Lots of businesses turn to podcasting. Applied correctly, you can use a podcast to build your brand or market your products and services, keep your employees informed, or talk about your work in a more digestible format than a blog or press release.
Despite this, company podcasts are sometimes short-lived. This happens because of poor planning, low listenership, or a lack of vision. All of these issues are preventable, and avoiding common pitfalls can ensure you stay on a path to success.
We'll talk about both internal and external podcasts and how to set them up for success in your organization.
Hosting a podcast for your employees is a great way to build company culture and keep employees up-to-date. However, it can also involve more work than you anticipate, and the responsibility for keeping the podcast going can be difficult to wrangle. Security and keeping private information private can be another unanticipated challenge.
You'll want to make sure that your company podcast is password-protected. This is available on Pinecast with the Growth add-on, which is an extra $10/mo (or $110/year). Setting a password on your podcast ensures that your website and feed are both protected from outsiders. We also add an extra layer of protection to links.
If you'd rather not use a Pinecast-hosted website, you can set up your own on an internal webpage. Many folks use Atlassian Confluence, which can accept our embeddable players through a HTML embed. Any place that accepts HTML can embed our iframe-based episode players.
Consider changing your podcast's password regularly (e.g., every quarter), and that passwords are not guessable (i.e., don't simply adjust a number at the end of a fixed password). This will help to ensure that employee access is revoked after they leave the company.
Work with employees to source material for your podcast in the same way that you might source material for an internal newsletter or blog. We've seen teams have success with a number of approaches:
It's advisable to have someone dedicated to spending 10-20% of their time coordinating podcast content and providing editing. Software like Descript can help to dramatically reduce production time.
Hosting a podcast for clients, customers, or leads can be a valuable way to drive business, build your brand, and share your wins. A podcast is your way to highlight what's going on within your business.
Be sure to have a concrete set of high-level goals for your podcast. For instance:
Avoid goals like "all of the above," as this can make it difficult to understand whether your investment into the podcast is seeing returns. To help with that, consider defining OKRs ("objectives and key results") for your podcast. Each OKR should be a tangible, measurable metric. Some examples:
Each OKR should correspond to a goal. When producing your episodes, focus on content that will help to further one or more goal. It should be clear how the content you're producing will help to achieve each OKR. With each month, quarter, or half, review your OKRs to measure your progress. If you haven't achieved the results you'd like, work with your team to identify assumptions that turned out to be false, things that didn't go as planned, ways to improve, and changes that might drive more success. When you achieve your goals, set higher targets and re-adjust your success metrics to focus on what can provide the most business value.
A hastily-produced podcast can reflect poorly on your brand. Poor audio quality, a lack of focus, or overly-scripted segments can feel cheap and inauthentic. It's fine to be a bit rough around the edges—and some businesses may have a slightly scrappy aesthetic that benefit from a more casual feel—but you should work to ensure your podcast stays on-brand and work-appropriate.
Copyrighted audio should be avoided at all costs. Look to services like Upwork, Fiverr, and Envato to find or commission assets (music, art, and sound effects) that you can use royalty-free. Work with your marketing or brand teams (if you have them) to ensure that your content stays consistent with other efforts within the company.
When speaking as the company (i.e., outside of interviews and unscripted content), make sure your tone is consistent with how the company would speak to the target audience. If you're aiming your podcast at other business owners, review your scripts to ensure proper grammar and a professional tone. When speaking with consumers, use a tone appropriate to the material at hand.
Having too casual of a tone can make your content (and by consequence, your brand) feel like it's not serious. Having a tone that's too formal can come off as forced or inauthentic. Record a sample of a script or part of a test episode and show it to some folks who can give an honest, unbiased opinion. Consult at least two people internally and externally.
If you are able, use high-quality microphones. Don't record with your laptop or phone; these microphones will yield echoey or low-quality sound.
The Audio-Technica ATR2100-x is a good choice for doing your own recording. It's fairly inexpensive and will produce high quality audio. A boom stand and microphone shock mount will help to ensure your audio is clear and noise-free. You should have one microphone for each speaker on the podcast.
