Revisiting Criminal

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These days, you can’t swing a microphone without hitting a podcast “Top 10” list. Frequently, you’ll find Criminal named among the best. And rightfully so. Episode after episode, listeners can count on Criminal for good stories, well told and well-produced.

That professional consistency has lead to a meteoric rise in popularity for Criminal since it started just a year ago. In fact, Phoebe Judge, the host of the program, told me during an interview for HowSound that last December, Criminal was number three for a short while on the iTunes charts right below Serial and This American Life.

Phoebe, along with her co-producers Eric Mennel and Lauren Spohrer, has also been diligent about promoting the show. While they haven’t broken new ground or discovered the “magic mix” for getting the word out, they have some solid promotion ideas.

In the beginning, they promoted the show in all the usual ways. They started a Facebook page and a Twitter account where they would announce new episodes. They’d tell their friends, too. “And then we would watch our numbers jump up by two and we would say ‘Oh, they must have of told another friend.’”

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Listen to “In the beginning”

Eventually, their promotion tactics evolved, especially on Twitter. Rather than just announcing a new episode, Phoebe says they would pick one particularly good quote from the show and Tweet that. Something funny. Something provocative. An attention-grabbing line, not just bland information.

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Listen to “Giving someone an incentive to click”

Additionally, they would couple the intriguing quote with a unique image drawn for each episode by Julienne Alexander.

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Listen to “Each episode has its own artwork”

And now, Criminal has a newsletter – The Accomplice. It comes out every two weeks. It talks about their latest episode and there’s other related content such as info about an upcoming live show, their favorite crime writing from the last two weeks, and funny security cam footage like a nun steeling beer.

Phoebe says their audience has been a big help, especially listeners who associate Criminal with Serial. She says many people would tweet things like “If you miss Serial, try Criminal.” But, Phoebe says the Criminal staff at would never do that themselves, they’d never say something like “If you like Serial, try Criminal.” She says it seems cheap.

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Listen to “Not riding on the coattails of others”

You can find Criminal’s Facebook page here.

Follow their Twitter feed.

And, of course, be sure to subscribe to the podcast which you can do here.

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