Re: Podcasts for Customer Support

Subject: Re: Podcasts for Customer Support
From: Al Geist <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 08:34:49 -0400

Marc Bryant wrote:

<>Strict scriptwriting for Podcasts isn't a very good way of going about this, no one will want to listen to it and if you have to go through the trouble of hiring professional voice actors.

I agree that writing stilted scripts and nobody said anything about hiring professional voice actors, but after having done considerable work in radio and television, I will say that if you don't have a road map, you will never have a direction for the show regardless of its length. I've been involved in programs that wing it and programs that have a plan, and the ones that are planned go off smoother, end on time, stay on message and are far better received. Regardless of the program (TV, radio, Internet radio), all of them have a basic script to follow. Incidentally, a script does not have to identify the words the announcer/narrator has to say, but it should identify the subject matter and the time allowed per segment. In most cases, the narrator does a number of takes (called "graphs" for paragraphs), until the timing and inflection are correct. If the program is done live, then the narrator does at least a run through with the director to get a feel of the timing and flow.

The key to successful podcasting, like any other form of broadcast, is to not make the podcast sound as though someone is reading a script, unless you want it to sound like a high school production. You don't need a professional "voice actor" to do this, but you do need someone with a good "on-air" voice, who knows the subject matter, and who has a good conversational form of delivery, and you need a director to keep things on track. I've been involved in a number of projects that use fellow employees for the narration, or "voice actor" and they turned out great.

<>If you want an audio file that covers customer support issues, thats one thing. Podcasting is a regularly-occuring "internet radio" program, not merely a one-time taping.

If you block out a series of podcasts that relate to common customer support issues, or identify new products, or new ways to use existing products, then you have a regularly occurring Internet radio program. You are right in saying that podcasting is not a one-time taping, and I would add that don't tape a series expecting to use it over and over again. You can have podcast archives, but you better consistently bring something new to the table or you will loose your audience.

<> Podcasts are very good, they will not replace other forms of documentation, but they can be an added feature.

I don't think anyone is saying that podcasts will replace other forms of documentation; however, they do add to the mix of venues we can use to get our information to the user. Ten years ago, few technical writers would have guess that the primary form of delivery for our documents would be via PDF files sent over the Internet. Podcasts can be an added feature today, but who knows what technological advance will make them the primary means of information transfer in the future. In the beginning, nobody thought the Internet would have much use outside of academia until someone came up with the GUI browser.

You could have a tips of the week show, a short 2 to 3 minute podcast where you cover one big issue a week.

You could...but you better storyboard the series and develop basic scripts or your "tips of the week" podcast will have no direction and end up being little more than babble.


Al Geist
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Re: Podcasts for Customer Support: From: Marc Bryant

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