Gabby Giffords’ first podcast has been released. To my knowledge it is the first podcast of Arizona’s CD 8 campaign.

There are some issues with the content of the podcast, but I have to give her campaign props for proper distribution. The podcast is available at iTunes, which will certainly increase the discoverability of the piece.


Unfortunately, Gabby’s people didn’t include an album graphic of Gabby’s adorable mug with the submission- a missed opportunity – nor did they give the podcast a proper description. It ended up with the default description of a wordpress page, "Just another WordPress weblog." Not the best presentation.
They were very hit and miss with listing on the other major podcast discovery sites.

There are also some issues with the content itself. The biggest miss is that the entire podcast is just Gabby speaking – unremittingly. I have to tell you, no matter how good a speaker is, simply talking for six minutes is REALLY boring. Far better if the podcast had featured some others speaking testimonials, endorsements, the back and forth of an interview, or even some choice audio of her opponents saying naughty things she could respond to.

Another big miss is Iraq; Gabby doesn’t mention the Iraq war even once. Being as this is the most important issue to Democratic primary voters, it seems like a huge oversight, and one wonders who this podcast is aimed at.

If you only listen to this podcast, Gabby seems to be running against Congress, not any primary opponents or any Republcans. That could be taking a laudible high road, but people vote for options; there is not a ‘stupid Congress’ line on the ballot, and Gabby’s presentation doesn’t argue why she would be better than any other candidate, just that she’s better than the status quo ante.

Gabby repeatedly addresses campaign volunteers and existing supporters and thanks them for their efforts. That is a wonderful thing to do, but in a media piece meant for general circulation, it seems condescending to include the listener in a group of which they aren’t neccessarily a member. I suspect that Gabby and her team view this podcast somewhat like a voicemail blast to supporters, not as a chance to reach and convert new voters. When you put something on the internet, it is no longer an internal campaign communication. Don’t treat it like one.

Finally, there are things that spoken communication are good at – conveying emotion and convinction, suggesting character, telling a story – and there are things it is bad at – detailed and concise information, lists, numbers. A podcast is not the best place to give address or phone number info for your campaign. Have a memorable URL and give it, not, as Gabby does, the address and phone number of your campaign.

Tell stories. Gabby missed the opportunity to introduce herself with her personal story.

Show character with contrasts. What do Gabby’s opponents believe that she does not, of the other way round?

Show emotion and conviction with the voice. Gabby has her verbal clothes on and they are buttoned up all the way. At no time does her voice sing with what is true and dear to her heart.

I congratulate the Giffords campaign on their first podcast; they pioneered some technological territory with basic competence, but the result was less than compelling, and failed to accomplish what it was possible to achieve.

Another 6 minutes of droning politician won’t move numbers, nor generate much buzz beyond the obligatory "gee-whiz, a candidate did a podcast. Ain’t that cute" sort of coverage. If you want to really score in this new media, use it for the right reasons, know what you are trying to accomplish, and include in it reasons for people to vote, and to vote specifically for your candidate.

Keeping in mind that podcasting is nothing but recorded radio you have search for and have thousands of dollars of equipment to play, if you want to make a splash, you have to do a lot better than this.