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Behind the scenes of the Candid Comms podcast

The final episode of season one of the Candid Comms has just been published.

Episode 16 features my Producer Debbie West and I in conversation and we’ve revealed behind the scenes of the podcast.

We recorded together at my All Things IC office in London last Friday (pictured). It was wonderful to see each other in person and was my first face-to-face meeting in 13 months!

Rachel Miller and Debbie West

The episode covers:

  • A look back at season one
  • How the podcast is produced
  • Why I relaunched my podcast after a six year break
  • The highs and lows of recording in lockdown
  • How the podcast got its name
  • Kit recommendations
  • Why I publish long transcripts
  • What to expect in season two.

Thank you to my guests Matt Batten, Amrit Nijjar and Frank Dias for being part of this season and sharing your expertise to help other internal communicators.

Candid Comms podcast with Rachel Miller and Debbie West

What is the podcast?

The Candid Comms podcast launched in January 2021. It’s weekly show designed to connect internal communication professionals to the latest advice and guidance, to help you thrive in your role.

Previous episodes:

Where to listen to Candid Comms

You can find the Candid Comms podcast on your favourite player including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean.

 

Links mentioned in today’s episode

This is the equipment I use:

Note: links to go to my Amazon Affiliate account.

Transcript of this week’s episode

Rachel Miller:
Welcome to the Candid Comms podcast. If you were looking for practical and inspirational ideas to help you thrive in internal communication, you’re in the right place. I’m your host, international communication consultant, trainer, and mentor, Rachel Miller. Through this podcast, I’ll share my experience with you so you can increase your skills, knowledge, and confidence on all things internal communication related.

Welcome to the show. On this week’s episode, I have an incredibly special guest to share with you. It’s the producer of the Candid Comms podcast, Debbie West. Debbie, welcome to the show.

Debbie West:
Thank you very much. I don’t think I’ve ever been called incredibly special guest. So-

Rachel Miller:
You are. Well, if it wasn’t for you, the show wouldn’t go out. So you are incredibly special. I thought it would be good to share behind the scenes look at the Candid Comms podcast, and what goes into making a podcast, and how it comes to appear on podcast players every Sunday. So, that’s the intention behind the episode this week, to close season one. Can you believe we’re closing season one?

Debbie West:
I honestly can’t. It feels like yesterday we were talking about it conceptually. Now, we’re about to push the button on episode 15. This is episode 16, can you believe all those weeks have gone by?

Rachel Miller:
No, I can’t. We’ve gone through lockdown, we’ve gone through so much certainty. In today’s show, we’re going to be lifting the lid on podcasting, what it is, how it works, how I found it, how you found it. As you can expect, it will be a candid conversation. So we will be very honest.

Debbie West:
Absolutely.

Rachel Miller:
I have asked you so many questions about podcasting. I have got stuck and broken things so many times. I have a feeling we’ll probably talk about those things today.

Debbie West:
Yeah, I think we should because that is the candid part of it because it’s lovely to see the produced episode, and see the beautiful photography and the gloss, and that’s amazing. It looks and sounds fantastic, but it’s all the hard work that goes into it that really counts, isn’t it?

So, I think that’s what’s important to talk about.

Rachel Miller:
Sure. Did you want to steer our conversation today?

Debbie West:
Yeah. Can I?

Rachel Miller:
Yeah.

Debbie West:
Because I’m really intrigued why you’ve retaken up podcasting because I know you used to be a keen podcast a long time ago. Then you appear on nearly everybody’s podcast in internal communications, but you didn’t have your own. I remember asking you on my podcast why you weren’t podcasts, and whether it’s something you would take up.

Rachel Miller:
I did have a podcast. I had the All Things IC podcast. It was under the Godfather’s of podcasting’s series – Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. It was under the FIR (For Immediate Release)podcast network. This is back in, I think it’s 2014. I think I’m not exactly sure, 2013, 2014, because it’s before I had my boys, and I had my twins in 2014. I really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed all the things I love about internal comms; meeting people, interviewing, finding out their stories. I used to record that podcast every week. Then I had my babies, and I thought, my house is never going to be quiet again.

Rachel Miller recording her podcast in 2014

Rachel Miller recording her podcast in 2014.

It was spot on! So in the back of my mind, it’s something that I did really enjoy it. I found it quite complicated the way they used to do it before because it didn’t have you!

Honestly, it was so tricky. My poor husband, Jon, we used to upload the RSS feed to Libsyn and it was all this really technical stuff that I didn’t know how to do. I relied on him helping me get the show out. I decided to pause. I then had my babies. I love appearing on podcasts. I love sharing stories about internal comms, and I enjoy being interviewed and speaking.

It was in the back of my mind. Whenever I’ve been asked over the last six or seven years, my answer has always been… even in a blog post I wrote actually in October 2020, where I collated all of the PR and Comms podcasts.

Comms podcasts

 

I said, I’ve been asked whether I’m going to relaunch my podcast, never say never. I actually updated that in 2021. I went back into that blog post and I said, “well, I did say never say never.”

