Dental Practitioners Become Podcasting Pros in 7 Simple Steps

Do you value community outreach activities? Are you looking for better ways to communicate with—and educate—your patients, your peers, or even the media? If your goal is to deliver your message to more people, more effectively, more often, then I have the answer you’ve been looking for … and it’s powerful, fun and remarkably simple.Why not use the cutting edge technology of podcasting to spread awareness about the importance of proper oral health? Stay with me now—if you have a slight case of technophobia, that’s okay. I’m confident that if your practice has the technical know-how to produce an online newsletter, then learning to integrate podcasting into your outreach activities will be a snap. And believe me—podcasting is the most innovative mass-communication vehicle to emerge in years, and will greatly increase the impact and reach of your message.Let’s begin with the basics. Think of a podcast as a radio program that anyone can download from the Internet. Put another way, a podcast is a digital file that is available to everyone—via free subscription—over the web. Most podcasts are audio files only (like CDs), but video content can be added as well (like DVDs). The main advantage of podcasting over traditional broadcasting is that users can download these web files to their personal computers, mp3 players, and/or CDs, and then listen to them at their convenience—in their car, during their morning run, or even in your reception area.More and more, podcasts are becoming recognized as the latest robust communication tool to harness the Internet’s power to reach a large number of listeners quickly. If your podcast contains valuable information, your listeners will share it with others, rapidly disseminating your message around the globe. Also, because podcasts use RSS (really simply syndication) technology, new episodes are delivered to your subscribers seamlessly. Once a listener subscribes to a podcast using iTunes or another similar service, that service automatically downloads new episodes as they are released, making it practically instantaneous and effortless for your audience to receive your message.Putting together a professional-sounding podcast is easier than you might think. Since valuable content is paramount, the first step is to prepare interesting topics for your episodes. I suggest that you commit to producing bi-monthly episodes, meaning that you initially need only six topics per year. Once podcasting becomes part of your routine, increase your production to twelve topics per year. If you are already producing a paper or online newsletter for your patients, the most logical progression would be to reformat some of that content into podcasts. A good way to start is to identify topics that you could cover in more detail by talking about them in a podcast rather than writing about them in a newsletter.For example, the most recent newsletter that my dentist emailed to me included an article about the dangers of periodontal disease, including information on how it may be connected to the development of heart disease, warning signs to watch out for, and recommended preventative actions. This is valuable information that I am interested in, and I am thankful to be on this mailing list. But imagine that I have received this information in the form of an audio podcast, personally recorded by my dentist, urging me to book an appointment for a much-needed checkup. I am immediately spurred to action! Speaking directly to your audience—in your own voice and with your own inflection, tone and spirit—creates a much more intimate connection with your patients. This relationship-building quality is inherent in audio, and it’s part of what makes podcasting so powerful.If you have doubts about the widespread acceptance of digital audio files, consider this statistic: on April 9, 2007, Apple announced the sale of its 100 millionth iPod and more than 2.5 billion songs from the iTunes Music Store. Now consider that anyone can download podcasts from this same music store and listen to them via their mp3 player or their computer, or burn them to CD … for free! As more and more people (including your patients) “tune in” to audio files via the web, offering them podcasts that complement and expand on the content of your existing newsletters provides you with another way to remind them about the importance of proper oral health and the services you provide.So, what equipment and software do you need to record and produce a podcast? You can become a podcasting pro in just seven simple steps:1. Verify that your PC is running Windows 2000, XP or Vista, and has the ability to play audio files.2. Invest in a microphone. Altec Lansing makes decent products, some of which list for under $30, and are available at Future Shop. But I recommend splurging a little to improve your audio quality. Blue Microphones makes a great USB mic called the Snowball, which retails for $130 on the Canadian online Apple Store. (This mic will also work with your Windows PC.)3. Download and install your recording software. Audacity is an excellent audio editor that is available for download from http://audacity.sourceforge.net. And you can’t beat their price point: it’s free.4. Record and edit your podcast.5. Partner with an online hosting service to set up a website specifically for your podcast. Liberated Syndication is extremely inexpensive and gives me everything I need. At $5 USD per month, I can lease 100 megabytes of storage space per month, which translates into about two hours of audio. This basic hosting account gives me unlimited bandwidth, meaning that even as my audience grows exponentially, my monthly cost never increases. LibSyn also provides me with easy-to-use templates for my podcast’s website, and automatically generates and updates my podcast’s RRS feed. Another, similar service worth considering is Go Daddy.6. Upload your new podcast to your hosting service using their simple submission page. Completing the submission page is similar to sending an email. Simply type in the title of your podcast (like a subject line), add the description of your episode (like the body of your email), and include your mp3 file (as an attachment). You can even attach a corresponding image, if you like. Uploading your podcast stores the mp3 file online and makes it available to your audience—they can download your podcast from your newly created podcast website.7. Promote your podcast! This is as easy as sending an email announcement to your contact list with the URL of your podcast’s website. But to take advantage of the various online podcast directories, you need to visit their websites and submit your podcast’s RSS feed. You should never pay to be included in these directories, since the best ones—including iTunes, Podcast Alley, Odeo, and Podcast Pickle—are free.For Mac users, these steps are even simpler, thanks to Garage Band and iWeb. As a Mac user myself, I’d be happy to pass along some pointers to get you started.Like you, I believe it’s important to remain connected with my client base, and as a lover of all things tech, I choose to use innovative approaches. I have successfully engaged the power of podcasting to promote my company in two weekly podcasts with rapidly growing success. And by following these seven simple steps, you too can become a podcasting pro!

