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.

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