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There are so many pieces to weigh: Rashmi's phone call to Mark. Vince's missing keycard records. Dani's movements on that afternoon in April. After 29 episodes, I feel like I'm no closer to figuring out who's really been taking my yogurt from the staff lunchroom.

The Business of Podcasting #3: Yogurt and Serial

The Business of Podcasting #3: Yogurt and Serial published on No Comments on The Business of Podcasting #3: Yogurt and Serial

Here’s the third in a series of eight cartoons from the fab new podcasting book, The Business of Podcasting by Donna Papacosta and Steve Lubetkin. Check back every Monday for the latest one!

When the history of podcasting is written twenty years from now, it may be that every date is described as BSP and ASP: Before the Serial Podcast, and After the Serial Podcast.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of Serial in the resurgence of podcasting over the last year — from bringing a whole new audience to the medium, to winning podcasting’s first-ever Peabody Award, to inspiring storytellers with its mix of smart reportage and beautiful sound design.

But podcasting was hardly on its way out before Serial came onto the scene. There was a thriving audience for all kinds of podcasts: storytelling, teaching, marketing, news, straight-up entertainment and much more.

One of the earliest podcasts I subscribed to was For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report. Week in and week out, Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz faithfully delivered news and insights about organizational communications in the digital era. FIR has since blossomed into a network of two dozen podcasts, serving communicators of all stripes.

Today, Neville steps away from the mic after recording the last episode of Hobson & Holtz. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for the past decade of podcasts — from those early years when us communicators who thought blogs might have some legs were regarded as bat-spit crazy, to today when a healthy Facebook and Twitter presence are table stakes for most organizations.

Thanks, Neville. Today’s cartoon is for you. And Shel, I can’t wait for September 21 to hear the new For Immediate Release.

Post, graduate.

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This one’s in honour of the news that Shel Holtz is going be teaching a graduate course on social media at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. (FAQ: Q. “But the cartoon looks nothing like him.” A. “That’s because it’s not supposed to be him.” Q. “…Oh.”) If you have any kind of involvement in social media at the organizational level, you’ll want to check out For Immediate Release, the podcast he and Neville Hobson have been doing for more than eight years now. (What am I saying? You’re already listening to it, right?)

Meanwhile, in case you missed the last episode…

Previously on Noise to Signal: “Chorizo” McGee – now barely human as the serum takes its terrible toll – triggers the fiscal cascade. With the global banking system hanging in the balance, Ivana makes a fateful call and tells Candace everything (or so she thinks). The tables are soon turned, though, as the Brahms Task Force makes landfall and takes on the Night Heron’s extraction team, and when the dust settles, nobody’s sure exactly who has the iridium casing for the Cantilever Device. In the ensuing scramble, the portal opens at last, freeing both the Qaos Quartet and the secret Vasily has spilled so much blood to hide. For Mayor Subramaniam, it’s an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past, reconcile with Montenegro and – could it be at last? – reclaim that one great lost love. But that comes at the price of the third piece of the cipher key, and a broken oath with deadly consequences for everyone… even the reputedly immortal Children of Darkwood.

Blogging for Dummies

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(cartoon also posted on Blogworld)

The debate over whether CEOs and other prominent folks should hire ghostwriters to blog for them is a thorny one.

On the one hand, blogging culture is conversational and personal; we assume we’re having a discussion with the real person, and not with an intermediary.

On the other hand, intermediaries are the rule, not the exception, when it comes to VIPs on nearly every other communications channel. Op-ed pieces and letters to the editor that bear their names are usually drafted by PR or legal departments. Underlings draft correspondence for senior executives, and then run it through signature machines (which, incidentally, are amazing to watch in action, in a steampunk kind of way). Speechwriters – you get the picture.

I suspect that if they could get away with it, a lot of executives would delegate things like quarterly earnings conference calls. (“You! Yeah, you – the guy who was imitating Steve Ballmer at last year’s Christmas party. How’d you like to try doing that again?”)

Back on that first hand, though, is the argument that blogs and other social media aren’t just any business communications channel. They’re personal. And if you want to build a relationship of trust, then you’ll need a level of both personal connection and transparency.

Which is why I think there’s a lot to say for Shel Holtz’s suggested compromise (which he wrote as someone who opposes ghost-written blogs, but acknowledges they may be inevitable):

And if a business leader ultimately does opt to have someone else handle the writing of the blog, he should disclose it. What’s the harm in a statement like this on an executive blog: “Welcome to my blog. Several times each week, I articulate my thoughts to Mary Jones, who runs communications for the company, and she posts them here ensuring that I make the points I want to make. But rest assured, while Mary makes me sound better, the messages you read are mine; they come from my heart and I read all the comments myself.”

Maybe we’ll start hearing the same thing in other channels. Such as speeches: “Before I begin, in the interests of full disclosure, I talked to my director of communications for about four minutes about this speech, and the broad structure. I understand it went through eighteen revisions, twelve of them pointless, although I had an opportunity for input in only two, and in each case, the draft sat on my desk untouched for three days. A complete list of the nearly two hundred people who drafted, edited, altered or redacted portions of this speech is available on our web site.

“I was supposed to read it on my flight over, but the inflight movie was Iron Man 2, and I got sucked into it. I couldn’t read it in the cab, because I get motion sick, and I fell asleep in my hotel room last night just before I was going to read it over. Therefore, like you, I can’t wait to find out what I’m about to say.”