A guide to setting up a podcast for your remote team or company
As increasing numbers of us work from home for the foreseeable future, training providers are seeking out new and more innovative ways to share content with employees. Podcasting is an effective and valuable way to do this. If you’re new to podcasting, here’s what you need to know…
Remote working is here to stay, whether we like it or not and whilst there are a lot of advantages to this type of work, there can also be many downsides. This is especially true if you run a company that has been forced into it through necessity, rather than choice.
Even if you’re working remotely in a deliberate manner, however, there can still be challenges to overcome. Connectivity and engagement, for example, become a lot more difficult than if everyone was together in an office environment.
A great deal of trust can be built up between podcaster and listener. The human voice is a powerful thing, and we’re wired to respond to its every nuance.
There can also be issues like time differences. Suppose you want to run a Zoom call to bring everyone up to speed on the latest development. The problem is, you have team members spread across various continents. Scheduling a time that suits everyone becomes pretty much impossible.
Communication tools like Slack and email have their uses, but these can never fully compete with the power of the human voice. That’s where podcasting comes in.
The benefits of podcasting
If we look at the ‘big three’ content types – blogging, video, and audio – each has their own unique strengths. They also compliment each other, and can work well together.
The big strength of audio, and in turn, podcasting, is in its engagement and attention. With the attention factor, just think about the way you likely consume video and written content online. How many times have you skimmed an article just to get the key takeaways? Or skipped through a three minute Youtube video as you felt the presenter was taking too long?
The possibilities of how an internal company podcast might look are endless.
That isn’t to say these content methods are bad – the opposite is true. It’s more about highlighting the totally unique role audio can play. A person can go from skim reading a 600 word article, and skipping through a five minute Youtube video, to happily listening to a podcast episode that’s over an hour long. Why is that?
Firstly, it’s because their eyes (and in turn, the rest of their body) is freed up to go and do other things. They’re now away from the screen, and could actively be achieving something else as well as being entertained and educated.
Secondly, that long form content becomes engaging and intimate. A great deal of trust can be built up between podcaster and listener. The human voice is a powerful thing, and we’re wired to respond to its every nuance.
So, if you’re won over to the idea of running an internal company podcast, how exactly would you use it?
What would a company podcast look like?
There are a few different options here. Your company podcast can be used as a way to convey information and provide updates to staff. This will depend on the company and its size, but you could have the CEO speak to all the staff as one, or you could break it up into departments or teams.
With the latter, it’d be team leaders or line managers updating their departments. It can also be a combination of both.
The podcast could be used for feedback and critique purposes, e.g. ‘here’s what we’ve achieved this month, but here are some areas where there’s room for improvement. Here are my suggestions, going forward. I’d love to hear your own thoughts’.
Podcast listening apps are also packed full of features that can be tailored to improve the listening experience.
This can come over much better in audio than in a lengthy email or text-based message. It can prevent people from taking feedback in a more negative tone than was intended, too.
Also, as it’s a recording, rather than a real-time Zoom meeting, everyone has time to fully digest the info. This helps reduce knee jerk questions that turn an intended 20 minute call into a two-hour marathon. The outcome is that the feedback and questions that arise from it will be more thought through, and more likely to be important or relevant.
Then there’s scope for staff training. You can record a conversation with an expert or educator at a time that suits you both, and you don’t need everyone to be available at that exact time. You also have this content in your bank ‘forever’, rather than it disappearing into the ether.
You can interview various staff and team members to provide training or updates too. In addition, you can use your podcast to help onboard new staff in an efficient and scaleable manner.
The possibilities of how an internal company podcast might look are endless. We know that it’s possible to make content that’s really good for the business itself, but next up, how do we actually get people to listen to it?
How would you promote the podcast?
Making people aware that your podcast exists is half the battle, no matter what kind of show you’re running. The best ways to do that will depend on your own preferred methods of communication as an organisation.
The traditional office noticeboard has many forms when it comes to remote working. Is there a weekly email bulletin? A Slack channel dedicated to company news and updates? Or maybe you use a project management tool like Basecamp?
However you communicate, you’ll want to give the podcast a good few mentions so that everyone is aware of it. Be sure to sell the benefits for your team. Let them know the problems it can solve for them, the various ways it can help them, and how it can generally make their work life easier.
How would people listen?
Your staff or colleagues might say ‘well that all sounds great, but when am I supposed to listen?’. It’s a valid point. If you’re putting out an hour long podcast episode each week, do you expect your staff to use their own free time to tune in? If so, that might cause some unrest.
It would be totally counterproductive to try and play a podcast ‘in the background’ whilst doing any form of knowledge work. That would simply be a distraction that would make someone’s job harder, and render the podcast itself pointless.
An alternative is to factor it into the working day, or week. It would be well received if a company said to their staff ‘take an hour each Tuesday to listen to the podcast. Use it to catch up on some household chores, or go for a walk and get some fresh air’.
This is a win/win for everyone. It makes the podcast feel like a reward or treat, and it means it’s consumed in a way that maximises its engagement and intimacy.
