How to maximize your sponsored captions

Jan 17, 2019

I love Ira Glass.

I have listened to nearly every This American Life since discovering it 14 years ago, and over that time have come to trust deeply the distinctive voice that hosts that show. I was listening to an episode last week and before it kicked off, Ira took a minute to pitch the new season of Serial. After it was over, the consumer in me wanted to switch over and start listening to Serial, and the marketer in me wanted to go and re-listen to the pitch. It was astonishing in its simplicity and clarity and while Ira is obviously a skilled wordsmith, there are lessons to learn from this simple pitch.

*For clarity’s sake, I will refer to what he is pitching (a podcast) as the product

  1. He is speaking on something he is an expert in, which imbues the message with heft and authenticity.

  2. He starts out with something very specific that HE liked about the product, and then moves onto what is great about it from a more broad sense.

  3. He puts the new product in context of the past iterations of that product, explaining the improvements upon the previous versions that were much loved.

  4. He has genuine excitement and it feels genuine because he makes it personal. The amount of specificity in the pitch makes it feel like a conversation between friends, which is exactly how an influencer pitch should feel as well

  5. He opens and closes by telling us we are about to be pitched. I see this separate from FTC compliance. By saying he is about to pitch us on something it makes it feel less like this is something he has to do and instead is something he wants to do. It’s subtle but it does a lot to change the framing of the pitch.

With these things in mind, I encourage you all to read the transcript of his pitch below and think about how your captions could be working harder for you.

Before we start today, I want to again say a word about the new season of Serial because it is finally out, and if you haven’t heard it yet, I just want to recommend it to you again. This season is a story collected in a year in one court house. Episode 2 is one of my favorites of this new season. In the opening scene of this episode, a judge sends somebody to probation and then he tells the guy that he'll consider it a violation of his probation if he has another child out of wedlock, which nobody in the courtroom points out is totally unconstitutional, like if you follow that through and put the guy in prison for having another child, that is 100% against the law. He gives two other people the same sentence that day, and I really think that that’s one of the things that this series does so well: it takes things that you kind of, sort of know, like we all know that when you are tried for a crime what’s going to happen to you depends on what judge you get. This episode shows how far that can go in the most visceral way, like there’s scene after scene of this judge saying things to defendants that are shocking and hard to hear, and doing some things that are just profoundly disturbing.

The ambition of this season of Serial is to take us into ordinary court rooms and ordinary cases, and show what goes on, day in and day out, to people who go through the system and it is fair-minded, it is deeply reported, it is one gripping story after another... It just shows so much, it feels like serial’s first season, but, with, I have to say, much greater ambition just trying to describe so much more of the world and what happens in our courts. And hearing these stories, as somebody who makes radio stories, I will say in all honesty, it is sobering to be in the same business as Sarah Koenig. Her ability to tackle stories that involve dozens of people with conflicting accounts and motivations, and then she sorts through those with such clarity and such good judgement, and then parses out the evidence sort of, point by point for us to judge for ourselves, it’s just exciting to hear her on the case, especially with cases like this. So, you can listen online at or download the podcast, wherever you get your podcast. Alright, enough of the pitch, here’s today’s show.

— Fohr CEO James Nord

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