You may have recently noticed a podcast renaissance of sorts. The success of Serial woke many brands, marketers, journalists, and more up to the power of the podcast. As a result, podcasts are popping up in almost every facet of business with renewed purpose, and targeting new audiences.
“As we carry these smart devices with us all the time, and as they not only become faster, have faster internet connections, and battery life becomes less and less of a problem, it’s easy to just listen to a podcast as you do other things,” says John Turner, CEO/founder of Pittsburgh-based Users Think. But as podcasts proliferate are they making their way into organizations as a trendy employee communication tool that could, potentially, replace the ubiquitous employee newsletter? Not quite, says Turner. “Email still holds a unique place for distribution,” he notes, but he does believe that podcasting has some advantages over traditional text-based messaging.
Donna Papacosta is a communications consultant and the owner of Trafalgar Communications, based in Toronto. In 2005, Papacosta launched the Trafcom News Podcast, one of the first business-related podcasts in Canada. She’s an expert on podcasting, including the use of podcasts to communicate with employees. “Organizations are increasingly using podcasts internally,” she says. “The human touch of audio makes podcasting an engaging communication tool that can augment traditional face-to-face, print, and online media for company news, investor relations, marketing, product announcements, employee recruitment, training, and more.” But, she adds: “I don’t think podcasts will replace newsletters; they are complementary.”
Like any other of the newly emerging communication tools, podcasting is more of an add-on, than a replacement, for other existing tactics. For some employees, podcasts will be a go-to source of information; others will continue to prefer more traditional formats and, of course, from an internal communication standpoint, face-to-face is still the best way to communicate, when possible.
Still, podcasts have their place and for those organizations interested in exploring this option there are a number of best practices that can help ensure their effective use. First, says, Papacosta: “Be sure you have a plan so you know you can produce fresh, compelling content that will engage employees. Know your goals and how you will measure success.”
What do companies use podcasts for? She offers some suggestions:
- Peers interviewing peers
- Interviews with leaders
- Communicating benefit information
- Education and training
- Recordings during or before conferences and symposia
- Helping geographically dispersed employees keep in touch with happenings at the head office
There are any number of organizations that might find podcasts to be a good tool to connect with employees. One driver, of course, is the mobility of the workforce as James Alisch, managing director of Wow 1 Day Painting notes; those who spend a good deal of their day driving around are a natural audience for information delivered via podcast. Wow 1 Day Painting uses podcasts, he says, “as a means to cover topics ranging from how to deliver estimates to building strong crews.” The format, he says, “allows us to deliver content in short, manageable and actionable pieces.” An added bonus? “Recording is inexpensive and non-time intensive; during our last recording session we completed three episodes in less than an hour.”
Podcasts are relatively easy to produce, can help to connect more “personally” with employees, and offer portability that fits nicely with the proliferation of mobile devices in a world where information consumption is taking place in a growing number of settings. Podcasts could be just the right communication option to add to your internal communications toolkit to ensure that employees are able to access information in ways that best fit with increasingly busy lifestyles.
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