Are internal podcasts worth the trouble?
We don’t hear about corporate 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, though, are said to be producing podcasts for internal purposes.
Based on what I’ve learned by producing internally focused podcast series for my clients, here are some best practices:
1. Have a clear purpose with measurable objectives. Often an organization will launch a podcast with no plan and no way to measure success or failure. Figure out your goals and objectives before you consider strategies and tactics. Then write down your target metrics. Looking solely at downloads is not sufficient; those 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).
2. Decide whether to produce the podcast in house or hire a consultant. Within some organizations, employees have the expertise to produce podcasts in house; often these are folks with a broadcasting background. Other organizations outsource the production and focus on the content; that way they don’t have to concern themselves with microphones, mixers and editing. That’s the consultant’s job.
3. 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’re producing your show in house, sort out the gear and conduct a few test recordings first. If you’re not familiar with podcasting software and equipment, check out this post, along with this 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.
4. Make friends in your IT department. In some cases, clients say their IT people have nixed the idea of a podcast. That raises the question, “Who put your IT department in charge of employee communications?” Asking that out loud is imprudent, though. What you can 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.” 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 staffers and put them at ease.
5. Plan the first six to 10 episodes in advance. Create an editorial calendar geared toward your objectives. Choose your guests wisely; make sure they speak well. Sometimes the foremost expert is far from eloquent. 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 might also have to educate your employees about how they can access and listen to the show.
6. Consider a limited series. If you’re not ready to commit to a regular weekly or bi-weekly podcast, consider producing a limited series. It’s a smaller commitment, a “pilot project.” To employees, it’s a limited series of six or 10 episodes on a particular topic. If all goes well, you can produce further limited series or call it a weekly show and commit to that schedule.
7. Be sure employees are involved. No internal podcast would be complete without employees’ voices. Be sure your podcast is not seen as solely a platform for management to speak; share employees’ opinions and insights.
8. 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? Please comment below.