Do It Yourself Podcasting

The growing popularity of podcasting opens opportunities for your business to spread its message in a new way.

April 25, 2006

5 Min Read
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Welcome to Accidental IT, a series of technical how-tos for people whose job descriptions don't necessarily include tech support but who often find themselves doing just that for their co-workers.

First there was the blog, a running diary about whatever the writer felt was important at the time. And the blog continues to be an important publishing option that has migrated from the public domain and has become part of many corporate Web sites. Blogs are used to disseminate information about the company to both internal and external audiences, and readerships and authors are constantly in flux as the medium matures.

The next evolution of the medium arrived with the Apple iPod, which allowed easy or automated transfer of audio files from the Web to the PC, and eventually to the iPod. Recording a blog as a spoken recording that could be played on an iPod (or other digital media player) gave the Podcast its start. It is the next step in the evolution of democratic publishing, and is the audio equivalent to the blog. And just like the blog, the podcast is beginning to find its place in the business world. Podcasts are like radio shows on TiVO. You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to it at a time that suits your schedule.

Is your company ready to publish podcasts? Only you can answer that, but the rules and guidelines are much the same as those for publishing a blog.

First, and most importantly, have something to say that people want to know about; and secondly, publish consistently.Producing a podcast is much like creating a blog, but includes an additional step: recording the voice.

Because podcasting is so much like radio, we'll assume you have a podcast "personality" in mind. Some podcasters are gifted enough to simply talk their way through their show, but most of us need a script, or at the very least, an outline. The script can be based on the same material as a blog, but since it will be "talked" you will need to determine the tone of the show. In general, most podcasts are a little more familiar than blogs, and more like conversations-- even if they are one-sided!

Podcasts can be nearly any format and length, but for a corporate audience you could do well to model the structure of your show after commercial radio or television. The basic elements might include:

Introduction. Introduce the name of the show, the host or speaker, the show's affiliation and purpose, and any other information you want the listener to know. Don't get too formal. Just as in written journalism, the introduction is where your listener will decide whether to listen any further or not. You may want to record a standard introduction and simply play it at the beginning of each show. That will cut down on your ongoing production time.

Body. This is the topic or topics for the show. The style, format, and content are up to you, as is the length. Some podcasts are as short as three minutes (see while others are as long as an hour (see Whatever length your show is, cut out any portions that are not on point for your audience.Closing. Like the introduction, you may want to record this segment and simply play it at the end of each podcast. The closing should restate the purpose of the show, remind listeners of when the next show will be available, and direct them to a Web site where they can see references and links to the information discussed in the show.

While blogging can be done with a minimum of equipment and services (blogging software, and a Web site, or blog site), podcasting requires that and more. The process starts with the script or notes that will eventually become the show. The podcaster then needs to record the show, convert the audio recording to a file suitable for podcasting, place the file on a server, and provide a link to the show, or shows. The tools for accomplishing this range from basic to complex, and new service offerings are appearing daily. Here are some examples of services and software you will need to consider.

Recording. Although it is possible to record the show using the built-in microphone in your laptop, the results are not likely to sound the best, so you will want to have a separate microphone plugged into your PC and simply record directly to the computer. At the other extreme, it's possible to spend thousands of dollars on a semi-professional recording studio, complete with suspended microphone, soundproofed walls, multi-channel mixer, and specialized recording equipment. If you're starting out, you can get away with a minimal investment, but in any case you will need these components:

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