I’m here at the 09NTC in Corey Pudhorodsky and Chad Norman’s session on podcasting!

Session Description:
With portable music players, smart phones, and cheap bandwidth everywhere, more and more online marketers are turning to podcasting as a powerful way to extend the reach of their brands and engage supporters. We’ll discuss how to produce a podcasts using free tools and from scratch, including pre-production, recording, editing, processing, and rendering. Then, we’ll look at various ways to market your podcast via your own website, the social web, and the iTunes Music Store. And finally, we’ll learn from a few case studies and go over some production best practices. So, bring your iPods and earbuds, and let’s podcast!

Check out their postcasts:

We’re live… !

Who is your audience? existing and target

  • data from edison research from 2008 on podcasting listenership
  • general awareness at around 40%, though…
  • people don’t necessarily know they are consuming a podcast, audio embedded in rss etc.
  • about 50/50 male/female
  • well educated demographic, avg income over 100K
  • 36% of listeners are most likely to have made online transactions recently
  • fluent and engaged online
  • look at stats and compare to your audience to see if it is a fit

More importantly, think about the constituents you want to attract or already engage. Can determine your theme.  Maybe you just target your board members to keep them informed, etc.; maybe one just for employees as an internal stream for updates on work and projects.  Mabye just for your volunteers to update them on volunteer opportunities.  Poll your constituency to see what they are already listening to to find themes that are appealing etc.

Consider your story.

This is the one thing that will secure the success of your podcast more than anything else.  If there are a lot of others doing the same format or topic, could be harder to get an audience.  Also look at who is going to do it – hosted show vs curated show, etc.

Take dynamic speakers from your organization, put in front of the microphone, and help share their passion and stories.  With a podcast you can edit the content, take out the “ums” and “ahs” and craft a great story.

What are your goals?

Are you trying to drive supporters, find funders, or volunteers, etc.?  Make sure that you aren’t making a podcast just to have one. Create a strategy and production plan, a schedule for the topics, etc. Maybe you want it to be seasonal and only have 9 months when you have information to share, or you want it to be on a set schedule, etc.

Hardware

One of the biggest challenges for many people.  USB headset, dynamic or condenser mics, soundboard, mobile devices, video recording, etc.

You can start small – whatever you have, even just a web cam mic.  No reason to let the hardware hold you back.  Often the cheaper out of the box equipment will help a lot because the more advanced and expensive equipment is going to have a lot of settings and options that you’ll have to manage.  You’ll take a while before you find your legs – get started hearing your voice and get feedback before you launch into the field.

Mic – to go straight into your computer with a usb headset or mic; next step up is a dynamic or condenser mic.  a dynamic could be about $20-30, the condenser could be as low as $150.  Those will pick up vibrations and everything so you’ll want a stand or a boom to lift it off the desk where people are touching/moving.  Consider how you are recroding: if you are in a board room with many people you will want an omnidirectional mic to get everyone’s voices or if you are at your desk you want a unidirectional for just your voice.

Soundboards – definitely not necessary. they make digital soundboards that plug straight into your computer and record with various software options. if you are recroding with multiple people, you can record them to separate audio files so you can edit more easily.  allows you to backup the files by recording to multiple devices.

Mobile devices – if you are out in the field, etc. they are great for getting people wherever with minimal equpiment.  Can also use skype and record the call for bringing people together from wherever they are, etc.  Want one that recrods to mp3 or wav files (will be sending mp3 out for production eventually).  Great to have a lapel mic and ear phones (to monitor how the recording sounds).  Surfrider Foundation’s podcast often has interviews out in the field so you hear the ocean or birds and it adds to the recording.  Sometimes the ambient noise is good.

Video – Flip cameras are high quality, easy to use and cheap.  You can also use web cams for a video podcast.

Software

Audacity – open source and free, lots of community resources, have to download a separate mp3 encoder but they have links on their site.  Can import other sources well. Has multiple tracks, etc.  Almost always the first tool you are pointed to for podcasting.

Garage Band (mac) – many people use it on macs to edit, free on your mac

Sony Sound Forge – much like audacity but is single track. not free.

Adobe Audition – is robust but has a cost associated with it (check TechSoup from discounts for nonprofits!)

Levelator – free, from Conversations Network, takes the raw audio and does the compression and leveling for you to give you a better sound file – this means you are just editing out ums and ahs instead of also editing balance between speakers, etc.

Skype – you will need a 3rd party tool to record the call: pamela, hot recorder, audio hijack pro, quick time pro etc. they all have demo versions before you buy them to make sure they work on your machine.  they are all very cheap though.

When you are doing editing, you want to keep it in wav format because it is uncompressed.  Don’t convert it to mp3 until you are done editing.

Production

For every ten minutes of audio, it takes about an hour to edit and clean it up.

