Podcasts are radio shows distributed on the internet. This relatively new technology holds significant promise for the meetings and convention industries. The impacts and possibilities are discussed in this article.
What is a podcast? Podcasting is a method of distributing audio or video programs over the internet to be played on portable digital players or personal computers. You can subscribe to podcasts in a manner similar to e-newsletters, or by searching through the podcast offerings of iTunes and RSS (really simple syndication) sites; or by simply clicking on a web link and listening to on-demand internet radio programs.
Podcasts are moving into mainstream society:
iTunes downloaded its billionth file this spring. Millions of these downloads have been podcasts.
The price of MP3 players (the generic name for an iPod) and related technology is plummeting. Not only will we find them in our cell phones and PDAs, the price for a basic unit will likely come down to a few dollars/pounds each.
The cost of producing and globally distributing audio or video podcasts is nearly always much cheaper than traditional print, radio, CD video/audio, DVDs, and in even other electronic media such as websites.
Large listener base: Tens of millions of MP3 players have been sold and nearly every computer made in the past five years can play MP3 (audio) and MP4 (video) files.
Convenience: Listeners can access 24/7 on their own schedule.
Narrow casting: Due to very low production and distribution costs, a highly targeted listening base can be addressed affordably.
Advertising opportunities: Podcasts are a way to connect and advertise with these highly targeted audiences.
Ten meeting industry podcast applications: Podcasting and related technology options are many for events and tradeshows:
Meetings and events can be podcast (either audio of video) as a service to members unable to attend or as a promotion for those wishing to come the next time.
Podcasts can be an alternative or as and addition to blast emails on important event announcements.
MP3 and MP4 files promoting events or providing content can easily be added to web sites to add “punch” or provide an alternate communication method.
MP3 players (pre-loaded with conference or promotional content) will become cheap enough where they will be conference “giveaways” or even tradeshow chotzkies.
Podcast interviews of key presenters posted at a conference web site can create interest in an event.
Speaker selection can be made much easier when the selection committee reviews speaker videos online or via MP3/MP4 files rather than having to pass around DVDs or other media.
Convention recording companies are embracing MP3 files as a means of providing conference session recording technologies to attendees with better fidelity and lower production costs than tapes. Also, visuals and video can be included in a way that audio tapes can’t provide. Audio MP3 files can be posted to a website almost immediately after the event with fully automated e-commerce payment capabilities.
Meeting industry publications are beginning to provide podcasts as an alternative media.
Internet-based talk radio shows geared toward the meetings and tradeshow industries are developing.
Convention and Visitor Bureaus can send out promotional videos customized to each group to stimulate attendance – all by simply adding a link to a targeted blast email.
These are just a few of the options. Podcast can make talk and video cheap to distribute and we will see them increasingly in the meetings arena.
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