Quality counts more on iPods and the web

You will have heard much about webcasting and podcasting in the media recently, but much of the coverage has been full of jargon and unrealistic ideas about their influence. In layman's terms, they are simply broadcasts delivered via channels other than TV or radio.

Webcasts are usually live broadcasts via the internet, while podcasts feature non-live footage that can be downloaded from the internet at will. And podcasts are limited to certain types of content that work in a non-live context- for example, recent extracts from cult TV and radio shows (Chris Moyles' Radio 1 breakfast show is particularly popular, apparently), along with certain sport or music highlights.

But business is another area where podcasting really comes into its own.

As revealed in our feature (p25) this week, there is increasing demand from both investors and journalists to hear directly from company CEOs.

With the growth of alternative markets, such as AIM, there are more private investors following more companies. And yet business coverage by broadcast media is often put out at inconvenient times of day. It also tends to focus on the big FTSE-listed firms, which has led to the rise of the 'celebrity CEO', such as WPP's Martin Sorrell or M&S's Stuart Rose.

But podcasting allows almost any business to communicate with its audiences cheaply and directly. Visitors to a website can simply download an announcement from, or an interview with, the relevant CEO, when it suits them. This could be straight to their PC at work, or to an MP3 player to view on the train home.

However, this does not mean the traditional formats of broadcast content no longer apply. No viewer wants to see amateurish and unconvincing footage, even on an MP3 player. Indeed, in a blizzard of information, quality of product becomes ever more critical. Chief executives will still need to be charismatic and talk with conviction and vision. The rules of delivery may be changing, but the old rules of persuasion stay the same.

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