At the National Communication Association conference, I discussed a podcasting lesson, and Karen Russell suggested that I include the handout on my blog. Many thanks go to Karen for summarizing our panel. You can explore the blogs of my co-panelists and follow them on Twitter here:
- Alisa Agozzino, Ohio Northern University, a favorite blog post: interviews with public relations practitioners (especially great for new majors)
- Bill Handy, Oklahoma State University, a favorite blog post: social media and the law
- Barbara Nixon, Georgia Southern University, see her NCA presentation about teaching Facebook, blogging, and Twitter.
- Kelli Matthews, University of Oregon, a favorite blog post: advice for students to continue using social media after classes conclude (great for students who want to list social media skills on their resumes but are wondering whether they really need to continue blogging and tweeting)
- Kaye Sweetser, University of Georgia, see her NCA presentation about a viral video assignment, which features a video conversation with Paull Young from Converseon
The following discussion consists of talking points, information for structuring the podcasting lesson, an assignment, and step-by-step instructions for teaching yourself (and others) how to podcast. Ideas about podcasting expressed in this blog post come from an excellent book by Shel Holtz:
My class reads excerpts from this book in preparation for class (with royalties paid through our course packet service, University Readers). My class reads pages 133-136 and pages 242-277.
Prior to the Lesson
- Show students how to find and subscribe to podcasts through iTunes and other podcast directories.
- Provide some recommendations of podcasts for them to try: Trafcom News, Inside PR, and Grammar Girl are popular selections.
- Ask students to listen to a podcast and come to the next class with their opinions about it. You can decide whether to ask them to listen to a PR podcast (or even more narrowly, a PR podcast about podcasting). Ask students to jot down aspects they liked and suggestions for improvement to encourage them to complete the assignment.
- Make sure you have good audio speakers for playing excerpts of podcasts in class. (I use some tiny portable speakers that I connect to my laptop.)
- Decide how you will listen to their podcasts (e.g., on their blogs or on a CD). If you choose a CD, I suggest purchasing the CD labels and giving each student one sheet. They are responsible for purchasing CD labels on their own if they lose their sheet. I order CD labels from here.
- Find out what your school’s options are for students who want to check out microphones (for students who do not have built-in microphones on their computers) and for students who want to check out digital audio recorders for interviews.
- Download Audacity (which works on both PCs and Macs) and experiment using the technical instructions found toward the end of this blog post.
Do you listen to podcasts, excluding the class preparation for today?
- Why or why not?
- Which ones do you listen to?
- What do you like and dislike about them?
- How do you listen to them (e.g., subscription or from the computer)?
- When do you listen to them (e.g., on the way to school, working out)?
- How did you find them?
Which podcast did you listen to for homework? What did you like about it, and what your recommendations for improvement? Is this something you would listen to regularly? Why or why not?
Shared Social Media Rules
- You are not selling products – your audience does not want to subscribe to ads.
- You are delivering something of value to your audience.
- You are encouraging a conversation by inviting comments and responding to them.
- Your audience needs to be the kind that uses the kind of social media you are proposing.
- You are starting with a public relations plan – one that includes goals, objectives, and strategies – social media are just tactics.
Discussion of How a Podcast Fits Into a Public Relations Plan
Provide students with an example of a goal, objective, and strategy that would fit well with the podcasting serving as the tactic. Holtz explains that podcasts can be used to
- Engage audiences
- Build brand loyalty
- Establish thought leadership
- Contribute to the community
As described by Holtz —
- The audience can multitask.
- You can deliver specialized content to niche audiences that want to seek it out.
- Hearing a human voice can encourage an emotional connection.
- Through subscriptions, you can build a loyal following.
- You can ask listeners for feedback.
What are some examples of organizations that have used podcasts?
- Disneyland used podcasts for its 50th anniversary. It exclusive content to listeners, such as interviews with people who designed the first Disneyland.
- Purina: started with Animal Advice and expanded to include five other podcast shows, such as Snouts in Your Town (pet care tips and stories) and Puppy Care (a 14-month program).
For more details about these examples, see Holtz.
In teams of four, select at least one organization and write a goal, objective, and strategy that would suggest using a podcast as a tactic. List the topics of the first four shows of the podcast. When writing your objective, remember that it must be measurable because that is how you will measure the success of your podcast.
- Keep the podcast conversational. Use an outline of talking points; do not read from a script. Talk to the audience as “you” – as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation.
