7 Min Read
It’s no secret we like to keep things quirky here at Design Pickle, and our new podcast is no exception. We sat down with Creatives Are The Worst co-hosts (and Design Pickle team members!) Kate Rooney and Jess Guffey to chat about the story behind the podcast we call our own, the unexpected benefits, and the creative process behind it all.
So, the name is catchy. But what is the podcast about?
Kate: Each week, we talk about a different creative and how they’ve changed the world with their creative contributions. It ranges from musicians and actors to entrepreneurs and artists. Over time, we’ve discovered there’s a connection between all of these different types of creatives. There’s a lot of philosophical conversations about the people that we talk about, but it always ends in laughter no matter what.
Jess: As we’ve gone on, we’ve almost shifted (without even realizing it) to telling the stories people don’t know. So the new phrase we’re using is, “providing tidbits that you can share at your next socially distanced happy hour.” There’s so much out there on the people that we cover — a lot of people know about Vince McMahon, Prince or whoever it is — so we try to find the stuff they don’t know, get excited about, and want to talk about with their friends.
What was it like getting buy-in and what is your process like?
Kate: We’re basically having to write a book report each week, but we’re learning about fascinating people and digging a little bit deeper. There have been days where we’re set to record and I’m Slacking Jess like, “Hey, I have made zero progress with my research. We’re going to have to postpone.” We’re both flexible with that.
As far as getting buy-in from stakeholders, we’re very fortunate that our founder, Russ Perry, and everyone else at Design Pickle put a lot of trust in us. We launched the podcast with almost no one hearing it beforehand. We also have an awesome producer, Arison, he has done a lot of prep work with us and coaches us on general podcasting techniques here and there. He has a lot of experience, so one thing that he made very clear from the start is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. When we’re getting buy-in from everyone else, we make it very clear that we’re not going to see results overnight — that’s just impossible, unless you’re Michelle Obama.
Jess: We’re really fortunate to have a producer that does the bulk of the work for us. By the time we sit down to record, we obviously have done our research and make sure our notes flow with the way we tell stories individually, but he’s a tremendous help in getting to that point.
What are your goals with the podcast?
Jess: We’ve set a download goal per episode, but I think beyond that, the way we look at this is as a brand awareness play, right? We want people to come experience the brand from a different angle. With this, there have been side effects we didn’t even realize were going to happen. For example, our People team (who is in charge of recruiting) told us that candidates are listening to the podcast to familiarize themselves with Design Pickle before interviews. That’s been kind of cool because we obviously didn’t see that as a benefit ahead of time, but if we can help the entire Design Pickle universe in this project, it makes it easier to keep selling internally. It’s a really organic way for people to get to know the brand.
Kate: That’s it. Because we were so new to podcasting, we didn’t know what kind of goals to set. We set download goals to start. Now it’s kind of like, OK, we know we can measure that. Brand awareness is so hard to measure, but we figured we’d tie it into that a little bit. It is really cool to see that other good things are coming from it — now we can kind focus on how else we can leverage it.
Jess: It really is tough. My whole job is brand awareness, so I can have metrics associated and say, “OK, I want to generate X amount of leads with this partnership or this article that we got.” The hard part comes in when you’re trying to convey the buzz and response you’re seeing. It’s like, “Hey, there’s not a great way to measure this, but we’re getting a ton of feedback and commentary.” How do you measure buzz? I have no idea. If anyone knows, please let us know.
What other ways are you thinking of leveraging it?
Jess: We really want to explore TikTok … we just have trouble keeping up with the kids. We’re like grandmas; we don’t know what’s going on.
Kate: Oh man. We keep talking about it because we see so many other podcasts do it. Jess and I are basically illiterate with it, though. Apparently there are dance moves and stuff we should know, but we have no clue.
We have some younger folks on the team, and they’ve just nailed TikTok for Design Pickle. They find the trends and recreate them to be Pickle-themed. We need to pull inspiration from them and be more adventurous within the Creatives Are The Worst brand.
How did you decide on the format of the podcast?
Jess: We really struggled with the format at first. We knew we wanted to tell stories, but we didn’t know how to bring that to life. So when we first started recording pilot episodes, we actually both were telling the same story. We listened to it back and just felt like something was off. We kept working on it, and that’s when we actually hired a producer. He was involved in this process to make sure we weren’t just going rogue on our own, as fun as it was.
We did some more piloting and testing with different formats. We ended up where we are now, which is when one of us is telling the story, the other one doesn’t know until we record who we’re talking about. It felt important to have the other person reacting in a really organic way, and to make sure they can’t do research ahead of time — because we’re both sneaky like that. Every time you hear shock on the show, it’s genuine shock or excitement about covering that person, but it took us a long time to get to that point creatively.
Kate: Yeah, it has been fun. When we first pitched the concept a year ago, I wanted to do a Design Pickle podcast and knew I wanted it to have a comedic spin to it, but had no idea what exactly it would entail. We thought maybe it would be about marketing, but then the name popped into my head.
Originally, it was going to be a little bit more serious and talking about really amazing people who seem to have no flaws whatsoever. But that’s not fun. No one wants to hear that. We recorded the first episode and it was about Carolyn Davidson, who is the designer of the original Nike swoosh logo. We did it in the original format where we both knew the story, and that was the end of that.
Jess: Actually, I’m going to say we ended up doing 1 1/2 episodes like that. We did try to record another one about Augusta Savage, and then we scrapped it in the middle when we realized it was terrible. With both of us telling one story, there was no room for us to riff on each other or bounce ideas back and forth in real-time. It was also scripted, even if we were just doing bullet points, and that was not at all the vibe we wanted. We wanted to show our chemistry, and we feel like that now comes through in a really fun way.
Do you have any advice for people starting their own podcast?
Kate: If you’re ever going to try to podcast — and this is my professional advice from somebody who has 10 episodes out — if you’re planning to have a co-host, it should be someone that you have natural chemistry and rapport with because that has made this whole process so much easier. Jess and I can already have a conversation and have it be fun, but we can be serious when we need to, so it comes a lot more naturally than it would with someone else.
Jess: Everything Kate said.