Fortune 500 Companies: Read this before sponsoring a podcast

There is incredible excitement about all of the “portable new media” being delivered on the internet. And it is being matched by confusion and concern in the houses of traditional media. Here’s one insight for how to thrive on the shakedown cruise

The news this week was that NBC to cut 700 jobs (link has expired) as a direct result of people’s attention move from the TV to the internet. Breitbart also reported that chief executive Jeff Zucker “told the newspaper that scripted shows cost too much given the lack of advertiser interest.”

I know advertisers are scrambling to put their money somewhere, especially online, in hopes of finding customers. Robert Scoble laments the Internet Video Business Challenges. Jeff Pulver (link has expired) is zooming forward with his Video on the Net conferences.

I just wonder why companies squander so much on edgy projects and leaps of faith, when there are simple ways to extend both positive results and the measurement of those results. Let’s look at Amanda Across America (link has expired) as a case study.

Amanda Congden, original host of the ground-breaking videoblog Rocketboom, has re-launched her career with a cross-country road trip in a Ford hybrid vehicle to highlight environmental awareness. Good idea.

But I think there is considerable opportunity being left on the table. Part 1 is just about good manners. Part 2 is understanding the more pedestrian aspects of the internet.

Part 1: It’s Just Good Manners

I actually think content producers and paid sponsors could help each other and themselves more if they would actually hold hands in public instead of sitting on opposite sides of the ballroom. It’s partly my upbringing, but if someone is going to give me a bunch of money so I can do what I love, then I think graciousness as well as good business suggests that you do more than create a popup window called “thanks” where users have to actually scroll to see all of the sponsors. Only to find just a logo or a text link to the sponsor’s main web site. So utterly impersonal. And cumbersome to track.

Part 2: Pedestrian Use of the Internet
Sponsors and producers could far extend the ROI of the partnership, without spending any more money, just by using the internet for the little things it is really good for. Like adding a page here and there, a real face and a real name, and remembering it’s about the conversation.

If I were managing this project:
* I would insist that each sponsor’s logo be visible without scrolling.
* I would insist that each link take users to a custom page just for that sponsor.
* I would insist that the sponsor not just give me money, but also tell me why and what my users ought to know about their products, and I would add this message to the custom page.
* I would insist on integrating some of that message into my content. (Amanda did visit a Hybrid plant in MO.)
* I would insist that the sponsor give me a name, email address, and phone number of at least one real person inside the company who will talk to my viewers when they are ready to know more.
* I would insist that questions viewers post on the wiki get answered daily and that “daily updates” be added daily. (It’s such a neat idea to have the wiki! Too bad it seems only minimally inhabited.)
* And speaking of the wiki, I would insist that the sponsors participate. What a great way to start a dialog with your customers. I sure was looking for the voice of Ford in there to answer questions about hybrids, and Ford, and the environment, etc. Remember, web 2.0 (regardless of your opinion on the jargon) is about people having conversations with people they previously could not. It’s me talking to a big wig at Ford just as much as it is Ford talking to us customers online.

Why would I be such an insisting b/witch?
Because I would only take people’s money whose products or services I think are relevant and valuable to my viewers. There’s nothing to hide about that. And because I would want more of that sponsorship money to keep flowing in, so I can keep doing what I love. And because it’s just good manners that when someone gives you something of value, you don’t just say “thanks.” And finally, because even if a big large company doesn’t know how to use the internet in these mundane yet powerful ways, I would feel honored to show the way.

Job Interview Thank you letters by Yana Parker
BrownieLocks Tips for Writing Thank You Notes

And be sure to visit Beach Walks with Rox and watch our video blog. We’ve got sponsorship ideas like grains of sand for the right fit!

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AUTHOR: David Kowarsky
DATE: 10/23/2006 04:45:47 AM
Astute thoughts on the ways in which companies can/should leverage the medium. V Cool.