Podcast: Political advertisements leading up to Georgia midterms, with Joseph Watson, Jr.

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Watson previously served as an appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

Leading up to the 2022 general elections in the state of Georgia, the Grady Research Radio podcast recently had the opportunity to feature Joseph Watson, Jr., the Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Watson has over 20 years of experience working in public affairs, campaigns and communications. 

In this interview, Watson answers questions about the state of political advertisements, the different advertisements out there, and the effectiveness of different approaches. 

Below is a transcript of the podcast episode, edited lightly for clarity and brevity. 

Grady Research Radio: Has anything surprised you so far in terms of the advertisements that we’ve seen leading up to the midterms in Georgia this year? 

Joseph Watson: The thing that has surprised me about the advertisements I’ve seen coming in the election so far has really been their consistency. So, we all knew it was going to be a tough campaign season. We all knew that there were going to be a lot of negative ads. And so none of that has really surprised me. The volume is not surprising. 

But, what is surprising is that they have been very consistent. All of the major campaigns have — maybe with one exception — kind of settled into what their campaign message is and have really diligently stuck to that. And that’s surprising, because usually campaigns struggle to identify what they think is their best message, and candidates often struggle to stay on the right path with that messaging. 

But, for the most part, the candidates have done that, and that’s surprising to me because I’d actually expect some to oscillate more than they have. 

Grady Research Radio: To me, it has felt like a pretty intense race in terms of the advertisements. There’s the television ad accusing Herschel Walker of abusing his ex-wife, which features an interview with the words coming directly out of her mouth. And then there’s another one that has him saying he wanted to kill a man. So, my question is, are these ads — these attack ads — do they surprise you? And are they effective? 

Joseph Watson: I think they are absolutely effective. I should take a step back and say that I still regard Georgia as a red state. It’s a red state that’s trending purple. It’s not a red state trending blue. I think the fact that we have two Democratic senators is more of a reflection on some of the inadequacies of the Republican campaigns in the last election cycle than it is on the shifting politics in Georgia. There are demographic changes, though, that are driving the state purple, but nothing that I’ve seen yet suggests the state is really on the brink of becoming blue, as other states have. 

No, I’m not really surprised at all by the aggressiveness of the ads. I think you have to understand that, you know, most campaigns just don’t have that much good material. So, I could not imagine, as someone who has been involved in campaigns, that if I had that kind of opposition research, I had those audio tapes where — Herschel Walker prior to contemplating a political career was very candid and participated in these interviews and conversations that were video recorded — I could not imagine a campaign that had that information not using it. In fact, I would have to say that if a campaign had that information and didn’t use it, it would be a malfeasance. 

I think the thing that is unusual is that most individuals that are in or pursuing state-wide offices have really expected to be pursuing those offices for a long time, and they’re very diligent about what they say, how they’re recorded and how they’re framed. And so you’d be very hard-pressed to find information or content like that on most candidates. 

But, this is kind of the situation with having more of a celebrity candidate. I mean, there were similar things that happened when Trump ran in 2016. That is part of having someone that has been in the public eye without any, you know, realization they were going to pursue politics. They have all this content out there. 

A campaign will do opposition research to find out all the dirty secrets that are out there and figure out which of those things resonate with voters. I think the fact that you’re seeing the Warnock campaign drive that message over and over again, I think they have research that indicates that it is effective.

Grady Research Radio: How does the Herschel campaign, in this instance, respond to an ad like that? Is there a formula for responding to those kinds of attack ads?

Joseph Watson: Well, you know, I think when you’re faced with opposition like that, you want to assess, gather intelligence and then modulate a response to whatever is going on. Not everything that’s negative requires a response. 

Here, obviously, the seriousness of what’s out there and the plainness of the content necessitate some kind of response. The Walker campaign did, when these allegations first came about and were being spread, release an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal which details Walker’s mental health issues over the years and kind of chide those who are using this as a source of negative campaign attacks. That’s one way to do it. 

You could do a rebuttal ad to push back. The challenge here is that, factually, there’s no question about what was said. Factually, those are things that Walker did do, and he never questioned that it was there. For some of the interviews, he was recorded with his, you know, wife, or ex-wife, in his presence. So, there’s no denial of the truth. That makes it very difficult. It’s not like someone is alleging that you did something and you can put out a rebuttal saying, “That’s wrong. That never happened.”

The only pushback is that, you know, it was the product of a mental health issue. I think the Walker campaign has been wise to focus instead on driving their own attacks on Warnock. And I think both lines of attack are working well, because both of the candidates are a good number of points under 50 percent, so I think, in that sense, it has been effective for both campaigns, the negative approach. 

