Writing and discoverability advice for MediaPub

The podcasting site and Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes U) have over 6000+ items spread over 500+ individual series. This means that viewers have an abundance of choice over what they can watch, listen to and learn from. With all of this content competing for attention, it is important that potential viewers can find the content they are interested in with as little hassle as possible. It is also important that the language used to describe each talk is of the highest standard as befits scholarly presentations of this order.

The following are some general points and tips to remember when adding a new episode or a new series to the podcasting site. We break these into two components, which slightly overlap: Writing Tips and Discoverability Recommendations.

We believe that following the recommendations in this guide is also the key to promoting the talks within your series, and ensuring it reaches the widest audience possible. The number of downloads and streams your series generates on Apple Podcasts is available on your series page on MediaPub. Guidance on how to access the Apple Podcasts series statistics

Writing Tips

The following are recommendations for writing descriptions in the episode and series description fields:

  • Always include a full stop at the end of the final sentence in the description.
  • Include one space only between sentences. Like this. And this.
  • Do not include spacing between punctuation and letters.
    • Good: like this, and definitely like this!
    • Bad : not like this , and especially not like this !
  • Use a double-dash when using the "em dash", separated with spaces on both sides.
    • Good: The errors -- all 25 of them -- were recorded vigilantly.
    • Bad: The errors- all 25 of them--were recorded vigilantly.
  • Include full stops after abbreviations, such as Dr., Mr., Prof., etc., Wed., viz., Dec., etc.
  • Include proper punctuation when using "e.g." and "i.e.", and follow these by a comma.
    • Good: Some flowers (e.g., roses) are dangerous (i.e., they have thorns).
    • Bad: Some flowers (eg. roses) are dangerous (i.e, they have thorns).
  • Avoid using contractions, when possible.
    • doesn't (does not), couldn't (could not), should've (should have), hasn't (has not)
  • Avoid the future tense.
    • Good: "Dr. Smith discusses the inflation rate in..."
    • Bad: "Dr. Smith will discuss the inflation rate in..."
  • Enclose the names of episodes, series, and any other titles (e.g., the title of a book) in quotation marks.
    • In his book "The God Delusion", Professor Dawkins discusses...
  • When writing the description within the description field, break it up into paragraphs.
    • This can be done by pressing <return> (i.e., a carriage return) at the end the last sentence before the new paragraph.
    • Providing a line-space is considered best practice. Currently, this will not show up on the MediaPub display, but it will on Podcasts.ox and Apple Podcasts. So it is important!
  • "Place punctuation," Pete said, "inside the quotation marks, if attributing direct speech to someone." However, leave it outside when referencing a title of an episode, series, or of some known entity, such as the book "Dialectic of Enlightenment", as I have done here.

Discoverability Recommendations

Additionally, the metadata you assign your series and episodes is a great way of making it easy for viewers to find your content, and to contextualise what the content is about. That is, this section is about marketing each series and episode for a global audience, and marketing it in ways that maximise the likelihood that our content reaches those with pertinent interests. Cataloguing the material for a wider audience ensures that the material will be found in common searches within Google and iTunes and will ensure that the talk has the widest possible impact.

The following are recommendations on writing good metadata to maximise series and episode discovery:

  • Series titles
    • The series title is very important.
    • Choose a title that is short and informative. The title should inform viewer exactly what they will get when subscribing to the series.
    • Examples of good series titles:
      • "Building a Business"
      • "Approaching Shakespeare"
    • The subject area(s) discussed in the series should be obvious from the series title.
  • Episode titles
    • A self-explanatory title of the episode is really important.
    • Avoid long titles for episodes/series. iTunesU displays only the first few words in overview menus.
    • Provide the key topic words in the title as early as possible:
      • Good: "Theories of Medical Depression"
      • Bad: "Understanding the Theoretical Models of Medical Depression".
    • Example of good episode titles:
      • "Why Study Dickens?"
      • "Love and Sex in Victorian Fiction"
      • "Big Data and Drug Discovery"
  • Avoid overly technical jargon and always unpack uncommon acronyms.
    • Do not assume even educated audiences understand complex technical jargon. They are viewing the episode because they want to learn.
  • If using an acronym, unpack it in a parenthetical in its first use.
    • "The BTA (British Transport Police) issued a statement on the strike."
  • Write short descriptions with precision.
    • Be as clear as possible about the content you are describing.
    • Think about the themes, context, any social or political issues the content touches upon that are relevant for an educated global audience.
    • Make the description interesting and include related keywords people might search for in Google.
    • Avoid generic descriptions that prevent viewers from understanding what the talk concentrates on.
    • Avoid funding information, information about the room it was recorded in, event dates, and departmental information. If necessary, this information can go in the long description.
  • Do not repeat the text in the short description again in the long description.
    • The long description is there to complement the short description.
    • That is, the long description is there to provide more information above and beyond that provided in the short description.
    • If necessary, edit the short and long description so that the long complements the short.
  • Catalog for a future global audience.
    • Always delete "trivial" local facing material, or subtext about the talk itself.
    • For instance, do NOT include the following:
      • "Dr. Smith thanks the chair for his help."
      • "This talk was organised by Ben Stone of the Department of Education."
    • Try to make the cataloguing relevant to an audience outside of Oxford and indeed the UK.
  • Keywords
    • Keywords are a great way to list the themes discussed in the content.
    • Keywords are searchable, and listed as links, on the podcasting site.
    • Clicking on one keyword leads a user to see similar/related content that shares the keyword.
    • for a future global audience.
    • We suggest providing at least four (4) unique keywords with every episode.
    • Examples of good keywords:
      • Shakespeare, Macbeth, tragedy, drama, playwright, drama, stage
    • Do not use the following words as keywords:
      • speaker name (these are provided by a separate taxonomy field)
      • University of Oxford
      • Oxford
      • podcast
    • User lowercase letters for keywords, unless a proper name.
  • Album covers
    • The first thing viewers will notice about your series is the album cover.
    • A good album cover serves as a visual metaphor for your series. It should draw people in.
    • A poor album cover does not illustrate the content of the series.
    • When designing an album cover, think about how you want viewers to see your content.
    • The default podcast album cover, an image of the Radcliffe Camera, should be considered a temporary image until you provide/design a more unique album cover. 


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