Thursday, July 07, 2011

An Open Letter to Podcasters II: Convention Coverage

I initially wrote this last year just after the convention season wrapped up, around the same time that I wrote my first Open Letter to Podcasters. I never posted it because I felt it was possibly too much of a rant, but with convention season ramping up again, I find myself once again becoming annoyed by the level of convention coverage, so I feel this is worth posting.

Just say "no" to convention coverage on your podcast.

Seriously, the amount of convention coverage on gaming podcasts is getting out of hand. It's gotten to the point where some podcasts will have extensive pre-coverage, coverage and post-coverage of the same convention. Since I listen to more than one gaming podcast, it often starts to all sound the same. Some gamers have poor hygiene habits at conventions, I get it. I don't need to hear about it every time a convention is coming up. If you really care about an issue like this, then write up an article on your show's website, mention the article when convention season comes around, and leave it at that.

Pre-convention coverage: this should consist of a blurb that lasts no more than a minute or two. This is especially true if you are starting this coverage early enough for it actually to matter to people who have to plan ahead (which is usually at least three months prior to an event).

Don't interview the convention organizer! It's very tempting to do so, but if you've heard one interview with a convention organizer you've heard them all. I don't care if they're running Gen Con or the mini-con at the FLGS, 90% of the interview will be identical, and the 10% that is different isn't worth slogging through the other 90%.

Instead, do an ad with the convention organizer that outlines the major draws of the con and mention a website where more info can be found. Keep it under a minute or two.

If your podcast is actually running events at a convention, then go ahead and discuss it some, but don't forget that you can always say "go to our website for more information."

Convention coverage: Do not go through a list of the games you played or the events you attended. I don't want to come off as too harsh, but even the people who actually care don't really care that much. Write it up on your blog, but keep it off the air. Do put interviews with convention guests and other persons of interest. Also, cover any news that was released, but do it briefly. If it was a major con, then that news was released to the internet at the same time you heard about it at the con so many of your listeners already know about it.

This is especially true about news from Gen Con. People that really care about news from there are going to be listening to the This Just In From Gen Con podcast. If you must present your own news, listen to that podcast first, and makes sure you aren't just repeating what they already said. If you don't want to spend time listening to that podcast, then ask yourself why your listeners would possibly want to listen to you do the same thing?

Post-Convention coverage: This should be non-existent. The only reason I should be hearing about a convention after you've done your convention coverage is because you got a lot of interviews and so there was more material than you could cram into your one convention coverage episode.

This advice applies to all conventions, but doubly so to Gen Con. At this point pretty much everyone that podcasts goes to Gen Con. I get it, it's a big deal, but it's gotten to the point where I may just stop listening to podcasts when Gen Con rolls around, because it's the same crap I've listened to over and over again since I've been listening to podcasts!

In this case I really do mean crap. Entire episodes dedicated to "how to attend Gen Con" that cover the exact same advice repeated every year. If you have to do it, do it once, then tell your listeners to go back and listen to that episode if they're planning on going to Gen Con and have never been before.

I'm not exaggerating here, the only podcasts I listen to that don't discuss Gen Con are ones from overseas, and even they usually feel compelled to mention it. It really gets annoying. Unless you live in Indianapolis, your Gen Con coverage should be limited to the advice I gave above for general convention coverage. Even then, the coverage could stand to be toned down a bit.

Of course, this doesn't apply if the only thing your podcast does is cover Gen Con, but This Just In From Gen Con has that covered.

So, think twice about giving a lot of time to convention coverage on your podcast, particularly if you've given coverage of the same convention in the past. At the least, consider making it a smaller segment of your cast.


BlackDiamond said...

Any updated suggestions for your top gaming podcasts? I'll finally have the ability to listen to them in my car soon.

Fulminata said...

I should have one up in the next few days.

librarian said...

I'm with Gary, would love podcast recommendations (because the 20 hours of Science Friday I have waiting for me needs to be pushed back even more...)

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