufacturing, there is so much advanced energy news to share.
What’s next for Energizing Tennessee?
In just the first few months of existence, we have exceeded our expectations for the amount of interest and excitement from a podcast covering Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. According to industry standards, nearly all of our episodes have ranked in the top 50% for download figures in the first seven days. We’ve also seen a significant increase in website traffic and engagement on social media.
We’re still establishing ourselves in the podcasting world and don’t expect to become a viral sensation, but we believe our digital reach will continue to grow, filling an important void and providing a unique perspective on the future of energy.
I believe TAEBC – made up of our members and leadership – has the potential to dramatically transform Tennessee’s energy landscape. This podcast serves as one way to elevate and celebrate industry accomplishments, helping usher in new partnerships, growth and pride in our state.
Interested in Energizing Tennessee? Listen to our latest episodes or subscribe today on the TAEBC website or whenever you get podcasts. And don’t forget to rate the show or leave a review to help us reach even more listeners.