How to use podcasts to reach essential internal audiences

Whooshkaa CMO Noor Hammad shares how the popular digital audio format can be used to engage remote employees and make important messages stick.

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Podcasts are immensely popular—but that’s not biggest reason you should consider creating an internal broadcast for your organization. The big benefit of digital audio is the impact it has on listeners—and how it makes messages resonate.

In research from Mindshare NeuroLab, scientists discovered that information consumed in a podcast achieves a higher emotional resonance and better memory encoding than visual only mediums. “If you have something important to say and you want it to be remembered by your employees, audio is one of the most effective ways to do it,” says Noor Hammad, CMO for Whooshkaa, an audio-content management platform.

And that’s before factoring in COVID-19 and the remote workplace.

During the pandemic, organizations have struggled to find ways to connect with remote workers. Tactics that were effective months ago like a weekly Zoom call have led to “Zoom fatigue.”

But private podcasts are an engaging way to deliver information to employees in an accessible format, says Hammad. The internal podcast is a solution for a looming employee-engagement crisis as workers face burnout and overwork, Hammad says. Podcasts also offer some distinct advantages over other internal comms channels.

  • “Employees often listen to podcasts alone using headphones,” Hammad says. “You’re speaking directly into the ears of your employees!”
  • “Employees can—and do—consume content while engaged in other tasks such as driving to work, cooking, caring for their children, and exercising,” Hammad says. That can be a good thing for organizations trying to reach busy employees without intruding on their other obligations.
  • The human voice can offer information in a more memorable and meaningful way than other mediums, Hammad says, again referring to Mindshare NeuroLab’s research.

Topics on tap

Podcasts are a heavy commitment. A regular editorial schedule with precise content planning is essential to build up an episode library. Even for a show that just provides company updates, a regular posting schedule is necessary to keep listeners coming back for more. What topics should your internal pod cover?

There’s a wide variety, from internal communications to employee onboarding, sales enablement and training, according to Hammad.

For internal communications, podcasts can be used to deliver executive updates, share workplace success stories, and provide updates during a crisis. A podcast allows executives to “communicate with the nuance and tone that only comes from delivering a message in your own voice,” says Hammad.

For employee onboarding, podcasts can deliver mission statements and orientation information, help outline new employee roles and expectations, and profile colleagues. “Show new hires some of the great work their colleagues are doing,” Hammad advises. “Motivate new employees to follow suit and demonstrate how your business recognizes and amplifies good work.”

Podcasts can also be used for sales training and prep, offering quick sales debriefs and case studies, keeping teams up-to-date and offering resources. A podcast can also cover compliance and legal requirements that employees need to understand.

Ease of use

One of the benefits of a podcasting solution like Whooshkaa, Hammad says, is its ease of access for users. The product allows secure distribution of private podcasts via popular apps like Apple Podcasts and Pocket Casts. Instead of employees having to go on the intranet and download new episodes, they can find new episodes where they already listen to podcasts—but it can still be a private, internal offering. “A key contributor to the success of any new internal communications channel is ease of consumption for employees,” Hammad says. “The only difference for employees accessing a private podcast vs a public podcast is the entry point.”

Instead of searching public podcast directories, users are emailed a link to a private feed that can be opened and subscribed to via popular podcast apps.

Once signed up, podcast listeners receive all the benefits of a typical podcast, like real-time updates, push notifications and more. For companies that are determined to post podcast episodes on an internal website, Whooshkaa offers a secure web player that can be embedded.

Production made simple

What equipment and personnel do you need to start an internal podcast? Hammad says it can be simple: “A good idea, a quiet space, a microphone and a web browser are all you need to create a podcast with Whooshkaa.”

You don’t have to invest in all the bells and whistles of a fancy recording studio either, he says. “We have customers who record podcasts directly onto their iPhones and others who have expensive microphones, mixers and other studio equipment,” he says, adding that some of the most successful internal podcasts have the “least production value.”

“The ultimate success of a private podcast is in the information you’re communicating to your audience,” Hammad continues.

On the question of how much time has to be invested to get a quality internal podcast, Hammad says that depends. “A short executive update may take 30 minutes to record and edit,” he says. “Interviewing multiple employees on location, including complex sound design, would require a much larger investment of time.” To create quality content in a shorter period, Hammad recommends limiting the complexity of the project, and developing a template that can be easily replicated.

Showing ROI

The metrics that apply to most internal communications programing can be used to evaluate an internal podcast, Hammad says. With Whooshkaa, clients have the ability to see which employees are consuming podcast content on an individual level.

Communicators should also track macro trends. Whooshkaa integrates qualitative data tools into the listening process—such as a survey—that can deliver important feedback to the podcast team.

Some companies are already seeing concrete benefits to their internal podcast campaigns. “Some unexpected but very valuable benefits are emerging,” Hammad says, citing how one customer recently found that podcasting was improving diversity and inclusion by offering a platform for employees who aren’t traditionally able to speak to the whole company.

For companies that have build up a library of podcasts, the accumulated organizational knowledge has been an important asset. Instead of starting from scratch, teams can go back and find usable content in addressing initiatives like employee onboarding, training and staff-development programs.

This article is in partnership with Whooshkaa.

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