I’ve probably seen more positive Warnock pieces recently than I’ve seen positive Walker pieces, but I think that could just be a factor of the cash advantage that Warnock has over Walker.

Grady Research Radio: You mentioned some of Walker’s ads. I know one of them that is relatively accusatory is when Walker’s campaign is accusing Warnock’s campaign of overstating racism as a problem. Is that kind of the type of ad that you’re pointing towards in this instance? 

Joseph Watson: No. I don’t think that’s really the best line of attack for the Walker campaign on Warnock. I think the best line of attack is the one that I’ve probably seen the most, which is to tie Warnock to inflation and to the Biden Administration’s spending as a source of causation of the inflation that Georgians are experiencing right now. 

I think that for Republicans, inflation is the top issue and the top message. I mean, that’s what you’ve consistently seen Governor Kemp focus on. He’s done a mixture of his accomplishments as governor and the economic performance of the state along with criticisms of inflationary policies. But, certainly, for federal candidates for Senate and congressional candidates on the Republican side, inflation is the best issue for them to focus on. 

I think the line of attack on Warnock as being someone who voted for measures that gave checks — there is one ad that, you know, Warnock supported something that gave checks to the Boston Marathon bomb, or a stuff like that — that’s effective, because you’re painting him as somewhat extreme. And you’re also tying it to spending and inflation. So, you’re getting a lot packed into an ad like that, and I think those ads are best. The research I’ve seen suggests that those attacks on Warnock have resonated and done some damage.

Grady Research Radio: Overall, have negative ads been proven to be more effective than positive advertisements?

Joseph Watson: So, that’s a good question. This is one of the issues that I find fascinating, because there’s a distinction between how academics, political scientists and advertising and PR scholars all view this, versus what practitioners do. I mean, if you look at the academic literature, it almost always suggests that negative ads are not good, that they create issues, and you should focus on positive ads. 

But the reality is, there are tons of negative ads. So you’re like, why is there a disconnect between this and what the research shows? 

I always try to explain it this way. The negative ad is not free. For federal ads, you have to have a disclosure to say, you know, “I’m Raphael Warnock, and I paid for this ad.” You have to identify the source. So, if you’re writing a negative ad directly from your campaign that is aimed at your opponent, you have to put your name on at the end of it. And so that’s the double-edged sword there. 

So, yes, you lob an attack. But anyone who’s lobbing an attack also is viewed negatively, because they’re doing something that’s negative. So, ultimately, you have to decide. It’s a cost-benefit analysis. Is the damage that you’re going to inflict on your opponent enough that it justifies or makes up for any damage you get for being on the attack? I think, for most campaigns, they judge it to be a net positive phenomenon to do the negative ads. 

Grady Research Radio: Great. This next question is two-pronged. Misinformation in political advertisements is a topic of discussion that’s always coming up around this time. Has there been an overwhelming amount of misinformation presented in these ads? That’s the first part of the question. Secondly, does misinformation in ads even matter? Do people care? 

Joseph Watson: Well, I think it is an important issue. It is generational. What we’ve found is, younger Americans are more dubious of the information they receive and less trusting of the validity of it than older Americans, in terms of making broad generalizations in terms of political content. As a result of that, you know, certainly when you’re thinking about older Americans that tend to kind of accept or trust what they see on an ad, it can be very problematic for there to be content there, because the perspective is that it is assumed to be true or valid. 

I saw a lot of these kinds of ads featuring misinformation mostly centering around January 6th and centering around the validity of the 2020 election. Most of them were Republican primary ads that contain misinformation saying that the election was stolen or things like that. 

In general, I’m not seeing quite that volume of misinformation. I think all the things that we’re seeing for the most part in this cycle are things that are pretty close. I mean, obviously, they’re being framed in a fashion that’s favorable to whoever is paying for the ad. But nothing gets to the level of the misinformation we saw in the Republican primaries, in which people were saying things that were just factually untrue. 

You always have to keep in mind that with ads that are run on broadcast network television, the networks have to take those ads whether they contain true information or not. They don’t have the ability to turn them away. Now, in the social media space, they do. Social media platforms can turn down as they feature misinformation, but television broadcasters can’t. So, there’s a dynamic there that makes it particularly challenging in terms of, you know, when you think about older Americans sitting in their homes watching local television and seeing ads and assuming that what’s being shown to them is true when it may not be.

Grady Research Radio: Before this interview, you sent over an article that pointed out that, so far, Democratic candidates — both in the governor’s race and this senatorial race between Warnock and Walker — have spent significantly more money on advertisements than the GOP candidates. So my question is, is there a correlation between the money spent on advertisements and the success of candidates? 