- Establish a regular structure for your podcasts.
- To avoid podfading (going from frequently produced shows to rarely produced shows), establish how many episodes will be in the podcast. Position the podcast as a 10-epidode show, for example.
- Unless you can edit your mistakes without the listener noticing, record your podcast in one take.
- Show your own interest in the topic through your tone and by explaining why the content matters.
- Introduction elements (in various order):
- Theme music
- The show’s name (include show number and date for subscribers)
- The host’s name
- Sponsors (if applicable)
This week’s topic:
- Use transitions between points and provide a recap at the end
- Respond to listeners’ questions and comments
- Theme music
- The show’s name
- The host’s name
- Next show
- Special thanks
Show notes are like a table of contents for the podcast. Use them to tell listeners what you’re covering and provide time codes so that listeners can jump to a particular section. Show notes also help people find you on search engines.
Play excerpts of podcasts for your class. I like this one by Trafcom News because Donna Papacosta discusses the importance of not reading a script for podcasts.
If you have extra time, I also suggest the Trafcom News interview with the person who does podcasts for Whirlpool to provide a grounded context.
I ask students to burn their podcasts to a CD, which I collect. Make sure to tell students that as practitioners, they can host podcasts on their Web sites, or they can use a hosting service. Libsyn packages start at $5 a month.
- Tell everyone you know who you think would be interested. Other promotion ideas from Holtz include
- Adding the URL to your e-mail signature.
- Putting the URL on your business card.
- Promoting the podcast and URL through the newsletter.
- Registering the podcast with podcast directories (e.g., iTunes, Podcast Pickle, Yahoo! Podcasts).
- Commenting on other people’s podcasts and blogs that attract similar audiences.
I teach Audacity because it works on both PCs and Macintosh computers. I do not teach GarageBand, but I allow students to use it.
With students (preferably having them follow along on their computers):
- Download Audacity.
- Open Audacity.
- Demonstrate how to record audio, listen to it, and edit it.
- Ask students to do a quick recording, play it back, and edit part of it.
- Demonstrate how to download royalty free audio and import it into Audacity and ask students to do the same.
- Show students how to export podcast and compress it in iTunes and ask students to do the same.
- Show students how to burn the podcast to a CD or upload it to a blog (however you will be collecting it for grading).
- If using CDs for podcasts, show students how to create labels and consider giving each student a sheet of two CD labels.
- Explain to students what their options are for checking out a microphone or digital recorder if needed.
The technical directions at the end of this blog post explain how to do all of the above items.
Assignment and Grading Rubric
Your assignment is to create a podcast about a public relations topic, such as relationship management. To help your content score, either interview someone or use several strong sources for your presentation.
To be eligible for an A, include brief introductory music. It must be royalty-free. You can download free music at http://www.partnersinrhyme.com/pir/free_music_loops.shtml or at http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com/free-music-clips.html, buy music from iTunes (search for “podcast music”), create your own music, or use GarageBand. Another optional element is to create your own podcast art in Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop. When using music from Web sites like Partners in Rhyme and Royalty Free Music, you’ll need to credit the source through a Web site link from where you host your podcast.
Your podcast will be evaluated based on the content, organization, delivery and adherence to instructions. Your labeled podcast CD in a jacket and show notes are due on _________.
Points for content:
Points for organization:
Points for delivery:
Points for show notes and instructions:
Is music included (a requirement for an A):
Podcast Technical Instructions and Show Notes
You will record an instructional podcast that is appropriate to your personal/business needs. Cite your sources in your podcast (e.g., “according to Jones”). You will also produce show notes.
- The steps listed on this page are specific to a version of Audacity. If you do not see something in the location specified (such as where to import music), click on the other tabs until you see the option described.
- Also, sometimes I want to select an option in Audacity, but the option appears in gray, so I cannot select it. If this happens to you, hit the stop button and then try your action again.
You can download Audacity at http://audacity.sourceforge.net.
Another option is to use RecordIt (Windows) or GarageBand (Macintosh).
The instructions below are based on the use of Audacity as your recording software. Some of the menu options for the instructions below may differ depending on the version of Audacity that you have.
Make an outline with topics you want to discuss. Click the record button. Have an introduction, body and conclusion. Organize your content (e.g., 10 ways to improve your writing). Record your entire podcast in one take.
If you stumble over your words during the podcast, pause, repeat your sentence and continue. Here is how to edit the mistake:
Expand the size of your screen if needed.