I did then go on to relaunch it. I think the reason why I relaunched it was mainly really from our conversations, when you challenged me to say, why aren’t you doing your own podcast, because you are appearing on other people’s. I was nervous to do it. I think I wondered how it would fit in with everything else that I’m doing. I think the techie side was … I had the hangover of the concerns from before, it’s complicated. But the world has moved on in those six or seven years, and technology has moved on in the six or seven years.

Rachel Miller:
I remember talking to you and said, “I’ve been reflecting, Debbie, and I think I’m going to do it. You said … Do you remember what you said to me?

Debbie West:
No, you tell me. What did I say?

Rachel Miller:
You said, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that, Rachel.”

Debbie West:
I definitely was. I definitely was. I mean, it was probably two, three years ago when you came on to Be a Bigger Fish.

Rachel Miller Be a Bigger Fish

I remember thinking at the time, this is just such a good channel for you because you are a natural storyteller, and your empathy is completely genuine. I think that translates so well in audio. So, I’m delighted that you’ve taken podcasting again because I think it’s perfect for you.

Rachel Miller:
Thank you.

Debbie West:
I’m really, really proud of being involved in the series. I think it’s been amazing, amazing podcast series. So, congratulations on it.

Rachel Miller:
Thank you. It wouldn’t have happened without you holding my hand, I think. Let’s think about the techie side because it was super complicated before when I was doing it a few years back. Should we share what we do? Would that be helpful, do you think so?

Debbie West:
I think so. The whole timeline of how we make a podcast, that’s a really good idea.

Rachel Miller:
Should I share the mistakes that I’ve made?

Debbie West:
Definitely. That was interesting part, that’s what keeps us going!

Rachel Miller:
Just for context, I relaunched my podcast in January 2021. We were in lockdown here in the UK. As we’re recording this in May 2021, the lockdown is lifting. It’s on the horizon, but it’s not there yet. So we are still in lockdown.

But when we started, children weren’t at school. I have an eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old twin sons. I’ve never spoken about them actually on this podcast, not for any intentional purpose to not talk about them, but it’s not a podcast about me being a mum. So my house was even noisier!

If I thought it was going to be noisy when I had a toddler, before my babies were born, before the twins were born, oh my goodness me, my household in January 2021 was incredibly noisy to the point where there wasn’t a quiet space to record. So I came up with the idea of recording in my car.

I remember being really excited about this because I said to Debbie”I’ve found a space that’s quiet.” She said where? I said, “In my car, sitting on the driveway.” I fashioned the sound booth out of baby seats, out of all their car seats, which was pretty effective (pictured below).

Rachel Miller All Things IC

Actually, let’s be really honest and be really candid…

To start with, I set up a studio in the boot because I’ve got a big car because I’ve got three young children. I set up the studio, and I had a sound shield, and I had a microphone, and I had the pop shield. I was just about to close the boot and I realised, (so the trunk if you based outside the UK), I realised that once I shut that door, I wouldn’t be able to get out.

Debbie West:
I remember that.

Rachel Miller:
Do you remember?

Debbie West:
Yeah.

Rachel Miller:
I remember messaging going, I’ve just saved myself from locking myself-

Debbie West:
I know, you locking yourself in the boot, yeah.

Rachel Miller:
Then I relocated to the back seats where all the baby seats were, and then shut the door. But what I failed to realise was that the child lock was on. I mean, listener, it’s a very glamorous.

Debbie West:
It is glamorous, it’s all glam.

Rachel Miller:
But seamless recording! So I’d locked myself in my car where I couldn’t get out. So I had to very ungraciously crawl through to the driver’s seat and release myself from the car. I recorded two episodes successfully in the car. I think it was episode one and two. Then I chose to record episode three, and something happened to between the house and my car with the microphone.

Debbie West:
Yes. I remember this so well, yes it did. Something got accidentally tweaked-

Rachel Miller:
It did.

Debbie West:
… on the journey.

Rachel Miller:
We don’t know what it was. We think it was … There’s lots of buttons on this. I use a Blue Yeti Microphone. I don’t know how to use it properly. Debbie just adjusted it because we’re recording for the first time in person for the first time in 16 episodes. Something got knocked. What’s the word you use describe it when it goes really high-

Debbie West:
It was hot, it’s called hot effectively when you record too loud, you say it’s too hot. Yeah, it was a very hot recording.

Rachel Miller:
It was two episodes, wasn’t it? I remember being really proud of myself that I’d locked myself in the car, that I was in the car and I’d recorded two episodes because we try and batch content. So we try and get ahead of ourselves. I mean, there was one week where I lost my voice. So we were really grateful that I already had an episode in the can, as you call it.

Debbie West:
In the can, yeah. It’s good.

Rachel Miller:
But I knocked the microphone somehow, and therefore we had two episodes that had been recorded, but the audio was really not ideal, very steaming hot! So bless you, you managed to salvage it. I didn’t have to rerecord the episodes. I was really grateful for. But in between recording, it started to rain.

I remember messaging you going “I’ve managed to record one.” But because I was in a car, I was essentially in a metal box, sat on my driveway. The rain was lashing down on the roof. It’s sound, you could hear it. It sounded like I was trapped in a metal box that was being rained on. So we had to try it again for another day. I mean, you learn, you-

Debbie West:
Absolutely. You can’t always control the sound environment.