Joseph Watson: Well, you certainly have to have a lot of money to be competitive in a race. It’s possible that you can have a cash advantage and still lose. Having more cash is not a guarantee of victory, but having not enough cash is a problem in terms of how competitive or viable you are in a general election. 

It is better to have the money. I mean, it is a good problem to have. But, again, one of the things I keep coming back to is, fundamentally, campaigns do well when they have sound strategies and effective tactics. All the money in the world is not going to help you if your fundamental strategy, your core theory of that campaign, is not a good one. 

We see that every cycle. Think about going back a couple years to Mike Bloomberg, who spent an inordinate amount of money and basically got nothing to show for it. 

I will say, though, that where money comes in handy and where it’s effective is in the ability to get your message out. There is the ability to be on the air and be on the air as much as you need to be. 

For Democrats, that’s really important. I mean, It was big news a number of weeks ago when Republicans had to push the pause button on ads in a number of different states in Senate races just because they were light on cash. They had to conserve money for the final stretch. So they went dark on ads, and that allowed Democrats to basically own the airwaves for a number of weeks until Republicans said, “Okay, now we have enough money to finish this.” 

Having enough money would mean that you would never have to go off the air. In a race like this, you never want to go off. You want to be able to be on the air for the duration, and the money that the Democratic candidates have had so far is giving them the ability to stay the whole time.

Grady Research Radio: I watch a lot of Jeopardy. So, the majority of the political ads that I see are during that half hour. Are television ads still king? Or, have candidates resorted to other mediums, perhaps social media, and have those ads been proven to be maybe more effective than the classic television ad? 

Joseph Watson: The television ad remains king. In particular, the television ad that is shown on cable television is king. That’s where you have the highest penetration of likely voters. One thing that we’ve seen consistently in studies is that the older Americans are, the more likely they are to vote, you know, the more regularly they vote. Cable television is the preferred medium for political and public affairs information for older Americans, and that’s why cable television is king. 

If you were exclusively trying to reach Generation Z, you could have a social media framework. They’re not watching cable news, so you wouldn’t have to spend that money. But with the current electorate as it is, if you’re trying to reach Baby Boomers and Gen X, you’re going to need to spend money on cable television. 

There is one exception for cash-strapped campaigns, which is the notion of developing a viral ad. If you develop an ad and, you know, you place it on YouTube, which doesn’t cost you anything, you can kind of flag it for media outlets. If it’s something that is attention-getting, you can get a lot of earned media coverage from it and get greater penetration of that ad without actually doing an ad buy on television. 

There was an ad for a candidate in Missouri in which he said he’s going “RINO hunting.” It shows him kicking down doors, they’ve got camo on, and they’re going to places with guns. It was like, are they advocating violence? What’s going on here? And that was so shocking that it garnered a lot of media coverage. That’s something that they didn’t necessarily have to do an ad buy for. But because it was so, you know, titillating, it basically got them earned media coverage. 

The dilemma for candidates — for the campaign that did that — all the coverage they got was predominantly negative. And so, you can do something like that, but to do something that’s so shocking, you get media coverage covered with a jaundiced dye that’s not very favorable to your campaign. 

But, nevertheless, it allows you to get it out there and get it disseminated widely. And so campaigns will do that. And that’s one way in which you could still reach those demographics that are watching cable television or broadcast television without spending the money that you ordinarily would have to spend to be on cable or broadcast.

Grady Research Radio: Thanks for your time today. 

Joseph Watson: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.

New podcast studio opens on first floor

Grady College has converted a space on its first floor into a high-tech podcast studio. The new studio gives students the opportunity to hone their skills in one of the fastest-growing methods of communication. 

Featuring advanced sound equipment, the studio is available for both classroom and student use. It is large enough for Grady College professors to teach podcasting lessons in and available for the College’s students to produce podcasts. 

“This studio represents the massive audience shift to audio storytelling,” said Charlotte Norsworthy, a part-time instructor in Journalism at Grady College and producer of The Lead Podcast. “More and more, audiences are engaging with stories through the ear, and it is incredibly exciting for Grady to be engaging our students in the latest industry developments. I am thrilled to dive into this space with the students.”

The sound isolation booth in the new podcast studio
The sound isolation booth allows students to do voiceover or single-track narration recording. (Photo: Jackson Schroder)

The studio is designed to let up to four students record a live-to-tape podcast together, each with their own microphones and audio monitoring. There is also a sound isolation booth for doing voiceover or single-track narration recording. Students can bring in a laptop, plug in to a high-quality microphone, close the door behind them and have a quiet, clean space to record in.

