Public Health Podcasting

microphoneFor those of you who are avid readers, you know that I’ve occasionally been doing video posts on the blog. (Here’s the first one from earlier this year.) They’re going … okay, I think. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, and am finally getting it done this year. It’s been a fun experience, and certainly makes me think I’d like to do it more officially in the future. Looking forward, I should really admit that anything beyond the random videos that I don’t advertise could probably be considered a podcast.

So, what’s a podcast? Well, according to Teagan Keating, it’s:

A podcast is a bit like a radio show that you download from the internet.

And it turns out there’s a bit of a market for it:

People really do listen to podcasts. As of 2011, there were 91,000 podcasts. In 2012, Edison Research found that 29% of Americans polled had listened to a podcast at least once, and 26% had viewed a video podcast (sometimes called a vodcast) at least once.

And just within the usually very-behind-the-times public health world, there are at least ten regularly updated podcasts, from places like the American Public Health Association and the US Department of Health and Human Services, but also individual public health practitioners like Jigsaw PSPH and Helen Osborne.

So what does this mean for us as government communicators (and you, too, public health folks)? Well, after yesterday’s post about where people are getting their news, shouldn’t podcasting be considered yet another avenue through which we can spread the word? Yes, it’s not traditional, and yes, you won’t get ten million listeners. But you might get the one listener you need, or more importantly, the one listener who needs you.

The great list that Teagan put together is woefully bereft of local and state health departments. And, given the insanely low threshold needed to produce one of these things (seriously, I do it with my phone and a five-dollar video editing app), why aren’t more government agencies doing it?

(As an aside, I’m going to continue my video posts through the end of the year, and then I very seriously will consider spinning them, or an audio podcast, off next year. I’ll be attending the Philly Podcast Festival this week to learn about how I can do it better. Look for another update on the topic of podcasting in the near future.)

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