Podcasts and Videos as Marketing Tools

A podcast is a Portable On-Demand (broad)Cast. It is generally an audio file, but can be in video format. The audience download the file, to watch or listen to on their computer, smartphone, tablet or MP3 player. Podcasts generate brand awareness and engagement and build thought leadership, which can result in increased sales and increased web traffic. According to Apple, there are over 550,000 podcasts, which seems like a large number until one considered that there are ten times as many blogs, 80 million Facebook pages, and almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube each day. The good news is that about 48 million Americans listen to podcasts on a weekly basis and listeners tend to be a loyal audience who listen regularly and listen to the full episodes. When one looks at specific content categories, the competition for audiences is limited and with some work and promotion, you should be able to build a successful podcast that appeals to the target audience.

Podcasts are a powerful marketing tool. The content is entertaining to those interested in the industry and trends and the content can be reused for blog and articles, on social media and on websites. Podcasts are a great way to connect directly to your audience, who may be customers and influencers, in personal way. Podcasts are convenient for the audience who may listen while walking, commuting, gardening, etc. Almost three-quarters of podcast listeners do so via mobile devices while multitasking. Podcast listeners are loyal and tend to listen to every episode, participate in polls, and are likely to talk up episodes with friends and colleagues and will also connect to the podcast and brand on social media.

The Right Tools for the Job

To create a high-value podcast, it is important to start with the right equipment. A microphone such as one on the iPhone or one from Blue Yeti, a connection medium such as Skype or Zencastr accompanied by ample bandwidth, a way to edit the podcast, and a place to host the podcast such as LibSyn are all that are needed. Editing can be done with software such as Audacity or outsourced to a professional. After the podcast is posted on a hosting site, podcatchers or content aggregators such as iTune will syndicate your podcast via RSS feeds for no charge. The podcast itself should be branded with a title and logo that is consistent with your brand ad is appealing to the audience. Podcasts generally have a host or cohost, guests and segments for podcasts longer than 10 minutes. The podcast should be scripted, even if freeform, meaning that there is a timeline followed. If you know other podcasters, they can help by being a guest, hosting you as a guest on their podcast and offering general advice.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Once you have about five podcasts ready to go, you need to promote the podcasts over several channels. Depending how the podcast was recorded, you can create audio or video snippets to be shared on social media and continue to share several times a week on the various social networks. The podcast website or webpage can display descriptions of the episodes with bios of guests, replete with keywords to improve SEO. Ask your guests to share tweets promoting the podcast and make it easy on them by supplying them with the tweets, posts and images to be shared. After the podcast airs, there can be a link on your website, a link in your email signature, and a blog written about the podcast. If your audience likes the podcast they will also promote via word of mouth.

Video or Not

Podcasts are generally audio-based but you can create video-based podcasts though this really should be considered a different genre. As mentioned above, podcast listeners may be engaging via a mobile device and be doing something else while listening. They prefer that this is a listen-only event and if the audience is interested in video, they will go to a place such as YouTube and not to their podcatcher to find content. Videos also tend to be shorter than podcasts and are useful for promotional, rather than educational content.

Podcasts are a great way to connect with your audience, if the quality is high and the content interesting. Start slowly by being a guest on a podcast and learn from your host. Good luck with your podcast.

Help Wanted: Top Traits For a Great Fit for a Career in PR

“Good help is hard to find” is a common expression in the world of public relations. We’re also a fan of the phrase, “ You can teach skills, but not attitude. When an agency or an in-house department needs to hire public relations staff, there are a few key traits that new hires should have:

Communication skills
These skills include the ability to write well, speak well, and to listen well. PR is writing-intensive with the need to produce press releases, presentations, marketing collateral, articles, and short content such as social media posts. Writing skills can be developed by learning to outline and plan what you want to say, editing your text to assure it is concise and can be easily understood by the intended audience. Speaking well means being able to speak with clients, editors, and end users and to be able to speak the language of each group and to translate terminology across these groups. Listening well helps the PR person to meet the need of each group.

