Marvyn Harrison: Crafting partnerships with purpose

Dope Black Dads founder on how to put your platform to good use

One of the main attractions of podcasts for many brands is their ability to tap into specific demographics and interests - and few have harnessed that ability more effectively than Marvyn Harrison. As well as being the chief growth officer for BELOVD Agency and a published children’s author, Harrison is the founder of Dope Black Dads - a podcast by, for and about Black fathers which has grown into a wider community with spinoffs across a range of platforms and channels.

Harrison makes a point of being very selective about who the organisation partners with, and in this week’s episode of PodPod, he talks to Rhianna Dhillon and Adam Shepherd about how he ensures that partnerships align with the organisation’s values and how they can be used to serve the needs of their communities, as well as the future of the Dope Black organisation, and why he’s deliberately not making any plans for it.

Key takeaways

Brand fit works both ways

“We've never, ever done any outreach, which means that it is very much about sorting through our inbound. Most of that is just time and capacity; we already have lots of clients through our partner agency, BELOVD, so it just means we have very limited capacity to go and go out and say, we wanna work with this company because they're doing sustainability really well.”

“Through our inbound, it's very much about auditing those companies. Most of the companies we're working with, we know of directly, but it's about auditing them. Because our values say that we can't be working with anti-black organisations or organisations who haven't done the right things or have been in the news in a negative sense recently, and they can't use us as a way to repair their lack of respect for a community. We're not a fix in that way.”

£500 an episode is entry level

“To do it properly, you've got to spend money. You're not gonna get away with spending, you know, less than four, five hundred quid an episode, which if you make that across a year… and that's not even competing, that's entry, really. You can put a camera up, two phones up and try and gather it, but the limitations will really be seen when you put it on like a TV YouTube app, and it loses engagement in those environments.” 

“Cause you're standing up next to highly produced content by everybody and everyone's got a podcast now. So if yours doesn't look good, it does have an impact. So those early days of point-and-shoot, ‘just happy to be here’ type productions - I think those days are gone and you gotta come with a bit more quality - or at least an original format.” 

Social is key

“There's no correlation between what the people on the podcast listen to and what the sweep on social media listen to. In fact, they get two completely different experiences and most of them couldn't reference which episode that social media clip came from. So I think this is why I think it's important that when you're creating content, you are really thinking about it in a broader sense.”

“And then what happens is, is that you build those social audiences and a portion of them will transfer to the podcast, but really it's about monetising those social audiences, cause now you build an audience for your tone of voice on Instagram, for example, or TikTok. [Your podcast is] the base of it, but it's not the end point of it. The end point is the platform that it’s being shown on, which is Instagram, or TikTok.”


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