Monday, April 30, 2007

PR- and Communications-Related Podcasts

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

I promised to direct you to some podcasts that you may want to try out. I am a regular listener to each of the shows listed below. They provide very useful and entertaining information about social media.

For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report
The twice-weekly podcast of Neville Hobson, ABC, and Shel Holtz, ABC, “a pair of communication professionals who think they have something to say.” Hobson is based in Wokingham, Berkshire, England, while Holtz is located in Concord, California, in the United States. This podcast is updated on Mondays and Thursdays.

This is the one everyone will tell you to start with. And I strongly agree.

Trafcom News Podcast
Podcasts for people who care about communicating with employees, customers, prospects and the world, hosted by Donna Papacosta.

Donna focuses many of her shows on podcasting itself. If you feel lost by jargon in other podcasts, know that Donna is clear and easy to follow.

Inside PR
A weekly Canadian public relations podcast hosted by Terry Fallis and David Jones.

This podcast focuses on the world of PR firms. It also gives advice to new PR professionals. Even though I have never worked for a PR agency, I still find this podcast useful and entertaining.

New Comm Road Podcast
Launched in May 2006, explores how new media tools are changing communication in business, in the media and in our everyday lives. Hosted by Bryan Person.

Bryan gives easy to follow instructions on how to use different social media tools. Hel’ll also keep you up-to-date on the latest tools. (Disclosure: Bryan consults with me for my organization’s podcast – award-winning podcast.)

On the Record...Online
The story behind the story as reporters from the mainstream media and newsmakers discuss how information technology is changing media news and entertainment, and business to business and consumer marketing. Hosted by Eric Schwartzman.

Eric’s podcasts give you insight into the business and media perspective of social media. I have no idea how he lands such high-level guests.

There are quite a few more that are top-notch in our field. Readers, now’s the time for you to share your favorites!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Understanding the Podcasting Listener

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

So if the first rule in communications is to know your audience, then here is a little info on podcast listeners.

• Podcast listeners expect authenticity and transparency.
• They expect informal style of conversation and not heavily polished productions.
• They refuse to be sold to.
• They will listen a long time if the content is interesting and relevant to them.
• They may pause and restart several times when listening to a single podcast.
• They will go back and listen to past episodes they missed.
• Regular listeners will feel part of a community, especially if they share feedback and it is included in the podcast.

You may find that your listeners are your most vocal advocates. They have gone out of their way to hear your message. They likely have networks of people who trust them.

A Big Thank You!

This semester has been absolutely crazy for me and the PRSSA Chapter at UTSA. We were able to plan and execute two events that had never been done for our Chapter.

In March we had our Shadow Days Month: Learning from the Pros. This allowed our members the opportunity to shadow PR professionals from the
PRSA Chapter of San Antonio for a day.
While it went off smoothly, I am hoping to have some comments from the members who participated by early May. As you may know April is the final month of the semester and our members are very busy with getting ready for finals , etc. We want to thank the 23 professionals who donated their time during this special event. We look forward to being able to schedule a shadow day month for the month of October. Keep an eye out for more information in the months to come.

On April 21 we hosted our first PRSSA/PRSA Pre-professional workshop. While it was held on the first weekend of FIESTA, we still had a group of very interested students who learned some excellent tools to utilize when building a portfolio, writing a resume, writing PSAs, feature stories, putting together media kits and writing press releases. We would like to thank Jennifer Milikien, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for St. Mary's Hall; Elizabeth "Beth" Graham, Public Relations Manager for the San Antonio Public Library; Cassandra Miranda, Senior Director of Cause Marketing Initiatives, American Heart Association Texas Affiliate and PRSSA Assistant Liaison for the PRSA Chapter of San Antonio; and Robert "Bob" Sheldon, Director of Public Relations for Creative Communications Cusultants, Inc. and

PRSSA Liaison for the PRSA Chapter of San Antonio for donating their time and expertise on a Saturday.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Benefits of Podcasting

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

Eric Schwartzman of On the Record Online podcast fame posted a list of benefits of podcasting (supported by considerable research) on his blog, Spinfluencer (April 18, 2006 post).

