April 24, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

Is the term "podcasting" dead?

I'm not asking is podcasting itself dead -- I know it's not. I produce two, and would do more if I had the time. I listen to a ton of them. Podcasting News just reported that podcast ads are 7 times as effective as TV ads. More people are listening than ever before.

I'm talking about the name. Is it finally time to retire the use of the word "podcast?"

I'm asking partially because of Podshow ... I mean, Mevio. I ask partly because I keep hearing that you shouldn't call yourself a podcaster if you want to attract advertisers; call it an Internet radio show, or Internet video show. "People think you have to have an iPod to listen to a podcast," they say. And they're not wrong - the first thing I end up explaining to people is that they can listen to my shows on their computer, or any other MP3 playing device.

This isn't the first time people have talked about changing the name, though I think now we've got a better reason. Last time, everyone was afraid that Apple was trying to trademark the term "podcast" -- even though they weren't, and would have had a hard time trying if they'd decided to do it. Now, it's a matter of trying to control perspectives -- as Mevio's Ron Bloom says, the term 'podcasting' seems to carry a connotation of amateurism with it.

I don't understand why we think something that's an amateur production is by definition bad. We send amateur athletes to the Olympics every few years, to represent their country and compete for medals. Amateurs do things every day that are of high quality -- sometimes better than so-called professionals. Amateurs do things out of love, out of passion; they're not worried about making money at it, or getting a paycheck. Does this mean they're less skilled? Ask Jim Thorpe that. Ask the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Or better yet -- ask their competitors.

I admit that there are some pretty sorry podcasts out there, and I've produced a few episodes that I'm really glad are no longer on the website or the feed. And I think that Bloom realizes that as well; he's not saying that podcasters ARE amateurish, he's saying that the PERCEPTION is that they are. And that's important.

In every sales class I ever took, they told us that perception is reality. How a customer looks at you or your product is reality to them, and the people that they interact with. Their perception of our product is important, and we have to work to change it when it's unfavorable. That's why podcasters are calling themselves "internet radio hosts" or "new media journalists" or things like that.

And if you think about it, the Church is in the same boat. I haven't posted on Lifeway's recent survey concerning the decline of SBC churches, but this really ties in. We are carrying a lot of baggage that we don't deserve. Tell someone you're a Baptist, and the first thing they think of is the Westboro loonies. They don't think of an organization that's active in preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa, or fighting hunger in the inner city. They see people protesting abortion, but they don't see the homes that we open up to care for girls who have made a mistake, and don't want to make a greater one. They don't see the care packages that go to disaster areas. They don't see the SBC first response teams that head to hurricane victims' aid, that start the rebuilding process before the first FEMA trailer rolls into town.

We have to do a better job of correcting perspectives. That doesn't mean we turn every ministry opportunity into a PR moment, but it does mean that we show people more effectively what we do to help. We do it every day -- a hugh portion of every Southern Baptist church's offerings go to help fund these efforts. We do the things people expect; we just need to show it, and make sure that the dumb things we do don't obscure what we're supposed to be doing for the Kingdom.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 11:00 AM | Comments (23) | Add Comment
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