In the coming months, additions to the space will allow students to record video and seamlessly bring guests in virtually, from outside the room. 

“This is no home studio and it’s a far cry from a closet,” said Kim Landrum, a senior lecturer in Advertising who will be using the new studio in the spring for her Podcast Production and Branding course. “Our students will learn production techniques on the same hardware and software they can expect to find in the industry – and in many cases better. This is the real deal.”

The studio’s construction was organized by Grady College’s chief technology officer, Mark Johnson, who is also a senior lecturer in journalism. 

At the moment, faculty can request access for their students through Mark Johnson at mej@uga.edu. A scheduling system will become available within the coming months. 

 

The Lead podcast names its new host for Fall 2022

The Cox Institute named Jacqueline GaNun, a rising fourth-year journalism major, as the host of The Lead podcast for the 2022-2023 academic year.

GaNun served last fall as the editor-in-chief of The Red & Black, an independent student newspaper covering the University of Georgia and local Athens community. Last spring, GaNun was also chosen through a highly selective application process for membership in UGA’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society.

The Cox Institute expects GaNun will tap into both her student media and campus leadership experiences in her role as host of a podcast about leadership in the news industry.

“I think conversations about leadership rather than lectures about leadership are always a better way to go. As is with most things, people don’t really like being lectured at in most cases,” GaNun said. “But I think that a two-way conversation through audio makes it really accessible for people and they can kind of relate on a way more personal level.”

GaNun recently completed a study abroad at Oxford University as part of UGA’s program there. Before returning to Athens in the fall, GaNun will intern for NPR’s business desk in Washington, D.C., and will gain valuable experience in audio and digital storytelling before taking over The Lead’s microphone.

The Lead podcast explores the intersection of journalism and leadership by interviewing news media leaders. Previous seasons have featured veteran and emerging professionals, including Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award winners, best-selling authors and other prominent journalists across all platforms.

“The Lead . . . has a really great goal. I think that the media industry and journalism can feel very daunting if you’re trying to enter it, especially if you don’t have maybe parents who are journalists or family friends who are journalists — I don’t really know anybody who’s a professional journalist. So I think making that more accessible to people is a really, really great goal,” GaNun said.

GaNun said journalism students should care about hearing from media professionals, and is looking forward to finding and interviewing guests who will connect with The Lead’s journalism student audience.

“I think that professionals are so helpful for telling you their story and how it worked out for them. And that can also be helpful if they tell you their roadmap to where they got to today,” said GaNun. “I think it can be very helpful for people trying to figure out their way in life and in the industry.”

Before serving as editor-in-chief of The Red & Black, GaNun worked in student recruitment for the newspaper and served as a reporter, city news editor and news editor. She also interned for The Current, a non-profit news organization in Savannah, Georgia. In addition to her journalism major, GaNun is pursing a degree in international affairs and a minor in French. She is also in the university’s Honors College.

“We’re looking forward to Jacqueline bringing her keen intellect to The Lead podcast. Her perspective from student media and as an overall campus leader will be invaluable to the work we do on the podcast,” said Dr. Keith Herndon, executive director of the Cox Institute. “We’re also eager for her to bring the new skills she’ll acquire on her NPR internship this summer into the host’s role.”

GaNun’s fall start marks 13 seasons of the podcast (each semester is a season). She succeeds Kyra Posey, who was the show’s host during its past two seasons. Daniel Funke launched The Lead in fall 2016 and hosted seasons one and two. Seasons three and four were co-hosted by Nate Bramel and Noelle Lashley. Charlotte Norsworthy then hosted the podcast for four seasons, before turning the microphone over to Caroline Odom.

Hooper & Sanford podcast: Kendell Williams (AB ’17)

Kendell Williams (AB ’17) has competed in two Olympic Games (2016 in Rio de Janeiro and 2020 in Tokyo). She graduated with her undergraduate degree in advertising and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree while also training for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. In this episode, learn more about Williams’ decorated track and field career, her plans after athletics, and why returning to Grady College for her Master’s degree was a priority. Williams joins Dayne Young (ABJ ’11) to share her story.

Listen to this episode on Apple PodcastsYou can also hear it on Spotify. Learn more about Grady College podcasts here. 

Hooper & Sanford podcast: Tudor Vlad

Tudor Vlad is the director of the Cox International Center, an organization that helps offer resources and promote free journalism around the world. Vlad joins Dayne Young on the Hooper & Sanford podcast to discuss how journalists can overcome their international challenges. He recaps what the Cox Center is doing through the pandemic to continue to serve global storytelling. He also offers advice to journalists covering government and military stories such as those recently occurring in Afghanistan.