Rachel Miller:
Like that. Should we keep that one in? We’re currently recording and the All Things IC Hub, which is my office in West London. There were quite a few, as you would expect in urban London… there are quite a few police sirens. Debbie and I were joking this morning that you’ve got so many clips of me going, “ooh police siren” when I come here to record.

Debbie West:
I’ve got a folder full of apology clips. Yeah, it’s brilliant. Yeah. But there’s so much noise. We sat down to record just now, and then we had to pause while the local brewery unloaded-

Rachel Miller:
Kegs. All of the kegs, all the metal kegs have been clinging outside. So I think you have to adapt. This is the beauty of what we do as internal communicators because we’re used using to adapting. We’re used to figuring stuff out as we go. I’ve learned so much in the past few months about just how to record a podcast and what to do. I remember it felt huge before I started.

I had to think about content and think about how to structure it. Should we talk about that? So I remember we had a conversation and you came up with a comment which felt off the cuff, but I don’t know if it was, where you said, “We need to think about what you want people to take away, is probably something to know, something to do, something to think about.” I remember you saying you were a genius. That’s perfect, that is …

Rachel Miller:
I wish you could see Debbie’s face, your reaction then was so nice. But that structure resonates with listeners because only this week I had a comment from Bridget Aherne who messaged on Instagram to say that she really enjoys the episodes because she always leaves with something to do, something to think about, and something to know. I thought that was really nice.

 

Debbie West:
I guess there are lots of little things that go into that. So obviously there’s the magic of three, it’s got that comfy feeling that they’re just three things that they can take away. But also, it’s really helpful, particularly with audio because you may not be able to sit down and write notes with the audio.

You may have to try and carry those ideas in your brain, which we’re not used to doing anymore. So actually remembering something and keeping it top of mind is a bit of a challenge for us now because we’re used to writing everything down, or taking a picture of it on our phone. But just having those three really easy hooks makes it easy for people to remember those going forward because they know every time they listen to your podcast, they’re listening out for those three hooks.

So what are they going to know? What are going to be able to do? what can they think about it? It’s a really helpful way for people to access the content and then remember the content so they can use it. I know it’s super important to you that the content is really practical.

Debbie West:
It’s something that people can actually build into their professional practice, which is brilliant. That’s a brilliant effect for a podcast to have on somebody that it’s something they can actually use. So that’s why there’s three hooks in there.

Rachel Miller:
I think while I’m recording, that’s helpful as well because you’re right. I think I don’t have loads of notes in front of me because I fidget all the time as you know. I’m always wiggling around in my chair or clicking my pen, which is really unhelpful for Debbie!

So I normally have a post-it note in front of me with those three headings. I find having those three points in a post-it note is incredibly helpful because it keeps the structure, and it keeps the content flowing at a pace. It provides structure to quite abstract topics. For example, recent episode, I recorded on values. There are so many avenues you can explore. So I find it keeps the episode short because you know I could talk about these topics for hours, I’m fascinated by them.

Candid Comms podcast cover

Debbie West:
Well, and it’s even worse when we get together because we’ve had a conversation for two hours leading up to this.

Rachel Miller:
Yeah. I think it’s finding a convention that works in terms of how do we keep to time, and how do we keep focus, and how do we keep structured? The majority of the podcast is solo show, it’s an every five episodes. We never really said it will be every five, but it wasn’t our planning process. It was an interview episode. Very intentionally, it was season one of chosen in-house internal communicators to share their stories and to be candid. I’ve really enjoyed those conversations.

Debbie West:
Yeah, they’re super. It’s lovely to hear you in conversation. It’s lovely to hear those people as well, and what they bring with them, and their unique perspective and their experience. I really love interview podcasts. But the solo episodes are so powerful too because obviously you can keep on track yourself with what you want to get from those episodes, and what you want to share. So, I love that balance for solo episodes, and then a guest conversation to tuck into. That feels like the right of pulse, to be honest, yeah.

Amrit Nijjar

Debbie West:
Also, in between those interview podcasts, it gives us time to arrange those properly, and to give them proper consideration and think about what you’d like to cover in those conversations because likewise, the conversation could go anywhere, but we’ve given ourselves that time to talk to the guest and to really think they’re really about what we’d like to have a conversation about.

Rachel Miller:
Should we share how we do that? I’m thinking about your role as a producer, I’ve never had a producer before and that feels very grown up and exciting. Do you maybe want to share what your role is, and what that means for Candid Comms?

Debbie West:
Yes, definitely. I perform the role of both editor and producer for Candid Comms. Then the role of producer that really is around organising all the wraparound. So it’s not necessarily just what happens in the soundtrack, but it’s, how do you source guests?

How do you have that conversation with the guests to make them feel welcomed to the podcast and so that they can contribute really well? Then how do we do things, like structure the season, structure each episode? So it’s all of the wrap around the actual content of a podcast that a producer can help you to take care of basically.

Those are the things that if you’re not experienced, and you don’t expect to have to deal with them, they can trip you up if you just set off and press record, and then wonder how you achieve all of these different elements that go into actually creating a successful series.

