Saturday, April 08, 2006

Is Podcasting a Bust?

The social media world is buzzing about Charlene Li's Forrester report in which it's discovered that only about 1 percent of people are actually listening to podcasts, and many turn to traditional radio as a prime source of content.

So, should we just dismiss podcasting as a stepping stone and move on? Even Charlene says, "no."

What we're seeing now is a situation in which people have options as to how they want to receive information. A colleague of mine suggests, for example, that we put out podcast versions of press releases. Of course, these would be modified a bit, but it offers an inexpensive way to present information in a different format. Will it work? Maybe. For the cost involved in both time and effort, does it matter? Probably not.

Most of the work in a press release is already done. You just need to modify it slightly and read it, the messaging, quotes and content are long-since worked out. Conducting a quick, news-based Q&A with a VP of Marketing, CEO or whoever else is quoted not only acts as a podcast, but also a bit of media training for interviews. Not a bad use of time. And if one or two journalists quote from the podcast rather than asking for an interview (or if it gains a bit more coverage thanks to the information) than it's an even better use of time.

Keep in mind that television was first shown at the World's Fair in 1939. By 1950, 11 years and a World War later, it had entered just 9 percent of US households [reference]. Fifteen years later it reached close to critical mass at 92 percent, growing just 6 more percentage points through today.

Yet, you still hear people call the 1950s the "Golden Age of Television." Why? Because that initial 9 percent represented people with lots of disposable income, those who were influential as well.

Are podcasts reaching these people? I don't know, but I know that my uncle listens to a few, he owns a small business in New Jersey. My mother and father listen to a few as well, as do many people I know who own MP3 devices. Oh... and who has the disposable income to purchase MP3 players (such as iPods) that have good sized hard drives on which to store podcasts?

Take a wild guess.

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