Creating an internal podcast
In this episode Craig Smith talks to Matthew MacLean about creating an internal podcast. Matthew enjoys working in sound design and audio production and has a background in audio drama. He also likes to help others master the craft of podcasting. Matthew co-presents Podcraft… a podcast which teaches the entire Art of Podcasting, from launching your show, to growing a legion of fanatical fans.
Matthew is based in Dundee on the East Coast of Scotland and for the last five years has worked for a company called The Podcast Host, a podcasting hub online which has been around for the past 10 years. Colin Gray is the founder of the company which started as a website with a lot of ‘how to’ content initially and after Matthew joined it made sense for him to start doing some of the podcasting. Now Matthew’s job is predominantly keeping on top of the content with a bit of writing and getting other people to produce articles. The other side of the business is Alitu which is a podcast making app which cleans up your recordings, produces your podcast and can also be used to upload it. Craig confirms what a great tool Alitu is as he uses it for his podcasts!
The benefits of podcasting as a communication channel
While Podcraft and The Podcast Host are really geared around independent podcasters, podcasts are a really interesting medium for corporate communicators to use to engage their people and get messages across to them.
Matthew thinks one of the benefits of creating an internal podcast for audio communication is better attention and engagement because people are fatigued with the bombardment of information they receive on a daily basis. Trying to get people to sit down and look at something is tricky as there are a lot of things competing for people’s attention and they don’t necessarily have time to read through a long email and digest it. Podcasts on the other hand can be listened to when you’re doing other things which makes them more effective and engaging. If you want your employees to listen to a podcast don’t ask them to sit down while doing so, you can encourage them to listen to when they’re out for a walk or doing a menial task which doesn’t require their full attention. It feels like a more productive way of consuming information.
Another advantage of the podcaster having 30 minutes to an hour of someone’s time in quite an intimate way is you can make the content longform unlike a blog or a YouTube video.
Is podcasting the right medium for my audience?
Firstly, you have to make sure you give your listeners the opportunity to consume your podcast in allotted time rather than asking them to listen to it in their downtime. You can’t expect people to spend their evenings listening to it. You might also experience pushback depending on the line of business that you’re in, some people will always come up with reasons they can’t listen and in the early days, you might just have to except that. You won’t get 100% uptake, but you can aim for 80 or 90% and that will be good enough.
Where do I start with podcasting?
Before buying tools or software you need to have a think about why this is something that is going to be interesting or useful to the people that you want to reach. This applies to whether it’s a private podcast for one or two people or a podcast that could potentially reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of listeners. What do you want people to do with the information you give them? Answer these questions to build the right foundation and the rest are relatively simple things i.e., how do I upload the podcast, which microphone do I use? Another important factor is can you turn up consistently and keep the podcast going?
Internal communicators are used to designing messages around what they want people to think, feel and do differently after they’ve interacted with the communication campaign, so podcasting is essentially no different but on a more intimate level. You do however have to think about how people are going to follow through on an action when they might be listening to the podcast while commuting or out walking. You need to be mindful of these limitations and not give people too many actions to follow-up on in each episode but maybe break them down into bitesize chunks.
Getting the correct microphone and set up is more on the transactional side of things and there is a link to useful information about this here. Getting the right set up should cost under £100 so it’s a low barrier to entry.
Tips for sustaining an internal podcast
To get the real benefits from the podcast it has to be a long-term venture. The first 20 -50 episodes are just the beginning and people may not like to hear that but it’s true. So, you need to be serious about setting aside a bit more time than you think you’ll need.
Use this time to think about:
- content and what the next few episodes will be about
- what the jobs are we need to do to get those episodes recorded
- editing the episode, will we do it or get a freelancer to do it
It doesn’t need to be at the same time every week, and this is often an unnecessary barrier that people put in their way, it just needs to be a similar amount of time that is dedicated to the task. This will give you the best chance of getting the podcast up and running.
You may decide to outsource the production of your podcast leaving your role as creating the content and structure. It could cost as little as £30-£40 per episode for production but you need to speak to the producer and find out what they will do for that. Will they clean it up a bit and make it loud enough or will they chop out mistakes and rearrange parts? This takes a bit of time to set up and obviously there are monetary costs but editing the podcast may not be the best use of your time and outsourcing it could be the best solution.
Who should you get to host your podcast?
There is no right answer to who you should get to host your internal podcast. Every organisation is different, you might have a member of staff who everyone thinks will make a natural host and then find that they’re not. It’s not an easy job so stay openminded about who you use. The role someone has doesn’t necessarily reflect on how interesting they will be as a host, but you probably want to get the senior leaders involved at least. During the past year many senior leaders have become more used to broadcasting messages in various ways and because of this now appear to be more accessible to employees so, having them on as an interviewee is always a good option. If they never get involved, it might signal to the employees that they’re not committed and it might devalue the podcast.
Growing and retaining your podcast audience
Launching a podcast is a slow burn so what metrics should you be looking at to measure its success? Obviously the first thing is numbers, how many people have access to the podcast compared to how many are listening to it? Each episode will have a particular purpose and at the end of it there may be something you want people to do e.g., sign up for an event or volunteer opportunity so you can gauge what percentage of people are coming forward. If it’s low you probably need to sit down and see if there’s something different you need to do, maybe approach people who listen to the show and ask for their honest feedback. They may be able to give you suggestions for what you can do better or things they’d like to hear about. Podcasts are always work in progress. They will adapt and change over time and this should be seen as a good thing. There will be a certain degree of trial and error and you can’t expect it to be perfect from the start.
The type of platform to use to host your internal podcast
When creating an internal podcast, you want as many internal listeners as possible but there may be things you don’t want external listeners to hear so there’s a number of good media hosts who offer a private podcasting feature, for example Castos and Captivate. These hosts do a good job of making the podcasts secure.
Matthew has just launched a book, “The Podcast Growth Book”, which is available on Amazon. This has some great tips and ideas for growing an external podcast audience which will also work for an internal audience. One thing Matthew highlights is making sure your podcast episodes have interesting titles and not just Episode 1.
Matthew’s podcast “Podcraft” has been running for about 8 years and has seasons that cover topics such as equipment, monetisation and growth. Each episode is action-focussed and aimed at giving practical tips and guidance.
The website, https://www.thepodcasthost.com, also has excellent information which is really easy to find and is a very useful resource. It has a search function so you can type in a question or a few key words to find articles.
- Don’t put barriers in your way, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the best microphone or recording software.
- Don’t get stuck trying to produce the perfect podcast from episode 1 just get on and launch it.
- Answer the questions ‘why are we doing it?’ and ‘why will it be useful and interesting to people?’.
- You will make a few mistakes and that’s fine – “The worst podcast is the one that never got started”!