April 11, 2016
Amaris Bourdeau, Sarah Corsie
David Ly, Alanna McMullen, & Zoë Tustin
The purpose of this project was to create a podcast and e-newsletter as a means to promote the 2016 Journal of MPub. The podcast and e-newsletter cover different subjects related to publishing that have be addressed in student essays. While podcasts and e-newsletters are largely considered “unsocial” forms of media, we have exploited social media to create a dialogue between users. Our audience, to whom we’re promoting the Journal of MPub, can be found on the web. We therefore found the enablement of this discussion crucial. The promotional plan below will detail our promotional strategy, our financial summary, and the creation of our podcast and e-newsletter, including our SEO strategy and our relationship with iTunes.
Note: For the purposes of this project, we assume that there is an existing Book of MPub Twitter account (@BookofMPub) and Facebook page. We have also cordinated with Team Build-It in order to have a page that hosts the podcast RSS and shownotes (bookofmpub.com/podcast). Also, the website hosting Book of MPub is calling itself the Journal of MPub, but we did not know this when we started this project so we recorded the audio calling it the Book of MPub and our newletter links direct towards a bookofmpub.com/podcast — so the website is referred to in writing as the Journal of MPub and in audio as the Book of MPub in this report.
Team Promotion has decided to develop a promotional plan centered around the “Project: Room” podcast and accompanying e-newsletter. If we had had more than 3 weeks to do this project, we would have liked to develop a social media plan surrounding Twitter and Facebook as well. We decided to focus on the, as Josh called it in his presentation, unsocial media because this aspect is currenting growing and we are very interested in this aspect of promotion.
In order to get our podcast off the ground and obtain a cursory audience, the launch of our podcast will be advertised on the Journal of MPub website, Twitter account, and Facebook page.The website will have a prompt at the top of it kindly asking visitors to subscribe to the e-newsletter.
Our first e-newsletter will be emailed out to the current MPub cohort (firstname.lastname@example.org) and faculty one week before our first podcast episode is available. Our podcast will be SEO-ed (explained in detail later on). To begin with, we will be cross-promoting our podcast with BookNet’s podcast; we will do so through a contra-agreement in which we will promote their podcast on our podcast and vice versa.
For the purposes of this project, we have kept our costs to a minimum (that is, absolutely nothing). We recorded the podcast on a Mac Laptop owned by our producer and used GarageBand to edit the podcast. If these tools had to be bought, the laptop would have cost $1,500 (CAD) and GarageBand comes with the laptop. Planning and recording the podcast clips took seven hours of combined staff time and editing took another five hours (two and a half hours per episode). Our producer also used Adobe Audition (as a part of the Adobe Creative Suite) for editing purposes, which she already owned. If this had to be bought, a one month subscription of Adobe Audition can be bought for $19.99 USD (other combination plans are available). The website our podcast is hosted on was built by Team Build-it, so it did not cost Team Promotion anything. Podcasts are free to submit to iTunes. We used Mad Mimi as a platform to distribute our e-newsletter because it is free; if we had had a larger budget we might have chosen a different service provider, such as MailChimp. The e-newsletter took two hours of combined staff time to put together.
Part 1: Process
As a means to record our podcast, “Project: Room,” Team Promotion used Apple’s recording device, GarageBand, which proved surprisingly effective. GarageBand has a setting for podcasts, which amplifies voices overall; we found there was a little too much echo, but we figured out how to fix that in our audio editing software, which will be addressed shortly. We then exported the recordings as MP3 files, which meant we could later import them in our editing software, Adobe Audition. After importing the MP3 files, we created an introduction that we could use on both podcast samples. We edited down the content to limit ourselves to the sections we wanted to keep; then we did a finer edit meant to ensure a nice flow. We also matched the volume on all clips, normalized them, removed the echo, and made sure each clip properly faded in and out. Finally, we added music, which we found on this royalty-free music sharing website. After creating these compilations, we exported the mixdowns as their own MP3 files, which meant they could properly be played in iTunes.
Part 2: Enhancing the Podcast
Enhanced podcasts are broken down into sections, or chapters, with each section having either a link or image that appears on the user’s mobile device. Older formats allowed for the listener to jump to different sections more easily. Enhanced podcasts give creators the option to provide visual cues that relate the their discussions. For our enhanced podcast (Episode 2), we display images of instapoetry as used in David’s essay.