• Podcasts allow listeners to time-shift and place-shift media consumption
• Podcasts are 100 percent efficient, since episodes are only downloaded by listeners on an opt-in basis
• Podcasts are easily accessible to a global audience that is not defined by geographic boundaries
• Podcasts are heard by a niche, influential audience
• Podcasts afford organizations the ability to leverage electronic programming without an outside news media filter
• Podcasts are the most cost effective electronic media distribution channel available

Then I created my own list from an organizational perspective, which echoes his.
• We can provide information quickly to targeted audiences.
• We can provide information directly to targeted audiences.
• We can make information more understandable and compelling through a verbal means.
• We can provide timely information to audience members who do not have time to read our print materials.
• We can expand on information contained in our printed and other communications.
• We can build a network of engaged audience members.
• We can further promote services.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Podcasting to Your Niche

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

Last time we covered a bit about the narrowness of podcast audiences. It is in fact this narrowness that appeals to PR folk. Let’s look at a traditional method and a new method of communicating.

Let’s say you want to promote a festival in Texas. At that festival, there will be a barbequing contest. The proceeds will support your non-profit. In the old days (last month), you might send out a news release, make your director available for interviews, and get a famous barbeque expert on a morning television show. For each newspaper story, you’ll report the circulation knowing that only a fraction of the subscribers actually looked at the paper that day, a fraction of those saw the story that mentioned your event, a fraction of those remembered the story five minutes later, and an even smaller fraction entertained the idea of attending.

And, in today’s world, you may still use these tactics. But you could add a podcast series leading up to the event. It could include interviews with expert barbequers. And you could promote your podcast on other popular barbeque podcasts, like Barbeque Secrets.

In this scenario, you’ll be reaching one of your target audiences directly. And they will be people who asked to receive your message. Imagine.

So your homework today is to find a podcast about a topic that interests you. One that is not work related. To do this, go to a podcast directory and do some topical searches. You can usually listen to an excerpt before you decide to subscribe. Some places to look include: iTunes podcast search, Google (type in a topic with the word podcast after it), and Yahoo podcast search. There are hundreds of directories. These will be enough to get started.

You will probably find many that don’t scratch your itch. But keep looking. Let us know what you find.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

So I was filling out an online survey the other day about applications of social media for organizational communicators. I believe it was hosted by Ragan. And I found one of the questions bothersome. Here was the question:

7. What barriers do you face in using social media in your work?
a. Lack of executive support
b. Lack of employee interest
c. Budget
d. Lack of understanding about the use of social media
e. Lack of measurement
f. Fear of change
g. Fear of loss of control
h. Legal concerns
i. Fear that employees will waste time

Why is there no recognition that there may be – how shall I put it – smart reasons for not using social media or certain elements of social media?

For example, perhaps one reason is that the communicator has not found ways to integrate social media that are appropriate to the mission or goals of the organization. You can understand social media in your sleep and still not have yet found an application that will support the organization’s goals.

Or, perhaps the issue is that the organization’s key audience is not using social media. Now I know some people think everyone is online. But they aren’t. What if your audience is comprised people who have no access to the Internet at all?

It’s not just about the survey (which probably should have at least had an open-ended option for “other”). It just struck a chord with me because I’ve been noticing the same tone in communications podcasts and blog posts.

Sure, these reasons likely are what’s holding some companies back. I don’t dispute that.

But opting out doesn’t automatically have to mean you are afraid or ignorant. And it’s a bit arrogant for early adopters to make that assumption.

In my own case, my organization is podcasting. There are specific strategic reasons that it is a good tactic for us. Blogging, on the other hand, is about for us as appropriate as renting billboards. But I don’t hear anyone calling us scaredy-cats for not using billboards.

Don’t get me wrong, I think PR folk have a responsibility to their employers and clients to learn about social media. Otherwise, we can’t give good counsel for when to use elements of social media and when not to. Social media can be the best tool ever for some strategies, but it is not the million-dollar answer to everything.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sampling a Short Podcast

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

If you’ve been with this series from the beginning in January, then you’ve already listened to some podcasts. And I will soon suggest several others. But today, we’re going to look at one in particular. It is a podcast produced by Advertising Age, called the "Why It Matters" audio show. It is produced weekly, and is usually less than 10 minutes.

Your homework is to subscribe to this podcast and listen to at least two episodes.