A PR person needs to go with the flow and adapt to changes in tactic and timing. The product launch is set for August 15 and the team has the press release ready when suddenly the engineers realize that the product will not be ready in time. Quick thinking and a change in direction is needed and the PR person cannot be too rigid in following the original plan. The PR person also needs to know how to change course quickly when a reporter calls needing information an hour ago to finish a story. That reporter cannot be told, I’ll get to you tomorrow after I finish writing my article. The PR pro must learn to change course quickly without losing one’s cool. A PR pro also needs to be flexible in taking a No and turning it into a Yes or learning not to take the No personally.

Interest in the topic/space
It is very difficult to write about a topic and to pitch a story to a media outlet when the PR person has no interest in the topic being pitched. If you are not interested in the client and their space, at least the PR person should be at a minimum be curious and interested in learning about new topics and may surprise themselves when they are suddenly interested in deep tech topics such as application delivery controllers. It is also important to be interested in current events in order to link client news to larger industry issues and to “trendjack” when necessary.

Ability to tell a story
Media are interested in reporting stories that are of interest to their readers and help to solve their pain points. It makes a dry story to talk only about the features of a product and nothing about “what’s in it for me.” It is also important that features have a news element to them because otherwise the article will read like an advertisement, which is not what editors want. PR pros need creativity to find the story and learn to ask the questions that will elicit the story. Creativity is also critical when a change in strategy is needed.

It’s Public Relations, baby, which means that a PR pro needs to understand the value of relationships. They need to be the bridge that leads to long-lasting relationships between clients and the media and influencers who touch their key audiences.

Detail oriented
A PR pro needs to be concerned with making sure all the Ts are crossed and Is dotted such as assuring the client is prepared for media meetings, assets are ready. PR folks need to be prepared to deal with small issues before they become big problems and to anticipate needs.

Good luck in finding the right people to join your team.

How to Relax and Be More Productive

Most everyone wants to be more productive in our personal and professional lives in order to accomplish more. The problem is that we then turn to strategies such as working longer hours, making very detailed and complicated lists, and including on these lists lofty goals such as run 10 miles a day starting tomorrow. A better way is to slow down, relax and not try to be a superman or superwoman. Here are some tips to increase productivity without increasing your stress level.

Have a goal in mind
As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? When it comes to productivity, you need to know your purpose for the task, its priority level, any deadlines and be able to answer “why am I doing this.” If the answer deems the project to be solely busy work or a time-suck that does not add to the overall goal, it may not be the most productive use of your time.

Clear Your Mind
Exercising is a great way to clear one’s mind and there are actual physical reasons why this happens. Exercise improves cognitive health by raising your heartbeat and increasing blood flow to your brain. Your breathing rate also increases, which pumps more oxygen into your bloodstream and to your brain.

Take a Break
After you finish one task, take a few minutes to take a walk, have some water or do something that is less taxing on your brain in order to give it time to reset. As someone who does a lot of writing, I find writing a draft, taking a small break and then going back to proofread my work makes the editing process much more efficient. Of course, longer breaks such as a night off, time with the family without cellphones and vacations also help to refresh one’s productivity and enthusiasm.

Focus on one task
People often will try to accomplish too much at once either by multi-tasking or because the project itself is too vast. Multi-tasking is like juggling you are jumping between tasks, not giving any the full attention they deserve and really not accomplishing much. It is better to define a manageable size and scope of a project and work on one element at a time until the entire project is completed.

Have a Productive Environment
Your office and desk can help you to be productive. Did you ever notice that when a chef does a cooking demonstration all the ingredients are measured in advance and lined up in order of need? The same can be said for a project such as finding needed reports, needed information, and having the right routine.

Sweet Dreams
In college, “pulling an all nighter” was seen as a badge of courage or desperation, depending on your viewpoint. While it does provide additional hours to complete a task, lack of sleep results in lack of productivity. Numerous studies have shown that “losing one hour of sleep per night for a week will cause a level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level.” If you are not getting enough sleep, you will not be productive.

For more advice on increasing productivity, see Become More Organized to be More Productive This Year.

What is Thought Leadership and What Can it Do for You?

The phase “thought leadership” is bandied about almost as frequently as “viral video,” and likely equally misunderstood. NRPR provides this simple definition: “In a nutshell, great thought leadership involves cracking into the brilliant minds of your company’s top executives, figuring out what it is they know and do best, and sharing that knowledge and experience to help other professionals learn the right ways.” I would also add to this definition that thought leadership is a process through which a company and/or executive builds trust and credibility with the audience with engaging, high quality content.

