We're All Media Companies Now
Of course, there are hurdles to bringing podcasting into the business content regimen. Like blogs, off-the-cuff audio shows can be too informal for a public company and so they must obey corporate and SEC disclosure rules. Like enterprise video content, podcasting is not readily searchable yet, something that is critical to efficient workflow. And just as video producers like to joke that some faces are "made for radio," there are some executives whose communication style is best suited to email, not audio.
And like all user-controlled, grassroots media, pioneers disagree about how polished podcasting should become. After all, the enterprise content shares hard drive space on that employee's iPod with highly evolved Adam Curry and Rush Limbaugh shows as well as promotional podcasts from every record company that is rushing to pile onto this trend. Cameron Reilley, co-founder of service provider The Podcast Network, has already contracted with several U.S. and Australian firms to manage their internal podcasting, but he warns that companies need to embrace radio-like production and storytelling conventions. "To get employees to listen, the shows need to be entertaining and engaging instead of the normal, dry, bland audio content companies have often produced. The biggest challenge we anticipate is helping our enterprise clients use podcasts as a conversational technology."
Network Appliance, which has been doing internal audio shows for years, may demonstrate where enterprise podcasting could be headed. The company pre-interviews guests and makes a script outline with executive pre-approvals. A professional sound engineer records the show in a conference room, but then the communications department takes several weeks editing, securing executive and legal approvals, and even adding intro and outro musical "bumpers" before burning it to CD and now adding it to the RSS feed. Such care may even enhance a podcast's business value. "I think the podcasts that make sense in a business environment will be tightly edited, have valuable content, and don't go on and on," says Maruggi.
But whether they are low-res call-in entries or talk radio extravaganzas, podcasting is yet another aspect of an emerging reality; enterprises have to start thinking of themselves as media companies now that they are not far removed from the major consumer and trade conglomerates. Their internal audience of employees or partners is the same media savvy, time-constrained, "in-control" content consumers that CBS, local newspapers, and all of their advertisers are also chasing everywhere. "Their customers and prospects are using these tools," according to Marc Strohlein, VP and lead analyst at the content consultancy Outsell, Inc. "The conversation, the storytelling are happening. How do you get in the middle of that conversation and influence it in a positive direction?"
You use the media at hand to tell your own stories.
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