Podcasting in the long tail


Far from changing the radio landscape, podcasting has been commandeered by the radio industry, says Richard MacManus in his post Radio Killed the Podcasting Star.

As a podcaster myself, I’d say MacManus has written a fair assessment of a podcasting landscape that is indeed dominated by the mainstream media rather than by the independent voices with something to say that was envisioned in the audio medium’s early days eight years ago.

Then, podcasting was seen by many as the big challenger to homogenized playlist-driven radio in the US, a means to democratize radio broadcasting and enable anyone with something to say to, well, say it.

Today, for anyone wanting to make a podcast, the barriers to entry are about zero, even more favourable than they were when I started in 2004 (and they were pretty close to zero then). You don’t even need the bare-bones equipment of a laptop and a headset microphone – if you have a smartphone, you can use online services like Audioboo and iPadio. And it’s equally easy now to do a video podcast.

So why hasn’t podcasting broken out from the mainstream and into the mainstream, as it were?

Actually, who’s to really say it hasn’t? Take a look in the iTunes podcast directory, for instance, and you’ll find thousands and thousands of podcasts to choose from including many that are all about business.

With the exception of Leo LaPorte who MacManus holds up as a podcasting success story – with some clear justification – you won’t find any podcasting “rock stars”.

What you will find among the thousands of podcasts today are shows, series, episodes containing content on myriad subjects, any number of which can attract people looking for great content on subjects that interest them, created by people most of us have never heard of but who we will get to know as we listen to them.

Note the key phrase: “great content.” Yes, just like any publication in a saturated landscape, podcasting is much to do with content. As consumers, we are totally spoiled for choice and we will find what we’re looking for to meet our subjective needs.

If you’re thinking of adding to the long tail of content with your own podcast, here are some tips to increase your chances of discovery, being listened to, talked about and riding up that long tail:

  1. Offer compelling content
  2. Ask for listeners’ opinions
  3. Include those opinions in your next show
  4. Suggest frequent commenters might want to be contributors
  5. Talk about what listeners say
  6. Provide a platform for listener comments
  7. Make it easy for listeners to get hold of your show
  8. Build community

Focus on your content, your audience and what you’re helping them achieve. There’s room for anyone with something to say that others may find interesting. If you want to be a rock star, though, join a radio station.

Now, please do excuse me as I need to do some final prep for recording episode number 663 of The Hobson and Holtz Report today with my friend and colleague, Shel Holtz.

The long tail is huge…

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Talking up Google+ Hangouts live

I took part in my first Google+ Hangout On Air yesterday, participating in a breakfast meeting of the appropriately-named Houston Social Media Breakfast, organized by Kami Huyse, as a guest speaker.

You can watch the 42-minute recording of the session right here.

(if you don’t see it embedded above, watch it on YouTube).

Part of the Google+ social network. Google+ Hangouts are a compelling element for many users, enabling you to have real-time video conversations and more with others with your webcam and a browser.

In my experience with Hangouts since Google launched them last year, I find them a highly effective tool to connect people, especially in multiple locations, to discuss matters of common interest.

Google+ Hangout on Air is the latest version of the video chat system. It lets you broadcast your session as it happens – live on air, as it were – via YouTube and via your G+ profile. And it automatically makes a recording when you’re finished which is published as a public video on your YouTube account.

In yesterday’s event, the broad discussion topic was how to use Google+ Hangouts to “punch up your business”:

With the end of spring came an onset of new features from our favorite social media tools. Google introduced Hangouts on Air, so that we could expand our hangouts to more people, The Google team will also be on hand to talk about new Google features and integration with Google Plus. We will be talking about how to use these features, especially hangouts, the plus feature and continued integration with Google tools. We will discuss how each of these features can be used by to connect with people and grow businesses.

At the breakfast venue in Houston were well over 100 participants, with three of us joining via Google+ Hangout video – Olga Garcia, the Google G-Feet Team Lead in Houston; Nimi Cheetham-West, marketing outreach specialist at Google in Houston; Yifat Cohen aka G+GoToGal, Houston-based co-host of the weekly Tech+Talks Hangout On Air and a knowledge expert on Google+; and me, Neville Hobson, in the UK.

I found it terrific listening to the insights from my fellow Hangout guests regarding use of Google+ Hangouts as well as in some of the discussion in the meeting itself. We covered quite a bit of ground even though we suffered some technical problems with audio at the venue and, in my case, a blue screen crash that kicked me out of the live session for about ten minutes (faithfully noted in the recording).

As a result, I didn’t get a chance to talk about the items I’d planned to – in addition to the more organized uses that many people think of (making presentations, for example, or doing online product demonstrations), these involve day-to-day uses in business and the workplace involving teams and collaboration.