How does one build thought leadership? First, keep in mind that it is an ongoing process and not a goalpost. An organization needs an integrated communication strategy, which includes thought leadership content in order to share a cohesive message. There are several components of successful thought leadership regarding purpose, content, and audience benefits.

The first step in setting up any project is to determine what you want to accomplish? While it is easy to say, “sell more widgets,” like with any public relations initiative, thought leadership is not a magic bullet in which the person engages with the content and automatically decides to purchase your widget. If only it were that easy to make a sale. The purpose of thought leadership, whether a blog post, case study, e-book, interview, video or commentary, is to provide value to the audience in order to gain their trust so that they will look at you and your company as a leader, who can solve their specific problem, and then be interested in doing business with you.

Content needs to be new, informative, entertaining and help the audience to understand and solve a problem. What new insights can you share? The author can be an executive, product manager, engineer or other subject matter expert at the company. The content also needs to be geared for the appropriate audience. If you are writing for a specific publication, who are the readers—are they executives or engineers? Regardless of the audience, content should not be overly promotional. Thought leadership is not about you and your products, it is about providing value to customers by discussing topics that are of interest to them. The topic needs to be relevant, well researched and written in a grammatically correct and interesting style.

The benefits of thought leadership include generating new sales leads, shortening sales cycles, building credibility and trust based on the quality of the information shared. Information must be shared in a timely manner and with a regular interval so that audiences keep your company on their radar. If you have a company blog, you may want to swap blog posts with a business partner or customer. Both companies benefit from the visibility with another audience. You can also like, comment and share content from other organizations on social media with appropriate hashtags. If you are using social media such as Twitter for business purposes and sharing articles to be careful about what other posts you share on that account—no photos of illegal activities or activities that may appear to be unprofessional.

It takes time to build a reputation as a thought leader in your industry. The key is to start producing content in an area that interests you and your intended audience and in which you can provide expert knowledge.

Learning to Delegate

You can’t do it all yourself nor should you want to. A public relations agency or other business has assigned roles and may have teams that serve clients. The roles include entry-level and senior positions and everything in between covering back-office, research, client relations, strategy and writing positions. While each person has specific responsibilities, there can be flexibility in who takes on which assignments. Each member of the team, regardless of their job title, has a unique set of skills and interests that transcend assigned job description. While the overall purpose remains how to best serve the client and gain results as defined by clients’ goals, we do not need to be entirely confined by our assigned roles and job titles. There can be room for new ideas and new ways of doing things based on personal preferences and skills and task assignments can be adjusted, accordingly. The key is for managers to be willing to delegate tasks to the team.

Many leaders do not feel comfortable delegating. They may feel that they can do it better themselves or at a minimum, more quickly. The problem with that tactic is that you cannot work 24/7 without risking burnout and if you do not delegate tasks to other team members they will not build their own capabilities. When deciding which tasks to delegate, the manager needs to see if a project is suitable for delegating to another. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have time to explain and support the team member?
  • Does anyone on the team have the skills needed to accomplish the task?
  • Should I be doing this myself e.g. writing a presentation with which you will need to be familiar to present to clients and/or high-level executives
  • Is it appropriate to delegate the task?

The last question is the most problematic for several reasons. A manager should not delegate tasks that have confidential or sensitive components or would require access to information that the employee would not or should not have. Moreover, in order to maintain employee morale, it is not wise to delegate tasks that you should be doing yourself or that set the person up for failure, for example a project for which the person lacks the time and resources to complete successfully.

In order to assure a successful delegation, it is important to:

  • Explain clearly what needs to be done, the purpose of the project, and the intended audience
  • Provide ample time to complete the project and explain the consequences if the project is not completed by the deadline
  • Empower the delegated employee to take ownership of the project and determine how to best complete the task without fear of micromanagement; and
  • Be available to answer questions and to make the employee feel comfortable in asking questions

Delegating to team members enables then to grow professionally and helps to create a succession plan within your agency or organization. By giving employees new tasks and challenges that are a step above their usual tasks, they will feel challenged and will you the manager a chance to take on new challenges, as well. The key is to make sure that the person giving the task is the right person for the task and they will benefit from the opportunity. Employees generally appreciate the confidence their leader has instilled in them and the willingness to help them advance as they learn new skills. Teamwork makes the dream work.


