In the fast-paced 24/7 environment of E-Comm 911 Inc., the Vancouver region’s emergency services call centre, it can be a challenge to keep their 400 employees in the corporate loop.
But the centre has come up with a great way to accomplish this – podcasting.
“We have a lot of people you’ll never see because they’re on the night shift,” explains Glen Miller, the company’s IT director. “The challenge is – how do you get a message out to a dispatcher who is working irregular [hours]?”
Creating an in-house podcast can be a wonderful way to communicate with employees, according to Terry Fallis, president of Toronto-based Thornley Fallis Communications. It can complement the company newsletter.
“Not many people are going to skip breakfast so they can get to the office and read the company newsletter,” he says. “But if on the way to work, you could listen to your president giving an update, that’s a different story.”
Fallis shared tips on how to get started on corporate podcasting at his session during the IT360 conference in Toronto on Wednesday.
A podcaster himself (Inside PR is a weekly show looking at the public relations business), Fallis says in-house podcasting can be the start – and one of a range of possible business uses.
“Podcasting should be fully integrated into your communications plan,” Fallis says. “It is another vehicle and another way to reach your audience.”
Producing a syndicated audio program related to your company doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, he adds. Using the Web and some basic consumer technology, anyone can make a program that others will download to their computers and mp3 players.
Miller also re-iterates how simple it is to create a podcast. “There’s a pretty low barrier to entry.”
He says corporate podcasting reveals a refreshingly different way of thinking about social media. It contrasts with policies adopted by some companies that prevent staff from accessing social networking sites.
Equipment needed to start recording your show is widely available and inexpensive, Fallis notes.
A good quality microphone from a consumer retail store is about $50, and you can record directly on to your computer.
Audacity is a free audio editing tool that can be used to control your recording. It also offers features for some post-production tweaks to help boost the technical quality of your show.
“It took me about an hour to learn everything I needed to know on Audacity to get my first show out.”
For those who want a more mobile recording method, there are devices like Samsung’s Zoom H4. Fallis spent about $400 on the device and uses it to record audio directly to a SD card in high-quality mp3 format. The device is handheld and records via two studio-quality microphones.
Once you’ve got the technology ready, you’ll need some content to fill your podcasts. This is the important part, advises Fallis.
“If you are intent on selling instead of informing or educating, then you won’t have many listeners.”
The podcast is a great way for E-Comm 911 to give well-performing employee a verbal pat on the back.
Miller cites an example.
“A police sergeant will say ‘We had a difficult call and Jane the dispatcher did a great job of handling it.’ It’s cool to have that feedback given [verbally].”
Add some professional touches to your podcast with music from the podsafe music network.
It helps to enter and exit your show with a musical flourish, Fallis says. Also, consider getting a professional voice-over to introduce your show – the same generic recording could even be used in each show.
You can even have your show hosted for free on Liberated Syndication, a Web site that hosts thousands of shows. Just create an account and you can start uploading your show.
Make sure to fill out your .id3 tags when uploading to the service, Fallis says. These tiny files “tell the world the podcast belongs to you.” The tags will also help search engines pick up key words and index the show.
Another good way to get your podcast coming up in Google search is to host it from a blog, Fallis adds. His own podcast receives good traffic as a result of this technique.
Finally, get the conversation going on your show by offering a call-in comments line. Certain services can be purchased that provide a telephone number that people can phone in to and record their thoughts. An .mp3 file is then e-mailed to you containing the audio.
With these tips under his hat and enthusiastic to start podcasting, Miller says the first step will be getting the corporate communications team on board.
“This is looking at social networking in a different light, we’re using it as a tool.”
But if Miller’s attitude holds out, soon the emergency line’s part-time night-shift workers could be listening to a direct address from their president through at 3 a.m.