Select the vertical dumbbell and drag it over the mistake. You can click the play button before cutting. When you are ready to cut, hit delete. If this does not work, make sure the pause button is not pressed. Hit stop and try again. It is easiest to record your podcast in one take. Make sure your environment is silent. Do not rustle with papers.
If you decide to add royalty-free music to the beginning, go to “Project” and “Import Audio.” Select your file. Use the vertical dumbbell to edit. Lower the sound by dropping the “Gain.” You will need to listen to the balance between the music and your voice to determine the best music level. You can find the “Gain” by looking to the left of your audio. It has an arrow you can slide to the left. If you use music, highlight the beginning of the music, go to “Effect” and select “Fade out.” Highlight the end of the music, go to “Effect” and select “Fade in.” You will not want music to play during the middle of your podcast, so highlight the middle section, go to “Generate,” and select “Silence.”
Editing An Interview
When playing a back an interview, see if you have problems with your voice and your interviewee’s voice being different volumes. If this is a problem, download the levelator at http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator and drop your podcast into it. See here for a visual demonstration: http://www.pixelheadsnetwork.com/2008/01/14/tdmd-daily-tip-podcast-36-useful-apps-levelator/. This will fix sound problems.
Creating a CD (or save to a jump drive)
When you finish editing, follow the instructions below:
Choose “File” and “Save” to save your recording.
Go to “File” and “Export as WAV.” Make sure to save the file to somewhere other than your Audacity folder, such as saving the file to your desktop.
Go to iTunes and drag your WAV file into your library or go to “File” and “Add to library.”
Go to “Advanced” and “Convert Your Selection to AAC.” This compresses the file. You are also welcome to convert your file to MP3 (under “iTunes,” select “Preferences,” “Advanced,” and “Import Using MP3.”
Once you have converted your podcast to an AAC or MP3 file, you can burn it to a CD. Make sure you burn the MP3 or AAC version rather than the WAV file. You can right click on your music file to see which version it is.
Once you have converted your podcast to an AAC or MP3 file, you can burn it to a CD. Make sure that you burn the CD in a music player program like iTunes. Otherwise, the CD will record the file as a data file, not as an audio file, which means it won’t play in a CD player.
Creating the CD Label
In case you want to put your podcast on a CD, you can find CDs, CD labels, and CD jackets at an office supply store. Below are instructions for creating a label for Media Face labels. You can order them here: http://www.neato.com/product/PhotoMatte-CDDVD-Labels-100-Pack,85,12.htm
To create the CD label, go to http://www.mediaface.com. Create an account. To avoid having a watermark on your CD label, you need to enter a code when registering. The code is 077511999420.
Then go to the home page and select “CD/DVD Labels.” In the drop-down menu, search by SKU and select 863100. Click on the CD part of the image in the upper right corner. Then select “Templates & Layouts.” After designing your label, go to the “Preview & Print” tab in the right corner.
Make sure to not go to “file” and then “print.” Instead, scroll to the bottom of the screen and in the left-hand area, you’ll see a special print button. You might get a pop-up menu about calibrating the printer. That ensures that the printer lines up with the label, so make sure to do that if possible. You might want to test your printer with a regular piece of paper before inserting the label.
You are also welcome to create a CD label through software programs, such as InDesign, Photoshop or Word.
Burn your CD before adding the label. Burn your CD through iTunes. Do not simply drag the music file to the CD. If possible, print your CD label in color.
Creating Show Notes
Start with your title. If you have artwork, place it here. Describe your show and audience. Include at least four topics in a weekly show schedule. Add show notes and include at least three descriptions with the running time. Include all links mentioned in your podcast, as well as credits. Use parallel structure.
Uploading Your Podcast to Your Blog
If you would like to blog about your podcast experience, you should upload your podcast to your blog. You have about three gigabytes of space on WordPress. As long as you compress your podcast, you should be able to upload it.
You cannot embed your podcast into your WordPress account unless you have purchased an upgraded WordPress account. However, you can post it into blogger by using this code: <embed src=”Paste audio link here” width=”367″ height=”14″ autoplay=”false” loop=”true”></embed>
If you want to promote your podcast, you can link to it in the directories listed below.
• Podcast Alley (www.podcastalley.com)
• Odeo (www.odeo.com)
• Podcast Pickle (www.podcastpickle.com)
• Yahoo! Podcasts (http://podcasts.yahoo.com)
• Apple iTunes Music Store (www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts)