Brian Solis and Chris Saad launch Context Matters podcast

Context Matters

A new voice joined the ranks of business podcasts this week in the form of Context Matters, a new audio podcast from Brian Solis and Chris Saad.

The podcast’s focus is clear:

Context Matters is a podcast featuring discussions at the intersection of business, technology & culture.

The first episode was posted on February 4 in which the two hosts discussed Uber, Microsoft HoloLens and “why ‘Women Shouldn’t Code’ according to some people.”

It’s just over 35 minutes. Give it a try:

It’s terrific to see voices of Brian’s and Chris’s calibre start a podcast. Their collective knowledge, insights and ability to convey their opinions with credibility and subject-matter authority auger very well for Context Matters to become a must-listen resource if you are interested in that intersection of business, technology and culture.

I especially like their approach to topic development:

One of the novel things we’re going to try with this Podcast is to involve the audience in choosing topics and providing perspectives. In this section of the site we will post the topics we’re thinking about ahead of time and invite you to provide feedback.

So, speaking as a fellow podcaster, I bid welcome to Brian and Chris!

You can easily subscribe to Context Matters via iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow the show on Twitter: @ContextFM.

A chat about wearable tech and more

Media Bullseye RoundtableI was honoured to be guest co-host on the Media Bullseye Roundtable podcast this week with Chip Griffin, the founder and CEO of CustomScoop, and the Roundtable’s prime host.

The Media Bullseye Roundtable is a weekly roundtable discussion hosted by Chip and a different guest co-host in each episode, exploring three topical communication-related issues.

In this week’s episode, we spent 30 minutes discussing three terrific topics:

  1. The impact of wearable technology on communicators (a topic I’m very focused on these days, especially in what I see as too much complacency over the lack of clear understanding about wearable tech in the workplace).
  2. The role of social media in international political movements, sparked by an article about recent protests in Hong Kong.
  3. The ways in which communicators have tried to monetize content beyond simply being a marketing tool, inspired by a post on Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich.

You might enjoy hearing or reading what we discussed that may prompt some thoughts of your own that you can share as part of continuing the conversation.

Listen to the podcast right here:

Chip has also published a transcript so you can read rather than listen if you prefer.

I’ve known Chip for almost a decade since CustomScoop became involved as a sponsor in 2005 of For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report podcast that Shel Holtz and I present each week. (CustomScoop offers FIR listeners a free trial of its news and social media monitoring service.)

A few months ago, we were delighted to welcome the Roundtable into the FIR Podcast Network. And Chip started another podcast this month – Chats with Chip – that is the latest network show.

Enjoy the show(s)!

  • If you’d like to contribute comments to this discussion – or about any other topic in FIR Podcast Network content – a good place is the FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

Expanding the FIR Podcast Network


Next year, Shel Holtz and I will celebrate the start of our tenth year as business podcasters when we publish a milestone-date episode on January 2, 2014.

For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report was our start on January 5, 2005 with a single podcast that, today, has become the anchor for a network of business podcasts embracing niche topics that appeal to communicators and others outside that broad profession, in different countries around the world.

That network has now increased by two as we welcome Canadian communicator Ron Shewchuck to the FIR Podcast Network with TV @ Work, a new audio show that examines video communication in the workplace.

Ron joins Andrea Vascellari who we welcomed in September with FIR On Strategy with Andrea Vascellari, a weekly podcast about strategic communication that complements content on Andrea’s website.

We’re thrilled that Ron and Andrea want to be part of the FIR Podcast Network, sharing their knowledge and insights with the global FIR community, in addition to their own communities.

Now, for the first time, I’ll describe what FIR looks like today:

  • FIR: The Hobson and Holtz Report – a weekly 90-minute show with Neville Hobson in the UK and Shel Holtz in the USA published every Monday with commentary and opinion at the intersection of online communication, business and technology.
  • FIR Interviews with newsmakers and influencers from the business, technology and organizational communication worlds.
  • FIR Book Reviews aligned with our theme of PR/communications and the online world, managed by Bob LeDrew, our Book Reviews editor
  • FIR Speakers and Speeches – occasional podcasts of speeches, keynote addresses, breakout sessions, and other recordings from meetings and conferences of interest to PR and communication professionals.
  • FIR Live – an occasional 60-minute live video show via Google+ Hangouts On Air that focuses on a single topic, typically with a panel, in which we invite real-time conversation with callers and guests.
  • FIR Cuts – occasional clips from the virtual cutting room floor of The Hobson and Holtz Report.


  • FIR On Strategy with Andrea Vascellari – a weekly business podcast with Andrea Vascellari in Finland who offers you guidelines and tips to help you plan, execute and manage your strategic communication plans.
  • TV @ Work – veteran Canadian communicator Ron Shewchuck presents an audio show about using video to engage employees.

I’d like to thank our two sponsors – Ragan Communications, sponsor of everything; and CustomScoop, sponsor of The Hobson and Holtz Report – for their commitment and integration into the shows and into the FIR community.

And by the way, the FIR Community is a tangible thing – check out The FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

I’d also like to thank our two great correspondents who are part of The Hobson and Holtz ReportDan York in Keene, New Hampshire, USA; and Michael Netzley in Singapore.

Coming soon is a new survey of FIR listeners. It’s been a long time since we published the results of a listener survey and, as FIR evolves, it’s time for a new one. News on that next week.

Finally, here’s an opportunity for you.

Do you have an idea for a business podcast that crosses that broad intersection of business, communication and technology? Do you have one? Would you like to extend your reach across North America, Europe and Asia? Would you make a good fit with the FIR Podcast Network?

