Podcasting is 2005’s blogging. It’s receiving a ton of media attention. Everybody’s doing it (and some even produce material worth listening to). And it’s ripe to be co-opted by corporate interests. (That would be you.)
George W. podcasts. Radio stations are supplementing (or supplanting) broadcast content with podcasts. Locked-out CBC workers produce CBC Unplugged, the No. 1 podcast in Canada.
There’s a lot of upside to podcasting. Unlike other online communication tools, it’s not deskbound – your audience can load podcasts on their MP3 players or audio-enabled PDA and listen to them at their convenience, during the commute to and fro or during downtime while travelling.
Like many technologies before it – desktop publishing and Web design software come to mind – the great thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it, and the downside is, well, anyone can do it badly. A couple of keys to doing it right:
- Get professional sound. It’s easy enough to just plug a cheap microphone into a computer and run with the results – the hissy, noisy, distorted results. However compelling the content, people won’t listen to crap sound – it’s irritating and stressful.
- Get quality equipment and someone who knows how to use it. There are lots of audio editing plug-ins to shape your sound after the fact, but there’s no substitute for a beefy original signal, properly compressed and EQ’d going into the box in the first place.
- Make it easy to get found. In a corporate communications context, chances are you already have regular contact with the intended audience – customers, investors, media. If you’re offering podcasts as an alternative or supplementary medium for communication, use your traditional channels to make sure potential listeners know.
- Remember your audience. This should be a no-brainer, but as is demonstrated every day, the broad reach of technology like e-mail often leads communications pros to the spaghetti approach – heaving it at everyone and hoping it sticks to a few people. In an e-mail campaign, it’s alienating. For podcasting, it won’t work at all.
Podcasts have to have some value to listeners or they won’t subscribe. Decide who your audience is and keep focused.
- Remember the medium. Your listeners are, likely as not, on the go when they’re listening. The format might not be perfect for content that requires detailed note-taking. Think news broadcast or talk show, not financial statement.
Dave Webb is the IT Business Special Projects editor.