Alumni Who Podcast: Emily Noles

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Emily Noles is the UGA grad behind Clementine Creative Agency’s Peel Good. This bi-monthly podcast discusses “all the juicy

A graphic with blue overlay on top of a desk with audio waves and text that reads "Peel Good A Marketing Podcast"
Peel Good discusses what is going on in the marketing field in the bbi-monthly episodes. (Graphic: submitted)

 marketing of yesterday, today and tomorrow brought to you by skilled experts in different fields coming together to share their opinions and knowledge on creative marketing trends,” according to the website.

Emily graduated from UGA with a degree in advertising in 2018. While at Grady, she earned a New Media Certificate. Her NMI Capstone class served as her introduction into the audio world as she created an app for WUOG 90.5fm, the student-run alternative radio station at UGA. 

“The New Media Institute definitely helped to build this type of avenue for me to be familiar to a standpoint even though I’ve never worked in podcast before,” she said.

Emily is not only the client account manager at Clementine, but she’s also the person who dreamed up, hosts and produces Peel Good. After presenting the idea for a podcast available on Spotify and Apple Podcast in addition to YouTube, her and her teammates ran with the idea. She says that her company gave them the opportunity to explore the medium and build it from the ground up while they learned everything from filming and editing to distributing content to podcasting platforms.

The podcast began in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit. As the entire world switched from in-person to remote, Clementine transitioned the podcast to virtual operations as Emily and her team worked and filmed from home. Clementine just recently launched the second season of Peel Good in January of this year. While beginning a podcast at the start of a pandemic was a challenge, Emily says she learned lots through the first season.

“Season one was definitely getting our legs under us when it comes to podcasting because it’s not something we had done before,” she said. “It was kind of learn-as-you-go and really recognizing what was sitting well with the audience and what the audience was looking for so that we can continue to explore that interest.”

Noles talking into the microphone with a ring light shining on her while filming a podcast episode
Noles says she has learned a lot about how to podcast through Peel Good, which is a valuable skill when it comes to her industry. (Photo: submitted)

Emily said the marketing-specific podcast is “very niche to some people,” but that audience is where Peel Good’s focus lies. She says that this audience responded positively to the podcast’s formatting and flow.

“For [the listeners], they thought it was very informative but also very fun, so it’s not just kind of, you know, talking and sounding more like a lecture but more like a conversation between marketing professionals,” Emily said. “And so we took that feedback there and really amplified it and elevated it in season two.”

Throughout the process, Emily said the biggest lesson has been to lean into the audio medium. While the podcast is available to watch on YouTube, she says its primary goal is to serve listeners first — a balance that was hard to grasp at first. 

“I think the biggest lesson there is that while we are posting to YouTube, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have a visual that is so professionally cleaned up and put-together that it comes across more news anchor and presentation-like then like a conversational podcast, right? That’s the big difference we saw from season one to season two,” she said. “We kind of took a step back and realized we’re putting more focus on a visual standpoint than the audio, but podcasting is more known for its audio.”

Not only has Peel Good enabled Emily and her team to develop a new set of skills in terms of creating and maintaining a podcast, but she says it has also allowed them to grow professionally as it relates to marketing. When the team selects a topic to discuss on the show, Emily says they want to ensure they’re knowledgeable about how it relates to the industry. This entails extensive pre-show research that allows them to see what trends are appearing and “what are people talking about now that would be relevant to speak on in the podcast.”

“Everything we do is reflected in our work as well, so we take the inspiration and the research pooled that we talked about in the podcast and actually use it within our services and in our work,” she said. 

Looking to the future, Emily hopes to see the podcast expand and continue to grow in its success. Her idea of what this may look like includes garnering sponsors to take the series to the next level. Currently, the podcast does not have an allotted budget. With sponsorship, however, Peel Good would be able to further grow and reach more people. 

When it comes to other students looking to enter the podcasting world, Emily offers valuable advice. For her, the biggest lesson has been to allow mistakes to happen and use them to an advantage.

Noles sitting alongside her coworkers at a long table with microphones and laptops in front of them
Noles alongside co-founders of Clementine Creative Agency and UGA alumni Jennifer Nilsson and Merissa Davis. (Photo: submitted)

“I’m a person who thinks three steps ahead, but even sometimes because it’s not something I’ve done before, there’s going to be mishaps, there’s going to be steps that were missed, there’s going to be balls dropped, but not allowing yourself to be taking it so seriously that you feel like you need to step away from it altogether,” she said. “You just need to adjust with the problems that are faced and then learn from those so that you can better prepare for the next episode or next season and really apply what you’ve learned there.”

