Wednesday, September 24, 2008

DIY Webcasting

Outreach to bloggers continues! Last week I received an email from the PR firm for webcasting firm BrightTalk. It just launched a Web 2.0 platform that makes webcasting a more interactive activity with continuity that is missing from the typical webcasting activity. According to their website, “ is our simple to use live audio webcast platform, built using web 2.0 principles, where business professionals can create and view webcasts through BrightTALK™ Channels.” This platform adds to their existing Conferences and Webcasting product lines.

In my experience, webcasts are essentially stand-alone entities. You do a webcast, publicize it in many ways, and essentially use it as lead generation, for your products, and for future webcasts. I think most B2B marketers who’ve used them regard them as a valuable lead generation and customer support tool. That said, they can get pretty expensive.

The BrightTALK platform offers a couple of interesting alternatives to the traditional webcasting platform. First is the free starter channel. There are other free offerings; for example webcasts can be hosted on YouTube. However, the BrightTALK platform offers a more comprehensive marketing solution. You can make your webcasts as simply as developing and narrating slides, which you can do on other platforms also. BrightTalk promotes your webcasts in addition to your own advertising and promotion. The webcast is hosted and archived and participants who come directly from the presenter’s own website or by direct link from presenter promotion are identified to the presenter.

There are three levels of channels, with the paid channels obviously giving more bandwidth and more detailed reporting. There is also a content management service that enterprises with multiple webcasting programs would find useful.

The webcast channel can be embedded on the firm’s website, blog or whatever. The value of having informational video promotions on one’s site seems pretty obvious. In fact, you might want to watch BrightTalk’s own how-to video.

One of the things Web 2.0 does is to bring interactive tools within the reach of smaller businesses and non-profits. Wouldn’t it be interesting if local and state governmental agencies used tools like this to make life easier for all of us and perhaps to discuss policy questions? There seem to be a lot of options, all of which would lead to better informed—and presumably happier—customers and citizens.

More leveling of the business playing field! The good news is that the platform is free, at least for small volume users. The bad news is that it takes good content and considerable effort to develop a meaningful webcast that will hold users to its conclusion. It is effort worth taking for businesses of all kinds!

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