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Determining Podcast Length

EContent Magazine has a feature story about how companies are using podcasting to communicate with their key publics, which anyone who reads this blog knows, I am firmly behind. But the article (which I am quoted in) takes a position on finding the right length of a podcast that is contrary to mine.

Like Neville Hobson, who wrote an article on the subject for Global PR Blog Week, I believe podcasting is best suited as the informal voice of the organization. And like Steve Gillmor who said on a panel on podcasting that I was on earlier this month, I like podcasting because you can hear people thinking, I too enjoy participating vicariously in the gestation process.

As anyone with experience helping businesses communicate will tell you, it takes time to whittle down big ideas into short, snappy sound bites. Mark Twain is credited with once saying he didn’t have time to write a short story so he wrote a novel instead.

Sound bites aren’t thoughts. They are carefully crafted, meticulously chosen words. And in many cases, they are not well suited to communicate subtleties and nuances. Podcasting is the perfect channel to communicate these subtleties. I spoke about this on the panel I mentioned earlier, which you can listen to as a podcast.

Remember, the press release still communicates the company line best and the sales brochure, ad or web site still communicates the sales pitch best. For businesses, podcasting is emerging as the best way to communicate informally, and that might include hemming and hawing, yimmering and yammering, all of which is part of the charm of this new medium, because much as in blogging, it’s authentic. It’s real. That’s how we really sound when we talk, and that, on many levels, makes it easier to understand.

So if you want to do an hour podcast, do an hour podcast, as long as you’ve got something to say for that hour that’s of interest. The notion that podcasts should all be short, polished, snappy, radio-style productions is, IMHO, misguided advice.

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