If you want to maximize your audio quality, look for local recording studios. If you don't know where to look, you can often contact your local radio stations. Libraries may also offer recording services or have resources to find them.
If your business doesn't have a lot of experience editing audio, consider hiring a third party to help. For a relatively small fee, you can find services that will professionally edit your episodes for you. Badly edited audio can be hard to listen to and drive away your audience: if you aren't confident that you can do this well, invest in help from a professional.
Equipment, recording venues, assets, and editing services can become expensive quickly. You don't need to invest too much money into your podcast to be effective, so avoid spending more than you need to. Set a budget based on your expected return on investment. Look at those OKRs from earlier: what is the business value of those results? Balance your short-term costs against the medium-term outcomes from the podcast to set reasonable limits on spending.
Remember, you don't need to make the perfect podcast on the first try: you only need to be effective enough to achieve your goals. As your listenership grows, you can make more investments into your content.
Remember to consider what folks are going to tune in to listen to. Podcasts shouldn't just be another channel to push information through: listeners will stop listening if your content is dry or irrelevant. When brainstorming topics, ask yourself whether you would tune in to hear what's being said. If you wouldn't tune in, your listeners likely won't either.
Your show should balance education and business-relevant information with entertainment. Could your podcast have simply been an email? Use the audio medium to its fullest: the ability to easily convey emotion and nuance is a key benefit to a podcast.
Choose speakers who are able to articulate well (they should be easy to understand) and who are convincing orators. Less-charismatic speakers will not engage a listener.
Your show's analytics will be incredibly valuable. Look to your listener counts to see how many folks are tuning in. A growing listener base is a good sign. We have an article which details how to measure your success using analytics.
We recommend using our Pro Analytics add-on ($10/mo or $110/year). Pro Analytics will notably offer you breakdowns of your listeners' locations at a country and city level. If your business markets towards a specific audience, you can use this to see whether any marketing efforts related to the podcast are successful. You can also identify places where you might be under-investing: popularity outside of a target market may be a ripe business opportunity that you were not aware of.
When publishing episodes, consider our short links feature. These links are perfect for sharing on social media and will drive listeners to their favorite podcast app to subscribe, not just listen. Short links come with comprehensive analytics to help you understand traffic, listens, and conversion from listener to subscriber.
You'll often link to your business from your podcast. Use your show notes to drive listeners to signup forms, sales pages, and more. Use a link shortening service that tracks visits or tag your links (e.g., with UTM tags) so that you can inspect traffic with your analytics service of choice. If you don't measure it, you have no visibility into whether it's working: always make sure every touchpoint related to your show's goals is tracked and measured.
Use your existing channels to drive listeners to your podcast. Consider adding a section to newsletters and user onboarding emails: our short links are the perfect way to link your customers to your podcast in their podcast app of choice.
Social media is a great tool for marketing your podcast. Tweet the release of new episodes along with a link to your podcast website or episode's short link. We'll automatically pull your artwork and format a preview image that's compatible with major social networks.
When linking to episodes, make it clear what value your show offers to your prospective listeners. Nobody wants to go to the effort of listening to an episode that they won't find interesting, so be sure to use descriptive language that communicates what a listener can expect to hear, learn, or enjoy.
Regardless of whether you're podcasting internally or externally, you'll want to keep your show well-managed. If you have one podcast or multiple, you can manage them under a single account on Pinecast.
As with most aspects of business, there are usually many folks involved with marketing and brand. To keep everyone in the loop and productive, consider using Pinecast's Crew add-on ($10/mo or $110/year). This add-on will allow you to add other Pinecast users (login credentials) to access, edit, and post to your show. This is a great way to avoid folks sharing login credentials and following security best practices. Each additional user can have a free Pinecast account—it does not cost extra to add additional collaborators.
Pinecast supports TOTP-based MFA (e.g., Google Authenticator) and uses industry best practices for keeping your account safe. We recommend using a strong password with your account and using a corporate email account for your main login. This helps to avoid a security incident, which can have embarrassing implications for your brand.