16 June 2006

Podcast nano...

A reader writes...

Check out page 12 of PR Week today - Weber Shandwick constructs podcasting studio.

The following extract I think speaks for itself: "The soundproofed studio is expected to open next month. The 12 sq ft room will contain a table and chairs for clients, plus two professional-quality microphones and a PC that will store the required digital capture software."

Aside from the fact that PR Week seems to think that an agency capable of providing its clients with a table and chairs is newsworthy, this does require further examination.

a) At 12 sq ft, this amazing studio is about the size of a small toilet. Quite how you'd get a table and chairs in this huge facility is another matter - perhaps the chairs will be placed on the table - and of course, these are for clients only - agency personnel are expected to stand.

b) Two professional quality microphones - actually, they'd be better off using amateur mikes as this will give the podcasts the required back bedroom feel - plus those pro mikes will pick up the sound of sweating and grunting of the clients and agency folk as they attempt to move in the 12 sq ft studio.

c) A PC that will store the required digital capture software - this reads as though the software will simply be installed on the machine but not actually used. Much of the time spent by WS' new "embryonic "(says PR Week) web relations practice will be focused on reading the user manual and working out how to turn the computer on - as well as how to get it to fit in the studio.

We also notice that the article states that James Warren (head of the web relations practice) "currently works on his own". Given the size of the studio, this is presumably out of necessity rather than design?

12 comments:

James Warren said...

I think what they meant to say was 12 foot, square. As opposed to 12 square foot which is, as you so appositely point out, verging on the lavatorial.

Keep up the good work - essential reading. And if the mood takes you, please feel free to come by and use our as-yet-uncompleted studio (it has two chairs, you know) to record the world's leading podcast...

Fiona Blamey said...

What I liked about that article (apart from the bits you already mention) was the way PR Week said WSW are doing podcasts because Adam Curry said that in five years' time up to 50% of all media content will be 'generated by consumers'.

Err, so presumably it's the *other* 50% that WSW's interested in, then?

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - this would appear to be another example of a commercial organisation with a half-arsed idea about podcasting, based purely on the fact that it is fashionable, going ahead and annoucing to the world that they have made an equally half-arsed investment in the medium without considering:

1) Who will actually use the facility - it's sounds very small and badly equipped based on the article
2) What podcasts will they produce for/with their clients - and can the programme types be sustained over the medium-to-long term?
3) Who will actually listen to this stuff they produce?
4) What is the commercial model and justification behind creating a dedicated real-estate base for podcasting when there are over a dozen rent-by-the-hour audio studios in spitting distance of their offices? Will having such a studio and the cost associated with it really make a big difference to their client billing?

....the world's leading.... said...

Umm, back to you James...

james warren said...

First up, I can assure anonymous that the decision was made with my entire bottom - never let it be said that I use only half a posterior when I have direct access to so many full ones.

I can also assure him/her that we considered their points (and many more besides). I'm not going to bore people with responses to each one, but I will say that it is my personal belief is that podcasting has the potential to be a significant weapon in PR's armoury and that it's my job to make sure WS is well-placed to take advantage of new media on behalf of its clients. I can assure anonymous that the technology is more than adequate for podcasting purposes and that the room will be made available for internal meetings when not being used as a studio.

Anonymous said...

So it is not a 'studio' at all, but rather you've just stuck a PC and a couple of mics in a meeting room?

Oh dear!

Stephen Waddington said...

To be fair on James, he's only getting flack because no one else was quick enough to pitch a flavour of this story to PR Week - or else if we had thought about it, we'd assumed that the hacks would see straight through it.

Stephen Waddington said...

To be fair on James, he's only getting flack because no one else was quick enough to pitch a flavour of this story to PR Week - or else if we had thought about it, we'd assumed that the hacks would see straight through it.

figgis said...

this er news story was nicely timed with the insert WSW put in PR week wasnt it?

Fiona Blamey said...

You know actually I'd be more interested in the kind of podcast WSW are planning to produce, rather than the equipment they're going to be using to produce them, which obviously is never going to be massively impressive.

I saw that James had already done a podcast for CA, and I'm wondering how a recherché area like systems management software is ever going to make for a compelling podcast. It's not exactly Ricky Gervais, is it?

I'm not being sarky, incidentally, I'm just interested. I've heard some podcasts that tech companies have done, and they've been just woeful - like powerpoint presentations but without even the mild diversion of bullet points on slides...

Or is this topic over now?

James Cherkoff said...

I am late to this and confused...WS are opening up their podcast studio in a toilet - with chairs in it - is that right? Sort of a Bogcast?

Chris Green said...

Unlike radio, podcasting is an open forum, so come one, come all.

Podcasting doesn't need multi-million-pound studios or the latest and greatest kit in order to produce a podcast or even to sound professional. The best bit about podcasting is that it is 'good enough' rather than 'the very best' production values - in other words AM radio quality rather than FM radio quality.

You can actually produce a good quality podcast with kit costing less than £50. The Computing Podcast shows I produced before I left VNU were done with the same low-cost hardware most bedroom podcasters use.

The important thing about any podcast is not the production values, it is the content that is key, regardless of whether you are a multinational PR agency producing a brand-building podcast
for a client, or a couple of deadbeats in a shack in Wisconsin bemoaning the price of chicken feed.

However, as with ANY pocast, but particularly one with a clear marketing or corporate messaging intention/bias to it - buyer beware!

All podcasters, as with any other kind of media publisher, reserve the right to produce and distribute crap as well as good content.