Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Case Study: Darden BusinessCast

Another Draft for the upcoming Feedburner case study - what was interesting to me about this is how the creative team of a large institution can put "boutique" services like Feedburner (although Feedburner certainly offers enterprise-class services as well) to help them work around the red tape so often present in a large organization. I also just wrapped a great interview that will be included in this podcast - we'll let you know when it's posted. Here's the script so far:

So what if you work in a large institution, you've got the go-ahead on a podcasting initiative, and your IT department is handling the considerable effort of maintaing the back-end support services? I also spoke to some of the folks who produce the Darden School's Business Cast, and found some not-too surprising challenges.

Given the show's success as a key part of the school's communications strategy it's not surprising to find that the program receives input and support from resources throughout the school, not the least of which comes from the IT department who acts as the web host for the audio files. However if you've ever worked with an IT department in a large institution you surely know and likely understand that access to webserver details and statistics are heavily guarded by permissions and security settings, and for good reasons. On of the initial problems the creative team at the Darden school ran into was getting meaningful statistics on the show.

While they were working with the web team to figure out a way to get the on-demand statistical feedback they were also investigating Feedburner as an option to solve the problem of browser-unfriendly RSS files. After burning their feed to solve this problem they pleasantly discovered that their feedburner account was supplying them the stats they had been seeking, and they could get full accounts of show activity without having to trouble the IT Staff. The Darden creative team also enabled email-subscription to their feed and are able to see who amongst their various constituencies is subscribing to the show.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Case Study: Canine Campus

I'm currently working on a few case-studies for a Feedburner podcast and thought this would be a good place to share a rough draft (comments welcome). Will post part two when that's done, and well as give you a link to the finished show when we have it!

Canine Campus is a local dog-training organization with a global reach. Deven began the show in March 2006, has been releasing new material on a monthly basis and in under a year has brought in over 10,000 listens with little active promotion outside of listing the program in the iTunes podcast directory. The initial goal for Deven was to basically spread the gospel of positive reinforcement dog training in a similar method to the email list her company was running at the time.

One of the problems any small enterprise faces on a regular basis is the challenge of resources – time taken to create promotions takes time away from revenue-generating opportunities, but opportunities become limited if you're not running some kind of active public campaign to get your name out. Canine Campus faced the challenge of promoting its classes and seminars while fulfilling its core mission of educating the public on the benefits of positive-reinforcement training. Having faced the challenges of operating an email campaign and keeping a website updated with fresh content to promote the mission was conflicting with time resources allocated for simply running the business.

So the canine campus podcast began as a bit of an experiment, the first three episodes created as self-contained program recommended to all of their new students to help them prepare for strong start to a new course – outlining the philosophy and science that motivated Deven's training techniques. The episodes got positive feedback not only from students who were preparing for their first training course but from trainers and students around the world that holds an interest in the subject.

The challenge at this stage was how Canine Campus could continue to maintain a website and an active email campaign while taking on the additional responsibilities of creating a regular podcast, and if you're a feedburner user you probably already recognize some of the solutions they might have used. After doing a little research to see how they might leverage the effort they were placing in the podcast toward other requirements for their ongoing work, CanineCampus employed Feedburner's FeedFlare to automatically transfer the text entries they were entering on their Libsyn-hosted podcast site to the main page of the Canine Campus Website. With a simple piece of code they were able to assure that as they entered content into their podcast-hosting system is would show up automatically on their home page.

A surprise benefit CanineCampus discovered was that Feedburner offers a related service for managing email subscriptions and content. Where the company had been placing 16-20 man hours per month toward the management and publication of their growing email program, utilizing Feedburner's Email Subscription program automated the process of converting their blog content directly to HTML emails, automatically sending new posts out as they're published, and all according to the user's individual preferences.

The benefit has not been hard to track – for a small company, the savings of several day's work per month has given Deven more time to work on the podcast and the content, and taken the testing and leg-work out of the delivery process. You can listen to more of the canine campus podcast by visiting, and my thanks to Deven Gaston for detailing some of her experience for us.