January 4, 2013
Online video consumption is arguably the driving force of digital communication campaigns and social sharing, yet the spoken word can definitely add its share of impact to your communication plans this year via podcasts, mobile applications and Internet radio outlets.
The weekly American audience for online radio is 76 million people ages 12 and over, according to data from the Edison/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Research Series — nearing four times the weekly audience of 20 million in 2005. One in five respondents with smartphones have listened to a podcast.
Mobile apps like Just Sayin’ — from Cloudtalk Inc. — let users record voice messages for posting to Facebook and Twitter, which can be accompanied by text, photos and video. Such apps are convenient for quick audio posts or back-and-forth conversations with friends and followers.
Many publishers and radio stations produce original Internet audio content or stream their live broadcasts online. And Internet-only, user-generated content platforms including BlogTalkRadio, TalkZone and WebTalkRadio make it simple and inexpensive to host your own Internet radio show.
BlogTalkRadio cites 12,000 active hosts and millions of listeners spanning 75 topic categories like news, business, politics and health, and has broadcast more than 1.5 million original shows to date.
Hosts log onto a Web dashboard to manage live shows that feature dial-in guests, integrated social network commenting and archiving for on-demand listening. Several nationally recognized hosts such as Deepak Chopra use the platform, and select shows have featured celebrity guests, including Chuck Norris, Jimmy Fallon and President Obama.
TalkZone’s platform offers similar capabilities plus online split-screen video so audience members can view hosts and guests as they speak, for a studio look-in experience.
People typically prefer brief online videos, but longer talk radio segments are popular and provide a substantial forum to promote the broadcaster or guest’s expertise.
Wal-Mart successfully promoted "Twilight" movie DVD sales using an Internet radio show, but you don’t need to be big to benefit.
There are multiple ways to include Internet radio within your communications. The plethora of niche and topic-specific shows means that there are plenty to pitch. Sponsoring a show is cost effective and may include placement of your spokesperson as a guest.
Creating and hosting your own show is probably the most involved and interesting option to consider. Most Internet radio platforms provide ample “Radio 101” training materials and costs are minimal. BlogTalkRadio offers a 30-day trial and its most popular production package is $99 per month or $999 annually. A free option to broadcast outside prime time is also available.
As you evaluate Internet radio’s potential, identify the communications goals it supports before committing to show production just for its cool factor.
Placing clients on programs several times can help you determine if any have a headliner host calling — if so, then I know a PR columnist who would be a good guest.