Beyond Text: Podcasts and Vidcasts

Here’s my opening remarks from a session on podcasting at the New Communications Forum in Palo Alto:

My name is Eric Schwartzman, I am the founder and president of iPressroom, a hosted web-based application for online PR and interactive marketing campaigns, and I have the pleasure of moderating this session Beyond Text: Podcasts and Video Blogging.

The introduction of radio transformed a global audience of readers into a global audience of listeners. Next, television became the dominant media channel because its easier to watch, then it is to listen, and easier to listen then it is to read. Today, audiovisual communications are known to elicit increased retention and cognition among adult viewers and ADD among children under the age of 2.

Prior to the release of RSS 2.0, which allows for the inclusion of an enclosure over an RSS feed, distributing electronic media was restricted those who could afford to buy satellite time. To put the impact of this technology in context, consider media as a product. The product is your attention. The more attention, the more inventory for advertisers, so was all about reaching the widest audience.

As the media landscape fragmented, electronic media increased their revenues not by reaching the widest audience, but by reaching the most qualified or targetted audience. Outlets like the Golf Channel, the Food Network and Fox News cater to a very specific audience.

But since the economics of broadcast media necessitate reaching the broadest possible audience, electronic media — radio and television – were restricted almost exclusively to advertisers supported media.

Now, for the first time, practical, easy-to-use technologies, applications and services make it possible for anyone to leverage the power of the audio and video without buying a single minute of satellite time. A print publisher like the Chronicla can extend their reach through itunes and yahoo! podcasts, citizen journalists can weigh in on the news of the day and educators can transcend time and space.

With the introduction of podcasting and now vidcasting, the distribution of electronic media becomes a cost-effective and efficient channel for individuals and organizations to engage and communicate with qualified audiences.

At iPressroom, we introduced integrated podcast hosting and RSS feed generation into our service in January 2005. But we needed a podcast program of some sort to demonstrate that functionality. So I decided I’d take responsbility for creating a podcast with the objective of (1) demonstarting the podcast hosting and syndication capabilities of our software application and (2) to attract listeners who might have I need for iPressroom through a lively, compelling discussion about the issues and challenges marketers and communicators face largely as a result of technological innovation.

Now, I’m media junkie. I love to read, listen and watch non-fiction. I like peeling back the pages of newspapers and magazines, TiVoing countless talk shows and news broadcasts, tracking blogs and podcasts. I like new media, old media, consumer generated media, citizen media and if there’s a new, new media format by the time this panel’s over, I’d probably subscribe.

And I am particularly fascinated by how new media technology is changing — and threatening to disrupt – the mainstream media business, the advertising business and the PR business.

So I thought wouldn’t it be fun to interview big name journalists from the mainstream media about their predictions for where we’re headed. After all, journalists talk to experts daily so they’re in the know. But since people trust authority figures less than ever today, I’d also throw in interviews with influential bloggers and podcasters, to put regular people like you and me on an equal playing field, give listeners access to their peers who are embracing new media and putting it to work successfully for themselves, since the research says people trust their peers most of all.

At the same time, I’d also ask them all about how they like to pitched stories and what they expect to find on an organization’s website.

The idea was to engage listeners in a compelling dialogue about the impact of new media on old media, and through that discourse, subtly introduce them to iPressroom, a tool that can actually use to plug some of the holes discussed on the show. To date, I have been fortunate enough to do interviews with Walt Mossberg, Heather Green, David Pogue, David Satterfield of the Mercury News, but oddly enough, it’s often those podcast featuring bloggers and podcasters that are the most downloaded.

To date, the podcast, titled On the Record…Online is without a doubt the single most effective and efficient marketing program we have in place. The podcast has become an integral part of my daily routine.

I am often asked by listeners intersted in developing their own podcast intiatives, what are the best ways to integrate podcasting into their existing marketing communications mix, and also how to build a business case in support of podcasting. It’s funny because if you hads to build a business case for direct mail or tarde advertising today, it would be exremely difficult, but since it’s an accepted practice, it gets blessed with budget dollars. Podcasting, on the other hand, is new, and so it has to be proven.

So I invited this expert panel to come here today to help better understand:
First – How to build a case for podcasting internally. We come to this conferences, drink each others kool aid, and then have to go back and sell the idea in internally. I’m sure we all wish we could take this panel with that feature meeting with our superior about podcasting, but unfortunately, the economics of air travel are cost prohibitive.

And Second – Once there is buy off internally, how should we approach and integrate podcasting as a format strategically? How do introduce it into our communications fabric. What are the best practices, what works and what doesn’t.

To help us sort through and examine the real opportunities podcasting and vidcasting afford marketers, business communicators and public relations professionals with have a group of individuals that represent a very disaparate set of opinions.

I’ll introduce them one by one, and I’ll ask that they limit their opening remarks to 5 minutes each so we can get into a lively Q & A.

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