Using Podcasts During Emergencies: Exploring the Benefits of AI

In this article, I’ll be looking at the use of podcasts during emergencies and how artificial intelligence is reshaping this niche application.

Using Podcasts During Emergencies: Exploring the Benefits of AI

Dear reader,

You might be aware that I once hosted a highly successful weekly podcast called Wag The Dog FM, where I discussed various topics related to Public Relations.

It was a reaction to the void I saw in Europe; most PR podcasts were very much USA- and UK-focused.

This experience of recording, producing, and publishing a podcast was not new. Together with an IBM colleague, I recorded my first podcast sometime in 2006; an interview with Prof. Anne Gregory on the topic of ethics in PR.

Listen below if you want to hear a piece of PR history 😅 (If you’re reading this via email, please check out this link)

Already at the time, I was fascinated by using podcasts not only for internal communication but also for crisis communication.

In this article, I’ll be looking at the use of podcasts during emergencies and how artificial intelligence is reshaping this niche application.

Podcasts and crisis communication: the audio format benefits.

The audio format offers some unique advantages for staying informed during an emergency. Here's why podcasts are worth considering for crisis communication:

  • Convenience is key during a crisis. With podcasts, you can tune in on any device, whenever and wherever. It's much easier to stay up-to-date on the go.

  • Podcasts are easily accessible; you can listen to them while driving, exercising, or multitasking without missing a thing. You don't have to interrupt your routine to get up-to-date information.

  • Real-time information is so important when things change quickly. Podcasts deliver the latest news as it unfolds.

  • Crises can have a profound impact on our emotions. Podcasts can offer much-needed reassurance and empathy, thanks to the human voice*.

  • Podcasts are also suitable for people with visual impairments or those who simply want to listen to audio. No one is left out of the conversation.

  • Emergency situations can lead to a lot of overwhelming information. Podcasts summarise the most important information in a concentrated, manageable form.

  • Podcasts are inexpensive and can be produced quickly.

When COVID -19 emerged, Johns Hopkins' Public Health On Call podcast quickly engaged experts to share their insights, with the first episodes reaching tens of thousands. A dedicated team produced interviews with public officials, doctors, patients and others. By the end of 2022, episodes had been downloaded over 9.6 million times. This accessible, timely platform enabled direct public engagement and demonstrated how science can quickly develop new media channels in times of public health crisis.

Exploring the Benefits of AI

I remember back when I published a Wag The Dog FM episode every week, I was proud of the fact that I had set the whole workflow to a maximum of 2 hours of work.

I was already using automation technology, a little outsourcing and small tweaks to the workflow made a big difference.

But now that artificial intelligence has become very good at text-to-speech, it's even easier to create a professional sounding podcast.

I prefer to start with text. A written draft can easily be corrected, commented on, signed off, and then considered final. Then it's a piece of cake to turn, say, a Word document into a fully-fledged podcast.

In recent weeks, I have tested two platforms that do just that: they take your text and turn it into a professional-sounding podcast. Here is a quick overview of my experience.

Podpilot

The first tool I tested is called Podpilot, and it is, honestly, a bit scary how it goes from a simple URL to a fully fledged podcast.

The system researches your online brand and reads the article you’ve written. Then the AI goes to work and creates a podcast from the specific URL provided (in my case, a blog post).

I had the choice to pick the “host” voice and the “guest” voice for this podcast, and then it generated a full episode.

You can listen to it here. (If you’re reading this via email, please check out this link)

While the “guest” voice in my example doesn’t really sound as natural as I would like, the host, the intro and outro, and the overall “comprehension” of my blog post content are simply amazing.

Podpilot is in the launch phase, so its full functionality is not known yet. However, I’ll be following their development.

Wondercraft AI

The second tool, Wondercraft AI, while in the same vein, gives you more control over the text-to-voice process. It also starts with your written content but then allows you to adapt the output to your needs.

Here’s an overview of the features:

  • AI Voices: Converting text to audio is a breeze with our hyperrealistic AI voices. Want a bespoke feel? Simply clone your own voice.

  • Hosting: Publish directly to Spotify, Apple, and beyond, with no extra cost for separate hosting.

  • Script generation: Supply your ideas and watch our custom language models effortlessly draft your podcast script, including a captivating intro and outro.

  • Show Notes: Securing timestamped segments and a complete transcript of your episode is as straightforward as a click, providing a potential boost for your SEO.

  • Video content: Generate short clips from self-contained podcast segments with the click of a button. Produce a branded video of the episode for a YouTube-ready version.

And this is very interesting, as I have an international audience and really want to be inclusive;

  • Translation: Did you generate the episode in one language? Effortlessly obtain a copy in another language of your choice. 28 languages are currently available.

So I put Wondercraft to the test, first here, and now again by uploading the email interview I did with their founder, Dimitris Nicolaou.

The voice of the host, Anna, is AI-generated and completely virtual. Dimitris’ voice is a cloned version of his real voice (for which he gave me permission to use it here for the exercise, of course 😅).

Have a listen. (If you’re reading this via email - check this link)

In short, I am amazed and excited by the potential of using AI for podcasting! So much that I am now planning to have audio versions of my newsletter articles, so I can revive my old Wag The Dog FM podcast.

I have said it many times, and I will say it again:

The single non-renewable resource we always lack in emergencies or crisis situations is time. 

If AI tools can help me create and distribute content quickly (but correctly), I will definitely use them.

I firmly believe in the power of audio, especially during emergencies, and that is why I think tools like the ones mentioned above make absolute sense in a “response workflow”.

Add to that the possibility of instant translation and control over the final output, and the combination of podcasting and AI for crisis communication makes perfect sense.

What do you think? Let me know. Either comment on the article or send me a reply to this email.

PS: Because of the quality of the AI-generated audio files, I decided to go with Wondercaft AI for all my “blog post to podcast” needs and completely revive the Wag The Dog FM podcast with these audio versions. If you’re more of an audio person, or just curious about how my articles sound, check out the podcast series here on Spotify.

Crisis Related Podcast Links:

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