Lately, I’ve been playing with Ustream, a live, internet broadcasting medium that allows me to speak and interact with viewers from around the world via my MacBook’s built-in webcam.
My loose, free-form program is called “Friendly Fire,” and viewers watch live and communicate with me by a built-in chat room, email, Twitter, Facebook, messenger client and Skype, and I can directly address their questions and comments as I broadcast.
After I’m done broadcasting, I can choose to have the episode available online for future viewing, and all of this is at no charge.
Right now, I’m still ironing out my program’s format. It’s not quite “ready for prime time,” so when I do broadcast, I only announce that I’m going to do so about 15 minutes ahead of time. This allows me to make my mistakes in front of a minimum number of people while I get comfortable with the medium.
Why am I telling you this? It’s because I think that Ustream would be an “idiot proof” way for authors to communicate with their audiences. Think about it: you can get your book to classrooms, reading circles and more, and you can Ustream yourself in for discussions and readings. Afterwards, you can archive the entire thing online for other readers, and also use it to promote future events, like live appearances. You can also download your own Ustream videos for editing and upload via a third party, like YouTube.
There are some drawbacks to Ustream: by using Ustream, you grant the company a permanent, royalty-free license to broadcast your work or create derivative material based on it. Also, be aware that you’re “live,” so you have to be extremely careful about what you say and the image you’re presenting.
That being said, if you’re looking for a no-frills and easy way to start broadcasting, Ustream may be exactly what you’re looking for. Give it a try today.
Matt Staggs is a literary publicist and the proprietor of Deep Eight LLC, a boutique publicity agency utilizing the best publicity practices from the worlds of traditional media and evolving social technologies. He has worked in the fields of public relations and journalism for almost a decade. In addition to his work as a publicist, Matt is a book reviewer and writer whose work appears in both print and web publications.