Previously our team's focus had been on national broadcast networks and newspapers, as well as syndicating our television and radio segments in local markets throughout the U.S. and Canada.
That was completely reasonable prioritization, going for the largest reach for the effort involved. But getting more than 74,000 downloads of our audio segments via the podcast feed suggested that we should at least explore these newer platforms.
That's why in October 2005 we brought together a cross-functional group called the Content Creation Task Force to explore which of the "New Media" made sense for us to pursue.
We focused our investigation on:
Note that this was before Facebook was available to anyone outside of high school or college, and we produced our final report in July 2006, almost a year before the launch of the iPhone. So the phones we were considering for video streaming were flip phones. And YouTube was less than a year old.
These were fast-changing times, and yet we didn't really even have a clue as to how that pace of change was about to explode.
That's why it was important that in addition to making recommendations on platforms that were then available, we also outlined factors to consider in evaluating new opportunities. In evaluating content creation opportunities, we listed several "Super Criteria" including:
In our review of the four initial options, we recommended against Satellite Radio and HD Radio because, as the report says:
...the number of people with the right hardware has not reached a critical mass, and the format doesn't support people searching for and finding the information that is interesting to them.
We also are not yet prepared to recommend blogs. To be effective, a specialty (e.g. cardiology, cancer) blog would need a physician champion committed to regular posting, and would take more physician time than the production of additional audio and video content. It also is less likely to provide an opportunity for potential mainstream media coverage or for multiple new media content use.
Our positive recommendations were:
The former was, like our initial radio podcast, just another distribution channel for content we already produced. Pretty easy call.
Producing longer podcasts mainly meant changing our production processes for the TV segments. We were interviewing physicians for about 25 minutes for each :90 segment, which typically included an eight-second sound bite. While the whole interview helped to inform script development and segment production, a lot of good information was left on the proverbial cutting-room floor.
By putting a microphone on the interviewer as well as the subject expert, and conducting the interview in a more conversational tone, we could capture both sides of the conversation. With about an hour of post-production editing, we could strip out the audio track from the video interview, and create a compelling resource for patients interested in in-depth information.
This made podcasting a big winner because it required no additional physician time, and production staff time was minimal.
While we weren't ready to recommend blogging in our task force report, some 2016 events and developments showed us some that it had potential. I'll cover those in next week's post.
Lee Aase is a Communications Director for Mayo Clinic's Social & Digital Innovation team and is Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. This post is part of a series called Mayo Clinic's Double Helix: How Revolutionary Organization and Networked Communication Built America's #1 Hospital.