FIR’s still a labour of love

On May 23, my podcasting partner Shel Holtz and I marked a milestone number for our weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report, usually referred to simply as ‘FIR’ – episode number 600.

Many of our listeners had nice things to say about this anniversary of sorts, for which we’re grateful.

Shortly after FIR 600, Shel and I had a terrific conversation with Kelly Kass, the New York-based editor of, which appeared as an interview on May 31.


Kelly’s woven a nice tale, one that I found a pretty compelling read – not because I’m one of the subjects of it but because it was nostalgic in how Kelly tells the story of the origins of FIR back in those early social media days in 2004 and 2005 and how the show has developed in the six years since our first episode in January 2005.

I was especially pleased how Kelly focused on an area that’s very important to both Shel and I – listeners and community

[…] With the ability to share links via FriendFeed, as well as connecting via the FIR website and Twitter page, Holtz and Hobson have successfully created a true community of listeners.

Survey results (compiled by Neville) have revealed that the average FIR listener can be anyone from a CEO to a university professor to a writer to an engineer. However, a typical listener profile would be a senior level communicator working in an organization or an agency.

Geographically, 48% of the show’s audience is in the US, with a range of listeners located in California, Minnesota, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Maryland and Vermont to name a few. The rest of the listening audience is located in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland and “a sprinkling in other countries,” according to Hobson.

Some of those listeners have even turned into correspondents, as Holtz points out:

“We got our first correspondent after soliciting comments from listeners. Like clockwork, Lee Hopkins would send high-quality audio files after each show. Jokingly I said, ‘If we have one more response from this guy, we’re going to make him a correspondent. And we did!”

Other FIR correspondents include Dan York, who covers technology out of New Hampshire, as well as Michael Netzley who provides a PR perspective from Singapore.

fir600simplytvA few days ago, I took part in the June episode of Simply-TV, a one-hour business TV show that broadcasts on the internet each month, part of Marc Wright‘s London-based Simply-Communicate group. Marc’s on the left in the still from the show. (You can view the recording of this show for free but you first need to register.)

It was great fun! I was the first segment, as it were, and we talked about a wide range of FIR-related topics including how Shel and I got started, how we decide on content for each episode, whether podcasting has taken off or not as a business communication tool, and our plans for the future of FIR.

I stayed in the studio for the whole show as the other guest present was Silvia Cambie, a good friend of FIR, who had some pretty interesting things to say about her recent trip to Tunisia and her thoughts about the use of social media in the Arab world. (In July 2009, I interviewed Silvia and Yang-May Ooi for FIR about the book they both wrote, International Communications Strategy: Developments in Cross-Cultural Communications, PR and Social Media.)

So, just over 600 episodes of FIR are now under our belt. Naturally we’re focused on what comes next. To help us with that, we’re about to do a new listener survey, following the last one we published in May 2009; more news on that soon. We listen to what our listeners say about the show, so I’m looking forward to hearing their opinions.

And finally, let me acknowledge our superb sponsors with the texts we publish with each episode’s show notes:

FIR is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years,

Save time with the CustomScoop online clipping service: sign up for your free two-week trial, at

Pollstream: helping you transform your communications goals into exciting strategies that will enable you to engage, educate and inform your customers and employees online,

Now to plan the next episode; normal service resumes with FIR 602 tomorrow June 6!

Thanks for listening.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Kelly Kass

    Hi Neville,

    Many thanks for the lovely mention. It was great chatting with you about FIR; you and Shel are truly an inspiration for the comms industry. Your passion and dedication always shine through! Here’s to another 600 episodes (or more!) of FIR!

    Best wishes,


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