Audience Engagement Q&A with Ross Jackson of LockedOn Saints Podcast

At Subtext, we’re fortunate to work with amazing partners across media, sports, entertainment, events, politics, and more. We love learning from our partners to highlight the great work they're doing and to improve our own offerings. With that, let’s get into our interview with Ross Jackson, the host of the LockedOn Saints podcast.

Q: Can you give me a little background on who you are and what you do?

A: My name is Ross Jackson and I’m the host of the LockedOn Saints podcast which is a daily podcast that covers the New Orleans Saints football team. I’m a sports journalist and analyst
as well, having worked with other companies in the past. I mostly focus on New Orleans Saints football and have been hosting this podcast since the summer of 2018. I’ve been looking for more ways to continue to grow and reach greater audiences and that's why I'm really excited about our collaborations with Subtext.

Q: Where did you see the opportunity for Subtext?

A: The reason I lept at it is because I actually saw it as an opportunity for community building. The reason I look at sports the way that I look at sports is because I had an entire career outside of it. I used to work in professional theater as a stage manager, so my job was literally to pay the most attention to detail possible. So attention to detail, pattern matching, all these other things were things that just kind of came naturally to me. So when I got the opportunity here to be able to do a podcast and talk about sports, what I saw was an opportunity to be able to implement my attention to detail in a way that elevates the way that we discuss football and the way that we talk about it.

And so the reason why I fell in love with Subtext so quickly is that it gave me an opportunity to be able to provide additional resources for people to understand exactly what it is that I'm discussing and provide an almost  “second screen experience”. And then the other piece of it was community building. I wanted to make sure people knew that if they signed up, they get all this extra stuff and have the ability to connect directly.

I think making someone smarter is something you have to do in two steps. You have to introduce them to the subject but then also discuss and kind of dialogue about the concept. That’s where Subtext fills that hole.

Q: So building the community is one part but the value you already had in your mind is the education you’re providing for your community. How are you selling education? How are you getting more subscribers to buy into SMS?

A: I’m honest about it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying “Hey. Here’s this piece you can get on a subscription basis.” Because it's subscription-based and there’s a dollar amount attached to it, people are a little nervous to talk about it because they're asking for something. If you're providing the value proposition and there's a reason for a person to say, “Oh yeah, I'll buy Ross a cup of coffee every month for the pleasure of being able to have this extra thing or whatever it might be.” And so I look at it as you're helping to support the show, but you're still getting something in return, and here are the things I have the ability to give in return.

We do things like KREWE & As, as opposed to Q&As, so the audience can send their questions and it gives me an opportunity to answer them. That way, I’m always discussing the things they want to hear and that is the value proposition.

Q: Were you doing the KREWE & As the entire time or did you learn to do that?

A: I think I picked it up pretty quickly once I got enough membership. We have enough members now where I can get 15 or 16 questions in and I want to answer all of them and I want to answer all of them more than the way I would on Twitter. The way I’ll uniquely do them now is they send me the questions, I'll record a video of me sitting there, so it's just like me and them chatting basically, and do it as an unlisted YouTube link and send it to them so they exclusively have access to it. I love the convenience that Subtext provides in it being text, but I think things like link sharing are what separates it from other social media platforms where you’re just going to get words back. I want you to see me speaking to you as a human so here's an opportunity to do that thanks to link sharing.

Q: Do you find there to be people you’re always hearing from?

A: For sure. We’ve got our super KREWE communicators I guess I would call them. It's really cool because it's not just about the New Orleans Saints either. Here's an opportunity for people to actually get to know who I am. You know, I'm a brain tumor survivor. I had a brain tumor when I was 15 years old. I mention it every now and then on the show. It's not something that I'm shy about but I had a couple of folks that I had 10-15 minute conversations back and forth through text about that experience and everything. It’s something that bridges the gap.

Q: Can you explain your thought process of setting up your texting channel?

A: The first thing I thought when writing my welcome message was “I need them to know it's actually me.” So I threw in a bunch of phrases that I would usually use on the show and then I thought, "Oh well it's an automated message so maybe there's a different way for me to look at it.” Then I remembered the thing that's so important to me when creating connections is first impressions. I've got 15 seconds to convince you to watch today's episode so what do I do within those 15 seconds to give you the most value right off the bat? So I applied the way I think about podcasting to the way I think about Subtext. I rewrote the message. I streamlined it entirely so that there's no fluff in it and instead it says “Thank you very much for subscribing. Here are the things you're going to get and here are the two links that are most important to you that give you access to everything”. Here's the Google Drive link that gives you access to the research, the additional videos,  and the additional content. and then here's the YouTube link that gives you my unlisted playlist of all of our previous KREWE & A’s. It gives everybody an idea of what to expect in a way that’s fulfillable for me.

Q: What are some other ideas you didn’t think about when you first launched?

A: It’s touchpoints. It gives me a moment where I can return the favor. Every show for me is a new drive. I think of every podcast episode as “How do I make the most out of my first 15 plays?” I know someone asked this question three weeks ago and I spoke about it in a new way with some new information on this week's episode so I can text them and say, “There’s been a change in the odds and I spoke about it in today’s episode if you’re interested.”

Or it’s as simple as finding out it's someone’s birthday and I can write to them and say “Hey buddy. Happy birthday.” That helps a ton being able to do things like that. So it really is the touchpoints. That’s been a big needle mover for me. It creates an opportunity instead of just being a destination in terms of content, I can also be the outreach.

Q: What does it take to do all that for your subscribers?

A: The hardest part is time management, making sure I can do the things on a schedule. That’s why I try not to promise too much. I'm very open about “I'm going to try to get this done by this time, but please understand that it might take a little bit later." The thing about the kind of community that I have on Subtext is that they were LockedOn Saints listeners first, so they understand that I’m busy.

If time management is your biggest struggle, just do your version of it. It doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of what the LockedOn Saints guy is doing, but what’s YOUR version of that? There’s a different version of it that you can find a way to create your own based on what fits within your lifestyle, your commitment, opportunities, and things like that. There’s no one way to provide. The thing that always has to be at the forefront is the audience.

Thank you to Ross and the LockedOn Saints for taking the time to talk to us about your experience with Subtext. It’s been incredible watching you grow such a meaningful and engaged community. If you want to learn more about how to incorporate an SMS channel into your podcasting efforts, schedule time to book a demo with one of our SMS experts today.

See the full interview here: 

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