On July 4, 1776, the 13 colonies claimed their independence from England with the signing of the Declaration of Independence , an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Each year on the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event. The Revolutionary War had been in process since April 18, 1775 with the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The Continental Congress began consideration of the resolution in Philadelphia in June 1772 when Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution: "That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." A Committee of Five with John Adams of Massachusetts; Roger Sherman of Connecticut; Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania; Robert R. Livingston of New York; and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, was appointed to draft a statement presenting to the world the colonies' case for independence.

While it took through August for all representatives to sign the Declaration of Independence, July 4 is the national holiday. We all have heard the story of how John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence with a great flourish so England's "King George can read that without spectacles!"

The July 4 holiday celebrates freedom, defined as the power or condition of acting without compulsion. LIBERTY suggests release from former restraint or compulsion. the released prisoner had difficulty adjusting to his new liberty LICENSE implies freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of freedom. Freedom requires taking responsibility for one’s actions and priorities and to also police one’s own behavior.

As the song goes, “freedom isn’t free.” The connotations range from thanking those in the military who fought and perhaps gave their lives for our freedom to a sense of responsibility when we are autonomous, for example, as young adults gaining responsibility or in our employees are inspired by a sense of independence and autonomy, backed by support and appreciation from their leader. Employee motivation declines with perceived micromanagement. When given power and freedom, employees will be dedicated.

Lastly, let us leave you with what some others have to say about freedom.

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” – George Bernard Shaw

“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” – Thomas Jefferson

Have a wonderful Fourth of July and stand tall as a proud American.

As You Embark on Your Future: Advice from Commencement Speeches

It might be the Toastmaster in me or the high-school graduation speaker in me that propel my interest in commencement speeches. Every year, I look for examples of life lessons, tips for self-improvement and ways to pave the road to success. This year’s collection of speakers covers more in the entertainment field and less in the world of politics.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor told the graduating class at Manhattan College that “education exposes you to what the world has to offer, to the possibilities open to you. She told the story of often being asked if when she was a child if she imagined being on the Supreme Court. ‘No,’ I say, ‘When I was a child, my family was poor. No lawyer or judges lived in my neighborhood. I knew nothing about the Supreme Court … You cannot dream of becoming something you do not know about. You have to learn to dream big.”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO cautioned the graduating classes of Tulane University and Stanford University not to be too cautious. He told them to “steer your ship into the choppy seas. Look for the rough spots, the problems that seem too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around. It’s in those places that you will find your purpose. . .Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of being too cautious. Don’t assume that by staying put, the ground won’t move beneath your feet. The status quo simply won’t last. So get to work on building something better.”

Perennial favorite Commencement speaker Oprah Winfrey spoke at Colorado College. She told the crowd, “I’m here to tell you that your life isn’t some big break like everybody thinks it is. They’re waiting on the big break. It’s actually about taking one significant life-transforming step at a time,” she explained. “Small steps lead to big accomplishments.” She also called on the crowd to “use your life in service; you will be in service to life. You will speak up. You will show up. You will stand up You will sit in. You will volunteer. You will vote. You will shout out. You will help. You will lend a hand.”

Actress Katie Holmes spoke at the University of Toledo and told the graduates to ”go out there and make things happen for yourself. And that’s a terrifying and amazing responsibility. You deserve joy — not in ten years, but now. So try to be equal parts tough and gentle with yourself. Take things one step at a time. Work hard when no one is looking.”

Bill Nye, Science Guy, spoke at both Cornell and Goucher College. His talk focused on the power of change. He said, “Use your knowledge and your abilities to bring out the best in those around you, and let them bring out the best in you. We are all so very excited about your future, because you can and you will – dare I say it? – change the world.” We can learn from others because “everyone you’ll ever meet knows something you don’t. Everyone. Farmers know things about plants that most of us, even botanists, never will. Bricklayers have an intimate knowledge of what it takes to lay bricks. Cooks know how to use copper bowls to control egg proteins, and that’s cool. Respect that knowledge and learn from others. It will bring out the best in them, and it will bring out the best in you.”

We can all learn from these bits of advice even if our college graduations were not this year. It is always a good time to work on self-improvement and personal and professional development so let’s get started.