For instance, that might include:

  • Small-group get-togethers for planning, reviews, etc: the on-screen sharing of documents can be especially appealing in this type of situation.
  • Regular team chats with up to 10 people: great for bringing together a geographically-diverse team.
  • One-to-one discussions: casual video meetings set up in an instant, and that can be private.
  • Public discussions in tweetchat style, addressing specific topics during a fixed time: the On Air aspect appeals hugely in this scenario.

I think it’s such prosaic uses of this tech tool that will be quite appealing to more people as it’s impromptu, easy to set up, with no special equipment needed beyond your webcam and browser, and a Google+ account of course.

My podcasting partner Shel Holtz and I have used Google+ Hangouts for video interviews and panel discussions as a way of experimenting and offering our content in a different format, appealing to some in our community.

You can check out the three we’ve done so far with Google+ Hangouts:

And today, at 6pm UK time, we’ll be doing our first Google+ Hangout On Air, with an FIR Live episode that is a panel discussion on influencer marketing. You can watch it live on YouTube, or see the recording that will be posted afterwards. Or listen to the audio as an FIR podcast.

So much choice!

Frictionless podcast listening with Player FM


If you listen to podcasts, Player.fm might interest you if you want an easy way to both listen to your favourite shows and discover new ones.

Player.fm is a podcasting service in the cloud. You use it in your web browser – there are no apps to install, just an easy-to-use method to create a free account called a channel, add the RSS feed addresses of podcasts to your channel, save, and listen. You can also add iTunes feeds as well as import an OPML file you already have.

I’ve been podcasting for over seven years and listen to a lot of other podcasts. Typically, I subscribe to them and get the audio files usually from iTunes via an RSS reader. The old fashioned way! It’s cumbersome and often imperfect, though, and probably one reason why I don’t listen as much or as often as I’d like to.

What Player.fm offers is streaming audio on demand. It really is easy to set up and use as I discovered today. The screenshot above shows part of the channel I created that includes 14 business/communications podcasts that I listen to often:

  1. For Immediate Release (the podcast series I co-host with Shel Holtz)
  2. IABC Cafe2Go
  3. Inside PR
  4. Jaffe Juice
  5. Jay Baer’s Social Pros Podcast
  6. Marketing Edge from Provident Partners
  7. Marketing Over Coffee
  8. Media Bullseye
  9. On the Record…Online
  10. PR And Other Deadly Sins
  11. PRSA Voices of Public Relations
  12. Six Pixels of Separation
  13. Steve Lubetkin’s Professional Podcasts
  14. Trafcom News Podcast

(For information on each one, see “16 business podcasts worth listening to” that I wrote in March. And in case you’re wondering why this post lists only 14, it’s because 2 on the original list haven’t been updated this year, 1 is behind a subscriber paywall, and I’ve included FIR.)

If you want to enjoy seamless listening, without any fuss, then go to http://player.fm/jangles, my Player.fm channel, and click on the big ‘play’ button with each podcast. Or, if you prefer to subscribe, here are three handy options:

  • OPML file that you can  import into any other podcatcher including Google Reader
  • RSS feed aggregating the latest episodes of all 14 podcasts
  • iTunes link

As Player.fm developer Michael Mahemoff says in the FAQ:

Why play podcasts on a website?
Podcasts were originally designed to be downloaded, and that’s still worthwhile. But most podcast apps these days, including iTunes, provide the ability to stream content on demand. The nice thing about this is you can try a podcast a few times before subscribing to it. Player FM takes this a step further by letting you listen to podcasts without even downloading and installing an app. Even less friction for people getting into podcasts. Some publishers already provide their own interfaces to play podcasts, but the experience is different on every site and it’s not possible to listen to all of your favorite podcasts in one place. Many don’t provide play links at all, just offering a “Subscribe in iTunes” link. Player FM aims to make podcasts simple.

playerfmmobileWhat if you want to listen on a device other than your desktop or laptop computer? Your mobile phone, for instance? (Does anyone still use an iPod or other dedicated MP3 player?)

That’s covered.

The screenshot here shows my channel on my Samsung Galaxy SII Android smartphone. I bet it looks similar on an iPhone, a Windows phone and most other smartphones.

I think this is an especially useful feature that offers, again, ease of use with on-demand audio streaming via wifi or other network you connect to including cellular. No apps to install, just use your mobile browser.

And that highlights one issue to think about – connectivity.

If you have no network connection, then you have no podcasts to listen to.

Typically, I listen to podcasts either at my desk (so on a desktop computer with a wired internet connection) or in my car (usually streaming the content of the Pocket Casts app on my phone to my car radio using a Belkin Tunecast FM transmitter).

