Podcasts are pre-recorded audio files. Usually they are in MP3 format. They are not live broadcasts. Listeners typically download them and then load them onto their iPods, MP3 players, or other portable media devices for later listening. Because podcasts are mostly spoken word, the MP3 files can be created at a lower fidelity than music MP3s, hence deliver a considerable amount of audio content with surprisingly small file sizes.
People listen to podcasts when and where they traditionally listened to radio or music: during their daily commute, at the gym, or on airplanes. Unlike radio, there is no constant dial searching. A podcast listener is usually committed to listening to the full show.
A compelling podcast can be created quickly, simply, and with little to no investment in hardware and software. All one needs is a computer, a simple microphone, and audio recording/editing software. Inexpensive and even free recording/editing software like Audacity can be downloaded from the Internet.
After creating your podcast, the MP3 files are hosted either on your own Internet site (or a third party site that specializes in podcast hosting). A simple RSS/XML file is also hosted on your site. The RSS file allows iTunes and other podcast aggregators to link to your MP3 and distribute it. Of course, one does not need to register or link via iTunes. An RSS file for a podcast intended for internal company communication can be accessed by employees outside of iTunes and other public podcast aggregators.
Your audience is captured and motivated: Podcast listeners download your podcast by choice. It offers them the content they want. They listen to it to the exclusion of competing media. Unlike listening to music, spoken word podcasts require a greater cognitive investment.
Good PR: An informative, entertaining, and engaging podcast host or ensemble cast can create a rapid and deeply personal relationship with the target audience. Across all forms of social networking and social media, the key to success is delivering emotional content. Podcasting shares the ability of radio to create a one-to-one relationship between listener and host.
Bring focus to issues: We all know the media blows it when it comes to covering a given industry. There is a lack of balance and perspective. A podcast helps you tip the balance back in your favor by not only focusing on news and events that better reflect upon your industry, but allows sober, detailed comment. A podcast gives you time to deliver a message that reaches beyond the headlines.
Get the emotional content exactly right: We all know an improperly worded email can have negative consequences if the reader misinterprets the message's emotional content. At times it is difficult to distinguish between professional language and a message that is unnecessary terse. A podcast allows you to deliver messages to clients and colleagues with unambiguous emotional content.
Before You Begin
iTunes is the Big Show: Before you embark on a podcast, check out iTunes. iTunes aggregates most of the podcasts out there. Do some keyword searches on the topic you're interested in. One key to developing a successful podcast is finding a niche not covered. You might even be surprised to find a whole category wanting for a good podcast.
Discover Your Company's Internal Talent: You might be surprised that quiet guy keeping the LAN running can rock a mike and has esoteric knowledge that translates well into a podcast.
Make A Realistic Production Plan: Map out your first dozen shows. Will you do this weekly? Every two weeks? Monthly? What's a reasonable release schedule you can maintain?
Keep to a Predictable Release Date: If you decide to do a weekly show, make sure you release weekly and on the same date. As you attract fans, they will expect your show at a certain interval and get a bit cranky as your begin to slide from a weekly show to every two weeks to monthly to "whenever".