We’re looking for more great content and great podcasters for our community. Contact Shel or Neville if you have an idea.

Business podcasting – FTW!

Getting to know the Olympus LS-14 and LS-12

Olympus LS-14

As a podcaster, I’m interested in portable digital audio recorders as tools that I can use to record interviews, for example, when out and about.

So when I hear about a new portable audio-recording device on the market, I’m curious to know how it might fare as a device for use such as mine. That’s the situation in the case of the recorder you see pictured here, an Olympus LS-14 recently launched in the UK.

As a company, Olympus is pretty well known for its professional cameras. I remember owning an Olympus 35mm SLR camera many years ago when photography was a keen interest of mine.

During the past few years, though, Olympus has featured prominently in mainstream media not for its cool products but for the ousting of its whistle-blowing British CEO precipitating a fraud and false accounting scandal that wiped 75 percent off its stock market valuation in one of the biggest and most durable business scandals in the history of corporate Japan.

Notwithstanding such an assault on its corporate reputation, Olympus continues to bring products to market that excite its customers and attract positive attention (and sales).

I’d count Olympus’ wide range of audio products – from dictation systems to high-end audio recorders – firmly in that area, and the LS-14 is a great example of a product that excites.

Olympus sent me the LS-14 along with its lesser-spec sibling, the LS-12, to get to know and review them. Both devices are pitched by Olympus primarily at musicians. My focus, though, is using them and reviewing them from the perspective of a podcaster – someone who will record voice rather than music.

Here’s an example of what a voice recording sounds like in a short clip I recorded on the LS-14:

The original was recorded in uncompressed WAV format (one of the recording formats the device supports); all I’ve done prior to saving it as an MP3 is run the WAV through Levelator, then save it as an MP3 in Adobe Audition. No editing.

How will they stack up? As I mention in the clip, I plan to review these devices on  their own merits rather than in comparison to any other device I use or have used.

First, though, I’m getting to know them. Review to come soon.

Do you use either of these devices or other Olympus digital audio recorders? If you’re willing to share your thoughts, I’d love to know what you think.

See (listen) also:

FIR Interview: Professional insights with Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz

FIR co-hosts (l to r) Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz pictured in Concord, California, on March 4, 2006.On April 22, 2013, Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz published the 700th episode of The Hobson and Holtz Report, the weekly business podcast covering the intersection of business, communication and technology that the pair started in January 2005.

To mark the milestone episode Canadian podcaster, FIR friend and long-time listener Donna Papacosta interviewed Shel and Neville a few days before the 700th episode.

The idea for such an interview originated in the Google+ FIR Community when Max Christian Hansen posted a call to action by FIR listeners to “help create FIR 700″ and post questions for Shel and Neville.

As Max noted in his post:

Recently, some of us in the FIR community were delighted to learn a little bit about our Asia correspondent +Michael Netzley. When he talked with +Dan York, we heard some history of his professional and personal interests. It’s occurred to some of us that we’d like gain similar insight into our hosts.

The result of that call to action is this interview in which the FIR co-hosts answer listeners’ questions on topics that include what’s allowed each of them to stay dedicated to FIR over the years, their proudest moments from 700 episodes, how hosting FIR has led to business opportunities, which episode they would archive for historical posterity, and more.

A short clip from the interview was included in FIR #700.

Our thanks to Max for suggesting the idea, to our listeners who responded to the call with their questions, and to Donna for her consummate professionalism in interviewing us.

Listen Now:

Get this podcast:

FIR online communities
Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future interviews, in the online FIR communities on Facebook, Friendfeed and Google+. You can also email us at; call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments; comment at Twitter: @FIRpodcast. You can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments, if you wish (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

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This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information:

Podsafe music – On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Papal perspectives from a citizen-reporter priest

Father Roderick VonhögenThe eyes of many throughout the world are focused on the Vatican in Rome at the moment, as one hundred and fifteen members of the College of Cardinals deliberate in a papal conclave behind closed and locked doors to choose a new Pope.

It’s a simple matter to follow mainstream media reporting of the events for opinions and perspectives leading up to the moment when we see white smoke rather than black, and then learn who will be the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

But I recommend paying attention to some really authentic and passionate reporting by Roderick Vonhögen, a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Utrecht in The Netherlands, who has been posting a steady stream of content to his Facebook page and videos to YouTube from St Peter’s Square since the conclave began.

This morning, there was black smoke meaning no decision yet. Here’s how Father Roderick reported on that in a video he posted to YouTube a short while ago.

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)

Father Roderick is a podcaster from the early days of social media when he started his Catholic Insider audio podcast. I remember when I first found his podcasts and how I subsequently described him:

Father Roderick is an outstanding podcaster, a natural communicator. As he often says in his shows, no boring sermons here. So I’m sure his podcasts in the coming days will be required listening, whatever your religion.

That was on April 1, 2005 and my comments were in reference to his reporting from St Peter’s Square about a previous Pope – John Paul II, who died the next day.

Now we’re on the cusp of a new papal era and await the news of who will be the chosen one. One thing the mainstream media is very good at is breaking news so expect the announcement of who will be that chosen one on your TV, radio or online news channel.

Then tune in to Father Roderick for some insider opinion from the perspective of a podcasting priest from The Netherlands.

Related reading: Sistine Chapel secured for first post-Vatileaks conclave, reports Reuters:

For centuries the Roman Catholic Church counted on the walls of the Sistine Chapel to keep the process of electing a new pope secret. But the Vatican must now turn to an electronic arsenal in the face of tweeting cardinals and a year of crushing leaks […]