The opportunities of Podcasting

Paul Boag

There has been a lot of talk about Podcasting over the last couple of weeks with the latest version of iTunes now supporting the technology. But what exactly is a Podcast and how if at all, can it benefit your organisation.

Sometimes it feels like the whole world has gone iPod crazy. iPod has spawned the next generation of music devices and single-handedly changed the fortunes of Apple. But even though it is near on impossible to have avoided the iPod you may yet have escaped the phenomena of podcasting.

What is podcasting?

In many ways the podcast is a natural extension of blogging. It allows anybody with a microphone and an internet connection to publish a radio show/blog that can be subscribed and downloaded to any MP3 player. podcasts cover every imaginable subject from science fiction to gardening and are produced by enthusiastic amateurs and large corporations alike. They range from being entire radio shows such as those published by the BBC to short 5 minute bulletins.

It is still very much an emerging technology but it has seen much larger adoption than many other such technologies especially among the younger iPod generation.

How could it benefit my organisation?

Although largely untested I believe there are some real business opportunities in podcasting. podcasting provides a powerful new marketing and communication medium that is almost completely unexploited.

Of course, the opportunities for organisations to utilise podcasts are largely limited to those groups who are trying to reach the demographic that uses MP3 players. Currently, this seems to be teenagers, students and young male professionals with disposable income. However, there is an expectation that this audience will broaden significantly over the coming months.

Higher education podcasts could contain hints and tips on university life, interviews with existing students and even demo tracks from student bands.

Nevertheless, for those trying to reach this demographic there are some interesting opportunities. Take for example the higher education sector that is always looking for new ways to attract school leavers. They could use popular existing podcasts to advertise their courses or even run their own casts. These could contain hints and tips on university life, interviews with existing students and even demo tracks from student bands. Many university student unions also run their own radio stations which could be tapped for content.

With a bit of imagination it soon becomes apparent that podcasts are an excellent way of connecting with a generation who are extremely unreceptive to traditional forms of marketing.

Click here for additional uses of podcasting in the educational sector

How do we create a podcast?

Because podcasting is designed to open up broadcasting to everybody the process of producing a podcast is very straightforward and there are many pieces of software that automate much of the technical process.

The real challenge is ensuring the quality of the podcast doesn’t undermine the message being communicated.

The average podcast listener is used to quality media and as a result has high expectations. The production value will be key to the Casts success. A combination of good content, professional vocal presentation and quality music will make your podcast stand out from the crowd. In many cases finding this balance can be hard to achieve and could require the use of professional agencies to assist in the production process at least initially.

Looking beyond the podcast

I would like to leave you with one last thought. At the end of the day a podcast is just a downloadable MP3 track and so there is no reason why you need to limit the content you produce to a podcast. What about broadcasting directly from your site or allowing users to subscribe to an email version of the Cast. podcasting really has opened up a world of possibilities.