The latter use with Pocket Casts will let you stream over your cellular network connection or via wifi. But I prefer to have the podcast audio files on my mobile device, mostly for audio quality reasons (mobile networks tend to be iffy in terms of speed and stability especially when you’re moving), not to mention the relative high cost of streaming audio data on 3G if you don’t have an unlimited data plan.

Player.fm may well be developing an offline-listening choice, according to the FAQ:

[…] We don’t yet have offline support, and we know how much you want to play podcasts in the car, train, or gym, where you might not have internet access. Fixing this is definitely a priority for us.

In the meantime, if you want a frictionless listening experience from streaming on-demand audio with no fuss, and you have a network connection, Player.fm is a great option.

(Via GigaOm)

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FIR Speakers and Speeches: Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz on Building Community with Podcasting

raganamsterdam_smNeville Hobson and Shel Holtz co-presented a session on the second day of Ragan Communications’ Public Relations and Social Media Summit at ING House in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on April 12, 2012. The session covered how a podcast can transform independent listeners into an engaged community.

The presentation included audio clips of familiar FIR voices including correspondents Dan York and Michael Netzley, as well as other PR podcasters, and explored how the communities these podcasts build can be attained by businesses.

You can listen while following along with the PowerPoint deck below:

Get this podcast:

FIR on Friendfeed
Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future shows, in the FIR FriendFeed Room. You can also email us at fircomments@gmail.com; call the Comment Line at +1 206 338 7960 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype: fircomments; comment at Twitter: twitter.com/FIR. 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.

To receive all For Immediate Release podcasts including the weekly Hobson & Holtz Report, subscribe to the full RSS feed.

This FIR Speakers & Speeches is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information: www.ragan.com.

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

16 business podcasts worth listening to


As a podcaster, I listen to quite a few other communication-related business podcasts. Finding good ones (always a rather subjective term) isn’t easy, though.

I’ve previously lamented the lack of really compelling business audio other than radio that I can listen to in the car or at my desk or when walking around the supermarket. In the UK, there’s plenty of choice for comedy, music and mainstream-produced business content but not so much the personal, informal and friendly niche content from people like, well, Shel and me.

As I hear similar thinking from quite a few people I know, I’m here to offer you a solution to the dilemma, one that stares me in the face every time I write the show notes for the For Immediate Release podcasts that Shel and I present – our recommended listening chart of other podcasts, that appears in the sidebar on our podcast blog.

In this post, I’ve made a list of compelling listening that I’m sure you’ll enjoy if you haven’t discovered them yet. Follow the link to each website to listen, where you’ll also find links to subscribe via RSS and iTunes.

In alphabetical order, here we go…

iabccafe2goIABC Cafe2Go. The official podcast from the International Association of Business Communicators, it features Conversations with CEOs, CW Radio and updates on IABC‘s programmes and initiatives as well as discussion of current issues and trends in communication. Cafe2Go also features frequent interviews with business leaders that are produced mainly by Shel or me as part of our volunteerism activities (we’re both long-time active IABC members). Cafe2Go is worth a listen whether you’re an IABC member or not.

insideprInside PR. A weekly social media and public relations podcast hosted by a trio of communicators in the US and Canada: Gini Dietrich, Joseph Thornley and Martin Waxman. Each week, the three industry veterans take a look at the state of the PR industry, explore topical and provocative issues, discuss listener comments, and even interview an interesting guest or two.

jaffejuiceJaffe Juice. How to describe this iconoclastic podcast from Joseph Jaffe? Let the blog’s words tell the story: “Welcome to the reincarnated and reinvigorated Jaffe Juice. What was once a weekly op-ed column is now an unshackled, uncensored and uninhibited dialogue on the subjects of new marketing, advertising and creativity.”

providentpartnersMarketing Edge from Provident Partners. One of the longest-running marketing and public relations podcasts. Host Albert Maruggi in the US “weaves his 25 years of marketing and PR experience across business, technology and national public affairs in interviews with newsmakers, authors and business leaders.”

marketingovercoffeeMarketing Over Coffee. Hosts John Wall and Christopher Penn record the show every business Wednesday at 5:30am Eastern Time at a coffee shop in Natick, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Each show is about 20 minutes long and is filled with the kinds of marketing tips and tricks that you can only get out of casual conversation outside the office.

mediabullseyeMedia Bullseye Radio. Led by our friends Chip Griffin and Jen Zingsheim at CustomScoop in Concord, New Hampshire, Media Bullseye Radio explores the changing communications landscape for marketing, media, and public relations professionals.

socialprosSocial Pros Podcast. The newest kid on the podcasting block from social media and content strategist Jay Baer in the US. Now on its 6th weekly episode, Social Pros “shines the spotlight on social media practitioners, people doing the real work for real companies.”