Rachel Miller:
I remember reading recently that most podcasts only last for three or four episodes. So there’s lots of podcasts out there, but most only stay the course for three or four episodes. I wonder whether it’s because they don’t have somebody doing exactly what you’re doing. The role that you play is really critical, particularly when we work with guests as well. It’s really nice, the pre-call that you have with people to set questions with them and understand any fears they may have. Then when we do the recording, so normally for solo episodes, I record myself and I record into a microphone, into my phone or into my laptop, and then I send you the files.

Rachel Miller:
But when we do a guest episode, you host that recording for us, and we do that via Zoom. The three of us are on that call, and then you’re silent in the background. So we have a good chat the three of us to start with, and then you drop off the call, it looks like, but you’re there pretty much guiding us in the background. I like that. I feel like that works really well because it’s a video call, I can see the guest. I like that. I sometimes forget that we we’re being recorded. It’s just because I’m having a conversation, and I love it.

Debbie West:
Yeah. That’s the aim really, it is meant to be … It is Candid Comms, so it’s meant to be just a real conversation that we happen to capture, but it’s a smart conversation. So it’s not just a random conversation. We’ve thought about what would be the most appropriate things to talk about, appropriate for the guest to share, but also appropriate for the listener to then want to listen to, and to learn from. It is like an intelligent real conversation-

Rachel Miller:
I like that. We should have that as a strap-line – an intelligent real conversation. I love it, I love it. We’re in planning mode now for season two as well, which I’m really excited about. We’ve got some great guests lined up, which I’m really looking forward to having conversations with. We’re not going to share any hints. We’ll keep that under wraps for season two.

From my perspective, thinking about Candid Comms, I remember when you and I were thinking about naming the podcast, that was really tricky. I found it really difficult to name. I think I had a long list on my phone. I think we got to 54 names at one point.

Debbie West:
There were a lot of names.

Rachel Miller:
It was hard, wasn’t it? I think the intention behind it was really clear to me, but I didn’t know how to name it.

Debbie West:
I totally feel your pain because I am trying to name a podcast myself right now. It’s much easier, I think to help somebody else with that sometimes because there’s so much that you want to say and you want to encapsulate all of that in the name of your podcast, which is humanly impossible. Yeah, but you had a very unique approach to naming your podcast in the end, didn’t you?

Rachel Miller:
Was that unique?

Debbie West:
I would say so, yeah.

Rachel Miller:
We had so many different words. So we whittled it down to a short list. Then I tested it, and I asked people, and I asked clients and people who’ve worked with me who know me very well and said, because you know me and you know how I work, and you know what’s important to me, does this feel like me? Does this feel like something you would expect me to do? You expect me me to be aligned with?

I shared the shortlist of about four or five with the lovely Chloe Maple, who is a client of mine. She came back to me and she said, “Any of these would work, but what I feel like I know you for is Candid Comms.”

I remember looking at that and just seeing that sentence and just going, that’s it, that’s what we’re trying to achieve. I remember feeling really quite emotional when I read that. Just the word candid, in a word encapsulates everything that I’m about, and trying to bust myths on internal comms and be really open, and be very transparent about no one’s got this sorted. We are all figuring it out.

When I’ve read that word, it gave me goosebumps. You know what I’m like, I’m such an emotionally reactive person. I think I’ve said on the podcast multiple times this season: “That’s giving me goosebumps,” because I do react physically to things like that. When I saw that word, I remember messaging you and going, we’ve got it.

Debbie West:
It was at that moment we think, that is absolutely perfect. I think I’ve noticed you use that word more in your speech and in your writing.

Rachel Miller:
Do I? That’s interesting.

Debbie West:
Yeah, yeah. But it’s that cognitive bias, isn’t it? Once you see the word, and you realise how important it is, you then see the word everywhere.

Rachel Miller:
That’s true.

Debbie West:
I think it’s brilliant title. It really does convey the spirit of the podcast because it really is candid. You definitely share candidly exactly what you would do in the situations you’re talking about, which is why it’s so powerful. You don’t hold anything back. You tell people exactly what you would do. Those conversations had with guests, they have been genuinely candid. That’s amazing. It’s great to capture that. That’s-

Rachel Miller:
I feel like that they go deeper. I feel like it gives me the permission to say, I think it was with Matt Baton in episode five when we were having a conversation, and I said, “Come on, Matt, this is candid.” It enabled me to go deeper with him and say, “What was that really like?” Then he said, “Okay, because we’re being candid.” It was really beautiful. He reacted so lovely to it.

Matt Batten and Rachel Miller

But I think it almost gives me a mechanism to create the conditions where we know what to expect. We all are going to be candid. We’re not going to have conversations where everything’s shiny and perfect and brilliant because it wouldn’t be called Candid Comms, it would be called something else.

Rachel Miller:
We work authentically and honestly, and lifting the lid on the reality of how hard internal communicators work, and how hard and challenging our work can be. Can be equally rewarding and amazing, but also it’s tough.

