Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Birth of a Podcast Series

Because of a shift in our value of "interactive" content and the launch of our iTunes University presence, one of my goals for the year was to produce more digital content. After months of planning and presenting and writing the podcast was born!

Getting this podcast series approved was not that difficult, because this is the second podcast series we have launched. The first has some differences in format and function however because of it's success, it helped solidify the value of an audio podcast.

The other major difference between that podcast series and this new one, is that it is produced and hosted by an outside company... This one is created totally in house.... with a very small team.

How Podcasts are Made (at least this one)
This may be T.M.I... and a bit like hearing about how babies are made, but bare with me because it may help you in deciding if you really want to get into the business of podcasting...weekly!

We start by gathering the thoughts of a bunch of communicators who work in different aspects of the institution, and we come up with a list of topics that are newsworthy and interesting to our perceived audience. Once we have a list of about 8-10 topics I start looking for experts who are interesting, well spoken and not afraid of a microphone. Picking the topics 8 at a time poses some challenges. We want our content to be compelling and time sensitive to things that are going on in the news, and 8 weeks is often a long time to sit an episode on the shelf.

Then I start scheduling... this is the hardest part. With doctors, their schedules are tight, we cannot take up much of their time and emergencies come up. To make matters more complicated we try and book 2 doctors at the same time.

Our shows' host who is also a doctor guides the conversations based on a series of questions that he develops. He records sometimes 2-3 episodes in one day. We sit in a small room, not a true sound studio, but it works. Our AV department sets up basic recording equipment and 3 really good mics and they sit around the table and talk. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes. We could probably do it with less equipment, but I think the professional microphone set up makes the guests take the show a bit more seriously.

Once we have finished the block of episodes, they are edited very slightly to take out things like coughs and accidental cell phone vibrations, then we transcribe them and put them up on the website, and on iTunes one episode a time.

The show has been airing for about a month now and the listens and download numbers are still pretty modest, but if I learned one thing from the other podcast series is that it took about 6-9 months for a show like this to generate good numbers. Patience, promotion and collaboration are essential in getting the most out of this medium. I am confident that once I spend more time marketing the series, and making episodes available in more areas of the site, and through out social media it will be worth all of the effort.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Staffing the Effort

I recently tuned into a "twebinar" hosted by Chris Brogan, Radian6 and Cross Tech Media. The discussion was essentially about the importance of listening to the conversation, but quickly turned to the barriers that businesses face to actually having the ability to listen... Listening to that many conversations sometimes takes more than one set of ears... and ears cost money.

The issue of staffing the social media effort has been recently very top of mind for me as we step into the beginning of our fiscal year. If you were curious as to how many people we are doing this with? The answer is 1.5... me and my assistant who works part time. Recently I have had the pleasure of discussing this very issue with other social media /communications professionals within other health organizations.

I am most likely not going to get any more staff to continue our efforts, so like all of my counterparts I will have to train more team members, more communicators, more faculty and members of other departments to listen to the conversations happening in their areas of interest and respond and participate appropriately. We have already made a good start to this effort. The web 2.o discussion group that I started has resulted in about 30+ people representing at least 8 different departments that have some level of social media knowledge. Many of these people have taken what they know back to their departments and are responsible for some of the new Facebook, and Twitter pages that you have seen come out of the institution.

One of my counterparts at another hospital gave me a great idea! When we start blogging I will have to expect that my bloggers, and hopefully others in my department to support me in monitoring and responding to comments made within the blog.

I believe that we will be able to continue to grow our social media communications program however it is going to take the support of our community to do it. During the "twebinar" someone mentioned the Sun Microsystems example. I am not so sure that I want the burden of monitoring 4,000 internal bloggers, but the idea is spectacular! If I could get 500 people that had a good enough grasp of social media that they could develop and manage their own institutional presence, we would be a powerhouse of support and answers for our audience.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where Are we Going Next?

As I come to the end of our fiscal year I begin to think about strategic planning for then new year. How will I continue to manage the program, and expand to new channels that make sense for the hospital?

I have recently noticed a number of new social networks with a focus on medical audiences. Places where heath care experts invited to contribute or share with others. Recently I have become aware of new sites that we might consider participating in. I am looking closely at sites like;

HealthCare Magic

I am starting to believe that this is where the social media model is going...toward niche social communities. In the area of Cancer patient support sites like Cancer Compass and Planet Cancer have been providing a sense of community for patients and caregivers, for some time now, but the field is expanding. For those not in health care, I have a feeling that if you look you might find the same thing. Our personal and professional interests are what drive search, and search for the most part is driven by keywords.

Here are a few other examples of sites I know about that are developing communities based on health care or scientific interests.


So I have a new lists of sites to review, and work into next years plan, I expect the list of sites that I think we should get involved with will only expand in the next 12 months. So my plan is to watch, get involved within the communities I am watching and apply goal oriented strategy to our entries into these new territories.