To enhance the podcast, which we only did for the second episode, we used GarageBand, again, and imported the existing and edited MP3 file of the podcast. We dragged and dropped our selected images to the appropriate frames. Once done, we had to normalize the mixdown and export it as an M4V file.
Episode 2 looks different from Episode 1 on the WordPress site because of the enhancement; instead of having an audio player on the page it has a link that opens into a new window, which allows mobile devices to view the images while listening to the podcast. This is because of the restrictions on an M4V file, which is developed to only show on mobile. The images pop up when this episode is played through iTunes. If we had more time, we would have liked to try to figured out how to have a pop-up window display a YouTube-like video player so listeners would be able to see the images on a computer. This would mean transforming this file into a video file.
Part 3: WordPress Site and RSS Feed
Unlike an MP3 file, which we could test in our personal iTunes, we could only test the enhanced podcast in the iPhone podcast app. In turn, this means we needed an URL and a place to host our audio files, but that could only be done once we had a webpage and an RSS feed. Once we had access to the webpage from Team Build-It (who graciously created a page for us and installed a podcasting plug-in for our use), we encountered a problem: the TKBR server was only set to upload files that are a maximum of 2 MB. Because of this, Juan reset the PHP to allow 64 MB. However, in the process of attempting to fix this limitation, we tried to change the upload limits by fiddling with the php code in the WordPress Theme itself. This did not work because of the server limitations. However, once the limitations were changed, we had accidentally broke the RSS feed code by fiddling with it which left a blank space at the bottom of the code. Once we deleted this blank line, the RSS validated and worked perfectly. This was possible through the use of Seriously Simple Podcasting plug-in, which we chose to use because it automatically creates the RSS feed (if we don’t mess with the Theme code). Once the RSS feed was set up, we were able to submit our podcast to iTunes (documented further in a later section).
Seriously Simple Stats is an extension plugin that works with Seriously Simple Podcasting. It gives you analytics on who is listening to your podcast. The features it provides are:
- Tracks listen counts for every episode
- See an overview of stats at a glance
- See stats for a date range (e.g. the first few days after a new episode is uploaded)
- Shows which episodes are the most popular
- Shows how many people are listening through the WordPress site and through other players, like iTunes
From these analytics, we will be able to see how quickly our audience is being built, and we will (hopefully) see a correlation between obtaining more listeners as our e-newsletter promotes the podcast. We will be able to see which episodes are the most popular, and hopefully (perhaps with some help from Team Dat Analysis) be able to plan our future episodes around these popular topics.
Examples of these stats:
Part 4: Podcast Shownotes
We have structured our shownotes to be concise, as we have modelled them after Oh Witch Please podcast. These notes, which are in the main text box on posts on the WordPress site, need to be concise becausethe automatic RSS feed gives this description to iTunes and it shows up as the text attached to the episodes. For these reasons we have hyperlinked all of our sources and written two short concise paragraphs for the shownotes. These pages are coherent with the rest of the Journal of MPub website to stay consistent with the aesthetic Team Build-It has created. To make the display tidier, we had to go into the page’s HTML to readjust the spacing around the podcast player and information written around it.
Through a Twitter conversation conducted on her personal Twitter account, our producer found an early problem with the shownotes on the WordPress site. Here is the conversation and the link to where to find the podcast on iTunes has been added to the shownotes for each episode.
Part 5: SEO
To generate attention in Google searches and searching through iTunes Podcasts, we developed an SEO strategy. Each episode features the following key words:
- Book of MPub
- Journal of MPub
- Master of Publishing
- Simon Fraser University
- Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing
- Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing
To increase discoverability for the podcasts, we’ll be frontloading each episode with the above keywords. however, there will be five to eight extra ones added on that are based off of the particular episodes. For example, our first episode discussing LGBTQ representation in literature, some extra keywords tagged onto that one would be: “LGBTQ,” “Literature,” “Queer,” “Publishing Triangle,” and “Diversity.”
Precise SEO-ing for our podcasts will be very important as it will not only reach out to current Mpub and alumni, but it will be used to grow an audience base outside of Mpub as well. As the premise of the Journal of Mpub is to get ideas from the program out into the world, we will be strategically tagging episodes so they can appeal to people who aren’t necessarily in the publishing industry. Since podcasts are gaining popularity, we hope to catch listeners from all walks of life and industries.