Debbie West:
It is, and it is one of those roles in internal communications. As we know from the popularity of blogs about people who come along and tell you to comms it up and work your magic and all of that. It’s like we know from the inside how much effort goes into something to make it look effortless. There’s more effort to make something look easy than it is to make something clunky. And-

Rachel Miller:
So true.

Debbie West:
I think that’s why the internal comms community is so strong in itself is because we recognise in each other the effort that we all individually make in our different contexts. That’s great. I love that about this committee.

Rachel Miller:
I think there’s quite an openness in terms of talking about mistakes and failure as well, which is why I love the Internal Miscommunications podcast with Keith Riley and Erica Goodwin.

Debbie West:
Yeah, me too.

Rachel Miller:
… because that’s it personified, that openness to say, everybody is mucking up and we’re going to talk about it. What can we learn from that? Which I just love is, is gorgeous format. I love that.

Internal Miscommunication podcast

Debbie West:
Yeah, yeah. It’s brilliant. Talking about work and the effort that goes into it, would you describe making the podcast as a lot of work, and a lot of effort? Because I know podcasts has suffered the same injustice as internal communicators that people think podcasts happened by magic. Does it feel like a lot of effort, Rachel, or is it something you really enjoy?

Rachel Miller:
I do really enjoy it. It is a lot of effort, but it’s enjoyable effort if that makes sense. I take it very seriously. When you work in Internal Communication, you are so visible and everything you do, and everything you write, and you say, is very visible. When you used to record a podcast, you are putting yourself out there to be quite visible and be quite vulnerable.

It deserves the time, money, and effort that you invest in it, I think. I think it’s important to, if I want to do something, I want to do a good job. So it’s enjoyable work. You make it a lot easier, you do, because I think if it was left down to me and I had recorded all those episodes really hot, and then I called them in and then looked at them on the screen, and realised that they were wrong, I would just have to record them all over again.

Rachel Miller:
I wouldn’t know what I was doing. I would be doing best guess, which is what I did when I did my original podcast. It took a very, very long time because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was winging it, but I didn’t want to wing this. I wanted to do it properly because it felt important to me to ask for help and to ask the expert for help. This is what you do, and that beautiful combination you have, which is why I love working together, where you have a learning and development background, you have all of your audio skills and expertise, and you have your online course expertise. We work together a lot.

Rachel Miller:
I feel I can now invest time in thinking about the structure of the episodes and the content. I know that the hard work, and the lifting, and shifting of the audio files, and everything else that you do, so the producing the Headliner clips. So with every episode, we have a video clip where there’s a voiceover and there’s words that go on to that, you do. So, that shared load makes it not feel like a huge lot of work for me. It fits in. We’ve got into the stride now, 16 episodes in where it fits around what we do, and it fits around the other work and commitments that I have or things I see as clients. So, I wouldn’t change it. I’m really happy with how that relationship works because it is that shared responsibility.

 

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A post shared by Rachel Miller (@rachelallthingsic)


Debbie West:
Yeah. I love the way that it works together. We do exchange ideas over everything that we create all of the time when we have that running dialogue about how to tweak it, and improve it, and how to direct it, so it really achieves what you wanted to achieve. I love that, I love the way that we do that together. You mentioned earlier about the number of podcast series that start, and then don’t go anywhere. It’s a phenomenon called pod fade.

Rachel Miller:
Is that a whole thing?

Debbie West:
Yeah, it’s a whole thing, pod fade. So I think it’s as much as maybe 70% of podcast series that suffer from pod feed where somebody will publish. It’s usually about six or seven episodes. Most people start a podcast with this great idea, and they’re burning to tell the world about this idea. Then after six episodes, they’ve done that, and then they realize how much hard work it is. Then maybe something’s fallen over and they didn’t know how to fix it. Then it gets a bit involved, and then they stopped doing it because it’s not as easy as it looks. It’s not as easy as it looks. So to actually get past the pod fade stage and keep publishing, that in itself, puts you in the top 30%.

Rachel Miller:
Wow.

Debbie West:
So that’s really impressive.

Rachel Miller:
I will take that. Should we talk about the … because the original plan was to publish on a Monday, this was the plan. That felt like an achievable goal to publish weekly and publish on a Monday. Then we did that for the first couple of episodes, and then I found to publish on a Monday, meant lining it up to go live at midnight on a Sunday night. I would get to about 11:00 on a Sunday night and be really tired and think, I didn’t want to automate it. I wanted to see it go live, and then it gets pulled through to Apple, and Spotify, and all the different podcasts and platforms. Then I decided to think about releasing it early. I was looking at feedback from listeners about where they listened to the episodes. People started to say, I save them up, or I save …

Rachel Miller:
It comes out on a Monday, and I save it for the weekend and I listen to it on a Sunday. I listen to it while I’m walking my dog, or I listen to it while I’m having a run. Then we made the decision pretty early on, I think it was from episode four onwards of season one, we then released on a Sunday. So it goes live on a Sunday morning. So now, I’m up at midnight on a Saturday night, which is fine because it’s Saturday night. I line it up to go live. So, it hits one minute past midnight, so very early Sunday morning. That seems to really resonated with listeners.

