A recent survey we conducted of 100 news and talk stations in the top-75 markets finds that 25% of stations are currently producing podcasts, with an additional 3% saying the technology is coming soon to their station. Of those currently podcasting, 89% said that the primary function is to keep listeners listening, while an additional 10% cite the importance of getting new listeners.

Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video files, like radio programs or music videos, over the Internet for listeners to download and listen to via their mobile devices and personal computers. While the adoption of this technology has until recently focused primarily on music, content producers, like public relations firms, are finding this medium a way to directly reach the listening and viewing public.

RSS, or Real Simple Syndication, provides the support mechanism for podcasting in that it alerts users of new podcasts and updated content on websites and weblogs. This technology allows users to subscribe to websites that have RSS feeds, which are typically sites that change or add content regularly, by alerting subscribers of the latest content without the subscriber having to go to a site and gather that information. Unlike subscriptions to many printed newspapers and magazines, most RSS subscriptions are free. See chart below outlining how RSS feeds can help PR practitioners.

While our survey found that no stations are currently using podcasts or RSS feeds to gather their news, both technologies are increasingly being used by consumers. In fact, according to Pew Internet, there are more than 22 million American adults who own iPods or MP3 players and 29% of them have downloaded podcasts from the Web.

Given the growth of podcasting and RSS among consumers, News Generation has launched both an RSS feed and podcast service as a way to reach this “new” radio listener. Radio has traditionally been the most customized form of broadcasting available, where people who want headline news can get it 24 hours-a-day or if you like new rock, you can listen to a station especially formatted to your tastes. But now, podcasting offers even more customization for the listener. Not only can you get exactly the type of formatted station you want, but you can get the exact song, radio show or report, making each iPod or MP3 user, his or her own radio programmer.

How Can RSS Help Public Relations Practitioners?

  • RSS allows consumers to get the news they want without having to go out and gather it. If you provide your stories via RSS, subscribers can receive customized news directly on their desktop.
  • When using RSS, remember to register your RSS feed with directories of RSS feeds to get the most bang for your feed in terms of awareness and traffic. These directories are a one-stop-shop for users, where they can review news feeds on a wide variety of topics.
  • Examples of RSS directories include:
  • Large broadcasters see the advantages of offering RSS feeds. These include:

 

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