As she said, everyone can make a podcast look easy but there is more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye to an average listener. She says that while it may look seamless to create, edit, host and produce a podcast, there is a lot of work that goes into it and a lot of room for error. While mistakes are inevitable, Emily says it’s important not to let them be too discouraging.Listen to Emily’s podcast on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Podcast.

Alumni Who Podcast: David Mowery

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Award winning political strategist, radio host, CNN contributor, and Grady grad David Mowery is the co-host of Now! More Than Ever, a new podcast from Send The Food Back Media.A graphic that looks like a political campaign circular pin with a red, white, and blue stripe, stars, and text that reads "Now! More Than Ever:

Mowery and his longtime friend (and fellow UGA graduate) Chris Krauth feature guests from the world of politics, media, music and real life. Through their podcast, Mowrey and Krauth explore not only the nuts and bolts of their professions, but also the journey. According to the podcast’s website, this includes “the unheard sound, the unlived life, but also the shared experiences that bind us all.”

David Mowery graduated from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1999. After earning his degree in journalism, Mowrey started an externship in Washington, D.C. for Edelman

“The thing a Grady education really gives you — or gave me especially — was the ability to write and kind of write in different peoples’ voices or write for long-form, short-form,” he said. “The ability to write is underrated then and it’s underrated now.”

Mowery’s professional journey took him to Montgomery, Alabama where he currently resides and works as a political campaign consultant. Along the way, Mowery said he and Krauth started experimenting with the audio medium before podcasts were easily distributed. 

While he knew something was drawing him to the idea of podcasting, he was hesitant of how to navigate it along with his work in the political sphere. Mowery was conscious of his potential impact on the politicians he was working for, so he put his podcasting idea on hold. 

When his career led him to consult for a Senatorial candidate, he appeared on CNN multiple times. Mowery realized he enjoyed what he was doing and found himself wanting to “still have that energy” even after the campaign ended. This desire led him to attend and speak at conferences with the American Association of Political Consultants, which he really enjoyed until the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Finally, Mowery had the time and the confidence to launch a podcast alongside Krauth. The two worked and learned together as they built the podcast series. Mowery says one of their goals was not to discuss what was already at the forefront of the political conversation. 

“We didn’t want to talk about the pandemic, we didn’t want to talk about Donald Trump,” Mowery said. “And not for political reasons, but it’s because that’s what everybody’s talking about. It’s boring.”

Krauth and Mowery worked on the podcast for about six months. Eventually, Mowery decided it was time to look for guests to feature on the show. 

“I wanted to bring on guests from my industry and have them talk about both the challenges and opportunities of the industry, but also their origin story,” Mowery said. 

Through his podcast, Mowery says podcasting has become a tool for him in two big ways. First, he says his confidence has grown. At the beginning of the podcast, Mowery says he felt isolated because of extreme partisanship in the country on top of the pandemic. 

Mowery says he was at first hesitant to have guests on the show because he “wasn’t sure if people would get it.” After receiving advice from a friend who encouraged Mowery in his own skills and abilities, he decided to take the leap. 

What he realized is that he has a “public persona and positioning in [his] field that helps draw guests to it.” This realization has not only led to incredible guests on the podcast, but also an increase in Mowery’s self confidence. 

Additionally, Mowery says he has had a shift in perspective when looking at business. Now, he said he realizes that the people he has on his show can help him drive business.

In the past, Mowery says he believes having a side hustle along with a day job was viewed as a negative. While before it was worried having a podcast on the side would make him less desirable as an employee, he says now it’s a “feature not a bug.”

As he has grown in his professional journey, Mowery says the Georgia connection has remained strong. During his time in the industry, he says he has met other fellow UGA grads. 

“We see each other at conferences and it’s like, you know, your dawgs are there,” he said. “And it’s like when we get together at conferences, it’s like ‘Alright, at least I know I’ve got these folks here.”

Despite all his success, Mowery says he credits a lot of what he’s done to his time in Grady. 

“Almost everything that I’ve done in my career, I can trace to the education that I got at Georgia, at Grady.”

You can listen to Mowery’s podcast here.

