Three success measures for podcasting

Wired News: In October, a Google search would have returned fewer than 6,000 results for “podcasting.” Today, that number is 744,000*, and it seems nearly that many podcasts are available. But as with blogs, a sharp divide exists between the relatively small number of good podcasts and the vast number of bad ones, or at least ones that weren’t around long enough, or don’t update often enough, to attract an audience.

(*I just searched, and the Google result was 779,000.)

To some, podcasting is too new to judge, especially in the context of a medium that could be attractive to the mainstream. “To me, it’s sort of like evaluating an ecosystem when there are three blades of grass pushing up through the dirt,” said Doc Searls, a popular blogger and podcasting evangelist. “I think it’s the future of whatever the people will replace radio with…. It’s a way for the demand side to supply itself.”

Wired News | You, Too, Can Be a Podcaster

I don’t know about replacing radio, but podcasting has certainly exploded in capturing attention and imagination in such a short time.

In recent weeks, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time listening to a wide range of podcasts, from some of Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code, to many of the excellent discussions from Doug Kaye’s IT Conversations, to some of the cool stuff Eric Rice is doing.

Some of these are very slick indeed, almost big production numbers, Curry’s in particular (well, you’d expect no less from someone who’s been in the broadcast entertainment business for so long).

What I’m concluding from much of this reading and listening experience is that while podcasting might be the current Next Big Thing, the exact same success-measure attributes that apply to any form of communication are valid here, too:

  1. Compelling content
  2. Compelling presentation
  3. Ease of access to that content and using it

If your podcast doesn’t meet all three criteria, it will fall into the bucket of bad ones as mentioned in Wired’s article.

The third attribute – making access to your podcast easy – is actually the easiest one to make happen. As I mentioned in a post yesterday, this is all about RSS and employing a mechanism that makes distribution so simple and, in effect, automated.

The trick is getting it right with the first two.

That’s in my mind right now as Shel Holtz and I complete our preparations for our first weekly podcast for professional communicators that we will be publishing out of our new podcast blog, For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report.

Our first podcast will be released next week. (Don’t miss it – sign up to the RSS feed today to get it automatically!)

We do have the distribution ready, and we think we have some compelling content presented in a way that will make your listening a worthwhile experience.

As I commented to a friendly critique by Fredrik Wack√• last week, “There has to be something about [a] podcast that is compelling enough that I will spend time on it. Either the particular content or the podcaster, or both. So Shel and I will have to meet those two conditions (at least) in order to capture your interest! Please listen to the first one next month and let us know how we did in meeting those conditions.”

I’m sure you will tell us what you think.