Rachel Miller:
I’m really proud of that because I know that I’m accompanying people making a Sunday lunch. I know that I’m out with you while you’re pushing young babies in prams on a Sunday, while you’re having a run, at least three or four listeners now listen to it in the bath. So, hello to you that you’re listening to us in the bath. I like that because what’s happened over the cadence, the rhythm of the podcast over the last 12 weeks, particularly from episode four onwards, has been people have fitted it into their weekend routines. I don’t know what the industry thinking is about the best day to release a podcast, but it’s probably not a Sunday, is it?

Debbie West:
Well, I think the most popular day for podcast episodes to go is a Monday. What happens then is, you’ve got a lot of competition. But also what happens when it’s a really popular day is that maybe is the day most people log in to look at what’s new on a Monday because they’re used to lots of episodes coming out on a Monday. So, I tried different days of the week when I was publishing my podcast to see what worked. There’s a balance. I think you’ve taken the right approach, which is to listen to your listeners and to interpret the feeling around the community that listens to your podcast because every podcast has got its own community. So that community will respond differently.

Debbie West:
You did exactly the right thing, your community was saying to you, this is the context in which I want to hear this podcast. So you’ve put your podcast into that context. That’s the right thing to do.

Rachel Miller:
I find that most Sunday mornings, if I’m up with the children, it’s 6:30am, 7:00am. If I look at the stats, so it’s gone live at midnight, so it’s been up and available for six or seven hours. It’s normally heard about 70 or 80 listens already, which I’m always amazed by because obviously I’m based in the UK, but it’s real international audience. So, there are people who are listening while I’m sleeping. It’s really nice to wake up knowing the episodes just gone out and knowing that people have automatically straight away listen to it and assaulted to give me feedback. I love that. I love knowing that I’m starting the day knowing that people are listening.

Rachel Miller:
Then throughout Sunday, I’ll get various messages from people saying, I’m cooking the dinner or whatever they’re doing. I love that because to know that I’m in the ear buds of internal communicators as they’re finishing off their weekend and maybe planning for the week ahead and I’m there to support them and giving them advice and guidance, is something I’m really proud of because it feels like that Sunday is a good day to help set them up for success, hopefully for the weekend.

Debbie West:
Yeah, absolutely. As important as that is, it’s equally important to remember that somebody could listen to your podcast episode at any time and in any place. That’s the great thing about it. So, you’ve found a sweet spot for publishing. But also each of your episodes could be the first episode that somebody listens to, and they’d still recognise it was you.

They’d still get a sense of what that podcast is there for, and that’s the important thing not to forget as well. So it’s easy to think because you’re in it, you see it as a continuous piece of work in a way that you’re halfway through, but to a listener, each episode could be their first experience of that. So it’s capturing both of those things. It’s that continuity and that familiarity, but also that sense of welcome to the podcast, if this is your first episode. So, yes.

Rachel Miller:
True, isn’t it? I think we do find that, I get feedback from people where they might have listened to episode 12 as their first episode. Then they’ll message me to say, oh my goodness, I’ve just discovered your podcast because they’re evergreen, so they don’t date.

You can listen to any time. That’s very intentional from our perspective that I want it to be useful and continuously useful. So, when there’s an episode on how to communicate your company’s values, if you’re not in that head space right now, but in six months time you are, there’s an episode waiting for you. So that’s a very intentional focus for me, not to do content that will date, but that will be continuously useful, whether you’re listening to it the day it’s released or six months or two years after it’s published. I’m really keen to carry on doing that.

Rachel Miller:
It’s good to have topics. I think it’s good to draw things which are so hybrid working, for example, felt like a real … Now is the time to talk about hybrid working. So that’s why I recorded that episode at the period of time that I recorded it because I know from conversations with comms friends and clients that that is what we’re all working on right now.

How to communicate hybrid working Rachel Miller

Debbie West:
Totally, right. As I remember, we’ve shuffled the episode-

Rachel Miller:
We did.

Debbie West:
… or two around to accommodate that. That’s the great thing about having a regular publishing pulse is that you may have content in the can, like we said, which is great. But then there may be a time when it’s important that you wiggle that around to a different date because actually this is really important right now, and we really need to address this right now because it’s the conversation that people have got to have themselves in real time. That’s ideal. I think it’s great to be in that position where we’ve got that flexibility to pull content, wiggle it around and address what people’s real needs are there and then.

Debbie West:
How do you get a sense of that, Rachel? Because I think you’ve really adapt at picking up on what’s happening in the internal communications world. Then feeding that content back out. How do you get a sense of that? Is that through feedback?

Rachel Miller:
I’m always talking about internal comms, but more importantly, I’m always listening to my clients and comms friends. I’ve been blogging about internal communication for 12 years. I use the search terms on my blog quite regularly too … I look at how people got to All Things IC blog, and what are they searching for? It helps me identify content gaps. Unfortunately people were searching a while back, were searching about employee deaths. There was one line that I’d written on my blog about communicating, if employees die and obviously during a pandemic.

Rachel Miller:
Unfortunately this has been a reality for lots of communicators where they’ve had to communicate really devastating news internally. So that led to me writing a blog post on how to communicate the death of an employee because I was able to see and use analytics to identify the gaps in terms of, what are internal communicators looking for? What do they need help with? How can I help bridge that gap in their knowledge by providing content? I do the same for the podcast.