Export to mp3, things to consider:

Bit rate – indicator of the quality of the file. don’t want to go beneath 32 and 64 is even on the low end. with increased bandwidth, going with a higher bit rate is going to have a higher value, people are still able to stream it or download it, and store it. can split/switch from stero to mono channels or the other way around; most software can do it natively.

ID3 tags – can use itunes for this, drag album art and file over. let’s you listen to mp3 format before you upload it to be sure it sounds right, add tags, etc.  The tags let a program that is reading the file know what is on the file, so it’s more than the file name but the title, the time, genre, etc. it’s the metadata for the podcast episode. Title should have a form of date and podcast name so people can see if they have already listened to it already when skimming.

File size – length depends on the format of your show. there aren’t any rules really, so long as it is engaging! some are only one minute long and others are an hour or two even. you can have multiple formats where you have one a day that is really short and a less frequent longer one, be creative.

Itunes – you can get a link directly to your itunes listening to point people right there. Corey has about 1,000 downloads a week; but be careful of looking at downloads because they aren’t necessarily listening. Look at what the purpose of your podcast is and try to link metrics to the success of your goals, instead of downloads or listenership.

Show notes – want to make a summary of your show for both itunes, etc. but on your site to tell people what the show is about: who’s the guest, who is the host, what are the orgs or links mentioned.

Hosting Services

Can host your podcasts on your web servers, transfered through ftp, etc. but bandwidth can be an issue – with fees, etc. There are services to help podcasters by offering unlimited badwidth by limiting how much you can upload a month.

Liberated Syndication – great support services, great value, $5/month has 100 mg of upload. $10/month has 250 mg upload. other packages for video support.  Gives you good metrics for downloads, where people are coming from, etc.

OurMedia & Internet Archive – a bit more technical, archived forever, nonprofit organization, RSS and community building tools. upload to Internet Archive and use OurMedia to generate RSS feed, etc.

Amazone Web Services – for very cheap

Industry standard is not limiting bandwidth/downloads but only limit upload.  Bandwidth issues come in when you are putting it on your own website.

Pdocast Directories

iTunes – want to use their tags and categories, and get the direct link to your itunes listing. automatically downloads when people subscribe, etc.

Podcast Pickle & Podcast Alley & Odeo – good directory, has a good community forum, as well as embedable widget players for your website

Promoting

Blogging – if you blog about your sessions it helps Google pick it up; also gives people opportunity to comment and talk back

Social networking – use it to promote

Twitter – great/easy way to let people know when new episodes are out

WordPress – has plugin to help with podcasts

RSS – the tool that lets people get the updates, just like with blog updates. the only difference is that there is an enclosure tag that points to the file. you can put mp3 files anywhere you want (that is where the badwidth cost is). the rss is the subscription and branding so will want that to be somewhere associated with your organization, etc. and not somewhere that will change really.

Cross Channel Promotion

  • website
  • email
  • newsletter
  • press release
  • advertisements
  • partners

Don’t let your podcast become an island from all the other communications you do.

Don’t think of podcasting being a direct revenue from advertising because it can dilute your brand and really not be worth very much (for example, maybe only a hundred dollars or so for every 1,000 listeners)

Yahoo has a great embed tool that doesn’t require any flash code, etc.

Start simple

BlogTalkRadio – call in, record your message, and as soon as you hang up you have your podcast in an mp3 (so you can’t edit it) with an RSS feed, etc. a great option for out in the field recording, it’s simple, etc. can start podcasting today, right now.

Growing

Invest in tools as you grow and as you want them, not up front.

Case Studies

Volunteer San Diego

  • interview volunteers, staff, directors
  • can see how integrated it is on their website
  • use the show notes well, point back to the blog, more information, etc.

The Nature Conservancy

  • very engaging
  • everything is on the website: itunes link, embed, show notes, etc.
  • really great content

Check out WeAreMedia.org for more resources and information on podcasting in nonprofits!

09NTC Nonprofit Radio: How to Make Podcasts That Promote Your Brand and Engage Supporters
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  • Hi Amy: this is really great info…thanks so much. The non-profit I’m with, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, is so ready for these kinds of social networking tools. I’m working on implementing as many as possible. Really appreciate the workshop details on the NTEN site, especially since I couldn’t attend. Maybe next year. Thanks again.

  • Oh this is so helpful! I loved this session and these notes are great. As always Amy– you are awesome!

  • Hey Jane – Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear you are helping your organization join the conversation online; but it wouldn’t be fair of me to say that without also stressing the need for strategic decisions when adoption new tools. There are a lot of options, so please be sure to consider the audience/community, the goals, overarching strategy of your communications/fundraising/campaigning before you get to the stage of picking tools.

    Great to have you as part of the community here on this blog and look forward to seeing you at next year’s NTC April 8-10 in Atlanta!

  • Thanks, Danielle! I’m sure that Corey and Chad will have their slides and other materials up on the NTEN website soon, but glad to have a helpful first run of the session.

    You are awesome!