Have you considered using Amazon Flash Briefings as a way to engage with new audiences? I have been including Flash Briefings in the workshops I deliver to communications professionals and have mentioned them to business contacts and clients. However organisations seem to be slow to adopt the platform.
I thought I would therefore reach out to some friends and people in my network who are using Flash Briefings as part of their digital content plan to help inspire you to consider how you can integrate them into your campaigns.
First in this short series is my friend and mobile journalist, Len Clark, who who publishes a daily briefing called Irish 101. Learn more about his workflow below.
Irish 101 is a daily podcast dedicated to the coverage of University of Notre Dame Athletics. Notre Dame is located in South Bend, Indiana, and is known for its American football team. The podcast is an extension of Len’s work covering Notre Dame Athletics for Irish 101, Irish Illustrated, and Fan Media.
Len had been aware of the Amazon Echo smart speaker since its inception in 2014. As he is from a radio background, Len was intrigued and followed its progress on various trade web sites.
It wasn’t until he attended the RAIN Podcasting Summit in Chicago in March of 2017 when he realised the power of the smart speaker. Len left the Summit and walked across the street to an Office Depot and bought an Amazon Echo.
He told me “What sold me at the RAIN Summit was a conversation I had with a German broadcaster who was developing a skill that allowed a person to select soccer teams they were interest in, as well as the team they wanted to hear the live stream. His goal was to allow someone to listen live, but if a goal was scored in another game they were interested in, the stream would switch and play an audio highlight of the goal, before going back to the live stream”.
Len lives in the Chicago area and Amazon occasionally delivers free workshops in the city on writing a skill for the Echo. A workshop was planned just a few weeks after the Rain Summit.
He then followed tutorials on the Amazon Developer site and created his first Flash Briefing and also created a Notre Dame Football Facts skill.
Len publishes two flash briefings for Irish 101. The one he created, and one through the Anchor platform.
I know one of the challenges that many people have is how to record and edit audio content for Flash Briefings, so I asked Len what his content workflow consisted of.
Len comments “I try to do everything using the smartphone using the Ferrite audio app, but will also use my Mac laptop and Adobe Audition. I have been using the laptop more often as it is easier to post my content including purposing to Patreon and sending it to my audio hosting sites. I also convert audio to a Headliner video on the laptop.”
As Len is his own produce, he does not need to get approval of the content he posts. He gathers content much like a reporter on a ‘regular beat’. Since he has a relationship with Irish Illustrated to provide multimedia content, he talks with their staff members on a regular basis to make sure content is timely and factual.
One of the challenges many people have with their Flash Briefings is how to attract more listeners. Len comments:
“I post audio content on a number of Notre Dame related social media sites, in addition to the Irish Illustrated YouTube page. As I have taught multimedia journalism at Notre Dame, I am always experimenting with technology and ways to promote content.
I am interested in crowdfunding as a way to promote and generate revenue to help support the venture. I have a couple of supporters on Patreon and I recently finished a campaign on Anchor using ad-insertion. This is helping me better understand a revenue model.”.
Len also hosts Facebook Live broadcasts before Note Dame Football games as a way to help promote Irish 101 and to create social media content. He uploads his videos of the Flash Briefings and links to the Anchor podcast.
As Flash Briefings need to have an RSS feed – Len uses Podbean to publish his daily content.
Before you start your own Flash Briefing I always recommend that you do some research. Len likes to create and test content and approaches to find what works for his content. He also has found it of benefit attending RAIN Summit’s, Amazon Workshops, and talking with Anchor and companies specialising in creating skills for the radio industry.
Len has been an easly creator using Flash Briefings, so I wondered what if anything he would do differently if he were to start a Flash Briefing today? He commented “I would like to make it an interactive skill. For example, it would expand the daily podcast and allow someone to ask about the local weather or what is on the Athletic Schedule today. Flash Briefings are great for information, but I think they can get boring. We need to be interactive and engage listeners”.
Len remarked that his biggest challenge has been getting and keeping up to speed on creating skills – he comments that devoting time and effort is the best way to overcome this to keep up to date with events and news about voice platforms.
Len comes from a public radio background and defines success for his Flash briefing as making a difference to one person. “It’s like having a jazz radio format – it is not going to get a huge audience, but the one’s who listen appreciate the content” said Len.
I asked Len for three tips for someone creating a Flash Briefing for the first time and he offers:
1. Be consistent – provide content on a regular basis
2. Quality – adhere to the best production values
3. Experiment – Find out what can’t you do with the smart speaker.
Len is excited about the future of voice and comments “The smart speaker has brought radio back into the lIving room in the U.S.”
He is interested in exploring what can do we to take Flash Briefings to the next level. As many communities in the US do not have a local radio station, he is currently exploring a collaboration with a radio executive about how to create a local “radio station” and use the smart speaker as the platform. Potential community advertisers would be able to sign a yearly advertising contract in exchange for receiving a smart speaker. The goal would be to create a community, while supporting the community.
Len is also interested in how the smart speaker could be used as a production device.
I hope you have found this a useful insight into Len’s approach to use Flash Briefings to share news about the University of Notre Dame athletics schedule.
Follow Len on Twitter here.
For more information on the latest voice, smart speaker and podcast news listen to my twice monhtly Smart Speakers podcast.
You can schedule a time to ask me your Flash Briefing and podcasting questions here. And watch out for the next case study in my Inside Voice series, bringing you case studies and a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the world of creating, publishing and marketing Flash Briefings and podcasts.