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Schwartz Launches New Podcasting Service

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Perusing my feeds the other day, I came across a press release from Schwartz Communications announcing the launch of a podcasting service.

The release claims that “Unlike many other podcasting services, the Schwartz offering provides quantifiable measurement of the podcast’s effectiveness as well as the ability to bundle podcasts into a comprehensive Podbook.” (I also got a link to the release via email from Sallie Goetsch; thanks, Sallie!)

I was intrigued by the notion of a “Podbook,” which turns out to be similar to the services PR Newswire and PRWeb are offering, bundling similar podcasts into a single offering to which listeners can subscribe. Schwartz describes its offering as “a series of three or more podcasts to one target audience, covering different subjects or one subject with multiple perspectives.”

PRWeek also covered the Schwartz offering and pointed to one of its clients, NetManage. According to the PRWeek piece, the podcast has been a terrific source of sales leads for the company. So I cruised on over to take a look at the NetManage podcast and found…a signup form. No download. No RSS feed. No on-screen player. In order to get the podcast, you have to complete a form so NetManage can call you. Since I didn’t complete the form, I have no idea whether you can subscribe to the feed once you offer up your info, but somehow I doubt it. This looks more like one of those lead-generation tactics of delivering a white paper in exchange for your data.

Which is fine. The idea of getting some useful or entertaining audio as the premium for letting a salesman call you is great, and I’m glad it’s working for NetManage. But is it a podcast if you can’t subscribe to it? Not according to most of the definitions out there, including Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English, which offers this definition:

The Web-based broadcast of music which works with software that automatically detects new files and is accessed by subscription

While this isn’t the most accurate definition-certainly most podcasts aren’t just music-NetManage’s offering wouldn’t fit that definition even if it covered other kinds of content. It’s also inconsistent with the vast majority of other podcast definitions, like Wikipedia’s. What NetManage offers is simply downloadable audio. Whether you can subscribe to Schwartz’s Podbook, I don’t know; I couldn’t find it on the company’s site beyond the reference in the press release.

But this post isn’t meant to be a swipe at Schwartz or NetManage, just an observation about the increasingly loose use of the word “podcast.” In the beginning, there was downloadable audio. Podcasting came into being strictly based on the introduction of RSS feed enclosures that allows for the subscription-based distribution of multimedia content coupled with the introduction of podcatching software that listeners use to subscribe. Yet suddenly, I’m stumbling across more and more references to podcasts that aren’t. Jumping on the bandwagon (a sign of podcasting’s increasing popularity, it seems), companies are labeling any audio file as a podcast.

There’s nothing to be done about this. It just bugs me.

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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

Schwartz Launches New Podcasting Service
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