Erin Colasacco

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Creative Direction / Brand Strategy

Death, Sex & Money ~ Off-the-Feed Engagement

Death, Sex & Money is a community of listeners and an interview podcast about “the things we think about a lot, and need to talk about more.” Since 2014, creator and host Anna Sale has interviewed people you’ve heard of and people you haven’t, about things in life we all go through but can still feel isolated or alone around. The aim of every episode is to make you feel invited in, accompanied and a little lighter than before you started listening. The team invited me to consult on an open-ended project that ranged from defining brand values to crafting editorial calendar process to brainstorming and executing some off-the-audio-feed audience engagement ideas. 
One of our first orders of business was to use audience research to support defining DSM’s listener archetypes and brand values – the fundamental beliefs that Anna and team stand for in their production, community, and the world.  This work would be foundational in understanding how to best serve these listeners in a way that felt authentic to the DSM team. 

With a small team at WNYC responsible for social media across its’ entire portfolio of shows, DSM knew it was missing easy opportunities to connect with community and guests. Before we got into new creative ideas, I walked them through some simple ways to make sharing the show easier and reaching audiences more organic. 

With a clearer understanding of listener archetypes, brand values, and what they could easily do to engage their community, we dove into brainstorming some off-the-feed engagement ideas, ways to connect listeners of the show, IRL. 

In the middle of the project, the DSM also expressed interest in understanding how to plan an editorial content calendar with brand values at the core of what they produce to promote the show. I put together this outline document, using an example episode as a guide. 

After several brainstorming conversations, the team was very excited about piloting a DSM Pen Pal Program. We designed a set of custom stationary, stickers and pens, as well as an outline of how to recruit interested parties. The promotion was beginning to ramp up when WNYC discontinued carrying Death, Sex and Money and it moved to Slate Media in 2024. 

As the final creative output of our work together, we created an episode toolkit for a niche sector of our listeners. The DSM inbox would often fill with messages from mental health professionals sharing that they had shared DSM episodes as part of their practice. Jumping off of this insight, we decided to design an easily downldable episode guide, organized by theme, to support the ease of sharing and navigation of 10 years of archival audio material.

“Erin is an incredible collaborator and brainstorm partner. She is very gifted at facilitating a process that breaks loose new ideas, and after she did that for my creative team, she then helped us channel our new thinking into new concrete projects and workflows. All that, plus her designs are beautiful and she is a joy to work with! I'm actively looking for new reasons to work with her again. She made us so much better at fulfilling our mission.” 

– Anna Sale, host of Death, Sex & Money podcast