One thing you’ll see is how a podcast can supplement a printed publication. It can also draw listeners to the printed or online publication.

You’ll also get to see the format of a professionally-produced podcast. By professional, I mean created by a large company likely with plenty of resources. Yet, there’s no fancy music lead in, no promotions and no advertising. It gets right down to business.

Many podcasts do use a touch of music for certain purposes, and others include a short promotion (several of the NPR podcasts do this to recognize a sponsor). But they are not intrusive if they want to keep their listeners.

For the Ad Age podcast, you can guess that there is a specific audience that doesn’t have time for pleasantries. This is the most significant fact about podcasts. They have extremely narrow audiences. In the old way of mass communications thinking, that’s a bad thing. But today, we understand the value of targeting our messages.

So listen to this one and share what you observe.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Lesson Three: The World of Podcasting

Lesson three of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk."

Now we’re getting into an area that I love. I’ve been listening to podcasts for a little over a year and producing a podcast for my office since September. Podcasting has only been around 31 months, but already, 12 percent of Internet users are listening (see story at podCast411).

So just what is a podcast? Well, many make comparisons to radio shows. But that’s only partially true.

How podcasts are like radio shows.
* You listen to them.

How podcasts are not like radio shows.
* You listen to what you want.
* You listen when you want.

The advantage of audio is that you can be doing other stuff while you listen, like driving or exercising. And yet, audio still has a unique intimacy.

Despite the name, podcast, most listeners listen through their computers. Others use their iPods or other kinds of mp3 players. The cool thing is, that when you find a program that you like, you can subscribe to it, for free, using RSS. You don’t have to go back to the program’s web site to see if a new episode has been released. Instead, it comes to you. It’s the RSS feature that turns an audio file into a podcast.

There’s a great article at Entrepreneur's Journey, “What is a Podcast and How Can I Use One?” if you want a bit more detail.

There are several “podcatchers” out there. But the most used nowadays, by far, is iTunes by Apple. It’s free. It’s not limited to Macs. And while it works best with iPods than with other players, it’s fine for listening from your computer.

So your first homework assignment this month is to set up an iTunes account if you don’t already have one.

Krause’s English 328 Web Site and Blog has easy step-by-step instructions, "How to set up iTunes and an RSS Feed.”

Thursday, April 05, 2007

World’s Oldest Paper in Circulation Goes Print-Free

About a month ago or so, I saw a tiny item in my local paper about a newspaper in Sweden that will no longer be printed. It didn’t shut down though. It now provides its news only online. No more above-the-fold stories. No more ink-smudged fingers. No more coin-operated newspaper stands.

Today, in order to read the Postoch Inrikes Tidningar newspaper, you have to have a computer.

This was the world’s oldest paper still in circulation. It was founded in 1645 by Sweden’s Queen Kristina. Yes, you read that right, 1645.

I know times have changed. And I’m not saying this was a bad decision or good decision. It’s not my place. It just seems like there should be a moment of silence or something.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Getting Acquainted with the Blogs -- Review

Lesson Two Review – Learning About Social Media from Your Desk

This ends our second lesson on Learning About Social Media from Your Desk. Below is a review of this lesson, in case you are among those who just found out about this tutorial.

Again, I urge you to leave a comment and tell about what you tried, questions you had or still have, or what you learned. It’ll help others.

1. Lesson Two: Get Acquainted with the Blogs (Wednesday, February 07, 2007)
First assignment: Read some blogs. Leave a comment and let other readers know what blogs you like best.

2. Monitoring Blogs without Going Crazy (Sunday, February 18, 2007)
Assignment: Set up a free account with one of these services to monitor blogs.

3. First Reason for Monitoring Blogs for Public Relations – And a Word About Reporting (Sunday, February 25, 2007)
Assignment: Set up some RSS searches for your organization.

4. Second Reason for Monitoring Blogs for Public Relations (Sunday, March 04, 2007) Assignment: Test out some searches using terms related to your organization or a client. Compare the results you get from different search terms and different search services.

5. Third Reason for Monitoring Blogs for Public Relations (Thursday, March 08, 2007)
In this new world of social media, the number of blog posts is pretty trivial. It’s all about the conversation.

6. Resources for Learning about the Blogosphere for PR Folk (Thursday, March 29, 2007)