I like podcasts. I like the way you can listen to them, often absent-mindedly, staring into the distance, instead of actually concentrating on anything. I like the way you can listen to them wherever you are on – on the tube, in the car, in the bath – without necessarily having access to the web because they've already been downloaded. But most of all I like the way you get to know the podcasters. Text is terrible for personality; audio is much better. Audio/video is probably best – actually, in person is best – but audio's good. If you like listening to your radio, you'll like podcasts. I like social media and business podcasts, and I really like Evan Davis's The Bottom Line podcast. Evan doesn't lack personality and it comes across well. You can often hear him having a little giggle in the background. In particular, you can hear him giggle in the latest podcast, which talks about PR. The typical format for The Bottom Line is that they get in three experts, and this week they have Julia Hobsbawm (Chief Executive of Editorial Intelligence), Tim Bell (Chairman of Chime Communications) and Robert Phillips (Chief Executive of Edelman UK). You can find out more about them, with links, at The Bottom Line webpage. Together, they discuss PR. It's fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. Fascinating because it's interesting to hear their takes on the subject, and frustrating because a lot of what I heard was quite, well, bollocksy. I have a real problem with the way PR presents itself. PR people seem to have difficulty getting across exactly what it is they do without lapsing into mention of engagement, dialogue, leveraging and so on. Evan Davis expresses this frustration himself. Tim Bell offered the classical definition of third-party endorsement and didn't seem to want to budge from that even though social media is turning things on their head. Robert Phillips was keen to talk about how great Edelman were. And Julia Hobsbawn seemed surprised to be on the show at all given she isn't in PR any more, and I got the distinct impression she wasn't in PR for the same reasons I get frustrated with it. On a few occasions they were both nicely wound up by Tim Bell who seems to enjoy playing devil's advocate. I guess it helps when you have the urbane demeanour of a Lord. For me the most interesting part was their discussion about Toyota, how they'd done everything wrong and they're in deep doo-doo. But I won't be prescriptive: listen to it yourself and make your own mind up. I might even send this link to my parents who still don't quite get what it is I do. Maybe I can't explain myself either. Btw, I'm hoping my posts are getting a bit better. I've got the hang of links and I even ventured to put a picture in this time, and some tags. I'm still sticking with Posterous and finding that GMail's interface is quite limited. Maybe that's the point?