Part 6: iTunes
We submitted our podcast to iTunes on April 1st. To do so, we needed a webpage that generated an RSS feed. After setting this up, we used our personal Apple ID and entered our RSS feed to iTunes; it was correctly validated the following day.
Currently iTunes does not offer analytics for subscriptions and downloads of a podcast as they are not hosting content. We will have to use an external service (Seriously Simple Stats) to monitor our RSS feed at the Journal of MPub site.
E-newsletter: Purpose & Strategy
The purpose of our e-newsletter is to act as a complementary promotional tool to the podcast, which would both reflect the materials discussed on previous episodes as well as promote the upcoming episode. By directing subscribers to the podcast, the e-newsletter will indirectly promote the other facets of the Journal of MPub, specifically the Twitter and the WordPress site. The e-newsletter will be weekly and will also be sent out on Mondays, thus accompanying the release of the podcast on every second Monday.
We began by investigating what factors contribute to a successful e-newsletter, using this information to dictate what we chose to include in our e-newsletter. We wanted to create something that mirrored the e-newsletters that we consider to be most successful, many of which, like Lenny and Ann Friedman, are associated with podcasts and, like the Skimm, deliver curated news to subscribers. We also looked at the shownotes of podcasts that follow a similar structure to what we envisioned; we considered Serial, Call Your Girlfriend, BookRiot, Witch, Please, The Current, and Myths and Legends. Using this information, we determined that we wanted to create a podcast that combined industry-related content and topical book news. We felt that this would make the podcast appealing to MPub students and those in publishing, without alienating book-lovers who may not be directly involved in the business of publishing but are still interesting in discussions surrounding books.
Using the information drawn from the aforementioned e-newsletters and podcasts and the resources listed below, we determined that we needed to build an e-newsletter using the following criteria:
- Use creative and informative subject lines
- Select a single call-to-action
- Keep text minimal and focused
- Incorporate images that complement text and relate directly to topic
- Make it simple and easily navigable to unsubscribe
- Include audience engagement via Twitter or iTunes reviews
We also explored email marketing platforms, and chose Mad Mimi, as it was free, did not require us to be associated with a business, and is very user-friendly and simple to navigate. Mad Mimi also provides data on each e-newsletter that indicates subscriber engagement, which will allow us to analyze the success of each e-newsletter.
Mad Mimi also allows us to analyze the click-through rates of the links included in our e-newsletters, both in total clicks and unique clicks. This will allow us to access both what links are being engaged with most often, and will also provide data as to how many subscribers are reaching the podcast page on the WordPress from our e-newsletter. Additionally, we can use this information to draw conclusions about the read-through rates of our e-newsletters. We will also be able to determine whether our e-newsletters are bouncing or being marked as spam, and we can cater our mailing list and ensure the ease of unsubscribing to reduce being identified as spam. If we were to continue to produce this e-newsletter in association with the other elements of the Book of MPub, we considered that it would be beneficial to investigate how listeners are accessing our podcast by landing on the Book of MPub WordPress page through routes other than what we can directly identify through the e-newsletter. In order to determine whether users are discovering our podcast through links shared via Facebook, Twitter, email and other social media, we explored alternative tracking tools that could be implemented through Google Analytics or tracking programs like GetSocial, rather than attaching a UTM tag to our URL.
Inspired by the SFU logo, we created a logo and banner for our podcast:
Our curated content will be divided into the following sections:
“episode ______”: A summary of the most recent/upcoming podcast episode
“on the shelf”: Industry and MPub cohort news
“slush pile”: Content related to the topic discussed on the podcast, but less industry specific.
We will build an audience for the e-newsletter through the podcast and the MPub twitter. Each episode of the podcast will include a call-to-action to subscribe, which can be done using the web form found on the Journal of MPub website. Initially, we tried to work with Team Build-It to install a webform that would be at the top-right-hand-side of the Journal of MPub website, that would open into another window with this image:
However, for the scope of this project, we were not able to attain this. We used a Mad Mimi Widget to put a Subscribe bar on the sidebar on pages that have content, but unfortunately the WordPress Theme does not allow for this widget to appear on the home page or the main podcast page. A place to subscribe also occurs in the foot banner at the bottom of every page on the Journal of MPub WordPress site, including the home page.
If we had had more time, we would have liked to work more with Team Build-It on getting our ideal subscribe button on the home page.
