Communication innovation with podcasting

Shel Holtz, my co-host of the For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report bi-weekly business podcast, has achieved another first success in the innovative use of a new-media communication channel.

Available now is the first podcast Shel has produced for The Conference Board for their forthcoming 2005 Corporate Communication and Technology Conference which takes place in New York at the end of September.

This pre-conference podcast is a 33-minute conversation between Lee Hornick, the programme director, three of the presenters and Shel, who discuss what they’ll be covering during the two-day conference. In essence, a taster of what you can expect.

Very useful for attendees as part of their conference planning. For The Conference Board, too, in overall awareness-raising about the event as the podcast is openly available on the event website (RSS link there) as well as demonstrating their leadership in a new and interesting way of communicating that complements other channels.

Nice work, Shel!

7 thoughts on “Communication innovation with podcasting

  1. I know you’re drinking the podcasting Koolaid, but I think you might want ratchet back your superlative a bit there. It’s a good idea, certainly, but it’s not a first. A quick Google run found these:
    Audio preview of keynote, 2003 –
    Audio preview of plenary session, 2004 –
    And, besides, wouldn’t this 33-minute conversation be better off as a text Q and A? More conference attendees are going to want to, and be able to, read it than listen to it. It’s far easier for bloggers and mainstream journalists to excerpt or pass on. And it then becomes fodder for search engines instead of an unsearchable flat file.

  2. Smoking the podcasting dope, Darren, not drinking the Kool-Aid ;))
    Hmm. The one you point out is not, strictly speaking, a podcast at all – it’s a downloadable audio file. I don’t see an RSS link for it anywhere on the pages you mention. And they don’t call it a podcast, either (a bit before it’s time, I think).
    You’re right about the superlative, though, so I’ve changed that word in the post.
    As for doing the 33-minute session as a written Q&A rather than as an audio conversation, I think any either/or argument isn’t really valid. A podcast can complement other communication channels so, in this example, perhaps the conference attendees will get the information in other ways as well.
    I think Shel will need to say what the objectives are behind it all.

  3. Here’s my feeling.
    As a promotional tool, The Conference Board has already produced a fair amount of text. As any communicator knows, multiple channels produce a great chance the message will be heard. This, then, is the ALTERNATIVE to text. It SUPPLEMENTS what’s already out there. We’re professional communicators — Lee and I have a combined 60 or so years of experience, and we both spent plenty of years communicating in a world where there WAS no online world. (In my first couple jobs, I used a manual typewriter.) We really do know what we’re doing! There’s already plenty of text to copy and pass around pertaining to the conference.
    Second, since the three of us who were interviewed are SPEAKERS, there’s some value to being able to hear how we SOUND, particularly for somebody deciding whether to go HEAR us at the conference (not read us). Third, this is the first in a series of podcasts related to the conference, the rest of which will be recorded live AT the conference — interviews with speakers and participants as well as one of the keynotes. Speakers … audio … get the connection?
    I’m not sure I agree that more people will read than listen. Much of what I’m hearing these days reinforces the notion that people have LESS time to read, particularly working people. When you’re reading, you can’t do anything else. But you can listen and do something else (drive, walk the dog, fill out an expense report) without any problem.
    But finally, I just fail to understand your steadfast determination to compare audio to text. While search engines will eventually handle audio as well as text (there are already rudimentary implementations), I’d simply argue that these are two entirely different media, each used for its strengths. With podcasting, the Net is a delivery channel, not a mechanism for absorbing the content. What say you, Darren, about Rocketboom? CBS’s plans to use the Web as a video news channel? Peter Jackson’s King Kong vlog? Should all of these be text, too? Maybe all TV shows and movies should be online text because they’ll be easier to search (and we can do away with that pesky TV Guide). Music should be delivered as notation, not actual audio, because it’s easier to search and pass along.
    There are benefits and strengths to different media. Audio is, frankly, underused by most communication professionals. I’m certainly not going to dismiss it just because it’s not text!

  4. Thanks for your thoughts.
    First off, the difference between a podcast and a downloadable audio file is nearly nil. In fact, to 99% of people, it is nil.
    I’ve organized a few conferences, and I know that everyone’s time is precious. I’ve also helped with some podcasts, and I understand the effort required to put a professional-sounding one together. I also know that:
    * Only a subset of Internet users have broadband access.
    * Search engines don’t search audio yet.
    * Time = money
    When I’m organizing conferences, I’d spend the x hours I’d spend planning, recording, editing and posting a podcast differently–particularly when that information is being conveyed in text format.
    Why wouldn’t I compare audio to text? They’re just different mediums for delivering information. Most of my clients and colleagues don’t have the time to create the text they’re required to (nor do they write very well).
    They certainly don’t have the time or acumen to create audio. If others have the time and skillset to deliver the same information in multiple mediums, that’s fantastic. Most of the people I know don’t, and don’t want to.
    In short, for the present and near future, audio reaches a subset of the consumers of text. Furthermore, it suffers from restrictions online that text does not. I see compelling reasons not to spend time on an audio version of extant text, and few reasons to do so.
    Obviously conference sessions or other material which only exist as audio or video are a different bag, and should be made available.
    And, down the road, I have no doubt that:
    * The general population will become more audio and video literate (both in creating and consuming).
    * The tools will become simpler and more seamless to use.
    * Words like ‘rss’, ‘podcast’ and ‘vlog’ will go away, as different mediums happily coexist.
    That day hasn’t come yet. Even then, only a subset of all users will create and consume audio, and a subset of them will create and consume video. So, as the mediums become more sophisticated, the slice of the creation and attention pie gets smaller.
    Then again, maybe my grandchildren will communicate first and foremost through video. That’d be cool. In the meantime, I know where the safe money is.

  5. You know, something’s a little funky with this entry. The last bit of my previous comment (and the name of the commenter–me) are missing.

  6. I noticed that too, Darren. I see your comment in this window as I type my comment, and it is cut off. Yet if I look at your comment in the full-post window, it is complete. This looks like some kind of glitch in TypePad. Weird.
    You’ve made some great points, though. I plan to continue the conversation in the next edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report podcast, show #64 this coming Thursday, open it up to the listeners to hear what they might have to say.
    Rather apt in the circumstances, wouldn’t you say?

  7. Apt, definitely, though it does highlight another issue with podcasting. We can’t have an asynchronous conversation, as we’re doing in this comment thread. Unless I’m on-air to argue my case, the relatively-egalitarian relationship of blogger-to-commenter gets tilted toward the content creator.

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