SAN FRANCISCO: Corporate America is learning to love iPods as much as the music enthusiasts who own them, but for a wholly different reason.
General Motors, Sun Microsystems, and Nintendo are just some of the big names experimenting with "podcasting" as a way to reach elusive audiences. Originally developed by iPod owners wanting to make their voice heard, the process allows anyone to publishing audio files online where users can download them to an iPod or other MP3 player.
GM recently did a podcast of North America president Gary Cowger's five-minute presentation about new cars from the Chicago auto show. The file was downloaded by more than 10,000 people.
Nintendo used podcasting for a presentation from president Satoru Iwata from the Game Developers Conference. And Sun president Jonathan Schwartz, an active blogger, plans to podcast a Churchill Club panel discussion in which he took part.
The companies recognize that the audience for podcasts is still quite small. But they also recognize it's an inexpensive way to reach important, niche audiences.
"If you have any kind of following, no matter how niche the audience, this is a low-cost, on-demand way to reach out to that audience," said Michael Wiley, GM's director of new media. "They can grab it as they see fit, and they can listen to it when and where they want."
"This is a real grassroots way of giving our audience a more personal view of the company," said Wiley.
"It's one thing to read a copy of the speech...but it's a whole other thing to actually hear the speech as it was presented," said Beth Llewelyn, Nintendo's senior director of PR. She added that 3,000 people downloaded Iwata's podcast within 24 hours.
Sun even encourages its employees to podcast, and provides the infrastructure for them to do so, explained Noel Hartzell, executive communications director.
"Our employees are our most passionate evangelists," said Hartzell. "We're about creating communities and encouraging our employees to be a part of that."