Podcast best practices: https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc2b3780e76
RSS on a WordPress site info: https://en.support.wordpress.com/audio/podcasting/
Super simple podcasting WordPress site plugin https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/seriously-simple-podcasting/
Episode 1: Where My Gays At?
Welcome to Project: Room, our biweekly podcast brought to you by the Book of MPub, a curated collection of publishing-related topics ranging from today’s trends, controversies, and other stuff worth talking about. The Book of MPub grew out of Simon Fraser University’s Master of Publishing program. In an effort to share our work with the rest of the publishing world, as well as readers and authors, we sought to create a way to share our labours, and here we are. We love talking about books, obviously, and so do, we think, a lot of other people. Not only will we share what we know and read, but we want to know what you read, and what everyone else reads.
In our first episode, Sarah discusses LGBTQ+ literature, or lack thereof. With guest Zoë Tustin, we look at the history of Queer Lit, the word ‘queer,’ and where LGBTQ+ lit stands today.
First, we want to let you guys know more about the upcoming LGBT Literary Awards. These annual awards from New York-based Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing have just released the finalists for their Publishing Triangle and the Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards.
Two finalists are Canadian ladies. Carellin Brooks is from Vancouver and up for an award for her novel One Hundred Days of Rain and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is from Toronto. She’s up for two awards, one for her memoir Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, published by our friends at Arsenal Pulp Press, and the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry for Bodymap. Canada has it’s own award too, the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers.
Zoë’s essay “Romeo and Julian: The Necessity of LGBT+ Literature” can be found here.
We would really, really like to hear from you. Please tweet us at @BookofMPub with your thoughts on LGBTQ+ lit, Zoë’s essay, publishing in general, or just what you’re reading.
Please visit us at bookofmpub.com/podcast for a full list of our fortnightly podcasts.
Check back in two weeks for our second episode. We’ll be meeting with David Ly to discuss the #instapoetry movement on Instagram, and how to SEO hashtag your posts.
Episode 2: Poetry Ain’t Dead (Online)
Welcome to the Project: Room, brought to you by the Book of MPub, a curated collection of publishing-related topics ranging from today’s trends, controversies, and other stuff worth talking about. We talk about life, love, and literature, because we love books, and know you do too.
Last week, we chatted with Zoë about LGBTQ+ lit. Today we’ll be talking to David about Instagram poetry, known in the social world as #instapoetry. We know about Twitter mini-stories and YouTube performance videos. This just happens to be the latest installment in the social world’s literary revolution. It also happens to work as the perfect free outlet for poets to get their work published.
David, an Instapoet himself, just wrote an essay on the recent phenomenon. The paper discusses how poetry, that publishers generally considered difficult to market, is taking off on without their aid. Poets, or Instapoets, have created a space for themselves where they can share (often times short) poetry without a publisher behind them.
But before I start chatting with David, here’s a bit of industry news on #instapoetry.
Has Instagram poetry gone mainstream already? Instapoets are using celebrity quotes and content as their instapoetry. The most popular example might be the instapoets turning Leonardo DiCaprio’s Instagram account into instapoetry of their own.
A recent Guardian article credits instapoetry to the evolution of social media. The phenomenon is not new; it was previously used on Tumblr and Pinterest. Is Instagram the publishing platform of millennials? We’re seeing more and more activism through Instagram and Instagram poetry. Thankfully we have David here right now to talk a bit more about it.
- What are your thoughts in general as to why poetry is popular online?
- Why specifically Instagram?
- How are some instapoets becoming so popular (reference big names like Tyler Knott with 280,000 followers)
- What are the reactions from the publishing industry?
After our last episode, @monnibo tweeted:
“@BookofMPub it’s great to hear up and coming publishers talking about representation in the industry on #ProjectRoom #diversity #LGBTQlit #queerlit”
Thanks monnibo for listening and sharing your thoughts with us. We really want to hear from you, so please don’t be shy.
Also please visit us at bookofmpub.com/podcast for a full list of our fortnightly podcasts. Subscribe, write us, comment, whatever. We’ll get back to you, or you can shout at us over the wall.
Thanks for listening and please check in two weeks for the next podcast. We’ll be meeting with Hannah McGregor from “Witch, Please,” discussing her Harry Potter podcast and the J.K. Rowling scandal surrounding Pottermore.