Trylon Communications  - February 2005

Podcasting and You

Media fragmentation and consumer control over media consumption have reached the next level with the latest media twist, podcasting. Now anybody can create his or her own “radio show” and post it to the Web for downloading onto an iPod (hence the name) or MP3 player for listening at any time. The ramifications for marketers and PR pros are just beginning to be realized.

The growth of this new medium is promising. In October, a New York Times story talked about a couple podcasting a radio show from their home in Wisconsin. The couple had a few hundred listeners at the time. Fast forward to a more recent article in USA Today and the couple is up to 9,000 listeners!

The technology is fairly straightforward – the podcaster records a program of any length onto a digital file and uploads the file to a server on the Web. The file is then available for interested users to download through an RSS feed (see story). Listeners download the file to their computers and can transfer it to an MP3 player or iPod. They can even have their iPods updated with their latest favorite podcasts.

This new application has been attributed to Adam Curry (see his site here), a former VJ for MTV. He created some code called “iPodder” to download feeds to his iPod and then opened the source code to the public for further development. According to Curry, “Once people started to figure out that it's fun to host and record your own radio show, a community was born.”

Naturally, businesses will find applications for marketing as podcasting becomes more popular. People are increasingly time-shifting their media consumption, and the key for marketers will be to introduce their subject matter at their audience’s convenience – they will need to be where their customers are. Expect some resistance to marketing messages in this new medium, just as blogs were initially seen as sacrosanct – but major corporations are now sponsoring blogs (i.e., Sony and Gawker Media.)

Sooner or later, companies will be podcasting their own messages, either attached to already-popular podcasts or as stand-alone shows with enough oomph to get people to listen. Can we be moving back to a high tech version of the 1930s and ‘40s when companies sponsored popular radio shows?

Media relations will take another twist, as consumer-generated news media will proliferate in this new medium. Not only will some homegrown news shows move to podcasting, but major broadcast news stations may well begin podcasting. This means that more research will be needed to identify possible outlets for reaching out through podcasts.

Already, NPR and BBC are working on podcasts, and eventually the rest of the radio world will wake up and smell the coffee. Until then, the world of podcasting is wide open, and the opportunities appear endless.

Here are some links that will get you up to speed on podcasting: - Adam Curry’s site with history and good references and links.

USA Today Article on Podcasting

AP Article on Podcasting