Many of us in the social media space wince when people use the word “podcast” to refer to any old audio file. In my presentations, I like to point out that what distinguishes a podcast from other audio is the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed. Also, podcasts are usually serial in nature.
Certainly some companies are trumpeting “podcasts” that are not really podcasts at all. However, I would never criticize any organization for employing plain-old audio – if it meets their needs. For the past few years, beginning before podcasts were invented, I have been helping clients record and publish audio testimonials, senior-leadership messages and online marketing materials that are not podcasts.
From time to time, organizations will contact me about producing a podcast, but what they really want is three or four audio productions per year, which will be published on their Web site without a feed. To me, that ain’t a podcast, but it’s perfectly fine for the intended use.
My point is that it’s important for communications professionals to understand the distinction between podcasts and other forms of audio. But a podcast isn’t necessarily the answer every time you want to communicate with the warmth of the human voice.
Shameless plug: I’m offering a free Webinar, Podcasting 101 for Communicators and Marketers, on August 25, 2010. It’s designed for those who want to learn more about the medium and how organizations are using podcasts for internal and external communications. More info here.