ontherecordonlineOn the Record Online. Presented by our friend and digital marketing consultant, entrepreneur and author Eric Schwartzman in Los Angeles since April 2005 (just three months after Shel and I kicked off with FIR), OTRO offers a compelling perspective and insights on how technology is changing the way organizations communicate, and the way people consume media and information.

prandotherdeadlysinsPR and Other Deadly Sins. From Canadians Mark Blevis, a digital public affairs strategist, and communicator (and FIR Book Reviews editor) Bob LeDrew, “both seasoned communicators (which does NOT mean they’ve been rolled in celery salt), PR and Other Deadly Sins will be the record of sometimes thoughtful, sometimes irreverent, but hopefully always worthwhile bull sessions about PR, social media, communications, and the sweet spot where they all intersect.”

prweekuspodcastsPR Week Podcasts. From PR Week magazine in the US, The PR Week podcasts are presented by US Editor-in-Chief Steve Barrett and guests, discussing topical PR and related issues and news. (Unfortunately, access to the the website show notes is behind a subscriber login paywall, but you can get the shows themselves on free subscription via iTunes.)

sixpixelspodcastSix Pixels of Separation – The Podcast. With one of the most well-known and -regarded business podcasts, Mitch Joel – the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” and “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries,” according to Marketing Magazine in the US – offers discussion, commentary, opinion and genuine insight at the intersection of digital marketing and personal branding.

stevelubetkinSteve Lubetkin’s Podcasts. A wide-ranging menu of content, much directly related to communication, are the podcast staples for clients of Steve Lubetkin‘s consulting firm, a producer of audio, video, and multimedia content for broadcast over the internet as podcasts, vidcasts, video and audio news features, screencasts and other formats. Unmissable content: you’ll find something of value here.

trafcomnewsTrafcom News Podcast. A big favourite of mine from Canadian communicator Donna Papacosta (who also adds her voice to FIR each week). Donna describes Trafcom News as “interviews and discussions about topics that are important to people in the business of communicating. It might be writing, speaking, marketing, social media or something interesting in the news.”

prsaVoices of Public Relations. Podcasts every few months from the Public Relations Society of America that offer insight into topical issues including PRSA webinar audio, conference specials and more. “Join the public relations conversation,” says the PRSA, “and get expert insight from across the industry.”

In addition, there are two others that you might want to check although no new episodes of their podcasts have been published this year so far:

  • Online PR Podcast. Pete Codella and Mark Polson “delve into the world of digital public relations, marketing and advertising, with a special focus on website development and search placement. Call it social media, new media, digital media or just plain old media, it’s all the rage.” (Latest episode on the website is from October 2011.)
  • Quiet News Day. A weekly podcast that “offers insight into PR, journalism, and social media.” Produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, by Scott Douglas and Shaun Milne, the pair discuss the changing nature of communications in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, as well as relevant news on social media from around the world. (Latest episode on the website is from November 2011.)

I hope you enjoy your listening experience with all of these as I have over the years.

Any others focused, broadly, on the intersection of business / communication / technology that you’d recommend?

Obviously maths isn’t our strong point

episode1firShel Holtz and I mark a milestone today as January 3 is the anniversary of the first episode of The Hobson & Holtz Report podcast which we started together on this date in 2005.

As we said in the latest episode of the show, which we recorded yesterday, today we begin our seventh year of podcasting. We tweeted that metric, Facebooked it and Google Plused it. Got nice messages back from fans. Great stuff, we love you all. :)

Except the anniversary number is wrong.

After we published the show yesterday, our friend and US East Coast correspondent Dan York gently highlighted our total lack of mathematical sense in an email with a formula simple enough that we can easily see the error of our ways:

Jan 3, 2006 – end of 1st/ start of 2nd
Jan 3, 2007 – end of 2nd/start of 3rd
Jan 3, 2008 – end of 3rd/start of 4th
Jan 3, 2009 – end of 4th/start of 5th
Jan 3, 2010 – end of 5th/start of 6th
Jan 3, 2011 – end of 6th/start of 7th
Jan 3, 2012 – end of 7th/start of 8th

So, today we start our eighth year of podcasting, not the seventh.

Thanks, Dan ;) I completely echo and fully resonate with Shel’s reply to Dan:

My math skills should make it obvious why I went into communication.

And to conclude this post on a more serious note, thanks to everyone who forms part of the FIR community – our sponsors, correspondents and listeners.

If you’ve not listened to our podcast before, give us a try with episode 632 we recorded yesterday. You can check out the full range of podcasts in the FIR series over on the FIR website – the main show as well as the occasional interviews, reviews and more.

Thanks to you all for your tremendous support during these past seven years. On with the eighth!