25 September 2007

Podcasts and PR

Podcasts. Whether you like or loathe them, somewhere on the Internet you’ll be exposed to them.

Among PR practitioners, particularly in the US, they’re all the rage. It is another option for companies to “get in touch” with their customers.

Well, I’ve got news for all you. Not yet (at least in Australia).

PR today is about reaching those specialist audiences – the Long Tail. And podcasting is one way of doing that. However, the audiences (in Australia) are so small that they render the podcast ineffectual. Audiences today are so fragmented. Look in any newsagent and see the range of magazines. How many channel are there on Foxtel?

I asked students in three university PR tutorials I took during 2006 whether they listened to podcasts. None of them did. This year I asked again, with only three of 95 students listening in. The common reasons for not doing so were: "it takes too long", and simply, "why would I bother?" So who’s listening?

A podcast has to be specifically pitched to my/your personal and professional tastes for it to register. The time I spend searching for something useful could be used doing something useful: like, having a surf.

Until Telstra can provide all Australians (and I'm including regional areas) with decent internet access, then we can forget about podcasts. About the the only use at present is for sound grabs in online media rooms.

Anyone for a surf?

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.