Thursday, March 09, 2006

Podcasting Politics

I wrote 6 March 2006:
... will be on a panel at a Podcasting Seminar at the National Press Club in Canberra. I have collected some thoughts on the subject in "Pods, Pocket Computers and the end of the Myth of Live Broadcasting".
This seminar was good, with live demonstrations and success stories. I was afraid it was going to be a lot of Powerpoint with hype.

I was about the only IT person in the room, everyone else is from marketing, media and PR. We speak different languages. Normally I would be intimidated by such an audience, but it happens there was a half page profile of me in the The Age newspaper that day, which earns great respect from media people.

One highlight was a demonstration of "BobCasting": podcasting of the Greens politician Bob Brown. Bob phones a voice mailbox and records audio segments of 1 to 5 minutes. These are then slightly edited to add an introduction and ending, then put on the Greens web site. This seems a good technique, but only for those who are good at speaking unrehearsed.

When I searched the greens web site I couldn't find any mention of "BobCasting" or "Podcasting" and thought it might all be a hoax. But then found it on Bob Brown's own web site. Seems odd for the Greens not to promote such a good idea.

Some useful insights from other presentation were:
  • Podcasts reach the Urban A B, demographic of 18 - 34 year olds. These are young people with money who like gadgets: a marketers dream audience.
  • After the novelty of music wears off, and as people get older, they want spoken audio from their MP3 players. That is they want talking books and the like.
  • Commuters are a large market. This gives people on trains, busses and alone in their cars something to listen to.
  • Most people are listening to Podcasts on PCs, not via iPods.
  • Subscription models may work with Podcasts: charging so much per week.
  • Podcasts of one off time critical information may work: $10 to listen to a conference in the first week, $5 the next week, free after that.
  • You need to spend a few hundred dollars on a microphone and other equipment to get good sound for a podcast.
  • This can be a very personal medium: from the person speaking to one listener.
One thing the speakers had not seemed to have thought about much (apart from the Australian War Memorial) was video and multimedia with Podcasts. Many are coming from a radio background and see Podcasting as leading to a resurgence in radio. But I suspect that it will take images to grab the mass market.

Another aspect is the solitary nature of the podcast audience.

One disappointment was to find several CSIRO's media people at this event to learn about podcasting, apparently without having first consulted the experts in their own organization. CSIRO researches how to do digital video and audio, produces software for it and provides video and audio content on-line. But because this is done by IT researchers it seems to be dismissed by the organisation's own PR people as not being of value. Perhaps the scientists need to put on shiny suits and sell back to CSIRO what they have already have.

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