Powerful Podcasting

Count on Marketing Sherpa to publish a succinct guide to podcasting. It’s a great place to start for every nonprofit. But grab it today, as it’s free only until September 1, 2006.

Here’s what’s crucial for your nonprofit podcasting agenda according to Marketing Sherpa:

  • Podcasts reach way beyond the early adopters at this point, and have hit mainstream.This is great news for your volunteer retention and donor communications podcast initiatives. Or even for internal communications in large nonprofits with staff in multiple sites.
    • Users extend beyond those typical early adopters, young men ages 18-34 in tech fields.
    • Podcast usage is split across the sexes. At 45%, the biggest slice of listeners is 35 or older.
  • Format your podcast to play on a computer, as well as a iPod or other portable listening devised.
    • Some listeners use an iPod, but 56% listen via their computers.
  • If you’re going to podcast, commit to doing so over a period of time.
    • One-off tests, all too common, won’t enable your nonprofit to build brand impact from developing listener relationships over time.
    • If you create only one podcast, your nonprofit may never get the audience it deserves. Or, that single podcast may be insanely successful (let me caution you, this is not the norm the first time out)
  • Develop podcast content specifically for the medium.
    • Avoid "shoveling up" your Web site content or email articles by reading them into a microphone.
    • On the other hand, podcasts are a perfect way to extend the audience for a donor-oriented conference call with experts in the field, or a volunteer training. You have to excerpt, of course.
  • Outline a calendar of podcasts, much like your editorial calendar.
    • Weekly release is ideal, but if that seems like too much of a burden right now, start with a slower calendar or an emailed "e-course" based on audio chapters.
    • Your nonprofit could even deliver programs this way.
    • A monthly podcast is a great way to communicate with donors on an ongoing basis assuming your donors are podcast users. You have to know before you podcast. Ask them.
  • Craft your podcast titles with care.
    • Remember, your nonprofit is competing with tens of thousands of other podcasts producers.
    • Choose a name for your podcast that matches your topic, not your organization’s name.
    • When a user is listening to a podcast, she sees a 255-character title tag scrolling across the screen, 17-32 characters at a time.
    • Include your nonprofit’s name, URL and phone number, after the topic title.
    • Don’t forget to include the date if the content will be dated in the future.

Nonprofit podcasters-to-be, follow these guidelines along with those I’ve outlined in the following posts, and you’ll have a strong foundation for a powerful podcasting series.

9 Steps to Great Nonprofit Podcasting
Nature Conservancy Podcasts Build Conservation Ethic

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Powerful Podcasting, Recommended Resources | 0 comments
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Many of the conference presenters, particularly on the nonprofit side (lots and lots of vendors there too, who shared the broader perspective of working with many nonprofit clients) had great recommendations for boosting the impact of your online fundraising. Here are a few of the most useful take-aways:

  • Be creative in your post-gift reports to donors
    • UNICEF kept its tsunami-relief donors fully informed via a series of reports from the field, which included videocasts.
    • Conference calls with relief staff in the field, your organization’s executive director or a volunteer or major donor are also gaining popularity. You can re-purpose recorded calls as downloadable podcasts available via your Web site.
  • Online gifts show a snapshot of your current relationship with a donor.Online interactions show giving potential
    • Track both streams of activity carefully.
    • Launch compelling elements such as online games to engage folks in your Web site. Engagement precedes giving.
  • Keep online donors informed with frequent information-filled emails
    • Limit promotional email.
    • Put a cap on pitches too.
  • Use text-to-give cell messaging for crisis fundraising campaigns
    • The greatest text-to-give success was a post-tsunami effort in Greece. Donors donors gave more than six million Euros via text-messaging on their wireless phones. Most importantly, most gave multiple times.
    • Text-to-give works great for crisis communications and fundraising.
    • MobileAccord specializes in helping your nonprofit launch text-to-give campaigns.
    • Usage demographics tell us that middle-aged women are heavy text messaging users in the U.S., making text  ideal for volunteer management.
  • Email addresses gone bad are correctable — advocacy organizations pay attention

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Nancy Schwartz in Crisis Communications, Email and E-Newsletters, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Powerful Podcasting, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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Hats off to Internet marketing consultant and blogger Carson McComas (aka frogbody) for drafting his right-on-the-money list of podcast guidelines. I’ve riffed from his list to create this one for nonprofits:

1) Keep your podcasts short at the beginning.

  • No longer than 10-15 minutes till you test  what works best.
  • Portability is one of the greatest draws of podcasting, and you don’t want your listener to have to stop mid-cast.
  • The ideal podcast length may be generationally-based. Research just now underway.
  • But, in time, if the subject, and podcasters, can support it, you can go up to 30 or 45 minutes.

2) Stick to a single topic for each podcast.The format is tight, keep the focus that way too.

3) Keep your nonprofit’s podcast voice personal and chummy.

  • Remember what a turn-off the voice equivalent of muzak (think automated tele-marketer), and do everything you can to avoid that.

4) Outline your podcast, before you start recording.

  • This should be a no brainer but you’d be surprised. Nothing will discourage your nonprofit’s listeners from listening again as much as a drifting, focus-free podcast.
  • Stay on message.

5) Verbally identify your podcast at the start of your podcast with “Date, issue number, topic/guest, etc.

  • We need this meta data to give it context.
  • Someone may listen out of sequence months or years later. “Take a couple seconds to lay it out at the start,” advises Carson.

6) A conversation is more engaging than a monologue.

  • Bring a second podcaster into the conversation, when possible for variety in voice and perspective. Keeps things a little more lively.
  • Carson thinks that a male-female conversation is most compelling. I’m not sure here. What do you think?

7) When you interview a guest, don’t hog the mike.

  • Remember, the reason you’re doing the interview is that your guest has something to say.
  • Let him or her say it, with you serving as facilitator.

8 ) Be professional, with your equipment, and your editing.

  • You wouldn’t throw a poorly-printed campaign into the mail, so why would you produce a hard-to-hear, unedited podcast?
  • Tighten up your podcast like you do every written communication. Your listeners will thank you.

9) Make it easy for listeners to get new podcasts via email

  • Include iTunes and Odeo subscribe links on your nonprofit’s blog and website to make it easy to subscribe.

Learn more about how The Nature Conservancy is putting podcasts to work to build a conservation ethic.

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Powerful Podcasting | 0 comments
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The Nature Stories podcasts are one component of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) broader, integrated campaign to build a greater awareness of environmental issues among the general public. "Although more than 55 million Americans claim to be ‘conservation  concerned,’  the environment continues to slip on the priority scale of global issues," says TNC staffer Lauren Miura.  "We believe that through targeted communications, we can begin to rebuild the ‘conservation ethic’ that has been absent in American society in recent years."

According to Miura, the lead component of this campaign is "Stories from the Heart of the Land,"a series that will air on public radio stations nationwide in summer 2007. TNC has commissioned notable writers and artists to share their personal stories. The idea of a podcast evolved from this production, as a way to share the stories in a new media with the ability to reach a broad demographic (younger audiences love podcasts in general, those a bit older love their portability).

Many of the stories from the radio series will be packaged  as podcasts, in addition to the regular podcasts that features interactions between people and nature.

TNC’s use of podcasts as a component of a broader, integrated campaign is definitely the way to go . Kudos to TNC to rooting its use of this new communications tool in a holistic campaign in which the podcasts play a very specific role. Too often new tools seduce us to  use them in isolation, which  is far less powerful (remember the first few years of website publication).

Keep posted for more Getting Attention posts on nonprofit podcasting.

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Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Powerful Podcasting | 0 comments
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