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Chapter 4 of the Business Podcasting Book goes into some detail about how to form a plan of attack when trying to get a large organization behind the idea of podcasting. As I was reading along I was thinking about the recommendations they were making—finding an internal champion, overcoming resistance to new media, gradual change, encouraging collaboration across departments, among others— and I couldn’t help snickering. I work for a huge company of well over 100,000 employees. Trying to get anything done, especially new things, in my company is next to impossible. It’s like trying to push a cruise ship across the Pacific Ocean with a fly. In order to podcast at my company we would indeed need an internal champion. However, this internal champion would have to be one of the highest ranking members of the company and he or she would have to gain the acquiescence of most of the senior management. Have you seen senior level executives in action? They are some of the most terrified people on earth, forever worried about how each decision they make will make them look to other executives. As for new media? These people barely know how to operate their email. (I know of two senior people who have their administrative assistants print out all their email for them to read on paper. One told me bald faced that never heard of a .zip file). I wish I was just poking fun here, but sadly the truth is new media will have to become old media before it is adopted by large organizations.

Look at the “green” wave spilling over corporate America in the past few months. It’s laughable how they have appropriated this 25 year-old idea into their marketing and advertising as something new. Their “new” internal commitment to green business practices seem so antiquated that it’s very hard to take them seriously. Better late than never for sure, but don’t pitch it as if you are saving the planet when everyone knows damn well that corporate America is justifiably to blame for a big portion of our current environmental issues.

My company ought to be ready to podcast on a regular basis both internally and externally in about 2020, because it will take them that long to politically work it all out and figure out how to get 150 people to approve the content before the law staff gets it’s hands on it and strips out any content that may have any value for fear of being sued. When they do finally publish the podcast the material will be so stale that the moment the first download ends it will be only good for bread crumbs or croûtons.

While I applaud the BPB authors and their efforts at motivating companies to get caught up to the 21st-century, I know from experience that only small to medium size companies or executives at very large companies that are savvy and very powerful will be doing any valuable podcasting. Even Greg Cangialosi, the author, writes candidly about his experience with Verizon in a similar vein. I could feel his frustration through his carefully worded prose describing the experience. Fortunately for him, he has also had good experiences with larger firms. I gather they had the powerful executives mentioned above pushing it through.

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This week’s readings were all about format. What kind of format should my podcast be about and what kind of podcast would my team produce?

For my own personal podcast, I am following the advice given in the Business Podcasting Book and focusing on a very specific niche. I’ve also listened to all of my “competitors” out there and have made a determination about where I can differentiate myself. Of course, they aren’t really competitors at all, more like mentors and what I aspire to be like. Yes, I am purposely not saying what the show will be.

The Tricks of the Podcasting Masters reading really gave me a breakdown on the more popular types of genres. I’ve listened to the sports examples so that my team will have the knowledge it needs to make a good show without copying others too closely. It’s amazing just how much podcasting is out there.

I find it interesting that since I’ve started this class I have asked lots of people if they listen to podcasts and almost uniformly they say no. Yet all of the statistics show that podcasting is gaining in popularity. Hmmmm? Perhaps it’s the people I know?

Arrrrrggghh. I’m posting this late. My life just keeps getting in the way of the life I want to be living. So I sit here in a hotel room in Durham, NC trying to catch up. Feeling sorry for me yet?

The readings this week, as always, shed light for me on podcasting and I am beginning to see this whole endeavor in less intimidating ways. The Business Podcasting Book’s (BPB) chapter by Ryan Irelan on producing podcasts was very helpful. At a minimum, I know what potential situations I might face and what gear will solve the problems.

Three specific things I learned:

First, what a double-ender is. Basically when an interview takes place where the participants are in different locations. In this world of technological beauty Skype allows for clean sound and Audacity and a mixing board allow for seamless stitching together of that clean sound and wa-la! you have a great interview piece that sounds like the participants were a mere few inches from each other when they were probably thousands of miles away.

Second, how to adjust the varying volumes of my podcasts using The Levelator. When I recorded my first sad attempt at my first sad podcast, which will eventually show up here in the next few weeks, my voice was LOUD then s o f t and then POPPED and then whissssssspered. This happened because my mouth would move around the microphone as I spoke, varying by inches, but making a big difference in the recording. The Levelator software takes audio files and evens them out so that the volume is consistent throughout and isn’t scaring off listeners.

Third, metadata is important. Have you ever wondered how those scrolling messages you see in your favorite podcasting listings show up in your iPod? Or even how song titles get put into the CDs you burn to your iPod? Ryan Irelan has done me a solid by showing me how metadata is put into a podcast and he gives the business case for doing so with any podcast. Because you need a graphic identity of some kind for YOUR podcast, Irelan shows you how to add them so they show up in somebody’s iTunes or iPod. As icing on the cake, I learned how to go in and fix my album artwork in my iTunes listings and find and add missing album artwork. Those blank albums are something that has always bugged me. That’s just one of the things you can do with metadata but you can also crate your own show descriptions and other cool scrolling text.

The reading from Tricks of the Podcasting Masters (TPM) was all about interviewing techniques. This dovetailed nicely with the guest speaker we had this week, Peg Achterman. There was some crossover between the two books when discussing Skype, which just lent even more credibility that this is the tool for conducting high quality long distance interviews, and double-ending an interview. I also really enjoyed some of th insider advice on how to line up celebrity interviews. The best part of the chapter was on how to not be an a*hole when conducting interviews—be prepared, know your guests, don’t ask questions that will demonstrate you don’t have a clue as to who you are interviewing, an most of all respect your guests. This chapter makes me excited to get out there and interview some people!

Indicative of both The Business Podcasting Book (BPB) and Tricks of the Podcating Masters (TPM), the two books we’re reading this quarter in COM 597, we started off exploring the “history” of podcasting. This is conceptually tough for those of us outside the new media landscape to understand. “Normal” people ask how can something that the paint has barely dried on have a history? The deepest history of podcasting goes back to the early 2000s and the official line in the sand of modern podcasting is attributed to Winer, Searls, and Curry in late 2004 and early 2005. This is only thee years ago!

As Greg Cangialosi writes in BPB, podcasting is becoming part of the corporate tool kit for marketing and branding. His figure 1.1 shows how ad revenues will increase from $80M to $300M in just the four year span from 2006 to 2010. In new media years, this constitutes a millennium. He also points out that many companies are already on board with podcasting (35% of Fortune 500, Fig 3.2) and using it effectively for internal communications (Southwest), for brand building and brand extension (WinelibraryTV), and for training and education (Duke University).

Like all things in a capitalist society that start from the ground up, nobody really pays any attention until the big boys get on board and take it mainstream. Cangialosi dedicates the third chapter of BPB to The Emergence of Corporate Podcasting. The chapter begins by reassuring non-technical corporate geeks that podcasting isn’t just a fad, but will in fact be imperative to any successful business marketing and brand model going forward. The authors of TPM, Walch and Lafferty, wax nostalgically about “the good old days” of podcasting before June 2005, when Apple’s iTunes got involved. They plead on deaf ears, “It would be great if Apple would decide to focus on a little more on the independent podcasters again, the ones who grew podcasting as a grassroots movement.”

The point of either authors is that podcasting has gone through its youthful experimental phase and has already graduated to respectability. This is no way slams the door in our faces if we want to pick up the mic and start podcasting. That’s the beauty of social media, obviously; it can’t be monopolized. But it does raise the bar very quickly on production values and content richness. Chapter 10 in TPM makes this point very clear. We may want to get our voice out there but nobody is going to listen to it if it, pardon the phrase, sucks.