A graphic showing upcoming shows including "The AJC's Greg Bluestein", "Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman", "Musician Ike Reilly", "Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes", "Time Engagement' Author Sasha Issenberg", "Georgia Election Systems Manager Gabriel Sterling" and "Pollster John Couvillion"
Now! More Than Ever’s upcoming shows. (Graphic: submitted)

Alumni Who Podcast: Shawlini Manjunath-Holbrook

Shawlini created her Feel the Good podcast, which she describes as her “personal journal.” (Photo: submitted)

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Shawlini Manjunath-Holbrook holds many titles: an actress, UGA graduate, a mother, and most recently, a podcaster. She recently started Feel the Good Podcast, which is a “mix of uplifting and/or reflective conversations with some of your favorite tastemakers, influencers, experts, community creators, fellow podcasters, artists and creatives doing good, spreading good or feeling good,” according to her website.

Shawlini says her podcast is her “personal journal,” meaning she has been able to make her personal podcast exactly the way she wants. 

“I bring a lot of myself to it, it’s very authentic to who I am, and the values that I honor and cherish,” she said. “And that’s what ‘Feel the Good’ ultimately is. It’s like, how can we evolve, how can we grow, how can we change together to do the best possible for each other, how can spread the good, do good by learning and growing and evolving together? So that’s something else that I think that I add to my show that is very personal to me.”

This emphasis on positivity that aligns with Shawlini’s personal values and morals is what she calls her “secret sauce” — something that she says every successful podcast needs. From moments of gratitude inserted in the podcast to highlighting main points to help herself and her followers evolve, Shawlini says her listeners resonate with her podcast and often reach out to her on social media to share how they connect with her message. 

Through Feel the Good, Shawlini says she’s gotten to “network authentically” with her guests. Because she hand-picks each of her guests, she says she’s able to choose people whose values and goals match her own. This has allowed her to “build that connection around like-minded people,” which is one of the biggest takeaways she’s had from the podcast.

“Podcasting is really great for that if you have that type of show where you are doing interviews because you do develop connections with the people that come on your show and a lot of times, I mean, they do become friends and you start cheerleading each other on and you follow each other on social media or you can reach out about things,” Shawlini said. “I would say probably about 95% of the people that I’ve had on have continued to be in my life.”

After graduating from Grady College with a degree in public relations, Shawlini studied at a conservatory for acting. While acting and raising her daughter, she decided to start her podcasting journey three years ago. A self-described Hallmark movie lover, her first podcast was called Hallmark Channels’ Bubbly Sesh

Shawlini fondly recalls how this podcast helped teach her everything from editing to filming. Along with her co-host, Shawlini interviewed talent and discussed Hallmark movies from rom-coms to Christmas movies. After the show took off, the Hallmark Channel officially took it on, which Shawlini said was “wonderful.”

While now she says there are plenty of podcasts on the market centered around the Hallmark Channel, at the time Shawlini says Bubbly Sesh was “niche.” This not only helped it stand out to Hallmark, but it also gave her the opportunity to learn how to podcast on her own.

“I really had to teach myself a lot of the elements of podcasting on my own. Now the great thing is for anyone who wants to do it there are so many tutorials and videos online in terms of what equipment you need and what you need to do this and that and hosting and editing and you can find people, freelancers and stuff to work on your podcast if you have a budget,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to get into it now, I think, without any knowledge at all than it was when I started out, so the benefit of that though was I really got to learn how to do it and build one.”

Listen to Shawlini’s podcast on Apple Podcast or Spotify

Alumni Who Podcast: Heather Adams

Editor’s note: This is an example of many different podcasts our alumni produce. Visit our Alumni Who Podcast Pinterest page for a full list.

Heather Adams (ABJ ‘98) has not only proven she’s a PR expert by starting her own company, Choice Media Communications, but she also has entered the podcasting realm with Make Me Known to deepen her skills and expertise. 

Make Me Known has four key pillars the podcast focuses on: communications expertise, entrepreneurship, empowering women and leadership, and relationships. (Photo: submitted)

In the weekly podcast, Adams talks with guests and shares “professional insights, encouragement and practical advice” about all things communications, relationships, entrepreneurship and empowering women, according to her website.

Following graduation from Grady, Adams immediately entered the communications industry. Her work took her from Atlanta to Nashville, where she currently lives with her family.

Adams launched Choice in 2014.

“We started out doing a whole lot of book publicity because that was my background, that’s what I knew, that’s what I was good at and what I love. And then we evolved and grew from there,” she said. “And we really do a lot of different kinds of communications services based on the need of the client. Publicity and media relations is certainly our bread and butter.”

While Adams has seen her company grow in the past seven years, she says she has been able to further refine her skills. In 2019, Adams said she realized that podcasting was coming into the conversation and she wanted to advise her clients on how to take advantage of the up-and-coming medium. While she could tell it was something worth looking into, Adams was relatively unfamiliar with it.

