Do you value community outreach activities? Are you looking for better ways to communicate with—and educate—your patients, your best acim podcast website, or even the media? If your goal is to deliver your message to more people, more effectively, more often, then I have the answer you’ve been looking for … and it’s powerful, fun and remarkably simple.
Why not use the cutting edge technology of podcasting to spread awareness about the importance of proper oral health? Stay with me now—if you have a slight case of technophobia, that’s okay. I’m confident that if your practice has the technical know-how to produce an online newsletter, then learning to integrate podcasting into your outreach activities will be a snap. And believe me—podcasting is the most innovative mass-communication vehicle to emerge in years, and will greatly increase the impact and reach of your message.
Let’s begin with the basics. Think of a podcast as a radio program that anyone can download from the Internet. Put another way, a podcast is a digital file that is available to everyone—via free subscription—over the web. Most podcasts are audio files only (like CDs), but video content can be added as well (like DVDs). The main advantage of podcasting over traditional broadcasting is that users can download these web files to their personal computers, mp3 players, and/or CDs, and then listen to them at their convenience—in their car, during their morning run, or even in your reception area.
More and more, podcasts are becoming recognized as the latest robust communication tool to harness the Internet’s power to reach a large number of listeners quickly. If your podcast contains valuable information, your listeners will share it with others, rapidly disseminating your message around the globe. Also, because podcasts use RSS (really simply syndication) technology, new episodes are delivered to your subscribers seamlessly. Once a listener subscribes to a podcast using iTunes or another similar service, that service automatically downloads new episodes as they are released, making it practically instantaneous and effortless for your audience to receive your message.
Putting together a professional-sounding podcast is easier than you might think. Since valuable content is paramount, the first step is to prepare interesting topics for your episodes. I suggest that you commit to producing bi-monthly episodes, meaning that you initially need only six topics per year. Once podcasting becomes part of your routine, increase your production to twelve topics per year. If you are already producing a paper or online newsletter for your patients, the most logical progression would be to reformat some of that content into podcasts. A good way to start is to identify topics that you could cover in more detail by talking about them in a podcast rather than writing about them in a newsletter.
For example, the most recent newsletter that my dentist emailed to me included an article about the dangers of periodontal disease, including information on how it may be connected to the development of heart disease, warning signs to watch out for, and recommended preventative actions. This is valuable information that I am interested in, and I am thankful to be on this mailing list. But imagine that I have received this information in the form of an audio podcast, personally recorded by my dentist, urging me to book an appointment for a much-needed checkup. I am immediately spurred to action! Speaking directly to your audience—in your own voice and with your own inflection, tone and spirit—creates a much more intimate connection with your patients. This relationship-building quality is inherent in audio, and it’s part of what makes podcasting so powerful.
If you have doubts about the widespread acceptance of digital audio files, consider this statistic: on April 9, 2007, Apple announced the sale of its 100 millionth iPod and more than 2.5 billion songs from the iTunes Music Store. Now consider that anyone can download podcasts from this same music store and listen to them via their mp3 player or their computer, or burn them to CD … for free! As more and more people (including your patients) “tune in” to audio files via the web, offering them podcasts that complement and expand on the content of your existing newsletters provides you with another way to remind them about the importance of proper oral health and the services you provide.