How to use a podcast for internal communication

Are you using podcasts inside your organisation? They have had a huge surge in popularity and are rapidly growing. But are they the latest shiniest thing (or “comms bling” as I call it) or something we need to seriously consider?

Deloitte has just wrapped season one of The Green Room podcast, lead by Internal Comms Assistant Manager Kaylin Duckitt. This is an external-facing podcast featuring internal hosts (employees), it tackles a tricky question about the world around us and is published once a fortnight.

Some of my clients are using podcasts inside their organisations, from “roving reporter” style shows featuring employees interviewing each other, to regular CEO podcasts, I’m seeing IC pros experimenting with the medium and figuring out what is right for their culture.

My go-to person to understand how people learn via podcasts is the brilliant Debbie Aurelius, of Peppermint Fish. I think of her as the Queen of podcasts and enjoy learning from her, particularly because of her background and obvious passion.

Regular readers will know I was a guest on her Be A Bigger Fish podcast earlier this year talking about all things internal comms and podcasts related.

Debbie has 20 years’ experience working in Internal Communications and Learning & Development for large organisations. She’s a keen member of the CIPR Inside committee and a Chartered PR Practitioner. Currently the Director of Communications consultancy, Peppermint Fish, Debbie says she loves making podcasts that create connections and get people talking.

The number of All Things IC’s clients who are asking me about podcasting for IC is on the rise, so I invited Debbie to share some of her wisdom to help All Things IC’s blog readers understand more about this emerging channel.

A huge caveat from me: if you are thinking of introducing podcasts inside your company, be aware of the noise level you currently have in terms of channels and content. If you are introducing a new channel/mechanism to communicate, are you retiring or replacing an old one, or simply adding to the noise?

Using audio for internal comms is not new, we’ve been doing it for decades, from having cassette tapes in vans with recorded info on, to dial-in updates and recorded emergency comms lines. But the sheer number of internal comms podcasts that have come to market this year alone demonstrates the rise in popularly. I’ve listed some of my favourites at the end of this post. If you are using podcasts inside your organisation and have a story to share, do please get in touch. 

Rachel: Debbie – please can you tell us what the current podcast market is like?

Debbie: Weekly listeners in the UK doubled over the five years to 2018[1]. In the US, recent research by Edison[2] suggests 7 in 10 Americans are familiar with podcasts. As more people find information or entertainment from podcasts on the outside, I think they’ll welcome them on the inside of organisations.

Interestingly, research suggests podcasts are more engaging. People tend to listen to the end of a podcast episode and to all episodes in a series, for example.

It’s also possible to reach people ‘where they are’ with podcast content, anyone with a connected device can download and listen to it.

As an increasingly popular, convenient and engaging way to share information, podcasts seem highly suited to internal communications.

Rachel: Are they a bit top-down broadcast style for modern day IC?

Debbie: Not necessarily, they can be a great way to include employees’ voices.

You can capture audio content on the go really simply, using a lapel microphone and a smartphone. If you’ve got a distributed company structure, you could encourage colleagues to dial-in to video conferencing software and record them there. Alternatively, a simple recorded phone call or voicemail system can enable you to capture a variety of views and voices.

You’ll also find people relax more into making audio than they do when making videos, so those hard-to-pin-down experts who avoid being on camera may feel more comfortable agreeing to audio only.

Getting the voice of the expert directly into your communications mix might be just the solution you need!

Rachel: Is it expensive to make podcast content?

Debbie: It is possible to keep it quite low-cost.

The equipment varies in price but you can start out with very little outlay, using the software and devices you already have. You might like to invest in more equipment, like studio quality microphones, when you’re able to prove the benefits of the medium.

If you need the skills to make podcasts, such as editing, sound recording and interviewing, you can get those from a variety of sources. There are good, free learning resources, such as podcasts and blogs. You could attend a short workshop or training event if you had more budget and wanted to pick up the skills quickly.

If you need to host your podcast using an external hosting service like Podbean, there’s a relatively low cost attached. Depending on how you currently share content, you might need to consider the cost of getting your podcast to your employees.

Rachel: How much time and effort do they take?

Debbie: This varies depending on the type and quality of podcast you want to make.

You can record and publish quite simply, but I’d recommend you edit your content, much like you’d edit any written comms.

That’s not necessarily in order to put a ‘corporate gloss’ on it, the more authentic the content the better. Your podcast will be more appealing if you select the best moments. Remove any repetitions or awkward silences and eliminate distracting sounds as best as you can.

For my podcast series, I plan to take four times the length of the recording to make sure I engineer and edit my episodes – that’s four hours’ editing for an hour of recording.

You’ll also need to consider the time it takes to plan content and draft out briefings or talking points, for your contributors. Once it’s produced, you’ll need some time to share and publicise your podcast.

Rachel: Wow, four hours’ editing for an hour of recording! So it’s quite an investment in terms of time and effort.  What type of content works best as a podcast?

Debbie: Current affairs podcasts have been highly successful publicly, including The Daily and The Guardian’s Today in Focus. This indicates people like listening to news-style content.

That being said, I think podcasts are best suited to storytelling, particularly where you hear people tell their story in their own voice. There’s something very powerful about hearing someone’s story from the heart, even if that’s simply about how much they care about their job or their customers.

I’ve been capturing a community podcast, on a voluntary basis, for a few months and the heart-felt family stories are the ones I find particularly moving and memorable.

I take inspiration from Malcolm Gladwell, who describes how podcasting helped him get a new perspective on his work, “I sort of realised…it’s actually a different kind of storytelling.”

We know how important it is both to encourage people to be themselves at work and to enable connection across organisations, on a human level. I think podcasting has huge potential to achieve those objectives.

Thank you very much Debbie. As someone who has published their own podcast and now regularly appears on other people’s shows as a guest, it’s a medium I enjoy, but I know it’s not for everyone.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you like podcasts? Do you listen to any? As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.

Here are some resources if you’re interested in finding out more about using them for internal comms, or learning via industry shows:

What have I missed? Do let me know.

I regularly listen to a number of podcasts including Chris Ducker’s Youpreneur podcast for entrepreneurs. Talking of Chris, I’m looking forward to attending the Youpreneur Summit in November 2019.

 

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