How to use audio for IC in 2024

Are you using audio as part of your internal communication in 2024?

Do you have plans to start or revitalise a podcast in your organisation?

Season Five of the Candid Comms podcast has just ended. There are now 57 episodes available if you need help on all things internal communication related.

I’ve been reviewing the outputs and outcomes of the latest season, such as which episodes have been listened to the most and which topics have prompted feedback on social media.

I’m always pleased to read comments from people who’ve been able to try a new approach or have taken confidence from something they heard in my podcast.

Candid Comms stats

I’ve also been reflecting on the way in which internal communication professionals have been using podcasts in their own companies. I asked Debbie West of Audere, the producer of my recent series, to share an update with us on all things internal comms podcast related.

We first wrote about how to use a podcast for internal communication back in 2019 and we asked for examples of in-house podcasts in 2021.

What have you experienced since then and how have internal communicators adapted to the use of audio content?

Further reading: Who is using podcasts for internal communication?

Debbie: Thank you for inviting me back to the blog! Since the last time we wrote about this topic, I’ve seen an interesting variety of ways in which IC practitioners have been testing the use of podcasts and audio content.

On the whole, there’s been growing use of both video and audio and something I’ve seen emerge more recently is a desire for regular, freshly-made multi-media content.

In some companies, employees are looking for up-to-the minute soundbites from their senior team or from colleagues with credibility, that are quickly shared rather than painstakingly produced.

For other organisations, there’s a more planned and considered approach to crafting and sharing messages through a podcast, which may be regular messaging from their CEO for example, resulting in less frequent publication but perhaps more durable content.

Similarly, some of the clients we work with at Audere like to keep their internal podcasts strictly in-house only, while others are happy for their content to be available publicly.

This largely depends on the type of information their podcasts contain and it shows what a broad variety of styles are suitable for audio.

Overall, I think we’re still learning about the best ways to use podcasts and audio content inside organisations and it’s great to see internal communicators testing it out in ways that suit their own people and channels.

Rachel: Thanks Debbie, I’ve found my podcast, Candid Comms, has been a useful way for me to reach people all over the globe and I’m always delighted to see comments and downloads from new places.

While podcasting works well for me, I’m keen to remind internal communicators that they should take a planned approach to managing their channels in a way that suits their companies.

I’m always dubious when people rush to do something new because they are adopting the ‘shiny new thing’ or ‘comms bling’, as I call it.

The final episode in the season was about channels and how to get real clarity on the purpose of your channels.

Further reading: How to improve your IC channels

Candid Comms episode 10 series five. How to improve your IC channels

How you think podcasting fits in with that approach?

Debbie: I agree that more doesn’t equal better when it comes to internal channels! There is a role for a healthy mix of styles and approaches though, when you factor in your employees’ preferences, accessibility and attention levels.

It pays to have some variety in your strategy to reach your disparate colleague groups.

There’s also a role for channels that have a specific pace and function. For example, I worked with communicators on large-scale change programmes where we needed high-speed update comms for workstreams and smaller milestones, plus a less frequent but regular pulse of more in-depth comms, taking in the scope of the whole change programme.

For the former, emails and short video or audiogramme-style updates worked best; for the latter, a more planned and produced internal podcast with an accompanying transcript was the right way to go.

Rachel: Thanks Debbie. In our last blog about podcasting for internal communication, we spoke about the specific benefits of audio content. Have those changed since then?

Debbie: There’s been growing awareness of the level of trust listeners place in podcast hosts and their content. A survey in 2023 by Pew Research found that 55% of American respondents trust news from podcasts as much as the news they get from other sources, and nearly a third say they trust podcast sources more.

This is reflected in the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023  and it’s demonstrating a trajectory of increasing trust in podcasts.

The relationship of trust that develops between a podcaster and their listeners is something we’ve been talking about for a while and it’s good to see data to prove this is a particular strength of podcasting.

People generally listen to podcasts alone (94% of UK-based listeners, according to the latest Rajar report) which helps to create a sense of personal connection. Added to that, without the distraction of visual content, listeners are keenly tuned into the tone of voice of a podcast host. That enables authentic speakers, who mean what they say, to communicate their integrity implicitly in their words.

If you want to increase levels of trust in your company, a podcast might be an ideal channel for you to explore.

Rachel: What about research that’s more specific to IC? Last year’s popular IC Index from the Institute of Internal Communication and Ipsos Karian & Box was an interesting read. What did you find interesting in that research?

Debbie: Like you, I found the IoIC’s IC Index 2023 provided a wealth of interesting data and I’ve cited it several times since it was published. The section titled ‘Loud and Clear’ offers a great benchmark for the amount time people have to engage with news and updates from their employer and I regularly refer clients to that information when they are thinking about the ideal duration of their podcast episodes.
Promotional image for the 2023 IC Index

Another interesting piece of insight for me was that although there’s still a strong preference for written forms of communication, the preference for audio was level with the preference for video, at 12% each.

Looking to the future, the preference for audio and video content is higher for Gen Z workers and this aligns with some of the observations I made in a blog I wrote about the future of employee comms podcasts, when I first joined the Audere team.

Podcast listenership in general is higher among younger populations and I think this points to a future where people entering work for the first time will increasingly expect their employer to have a podcast.

It’s been good to catch up on what’s happening with internal communications podcasts. If you’ve been using podcast or audio content in your company, let me know, I’m always pleased to hear from internal communicators about their experience.

If you want to talk to Debbie about how to start an internal podcast, you can find her on LinkedIn or via the Audere website.

Post authors: Rachel Miller and Debbie West

First published on the All Things IC blog 5 January 2023

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Each day is focused on helping internal communicators to succeed through training and networking. We are not having these sessions sponsored, they are provided by and hosted by All Things IC.

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