How to communicate the death of an employee

Rachel Miller:
I’m looking at what conversations am I having with clients and comms friends and my Inner Circle, particularly, which is my membership for senior level constructs as a heads of internal comms? When you’re at that level, you can’t often be seen to ask for help, but admit that you don’t know things or have an opportunity to connect with other people, which is why the inner circle exists. So I use all of those conversations to inform my planning in terms of, what is top of mind right now? Where are the gaps? How can I help?

Debbie West:
No, that’s brilliant. That really comes through. I think you do a great job of selecting really good content and really good topic areas.

Rachel Miller:
Thank you.

Debbie West:
That’s such a strength.

Rachel Miller:
We’re going to take a short break. When we come back, Debbie and I are going to close out episode 16, and the final episode of season one. See you in a moment.

All Things IC Online Masterclasses

Debbie West:
Welcome back. This is the final part of the final episode of season one, and I got to say welcome back.

Rachel Miller:
You did.

Debbie West:
I really want to ask you, Rachel, about accessibility because I know that’s something that’s really important to you, and it’s something that we both work on when we produce all of your content. So tell me how accessibility fits with podcast in being a pure audio channel for you.

Rachel Miller:
It’s something that’s really important to me, particularly I have a 70% hearing loss and I wear a hearing aid. So, audio for me has always been a medium that I’ve struggled with because of the accessibility. I enjoy podcasts because I can pause, rewind any bits that I miss. Thinking about my own podcast, thinking about Candid Comms, it’s been important to me to publish transcripts, so I’m really mindful of that.

If other people were struggling with audio as a means of communication, then I’m conscious of, how do I make it accessible for them? So that manifests itself through publishing transcripts, but also the video clips that we do with the words on them. So they’re short one minute clips that we share on Instagram and Twitter around each episode.

Rachel Miller:
It’s a work in progress for me. I’m constantly learning about accessibility. There are mediums like Clubhouse, which are new and just launched. I’ve really struggled with that because I can’t hear it. I miss so much of the audio and because unlike a podcast, I can’t pause it, I can’t rewind it, and I can’t catch up. Clubhouse doesn’t feel like the right method for me, but podcasting, if you’ve put the effort into making it accessible, should be available to everybody. I am really conscious of that.

Debbie West:
Yeah. I really appreciate that. I know lots of people ask, what would be the point of making a transcript of a podcast if it’s meant to be audio? There’s so many benefits, and it’s not just accessibility, is enabling people to take pieces out of your content, and enabling use for that content onto your website and all of the help that that gives you as well. But that accessibility thing is so important.

PRCA accessible communications guidelines

Rachel Miller:
We talked about that, didn’t we, about transcript? Because I was unsure at the start what to publish with a podcast because show notes for me, have always been about … I listen to a lot of podcasts. Whenever I go to show notes, I expect it to a piece of research or someone’s referenced in their episode. I don’t necessarily expect there to be a transcript. If there is, and I’m in the show notes because I’ve missed something, I haven’t heard something correctly or I want to replay it, that’s really helpful for me because I can actually see the content.

Rachel Miller:
But you and I had that conversation as well, and I was saying, I’ve like being iterating as I’ve been going along the last few episodes, particularly of this season one. I’ve published full transcripts. I remember the last one was 4,000 words long. It’s a whole thing. It’s like mini a book, it as I write. I remember I was talking about that and me saying, “Should I make it shorter? Should I do timestamps?” We were discussing that actually. If it is a tricky subject, you might want to read a lot about it. Also, from a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective, it’s a good thing to do.

Debbie West:
Yeah. It’s not just sharing keywords, then it’s key phrases, and it’s having those phrases in different contexts that other people bring to your podcast in their interviews particularly. So that’s really helpful.

Rachel Miller:
I also think about, if you publish a transcript, why would someone listen to the podcast? But for me, I’m just keen to share that information, and it’s up to internal communicators to decide how they want to access that content. It might be the audio doesn’t feel like right medium for them, at least if the contents there as a transcript, they still benefit from all the advice and guidance that I’m sharing through my podcasts, but their communication style and their preference is to have it written. So, hopefully it feels like it’s working, and I can see from the stats that people are accessing the content and reading the transcript. So, it feels like this is the right thing to do. So I’ll keep on doing it.

Debbie West:
Yeah. That’s great. I think you have to find out what’s right for you, for your audience, for what you’re trying to achieve. So it will vary from podcaster to podcaster how important that is to them. But yeah, I think it’s right in your case. But that’s brilliant. At this moment, where we’ve just got to the end of season one, and we’re already planning season two, which we’re really excited about, what are your overall aims for the future of the podcast?

Rachel Miller:
If I think about why I created Candid Comms, and why I launched it, it was to be able to reach internal communicators wherever they are in the globe, and to have the opportunity to help them make decisions, and to make the right choices for their organisations wherever they are. One of the things I’m really proud of is that, it’s definitely achieved those aims because I can see from the stats that we have a truly global audience, and I’m really proud of that to know that I’m in the air buds of comms pros all around the globe.

