Podcasting is a serious medium. History has rarely shown us audiences as loyal and eager to consume as those that podcasts deliver. Big business knows this, and big business wants to learn. Some of them are learning — and participating– of course, but most of them are waiting for it to become serious. But in the eyes of many, podcasting isn’t yet serious.
The problem is that we — the podcasting community — are repeatedly sending the message that this is nothing more than a hobby. We’re supporting this concept of podcasting happening in back rooms and basements late into the evenings and on the weekends and at times when it doesn’t interfere with “real work.”
A perfect example of that is the PodCamp concept. The next one, PodCamp NYC, is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 6th and 7th. When I saw this I thought, “This is a great move… at least it’s on a Friday and not just Saturday and Sunday like it used to be.” Then, of course, I realized that this particular Friday has a distinction of greatness. Or at least “Goodness“. Holding this event on Good Friday and the Saturday after is just about the worst time to do it. It clearly sends the message that this is nothing more than a hobby.
Why don’t we have these things smack dab in the middle of the week? To a New York City-based media buyer, PodCamp held on Wednesday and Thursday is an awesome excuse to break up the monotony of the workweek while learning something valuable that might help a client down the road. Put the same event on Saturday and Sunday (or, heaven forbid, a holiday), and it’s a royal pain in the ass — something which they’re likely not going to attend unless they’re absolutely forced to go.
Portable Media Expo is the same way. It’s traditionally been held on Friday and Saturday. That’s not been horrible — at least the Friday has been a “normal” Friday. Last year’s PME was so busy that they decided to add a day to the event. Did they add Thursday? Nope. They added Sunday. I like what they’re doing there, and we at The Mac Observer and iPodObserver are happy to be media sponsors, but adding Sunday to that event sends the completely wrong message to the world at large.
This is about business, not hobbies. Business — officially-speaking, anyway — happens during the week, Monday through Friday, 9-5. Hobbies happen outside that time. Of course, those of us in business for ourselves know that work often extends into hobby time, and often the lines are blurred between what’s work and what’s a hobby, but we’re not the ones who need to be convinced and educated about new mediums like podcasting. The folks who *we* need to attend are the ones who leave their desks at 5pm on the button and never think about work between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. Those are the ones who we at BackBeat Media are killing ourselves to educate. It would certainly be a lot easier for us — all of us — if there was some mass-market education happening instead of a weekend gathering inside the echo chamber.
Please… for the sake of all emerging media — for your own sake — please start acting like this is serious business. After all, that minor change in presence is often all it takes to let something grow up big and tall.