BLOGSCANNING by Robert Janelle

Janelle-92X185Flip.jpgFor the corporate world looking to integrate new media into business, podcasting allows a more personal connection with customers.

Giving voice to a blog improves connection
From SCAN's Print Edition

Ottawa-based new media consultant Mark Blevis has always wanted to be on the radio. Though he pursued a career in technology, that path allowed him to live out his dream thanks to audio-blogging or podcasting. Rather than the standard text-based blog, podcasters record thoughts and messages to audio files and post them on websites for download or streaming. Mr. Blevis has come to host a variety of podcasts, from covering technology to an online radio show about children’s books that he records with his wife. He says he finds a deeper connection with the audience by using his voice instead of text on a website. “You can connect with someone better through voice,” he says. Mr. Blevis also prefers just speaking his mind into a recorder rather than rigidly-structured writing. “When you talk, people will forgive you when your thoughts are out of sequence,” he says.

One major advantage to podcasting over other forms of digital media is portability. Although many people will listen to podcasts while sitting at their computer, it’s also possible to download the audio file to an iPod or other MP3 player and listen to it while walking to work or even burn it to a CD and listen while driving.

For the corporate world looking to integrate new media into business, podcasting allows a more personal connection with customers. Mr. Blevis suggests recording something useful to customers. For example, a software company could record a podcast about a new patch.

He stresses that the important part is creating content that will bring the customer to the company’s website. Other possibilities he suggests would be interviewing experts on topics, especially if those experts happen to be employees of the company looking to promote itself.

Podcasting is already in use by some local technology firms. Taking full advantage of the social media revolution, The Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation launched its own monthly podcast, OCRI Radio in 2005. Hosted by OCRI president and CEO Jeffrey Dale and market2world Communications CEO Nathan Rudyk, OCRI Radio provides an audible current review of Ottawa’s technology sector.

Mr. Rudyk and Mr. Dale have covered a variety of topics in their podcast, including venture capital and clean energy and robotics. Guests on the show have included local legend Rod Bryden and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Their most recent podcast is a recording of a presentation given by Cisco CEO John Chambers last month at the National Arts Centre.

Speaking of the NAC, the government-run theatre produces its own series of podcasts in both English and French. Most of the shows are hosted by workers at the theatre and offer insights into classical music, theatre – and even a cooking show with Kurt Waldele, who is responsible for catering services at the NAC.
These all follow Mr. Blevis’ ideal view of podcasts, providing content that listeners will want to listen to, while showcasing the business.

As for Mr. Blevis, he continues to spread the ideas of podcasting through his consulting business, organizing the non-profit Podcasters Across Borders conference and bringing together a tight-knit group in his hometown.
“It’s an entity that requires a greater support group,” he says, citing the need for more equipment, knowledge and work than a regular blog requires to get into podcasting. However, as new media becomes more and more important for both companies and government, the additional work appears a worthwhile investment and something to keep an eye on.

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