Transcripts and Closed Captioning

Transcripts and closed captioning are similar, yet they each have their own applications. There are actually three types of textual content to consider when creating a podcast episode, show notes / episode description (blog post content), transcripts and closed captioning.

The most important of these is your show notes. Please see show notes to learn more. Comprehensive show notes are important for both Web consumption and search engine optimization (SEO).

Podcast Episode Transcripts

Creating transcriptions of your episodes is time consuming and transcription services are not cheap. It is important to understand that transcribing your content is not as beneficial as writing descriptive show notes.

There is evidence that adding a transcript to a podcast can boost Web traffic, but not as effectively as well written show notes. Some transcripts can actually harm your search engine optimization when they include repeated content (intro and outro), unscripted banter or even the natural “ahhs and umms.”

If you still want include a transcript of your episodes, we recommend putting the transcriptions into digital form such as PDF or ePub document and syndicate them alongside your audio and/or video podcast. You can easily syndicate multiple formats (audio, video and electronic documents) of a podcast using Blubrry PowerPress’ Podcast Channels feature. Most podcast directories including iTunes accept podcasts in PDF/ePub format.

If your organization is required to meet specific accessibility requirements, you should be aware that the transcripts will not syndicate with the media. If you rely on transcriptions in your blog post content alone your syndicated podcast will not be accessible for hearing impaired. To make podcasts accessible, closed captioning should be incorporated directly into the media file.

Closed Captioning

Closed captioning is similar to transcription as it includes word-for-word what is spoken in the episode, though it differs in that it includes captions for sounds (such as clapping) and is incorporated directly into the media file to be presented during playback.

Adding closed captioning to your content is a labor intensive task usually performed by organizations that have the resources available to perform such work. Podcasters who plan to add closed captioning on their own should expect to spend significantly more time during production.

Closed captioning can be added to podcasting formats including mp3/m4a audio and mp4/m4v video. Instructions how to add closed captioning will be application specific. Here is a resources for adding closed captioning to video with Adobe Premier. Audio closed captioning typically use meta tags, such as ID3 tags in mp3s. Use your favorite ID3 editor to edit the Unsynched Lyrics tag. Keep in mind that closed captioning for video is commonly synchronized with video playback, where-as audio closed captions are saved as supplementary information stored within one meta tag. In most cases, it may be more optimal to provide a transcript as a PDF based podcast rather than include  captioning within the audio recording’s ID3 tags.

If you are using Blubrry PowerPress to syndicate your podcast, you can mark your episodes that include closed captioning. To enable this option, go to PowerPress, make sure you are in Advanced mode, and click the “Basic Settings” tab. Under Basic Settings, enable the option “iTunes closed captioning,” then click “save.” When you create episodes you will have the option to notify iTunes that the episode includes closed captioning.