Rachel Miller:
For season two, I would love to hear their voices. You and I know because we’re planning at the moment, but some of my guests for season two, I suppose it to me to amplify the voices of internal communicators, not just hearing in the UK, but around the globe. So, part of my planning for season two is enabling that to happen. So success for me to get to the end of season two would be to have heard from internal communicators who’ve got fantastic stories to share and great tips and advice to help other internal communicators.

Debbie West:
Yeah, amazing. I can’t wait for that to happen. I think I remember saying at the beginning, one of the lovely things, the most rewarding things is seeing those countries light up. When you get listeners in different countries, it super, isn’t? Yeah.

Rachel Miller:
We talked about doing cocktails, didn’t we? We talked about-

Debbie West:
That’s right, yeah.

Rachel Miller:
… having a map and being able to have a cocktail from each of the origin countries.

Debbie West:
Exactly.

Rachel Miller:
We didn’t do that, we could have done that.

Debbie West:
There’s time.

Rachel Miller:
There is time, there is time. I’m really proud of that because you get different perspectives as well. What fascinates me is understanding what people are taking away, or hearing what people are taken away as a result of listening to the podcast and spotting those global differences, and spotting what really resonates with people, and the difference of opinion that you get around the world about internal comms. So, I’m constantly learning. I’m really open to that, and hearing views from listeners about what’s resonating, and what are they going to try out in their own place of work wherever they may be listening from.

Debbie West:
Yeah. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?

Rachel Miller:
It is.

Debbie West:
And really rewarding. Well, finally, the million dollar question. As an experienced and successful podcaster, I’d like to know what you would tell somebody else who’s thinking about podcasting. One thing they need to know, one thing they can do, or one thing they ought to think about.

Rachel Miller:
I see what you did there. I love it. Something that you need to know if we’re thinking about creating a podcast is what’s the intention behind it. So, what’s the problem that you’re trying to solve? Or how does it fit in to other work you may be doing? For me, how it fits in with my blog, with my masterclasses and client work? So, be really clear about what’s the gap, what’s the problem that you’re trying to solve.

Rachel Miller:
Something to do is to do your research. So, who else is doing something in the space? Also, there’s two things to do, do your research, who else is doing what, but also, what do you need kit wise? So I remember having conversations with you around, I’ve still got my microphones, my Blue Yeti microphone, and my Snowball microphones from my original podcast all those years ago, what else do you need? So I think that’s something that’s really important because you don’t need a lot of equipment.

As we’re recording right now, I’ve got a PopShield, which is seven pounds on Amazon. I’ve got a device that plugs the microphone into my phone and recording of voice memos. You don’t need to have a heck of a lot of equipment. So that’s something to do is do your research around the kit that you.

This is the equipment I use:

Rachel Miller:
It’s probably less than you actually realise. Then something to think about is measuring success. So, if you don’t want to have, and I’m going to use the lovely phrase, pod fade, if you don’t want to have pod fade, then what does your measure of success look like? How do you know if this is worth continuing to do? So I think that’s something to think about upfront and, you were really great in challenging me up front in terms of, what does success look like? What do you want to be?

Rachel Miller:
Thinking about giving the space and time to collect your thoughts before launching into a podcast, I think is the right thing to do because if you’re not sure, and I say this when people are thinking about starting a blog, if you’re not sure whether that particular topic is the right thing to blog about, write 10 headlines and then write 10 more, and then write 10 more.

I say this as a blogger who’s been writing for 12 years on internal comms, if you can’t think of a new topic to write about within that niche, then that’s not the right topic for you. So I think being really intentional around the topics that you want to record. If you think actually I’m going to run out of ideas, then that’s probably not the right medium for you.

Debbie West:
That’s brilliant advice. Yeah, I think that’s brilliant advice. Awesome. Well, thank you very much. That was super, really good summary of really critical things. I love your emphasis on how intentional you’ve been about all those things through making the podcast. I think that’s what’s made it such a success.

Rachel Miller:
Thank you.

Debbie West:
Yeah, congratulations again. It’s been brilliant.

Rachel Miller:
Thank you very much. I’m looking forward to season two. So thank you so much to you for all of your hard work, and for correcting all of my missteps and cutting out all the police sirens when I record in central London, which is-

Debbie West:
Those are my favourite bits. Yeah, and the sound of you writing notes in the middle. Those are my favorite bits.

Rachel Miller:
Sorry. I’m going to close the episode by saying thank you to you listeners for tuning in in season one. It’s been a total joy to hear what you’re doing differently as a result of listening to Candid Comms. I will be back. We will take a very short break and then season two will be back in your ear buds. In the meantime, do listen back if you’ve missed any episodes of season one. If you have any ideas for topics you would like me to cover in season two, please do get in touch.

Rachel Miller:
As ever, you can find me on Twitter @AllThingsIC. Find me on Instagram, @rachelallthingsic. Look me up on LinkedIn, Rachel Miller, or you can send me a message via allthingsic.com.  For the final time this season listeners, remember what happens inside is reflected outside. See you again soon.

What happens inside is reflected outside

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 9 May 2021.

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