Monday, November 5, 2007

Some thoughts on podcasting

While I'm a big fan of all things social media, I was reticent to accept podcasting as a viable medium in this realm. With the rise of online video I found it hard to believe that there is much of a market for straight audio podcasts. I have, however, changed my opinion on podcasting. Here's why.

During my summer internship at GM, our team hosted a media panel featuring some experts in social media. One of the panelists, Neville Hobson, co-host of the popular podcast, "For Immediate Release," gave my boss a copy of his and Shel Holtz's (the other co-host of "For Immediate Release") new book, How to Do Everything with Podcasting. I quickly borrowed the book from her and read through it over the course of a week. That book thoroughly changed my opinion of podcasting. I now see podcasts as a great way for PR practitioners to communicate and engage with publics.

One of the greatest benefits of podcasts is that they're portable. With blogs, newspapers, television or radio, you are pretty much confined to one spot if you want to use these forms of media. Podcasting, however, allows you to download and subscribe to what interests you most and then you can listen to it when and where you want. I often listen to podcasts while at the gym. Some people have iPod hook-ups in their car so they can listen to podcasts as they commute. It's like talk radio on demand.

Another great benefit of podcasts is the interactive nature of them. A good podcast should always be tied to a blog with comments enabled so you can get liisterner feedback. You can then address those comments on your podcasts. Very nice.

Despite the obvious advantages in audio podcasts, they have yet to really take off. Why is this? A while back Shel Holtz wrote a post on his blog titled, Why hasn’t audio podcasting gone mainstream?, Holtz refutes the notion that online video has killed audio podcasting. He is of the opinion that a lack of good infrastructure has contributed to the relatively slow rise of podcasts. In other words, if there were easier ways to download podcasts to portable MP3 players, podcasting would be more prevalent.

Well now that I'm converted to podcasting the next logical step is to start doing it. Today marked the launch of a new podcast series that my team and I created for OnStar. The series, "OnStar on Your Side," is not about marketing OnStar, but rather is a way for us to build an affinity with publics who have an interest in safety and vehicle-related issues, regardless of whether or not they are OnStar subscribers. Each episode will be focused around a separate vehicle or safety issue and we will have third party experts come on the show to give advice regarding the day's topic of discussion. The first episode is on protecting yourself against auto theft and feature Chet Huber, president of OnStar and an inspector with the Michigan State Police.

So go ahead and listen to the show. Let me know what you think. The more feedback we get the better it will be!

2 comments:

Karen said...

Adam, I'm finally getting around to listening and think it's very cool! I like how you have a guest as well as a GM person. And the production quality is very good. I can imagine a lot of different topics you could use for this.

John McDonald said...

Adam -- Great post. Unfortunately, our industry is not that different from many others. There are always a few (in this case 2) who make the many look bad.

The best way to deal with this kind of behavior is to make sure there are safeguards in place to prevent it happening at our businesses and agencies. The most important safeguards are embodied in my daily actions (and reactions). Their clients will make their own judgements.

While I certainly don't think stereotypes are appropriate in most cases, the behaviors exhibited by these two firms could be from a Hollywood screenplay. To behave this way is childish and unprofessional. To do it via e-mail is stupid and classless.

Let us all learn from their mistakes.

John McDonald
Adjunct Associate Professor
Madonna University

Manager, Communications
General Motors Corporation