Podcasting is becoming a new medium of communication in the corporate world. It’s being used to replace internal memos, blogs, emails and even trade shows. And, as a marketing tool, it holds the potential of reaching a young and savvy audience. Some law firms have already jumped on the podcasting bandwagon. The Bay Street firm Torys LLP is producing videos that features lawyers expounding on topics such as mergers and acquisitions.
Traditional media companies, including CBS, Clear Channel Communications, and Walt Disney, are lining up podcasts. Tech giants America Online, Apple Computer, and Yahoo! are rushing in with aggregation services that collect thousands of podcasts in one place, laying the foundation for selling shows and ads. iTunes offers 15,000 podcasts, and listeners have signed up for 7 million subscriptions.
Its origin is in Web radio and audio blogs, but companies like Oracle, IBM and Purina now view podcasting as a new medium for hawking their wares. In just a few months, podcasting has jumped onto the leading edge of tech pop culture. Its advancement isn't lost on businesses, which are rapidly morphing podcasting into a vehicle for marketing and communications.
General Motors Corp. recorded talk-radio-style episodes about its vehicles that were downloaded 75,000 times in August 2005. Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary in May with a series recorded inside the park. Verizon Wireless issued one to promote a new cell phone that will, among other features, let you listen to podcasts.
In just five weeks, there have already been more than 1 million downloads of video content from the iTunes store. Burger King and GM are already developping marketing strategies for video-enabled iPods.
Whirlpool is one of a growing number of companies that are turning to podcasting as a way to connect with customers, investors, and employees. As befits a medium only a year old, there's loads of experimentation. Some podcasts are straightforward marketing. Others are more entertainment, with only passing reference to their corporate creators. In June pet food purveyor Purina decided to convert a call-in radio show it sponsors with vets in St. Louis into a podcast. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. is creating travel guides for the 20 different destinations it flies to, from New York to Shanghai. Why ? Simple, says Breda Bubear, head of advertising and communications at Virgin Atlantic: "We like to be a pioneer."
There's always a corporate message to be sent out, whether at a departmental or CEO level. Sure, company memos work fine, but maybe the message will sound more genuine if it comes across in audio via podcasting technology. Wouldn't you rather hear the latest strategic direction for the company in your CEO's own words instead of a sanitized text version ?
The potential business uses of this media are limited only by a smart marketers imagination. Marketing managers and advertising executives should embrace this technology as a media tool that can deliver results to achieve goals in your companys marketing plan.
Some companies, such as Disney and JetBlue are trying their hands at podcasting, or messaging via web audio files, to engage tech-savvy consumers. Others also see podcasting as a choice medium for reaching narrowaudiences, such assuppliers, vendors and investor analysts.
Corporate America is learning to love iPods as much as the music enthusiasts who own them, but for a wholly different reason. General Motors, Nintendo and Sun Microsystems, are just some of the big names experimenting with "podcasting" as a way to reach elusive audiences.
GM produced two MP3 files first week of February, 2005, (Link) relating to new-model car launches at the Chicago Auto Show. This represents the start-up phase of business podcasting. Podcasting is attracting more attention and really taking off.
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