Adams said she wanted to know the ins-and-outs of podcasting, so she decided to start her own.

“When you’re a communications expert, and there’s a format that’s really permeating the culture, you want to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse of it, so it was for us to know the ins and outs of everything connected to a podcast,” she said. “It sets us up as the experts in our industry.”

Adams said creating a podcast would help her clients realize that Choice employees knew what they were talking about when it came to best practices and the inner-workings of podcasting. Additionally, she describes it as a “business development tool and lead generator” that brings clients to Choice who many not have heard about the company before listening to the podcast. 

Before long, Adams and her team had created a podcast called This Intentional Life in June 2020. After reflecting on the podcast, it’s successes and it’s areas for improvement, Adams decided to revamp it. 

“People liked it and they enjoyed the content and we had great engagement and they loved the guests that we had and they thought we were fun and all of that, but it wasn’t ultimately serving the purpose that we had created it for,” Adams said. 

Now a year later, the series is rebranded and has relaunched as Make Me Known. While the elements are similar to the original elements, the biggest difference is a specific core focus on four pillars: communications expertise, entrepreneurship, empowering women and leadership, and relationships. 

Adams says this key focus is based on Choice’s ideal client: a busy, ambitious, working woman who juggles a successful work life with her personal relationships. 

“What we’re trying to do is equip her with the tools that she needs to go and be successful in work and in life and the dynamics of the two, but growing her business and her career, while managing the strong quality of life that she desires at home,” Adams said. “And so we develop all of the content through one of those four pillars with that ideal woman in mind of who we want listening to Make Me Known so that we are deliberately and intentionally serving her.”

Through this podcast, Adams says she’s successfully become an expert in the medium. From learning how to interview to going after and securing guests to creating, producing and taping episodes, she’s seen it all. 

“We intend fully to grow and enhance our offerings as the podcast grows and continues to evolve, and it being just one format and avenue or channel with which we’re trying to serve the women that are our ideal client choice.”

Listen to Make Me Known on Apple Podcasts.

ESPN’s only father/daughter duo mark one-year “In Timeout” together

A University of Georgia student just marked the one-year anniversary of her podcast with a live audience on May 13. Rising junior advertising major Ally Fleming launched the “In Timeout” podcast last May alongside her father, David.

Ally and David started their podcast in the first few months of the pandemic. Now a year later, they celebrate its success with a live anniversary event.

In a sea of more than 1.7 million podcasts, ESPN’s only daddy/daughter duo continue to differentiate, develop creative content and drive downloads with contrasting views and a growing fan base. This duo teams up weekly to laugh, talk family, sports and pop culture and celebrated their one-year show live from Lost Worlds Brewing in Cornelius, NC on May 13.

“Stuck in quarantine, when we realized the entire world was also “in timeout” I joked about starting a podcast – a few hours later we posted our first show. It was a blast, but we just did it to help pass the time, honestly, and never dreamed we’d still be doing this a year later,” says David Fleming, senior writer for ESPN. “But the reaction has been so amazing, and we quickly realized a father/daughter duo that can talk Kobe Bryant or the Super Bowl one week, rank Taylor Swift songs the next and then do an Arby’s taste test or a #GirlDad fashion quiz was something totally unique to the podcasting world. And so, incredibly, here we are hosting a live audience for our one-year anniversary show. I just hope it’s not being catered by Arby’s.”

Today, the In Timeout podcast is in the top 15% of the more than 100,000 shows on the host site Buzzsprout and is approaching a thousand downloads per month, from Australia to Japan and Germany and throughout the U.S.

“Some of my favorite episodes we record are the spontaneous ones,” says Ally Fleming. “A memorable moment was texting my dad about the new Britney Spears documentary, and in less than 24 hours, we recorded a whole episode covering it.”

 

“I could see us never running out of ideas to talk about. That’s why I love recording this podcast so much, it never gets boring,” Ally Fleming says.

About In Timeout podcast

In Timeout Podcast, started in the midst of the global COVID 19 pandemic, is a sports podcast like never before. ESPN’s only father/daughter duo, David and Ally Fleming talk sports, pop culture and family. Episodes vary from reviewing the latest Britney Spears documentary to covering Dave’s newest project on ESPN. In Timeout can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Listen to a sample episode:

o   Kobe Bryant’s Legendary 1996 Lakers Workout – Episode 37
o   Rainbow Babies, Girl Dads, Grief & Joy – Episode 12
o   Arby’s Meat Mountain Challenge – Episode 24
o   Jock Jams 25th Anniversary – Episode 15
o   Ally’s Super Super Bowl Episode 34