Tyler Tech Podcast's Year in Review

December 07, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

Tyler Tech Podcast's Year in Review

The Tyler Tech Podcast debuted in 2020, providing local government leaders with a new way to connect and engage. These leaders and other industry experts shared their stories of resourcefulness, creativity, and success on this new platform. A growing audience proved eager for accessible peer anecdotes and entertainment with a local government focus.

We spoke with podcast host Jeff Harrell, director of content marketing for Tyler, about the highlights and surprises of the podcast’s inaugural year.

Podcast Host Jeff Harrell
Podcast Host Jeff Harrell

What was your goal in developing the podcast?

Podcasting has exploded in recent years. The current pandemic seems to have accelerated the growth curve. One reason podcasts are growing in popularity is you truly can multi-task with them. Most people listen to podcasts while they do other things — walk, run, workout, drive, clean the house, you name it. Video requires your full attention and, for that reason, isn’t a great medium for more than a few minutes of content. People listen to podcasts for hours as long as the content is good.

We also know the top two reasons people listen to podcasts is to learn something new and be entertained. Our goal was to create quality content that’s easy to consume to help people interested in the public sector learn something new and be entertained. We bring on a subject matter expert each episode — could be a Tyler client, an internal Tyler expert, or a third-party expert — who can help us address a very specific problem facing communities today.

Who was your first guest, and why?

We conducted custom research with the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK) early in 2020 to understand how the four major generations working today feel about, and engage with, local government. We wanted to share the findings in the first four episodes. CGK’s President, Jason Dorsey, is an amazing speaker — in fact, he was recently inducted into the Speaker’s Hall of Fame. So, we were really fortunate to have Jason join us for the first four episodes. He is a true professional, which made my life as a new podcast host very easy.

Do you have a favorite episode?

It’s a little bit like asking who your favorite child is. I love our GenResearch four-part series with Jason Dorsey. There were so many useful nuggets for local gov leaders, plus Jason is an absolute genius on the subject of generational differences. I also really like the episode we did with Dr. Kevin Gilliland talking about how COVID-19 has impacted mental health. The pandemic has had such an impact on health and human services, so I loved the helpful content we were able to share on such an important topic. But again, I’ve loved all the episodes so far and am excited for the future episodes we have planned. The topics we can cover in the public sector are so vast and so interesting.

Were there some surprising moments?

Because all recording is done virtually, the only angst I feel is usually related to the phone or internet connection with my guests. That seems to be a crap shoot when it comes to how the technology works, and how comfortable guests are using it. Sometimes they are using speakerphones so you get an echo, sometimes they can’t get their microphone to work or the headphones won’t connect. But this thrust into 100% virtual for everyone due to the pandemic has forced all of us to learn how to use these online tools, so there are probably fewer issues now than even a year ago.

You spoke with many different municipal and industry leaders – did any common threads emerge?

Yes: the speed at which COVID-19 has thrust us forward in the need for, and adoption of, technology. Many community leaders were working on adopting technology to solve future problems, but when an unexpected problem hit, leaders quickly figured out how to accelerate those plans. From getting online permitting and business licenses done in Kansas City, to the Parks and Rec department leveraging the Tyler MyCivic app in El Cajon, California, to using technology to find a missing hiker in Greene County, New York, rapidly adopting technology has become mandatory.

What’s the top lesson you learned as host?

When you listen to podcasts, they seem “live.” In reality, podcasting is a very forgiving format because you edit a good deal to get to the final version. I’ve learned to coach my guests to relax and if they don’t like an answer, or stumble over words, to just pause and start over. It’s no big deal. That has really helped calmed the nerves of guests who are a little anxious about being on a podcast.

Do you save any outtakes or bloopers?

It’s mostly me who messes up, so I delete as soon as possible!

Where is the podcast headed in 2021? What can we look forward to?

We have big plans for 2021. Our focus will remain on addressing problems facing communities, and highlighting the people, places, and technology making a difference. There’s a huge shift to leveraging this concept of a government technology stack (or GovTech Stack) and we have plans to share really helpful information from communities that are making progress in this area. But like 2020, we know there will be some curveballs, so we’re ready to talk about the most important issues facing communities as they arise.

If listeners want to suggest topics, how can they reach you?

I love ideas from listeners! They can email me directly at jeff.harrell@tylertech.com, or podcast@tylertech.com (that’s usually easier to remember).

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