How Podcasting Can Improve Your Business

The term podcasting has been floating about on the radio and in discussions with
friends, but you’re still not sure what it’s all about and if it’s relevant to your
business.I’ll start by explaining in simplest terms what a podcast is.A podcast is the combination of an audio or video file and a RSS publishing file,
placed on an Internet server and available for downloading.Let’s say you plug a microphone into your computer and record a 15 minute blurb
about an area of knowledge you have. Now you have a sound file on your computer
waiting for a home, and you want that home to be on the Internet for millions of
people to listen to.You will first need to find a “host” company to take your file and put it on their
“server” to make the file available to the world. This is called a “podcasting” server.Once you have contacted a server and have placed your file on their server, you will
want people to find your file. To do this you have to create a special document that
“publishes” your file to the world.This document is called an “RSS” file – which stands for Really Simple Syndication. In
this document you will put vital information like subject matter, keywords, website,
contact info and other information about the podcast and your business.When this RSS file has been created, it is placed in the same folder as the audio file
on the podcasting server. When you have posted an audio file and published it using
your RSS file, you have successfully created a “podcast”.Now you want people to be able to find your podcastThere are many online directories for podcasts that have searchable databases.
These services are generally free. On these sites people with new podcasts fill out a
form telling the world about the subject of the podcast, which is posted to the
directory.Once your podcast information has been posted, anyone visiting that directory
searching for podcasts containing the subject matter of your podcast, will
immediately find a link to your podcast.Of course the more directories you list with, the more people you’ll expose your
podcast to.Another great thing about these directories is that Google and other search engines
visit these sites to find content, so there is an even greater chance of people finding
your podcast.Once your podcast has been posted to a number of podcasting directories, it is now
available to millions of potential listeners worldwide.How does one listen to a podcast, you might ask?It is very simple. Once they have clicked the link on the directory or your website,
the podcast will automatically download and play in whatever audio player is
appropriate for the podcast file.Then VOILA, they are listening to your podcast.The beautiful thing about an RSS file is that once it is registered with a directory,
you don’t need to go back to the directory if you decide to add new podcast
episodes. All you need to do is update your RSS file to show that there more
episodes associated with the podcast. Listeners will be made aware of this if they
locate your podcast after a new episode has been added.Millions of listeners and Google users are searching for information in podcast form
to listen to at their leisure. This is the most beautiful part of podcasts. The listener,
once they have downloaded a podcast, can listen to it many times over, at their
convenience.How can podcasting help your business?Simple, a key part of your RSS document is your website URL and company
information.When someone listens to your podcast, this information is made clear to them
inside your podcasting information. Consequently this can generate a serious boost
in Internet traffic to your website which can result in more sales.You don’t need to be a radio professional!If you speak with customers on a daily basis about your specialized knowledge, you
are perfectly positioned to record and release a podcast.Where to start?First, get a decent microphone for your computer – USB microphones are best – and
practice recording to get comfortable recording yourself and delivering your
message. The process is the same for video, but a video file will be created instead
of an audio file.When you have a recording you’re happy with, save it as a file in its own folder, and
contact a podcasting service provider. You can find one on the Internet.Once you have located a podcasting service provider they will help you with the rest
of your podcast, right down to creating an RSS file and properly posting it on a
podcasting directory.It is important to find a host that provides ‘unmetered’ hosting. If your hosting is
metered, the more often your podcast is downloaded, the more your service
provider will charge. An unmetered host charges a set rate regardless of the number
of downloads.Podcasting is a wonderfully affordable way to be heard and found. It is portable and
easy to access. Once you get the hang of it, podcasting can be an easy way to reach
potential clients.Podcasting truly is a great gift for small business.