Media Professional’s Common Misperceptions about Podcasting

As a podcast producer, you may be called on to act as both an evangelist and a consultant. Not only will you have to give your clients a clear definition of podcasting, but you’ll also need to debunk myths and misunderstandings.
The biggest misunderstanding is that people ask for a podcast when all they want is a video fi le that will play on an iPod. That is not a podcast … it is an iPod-compatible fi le. Releasing a single video fi le does not make a podcast … at best; it’s a webcast, a one-time sort of thing. The likely motivation here is that the client wants to do a press release saying they did a podcast or to report to their shareholders that they’ve launched a podcast.

So what is a podcast? There are a few criteria that must be met if you want your video to be considered a podcast.
1. Highly Targeted Content. The first is that the content should be highly targeted; that is to say, the content is intended for consumption by an interested audience. Podcasting is generally considered to be targeted at niche markets.
2. Compatible Files. Additionally, the content can be an audio, a video, or even a print fi le that is distributed via the Internet. The technology relies on relatively open standards like MP3 for audio, MPEG-4 for video, and PDF for print.
3. Syndicated. In order for a web video to be a podcast, it needs multiple occurrences. Those occurrences are serialized, which means there is some sort of plan for when they come out. It can be daily, weekly, monthly, or as needed. Consistency with your release schedule is important for building an audience.
4. Subscription Option. A key aspect of podcasting technology is its subscription component. Interested parties have the ability to subscribe to your podcast (and unsubscribe) at their own volition. The subscription part is what’s really important and differentiates podcasts from other forms of web video.
This is the simplest definition that properly encapsulates all aspects of a podcast. All of these points need to be met if you want to create a podcast.
Is Podcasting Restrictive?
While there are some strict guidelines of what makes a “true” podcast, don’t let this scare you away from the technology. Any video that you create to use in a podcast can also be released by other means. You can take podcasting content and post it to video-sharing sites like YouTube; you can take any of the video fi les and embed them on a web page; you can even put the video on traditional channels like DVD or broadcast.
The beauty of podcasting is in how it gives the consumer access to great content. Podcasts are easy to browse, share, and transport. Podcasts also work on many different playback devices from many manufacturers. So while podcasts are a bit restrictive in their requirements, they open up signifi cantly once they are published.

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