Podcasts for Work and Play

By Katy Tomasulo
D.C. ASBPE Vice-President and Treasurer
Managing Editor of Pro Sales and Tools of the Trade magazines.

If you haven’t discovered the world of Podcasts yet, you’re missing out on volumes of new and useful—and free—information.

While you’re commuting to work on the subway, road-tripping to grandma’s, or mopping the kitchen floor, you can educate and entertain yourself hands-free. Learn a new language (I’m hooked on “Coffee Break Spanish”), catch up on the day’s news (try “New York Times Front Page”), learn factoids about sports, entertainment, or science (such as “Scientific American 60-Second Science”), or have a chuckle (such as “The Onion Radio News”).

And no editor should be without the lessons of “Grammar Girl,” whose concise, easy-to-follow Podcasts address common pitfalls and more challenging language conundrums to help you navigate the thats and whiches and the whos and whoms of daily life. Podcasts are easy to get; simply download iTunes , click on Podcasts, and start browsing and downloading (you don’t need an iPod). Podcast Alley also has a great directory.

But Podcasts aren’t just for your personal use. Many consumer and B2B pubs are finding Podcasts to be a great extension of their brand and a new way to provide readers with fresh content.

Last week, DC ASBPE hosted a workshop by Craig Webb, my boss and editor of ProSales magazine, about how to get started making your own Podcasts. Turns out, it’s not as hard as you might think. After an initial investment in some basic recording equipment and a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with software such as Audacity or GarageBand, Podcasts are cheap and easy to produce.

Once you learn how, you can create and process a five-minute Podcast in about 30 minutes. The tougher part is providing the appropriate content. Make sure you keep it short (preferably 15 minutes or less), use an engaging speaker (though they do not necessarily have to be broadcast-journalism trained), and choose topics that are appropriate for the medium, such as on-site coverage of trade shows or an interview with an interesting industry expert.

There are a number of resources to help you get started, including instructional information on iTunes itself and any number of Web sites, such as Podcasting News.