How to use audio for internal communication

How can you use audio for your internal communication? With Voice search on the way, the idea of creating audio content is gathering pace.

The latest episode of the Be a Bigger Fish podcast has been published today and features host Debbie Aurelius interviewing me about audio use in internal comms.

Through the course of our conversation, we reflected back on how audio has been used in IC over the years, how it can be used for employee voice, opportunities to use audio for internal comms, the IC podcasts that are on the market and much more.

Here are the show notes and timestamps via Debbie…

In her opening comments, Rachel describes her love of working in internal communications, particularly in supporting other communications professionals as they grow and develop.

Rachel’s experience as a podcaster

[3:43] Beside being a prolific blogger, Rachel used to host the All Things IC podcast for the For Immediate Release network. She loved sharing her ideas through a different medium. Rachel found out what she needed to do to create her podcast content by watching YouTube videos and getting a hand from her (former DJ) husband. She invested in a microphone and hooked up to GarageBand to create her content.

Equipment: I used to use a Blue Yeti or Snowball microphone.

Behind the scenes of the FIR All Things IC podcast in 2014.

[5:57] Rachel confesses to being put off by editing in the early days, but recommends getting comfortable with editing early on. It’s quite straightforward and can save you lots of time and concern in the long run.

Benefits of podcasting

[7:10] Podcasting helped Rachel reach a more global audience, particularly listeners in the US. It gave her an alternative channel and helped her expand her network.

Do you need a blog and a podcast?

Since Rachel is so well known for her blog, I was intrigued to find out whether she thought podcasting could be a good addition to an established blog.

[8:05] Rachel described writing as her go-to choice and found she had to shift her approach to create successful podcast content, thinking differently about how to structure a podcast story. She’s also thinking about turning some of her blog content into audio summaries, to reach a new audience.

[11:00] Aside from creating her own podcast content, Rachel benefits from being a guest on other people’s shows.  It helps her to find out more about other topics or approaches to podcasting, and it enables her to reach new listeners. Joining podcasts that are just outside the world of internal communications has been a productive learning experience too.

The purpose of internal communication

[14:20] It isn’t about telling people what to do. Rachel describes contemporary internal comms as a way of creating a shared understanding and shared meaning of an organisation. This drives greater clarity, helping people to understand how their work contributes to the purpose of the organisation.

“only when that happens can employees align themselves to a company’s business strategy, goals, ambitions and aims.”

Can podcasts fit into a modern internal comms mix?

[15:50] Rachel feels strongly that any communication needs to be inherently social, and in the light of this, podcasts may be viewed as a broadcast medium. To overcome this, audio content can be coupled with other activities. For example, capturing the audio from a live event or meeting means you can repurpose that content and use it as a prompt for a live discussion or as the basis of dialogue on enterprise social networks.

[22:30] Rachel describes one powerful in-house podcast using content that features employees based on suggestions generated by employees. It’s a good example of user-generated content that amplifies employee voice. Bad examples tend to be formal and just use audio as a way to reproduce the same information that’s shared in more traditional media.

We need a podcast!

[24:13] As with all communications work, you should be really clear of your intention before you rush into solutions. The fact podcasts are growing in popularity doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for your audience. Don’t just add to the noise – have an idea of what outcomes you want any communication to drive.

Crafting content for audio.

[24:50] Rachel used themes for each of her podcast episodes to create a structure; this gave clarity of the content and its outcomes. She avoids scripting. It sounds obvious when someone is reading audio content so bullet points and post-it note prompts are best.

Rachel is also aware that audio content can’t be tweaked for updates in the same way written content can, so keeping it more dialogic and heart-felt is best.

[28:16] One of the main reasons Rachel loves podcasts is that they enable her to hear people’s stories, told in their own words.

The future of in-house podcasting

[29:39] Looking to the future, Rachel hopes there will be a broad range of good examples of in-house podcasts in three to five years’ time. She points out wisely that when we see ‘Best Podcast’ as a category in communications awards, we’ll know the medium has ‘arrived’ properly.

One of the issues communications professionals seem to struggle with is whether podcast content should be kept ‘internal’ or published publicly.

[30:38] Rachel’s view is, if you have good stories to share, you should be confident to share them externally. There are clearly subjects you wouldn’t share, but day to day work-life stories would be great for recruitment and external branding.

“Your people, in their own voices, sharing their view on the world. Why not share that externally?”

Top tips for creating engaging podcast content

[33:00] Understand the problems you’re trying to solve through your podcast. Be really clear about what people will get from listening to it. Listen to your target audience to find out how to meet them where they are.

“Listening first, then creating your content is the way to have really engaging content.”

Advice to a new podcaster

[34:45] Listen to other podcasts. Get a feel for the range of styles and types available to get an idea about what you can do. Next, find out what your audience needs and ensure you’re solving a problem they have, in a way that helps them to learn.

[36:25] We’re spoiled for choice in internal communications right now – there are more podcasts exploring the subject than there ever have been. Some examples include:

  • The Internal Comms Podcast with Katie Macauley;
  • The Talking Comms Podcast with Adrian Stirrup;
  • Culture, Comms & Cocktails with Chuck Gose.

This podcast content is providing plenty of opportunities for communicators to learn from a range of people, through audio.

Being a Bigger Fish

[39:00] Rachel applies a rule when she goes to conferences – if she feels like the most qualified person in the room, she knows it’s time to go to a different conference. There’s always something else to learn, so jump into a bigger pond when you realise you need to.

Thank you for these show notes Debbie. You can find her online @peppermintfishc on Twitter and @peppermintfishc on Instagram.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

Listen to the episode:

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What do you think about what you’ve read? Do you have an internal podcast in your organisation? If so, would you like to write a guest post? Do let me know.

As ever, you’re welcome to comment below, or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

First published on the All Things IC blog 12 March 2019.


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