Last updated 24th of July 2018
Author Lisa Hartwell
5 Benefits of Using Podcasts for Internal Communications
We’ve been raving about the benefits of using podcasts for years; in fact, one of the first blog posts in 2008 on our original website was singing the praises of podcasts and looking at how you can use them to support your business’s brand and marketing. Back then podcasts were seeing a slow but steady rise in popularity but the numbers of listeners kept them firmly in the niche category. Today, the benefits of using podcasts for internal communications are too significant to ignore.
According to a 2016 Edison survey, an estimated 57 million people in the US alone have listened to a podcast in the last month and 35 million in the past week. Around 71% of listeners are accessing them on their smartphone, iPad or other portable player. Podcasts are now in the mainstream and their popularity continues to grow.
OK, What About the UK?
In RAJAR’s (Radio Joint Audience Research) 2017 MIDAS audio survey, they estimate 5.5 million adults are listening to podcasts – very roughly, that’s around 10% of the adult population. But almost as significant is the fact that 25 million people (all ages) have downloaded an app to listen to “traditional” radio and 4.7 million use the “listen again” option.
Why is that important? It means that online, on-demand audio programmes using digital devices are part of mainstream culture. People know what they are, how to use them and how to access them. And you should be taking advantage of that.
5 Benefits of Using Podcasts for Internal Communications
1. Reach Remote Workers Other Channels Fail to Reach
Probably the most significant benefit of using podcasts for your internal communications is being able to communicate better with remote, non-desk and field workers. Engaging with these employees can be a struggle. Not all of them have access to the company intranet and communication via email can be intermittent (especially for those travelling and in the field). Even accessing the internet can be difficult at times, so podcasts enable them to download or stream when it’s convenient to them and feel connected to what’s happening in the business. And since these employees are more likely to have a smartphone than any other device and carry it with them always, the opportunities for listening are there at all times.
2. Recognisable & Popular Media
As mentioned above, podcasts are no longer a curiosity for the few. Downloadable and streaming audio is widespread and widely used, which means your communications have a better chance of reaching employees in a format they like...and a better chance of being heard.
3. Anywhere Anytime
We touched on this with remote workers but this applies to all employees, whether they’re in the office next door or halfway around the world. Podcasts enable employees to access your communications at the best time and place to suit them. This may be on their commute, in a team meeting with other colleagues, at the gym or after they’ve put the kids to bed at night. They don’t need to interrupt a task because they’ve received an email that they know they should read now or it will be forgotten. Nor do they have to remember to access the intranet when they’re still at their desk to check they haven’t missed anything important. And you don’t have to worry about the best time to schedule an email so it’s seen and acknowledged by employees in London, New York and Delhi.
Sadly, the written word is becoming less popular, so while you may prefer to write in-depth articles for the intranet and send out useful emails, it doesn’t mean they’re being seen and read. The spoken word can be far more engaging because it’s dynamic, immediate, can express meaning better in a short space of time, and can take complex information and make it more palatable. It can be especially useful for leadership communications because hearing the CEO, MD or a manager “as live” gives the impression of transparency and openness.
Why not just create videos? Have you noticed how stilted most people become when forced to talk in front of a camera? Also, the set-up and planning required to record a video is longer. You’re less likely to be able to record a video with the CEO in a 15-minute gap between meetings or while he’s travelling, but it’s possible for a podcast. That means podcast recordings can be more “immediate” and respond quickly to changes or emergencies within the business.
Generally, people are more comfortable with having their voice recorded, especially if the recording is done in a relaxed environment or they have an interviewer asking questions that they can respond to naturally.
5. Different Strokes for Different Folks
You’re not limited to providing one style of communication for everybody. Just as a newsletter to managers will have a different style and content to one sent to counter staff, audio can be adapted too, depending on your audience.
You can provide a top-level leadership podcast for managers, dealing with some of the weightier topics within the business (share prices, budgets, employee engagement scores), while offering a more chatty, relaxed, “what you need to know” programme for other employees. Or why not mix it up and have a magazine style programme covering different areas of the business and allowing listeners to choose the parts that are relevant to them?
In the same way that traditional radio provides different stations and programmes for different listener demographics, podcasts can do the same for internal communications.
Podcasts were once a niche, alternative medium that have now become mainstream and accessible to a large proportion of the population. The benefits of using podcasts for internal communications are becoming hard to ignore and could become a vital channel in your efforts to reach and engage with all employees at any time of the day (or night).
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Sources: The Podcast Consumer 2016 - Edison Research - http://www.edisonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/The-Podcast-Consumer-2016.pdf | RAJAR MIdas Audio Survey - Spring 2017: http://www.rajar.co.uk/docs/news/MIDAS_Spring_2017_v2.pdf