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The following is the second executive summary for the Dissertation FM blog, which is documenting the development and progress of Podcasting History: A study in Informational Podcast Engagement. In this summary, we shall be reviewing the progress and development of our project over the past four months, from the initial concept ideas and project proposal that was worked on up until christmas, to the development and completion of our project goals. In this summary, we shall refer back to previous posts, all of which should be hyperlinked within this summary, and should be categorized and contain each the relevant links and resources I’ve used in the development of our project so far. This executive summary should act as an overview of the blog from the dates 01/01/15 until 27/04/25 and cover the most important moments of the development and carrying out of the project.
For this fourth year project were we given an “opportunity to design and undertake a sustained theoretical and creative exploration of a specialist subject area” (Abertay Handbook 2014), that could involve almost any subject area we were willing to research and immerse ourselves within. In this study, our intention was to ask and answer the question:
What writing, structure and editing techniques create the most effective, immersive and retentive listening experience for informational podcasts?
The project was structured as such: using three separate but identical channels, each hosting subtle but distinct variations a podcast episode, we would then measure which episode and channel was most successful, and why through the study of analytics, retention rates and audience feedback via surveys. The full summary of the development of the project up until the submission of the research proposal can be found in the first executive summary here. It is highly recommended to read/familiarize with this summary first to better gain an insight into how the project arrived at the point that this summary begins. The project after Christmas started well, with an original plan set out for three episodes and three variations, as laid out in Research Proposal. As set out in our methodology document, there were to be three episodes, each with three variations-
1. Massacre of Glencoe, an episode dealing with the massacre, why it happened and who it involved
2. Life at sea, an episode all about life on board ships in the 17th century, the work required and the feeling of being in a battle
3. Iollaire- a look at the sinking of the Iollaire in 1918 and it’s effect on local community in the Western Isles.
However, initial scripting and researching for the first episode took much longer than expected, with writing and sourcing all the facts taking almost a full month before any recording could begin. Much like in the research stages of development, it looked as if the project was stalling under the weight of work out with the study itself.
At the same time, effort was made to identify skill gaps. For the project to follow the plan set out the methodology document, to release variations of the same episode over three channels and measure the responses to each, several aspects needed to be developed to create a successful, professional channel. The following skills had to be developed-
- Marketing & Branding– the channel had to have a consistent brand and design to make it recognizable and professional. To do this, we studied marketing and managing resources such as How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World and The Art of Social Media. We also settled on a name- Seanachas, which we detail in the Branding document.
- Editing– until this point, my only experience with editing had been in Sony Vegas programmes, and only in an amateur enthusiast role. I had to learn and develop the skills to use Adobe Premiere, a piece of more powerful editing software but very different from anything I had ever used in the past.
- Coding- The Project required the development and creation of a website to host content as well as collect surveys and feedback on each episode. having no prior experience with code, I would be required to build a website and learn how to put together a functioning website.
In February our work paid off, and tests and practice in Adobe Premiere got me accustomed to the kind of workflow that would be required for producing full episodes, however it was becoming clear the Glencoe episode would not work. As laid out in an earlier post, on average each minute of video to edit and produce took roughly seven hours, a time that did not include researching, scripting, writing, recording, audio editing, variation editing or asset creation. It was obvious that the original episodes would run in the 40 minute mark each, something we simply did not have the time or resources to produce in the timeframe set out for us. It was then decided, despite the Glencoe episode being almost 50% completed, to ditch it and the other promoted two episodes in favour of three shorter, ‘catchier’ and more easily scripted episodes. It was not an easy decision considering the months of work, however as discussed at the time, recognizing an aspect that was holding development back was the only option, and one that I’ve learnt from this project in the past. The three new videos would now be:
The First Smoking Ban in history
Common Phrases and their Nautical Origins
The Battle of Stirling Bridge and Andrew De Moray
With the three new episodes in full development, attention turned to website creation. The website was completed just in time for the second episode, but did not hamper the release of the first episode and laying out the initial analytics and feedback being measured each episode. We learnt quickly that reddit was a powerful tool for collecting views, and that reason, alongside our completion of our website (which is no longer online), we put together a subreddit for our channel after having spent several weeks coding it with a unique appearance.
Towards the end of march, the last episode and it’s variations was released. This now left us time to collect and analysis the data for all nine episode and try to collect it into a cohesive document. Eventually all the data was collection came to an end when our main channel was hit with a copyright block, temporarily blocking the channel. Because it was the main “root” channel, it meant all three Seanachas channels were also blocked. For the purposes of the blog, these were reuploaded to a new channel, again called Seanachas. It did however mean our views were cut off at a definable point, giving us a better field to study in our results. The final results and conclusions were drawn up here, to then be published in our final dissertation.
In conclusion, our project has developed successfully. Much like the development stage, It was plagued at first by my own indecisiveness, but this time I had developed the skills necessary to recognise when to cut parts of the projects that were failing. The data gathering has been an immense success, with far more views and interactions from our audience than I ever expected, and the skills gaps identified in areas of coding, branding and editing were overcome with the development of our website, logo and channel identity and creation of videos. Our next and final task is to complete the dissertations conclusion and outcome that can hopefully compliment the portfolio, blog and this summary as a definable and completed study of Informational Podcasts.