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November 02, 2005
Different Approaches to Corporate Podcasts
So, I have been chatting with a few corporate podcasters recently--I mean companies like Purina, Whirlpool and Simon & Schuster, not Clear Channel or ABC. They all have different approaches that I think can be interesting for corporations thinking of doing podcasts as a way of connecting with people or creating a community.
Whirlpool's effort is an incredible feat by one woman,Audrey Reed-Granger, who records these podcasts twice a week (after work and on the weekends). These podcasts are about family writ large. Like radio broadcasts in the 40s and 50s, they're sponsored by a company. But this one isn't about pitching the company's products--which is a turnaround from the product placement we see today. There are some really compelling episodes dealing with newlywed parents to be and stay at home dads.
Simon & Schuster, along with other book publishers, knows that downloading of books will be increasingly important them. And while they don't know what will happen with podcasting, they want to be involved. So in September, they kicked off a company-wide podcasting effort, called the The SimonSays podcast
These are weekly, half-hour shows featuring author interviews and other snippets. For instance, one podcast around the new biography of Neil Armstrong combined sounds clips from the 1969 moon walk with excerpts from the book.
Chris Lynch, executive vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio says he doesn’t know how podcasting will evolve, but “what we do know is we have a lot of audio content.” Over time, podcasts could evolve into the mechanism Simon & Schuster uses to sell short stories or even books. The only issue I have with their podcasts is that you have to subscribe to the RSS feed to see a list of the back ones, since there isn't an online archive.
With its podcasts, Purina is taking a more no nonsense approach. The company already sponsors a radio talk show with vets, so it simply repurposes that show (taking out the on-air ads). It's a toe in the water strategy. and as it turns out, pet owners are pretty tech savvy, so it's a test that is done based on knowledge.
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I think that it'd be a welcome change to return to corporate sponsorship of storytelling, a la 40's and 50's radio. Production still would cost, but distribution via podcast probably wouldn't be so expensive. With fewer dollars at stake, and a focused audience to target, I'd hope that companies might take an approach towards burnishing brand more compelling than the least common denominator choice frequently taken today.
Both my wife and I mostly like the Hallmark presentations on broadcast TV. There's probably other examples, but we find these shows pretty effective at fostering an impression of a company.
Contrast this with sponsored college bowl games, whose broadcasts are sorta chaotic by nature. While the sponsored bowl game might be effective at promoting a brand, I'm not so sure it does anything more than that, much less leave a meaningful impression about the sponsoring company.
Posted by: Peter Zievers at November 3, 2005 12:44 PM
Thoughtful comment, thanks. I started with the Whirlpool one because frankly, I prefer it to. There is something refreshing about it.
Posted by: Heather Green at November 3, 2005 01:15 PM
Maybe you can help me with the Purina thing - I understand it's a test, but they are still doing it. So perhaps my criticism is wrong, but these folks spend a few bucks on production, why don't they edit the vets comments based on breed or aliment, or something that can be targeted.
Listening to a local radio show repurposed to me misses the entire benefit of social media, 1-1 marketing, and the time saving benefits of podcasting. I called them out on this issue more than a year ago in this Marketing Edge podcast http://providentpartners.blogspot.com/2005/07/ad-spending-down-viral-marketing-up.html#c112792082460137043
Now, Purina has added several other programs which is great, but tell me what I have wrong in my assessment of the rebroadcast format.
Posted by: Albert Maruggi at November 11, 2006 06:20 PM