In 11 years of podcasting, I’ve produced all kinds of content, mostly for marketing/public relations/thought leadership. But there’s another constant: internal podcasts.
We don’t hear about these podcasts very often, because they’re hidden behind a firewall and consumed only by employees or association members. Organizations as diverse as IBM, Whirlpool and Disney are purported to be producing podcasts for internal purposes. I can’t tell you about their podcasts, but I can share what I’ve learned by producing internally focused podcast series for my own clients.
Here are some best practices:
Have a clear purpose with measurable objectives
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often an organization will launch a podcast with no plan and no way to measure success – or lack thereof. Figure out your goals and objectives before you even consider your strategies and tactics. Then write down your means of measurement. Looking solely at the number of downloads is not sufficient; these are mere outputs. What are the expected outcomes? This is especially important if your employee podcast is related to a larger effort or campaign within the organization (change management, for example).
Decide whether to produce the podcast in house or hire a consultant
Within some organizations, employees have developed the expertise to produce podcasts in house; often these are folks with a background in broadcasting. Other organizations choose to outsource the production and focus solely on the content itself. The clients I see have decided to outsource, so they don’t have to concern themselves with microphones, mixers and editing. That’s my job.
Understand the technology before you get started
You don’t want to invite your CEO to participate in a podcast and then start fumbling around with your digital recorder and microphone. If you’ve decided to produce your show in house, sort out the gear and do a few test recordings first. If you’re not familiar with podcasting software and equipment, check out this post of mine, along with my podcasting tip sheet.
Your podcast will improve over time, and no one expects it to be perfect out of the gate, but try to make your mistakes before you begin production in earnest.
Make friends with your IT department
It doesn’t happen as often as it used to years ago, but I’ve had clients tell me their IT people have nixed the idea of a podcast. I usually mutter under my breath: “Who put your IT department in charge of employee communications?” Of course I can’t say this out loud. What I do say is this: “Let’s talk to the IT team and find out what their concerns are. I’m sure we can address each and every one of them.” And you know what? We do. Often the IT people, especially in a smaller organization, don’t understand podcasting. They’re busy, so it’s easier to say “no” than to do the research into RSS feeds, iTunes, etc. This is where a consultant comes in handy – to talk to IT and put them at ease. We can show them how other organizations have successfully produced podcasts without eating up excessive IT resources.
Plan the first six to 10 episodes in advance
Create an editorial calendar geared towards your objectives. Choose your guests wisely; make sure they speak well. Sometimes the biggest expert is not the best talker. Spell out your first half dozen or so episodes. What’s the topic? Who are the guests? How will you publicize the episodes within the organization? You may also need to educate your employees about how they can access and listen to the show.
Consider a limited series
If you’re not ready to commit to a regular weekly or bi-weekly podcast, consider producing a limited series. I often suggest this to clients because it’s a smaller commitment. I tell them to consider it a “pilot project.” But to employees, it’s a limited series of six or 10 episodes on a particular topic. If all goes well, you can continue to produce further limited series, or decide to call it a weekly show and commit to that schedule.
Be sure employees are involved
No internal podcast would be complete without the voices of employees. Be sure your podcast is not seen as solely a platform for management to speak. Take care to share the opinions and insights of employees.
Deliver what you promised
If you say your podcast will present interesting interviews, be sure you’re not boring people to tears. If you describe your podcast as being published every Monday morning, stick to the schedule. It’s all right to recalibrate your podcast as long as you keep your listeners informed.
Do you have tips to share about internal podcasting? Feel free to comment below.
In November 2016 I spoke at the national conference of the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) in Toronto about podcasting for associations. The organizers live streamed my talk and have also provided a recording.