It can also help to reduce the time people spend in lengthy Zoom meetings, waiting patiently just to get to the one little piece of info they need. Or in the constant back-and-forth of Slack and email chatter as folks attempt to clarify certain points, and ask “quick questions”.
Podcasting versus audio files
Let’s move on now to how it all works, then. Here’s a question many people ask: rather than setting up a fully fledged podcast, why not just record and share audio files with your team? This would be free, and easy enough to do. You’d get all the benefits of audio, as mentioned above, and you’d simply need to copy a dropbox link into Slack each time you recorded an episode.
This is certainly an option, however, it means you’ll miss out on some of the key benefits of podcasting. For example, if a team member already uses a podcast listening app on their phone, it’s possible to have new episodes pushed out to them automatically. This means they’re in there alongside all the other shows they listen to.
Whether or not they’ll be able to use their current listening app will depend on which service you use to set up your podcast. I’ll mention some options below. No matter who you choose though, the show/shows you run will all be available to your team in an app on their phone. This can help to fully integrate the podcast into their existing listening habits.
Podcast listening apps are also packed full of features that can be tailored to improve the listening experience. For example, you can alter the play speed, skip backwards to catch something you missed, or switch off for a spell and easily pick up where you left off.
Running a podcast, rather than managing a collection of audio files, makes the user experience so much better. It also makes it far easier to manage in the long run.
Keeping your podcast private
Another frequently asked question around company podcasts is ‘can I make it private?’. There are various options for password protecting your podcast content. These range from individual logins to full team access. Three of the best options out there for running private podcasts are Transistor, Castos, and Podbean.
Here’s our video tutorial showing you the ins and outs of Podbean’s private podcast offerings.
Of course, as with any content published online, you’ll never lock anything down 100%. An article can always be copied and pasted. An email can always be forwarded. It’s possible for folks to share private content, and podcasts are no exception. It’s unlikely that anyone would ever feel the need to share something like this externally, however, and it’s also unlikely that anyone outside of the company would care enough to listen.
Depending on your content, you might not be fussed about trying to lock it down privately. In that case, you can just publish your podcast in the same way as any other show. If you never market it outside of the company, then it’s unlikely that anyone else will find and listen to it.
If, for some reason, you did start to accumulate decent download numbers though, then that brings a host of new opportunities for you. No podcaster has ever uttered the words ‘help, my podcast is getting too many downloads!’.
How to record and produce a podcast
All that remains to do now is to be able to record and create the audio itself. The good news is that this doesn’t need to be difficult, time consuming, or expensive.
The first thing that you’ll need is a mic. USB mics work right out of the box, and plug easily into your computer. Whether you want to record solo, or do some online interviews and conversations, a decent USB mic is absolutely ideal.
For this, I recommend the Samson Q2U. It’s low cost, with a great sound, and it doubles up as an XLR mic if you ever want to upgrade your setup further down the line.
Recording and editing
As for recording and editing, Audacity is absolutely free. You can record yourself speak, edit it, polish it up, add your music, and export it as an mp3, ready for upload. Audacity does take a bit of learning if you’re a total beginner to audio, but it’s a pretty intuitive programme.
If you’re looking to record remote chats or interviews, check out our guide to the Best Call Recording Apps.
You can also use Audacity to produce these, and turn them into podcast episodes. You can easily outsource the editing and production side of things if you don’t fancy taking it on yourself. There are loads of podcast production services out there these days. Or, maybe one of your colleagues is a bit of an audio enthusiast. Could you find someone internally to take on this role?
This brings us on to the very last task - hitting publish. Your podcast will ‘live’ on an account you’ve created with a media hosting provider. The one you choose will depend on whether or not you’d like your podcast to be available publicly.
If you’re looking for a private podcast, go with Podbean, Castos, or Transistor.
If you’re not fussed about locking your content down, go with Captivate or Buzzsprout.
Going forward: final tips
As you move forward into the world of company podcasting, keep in mind that any form of content creation can take time to gain traction. An organisation may have the benefit of a ready-made audience, but the podcast isn’t going to become part of company culture overnight.
It’s vital to set out with a solid plan for why the podcast exists, what it’s for, and who it’s for, but the show that you launch shouldn’t be considered a finished product. No podcaster will sound the same on their 50th episode as they did on their first, so avoid procrastinating over perfectionism and just get stuff out there.
Always encourage feedback from your team. Ask for it at the end of every single episode, and give them clear directions on how and where to send it. If you do this, the podcast will organically grow and improve. It’ll become an integral part of how the organisation works and communicates.
Interested in this topic? Read How learning and development can pivot to virtual delivery.
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Colin is a podcaster, international speaker, PhD and founder of The Podcast Host and Alitu: The Podcast Maker. Colin started out in Astrophysics, before realising, to his dismay, how much maths you had to do. Podcasting has less maths, but just as many puzzles, and fun ones at that.
He started ThePodcastHost.com in 2011, and it's now one...