As Season 3 of The Internal Comms Podcast draws to a close, AB’s podcast team pulls back the curtain to reveal how each episode is created.
Use this step-by-step guide to inform your own podcast planning process. If you need hands-on assistance, the team can help with any aspect. Email AB’s Client Services Director, Abi Terry.
Step one: Research and discovery
We began by identifying our core audience and asking them directly who we should interview. Once the show launched, downloads and consumption rates (how much of each episode is listened to) gave us a good idea of our most popular shows.
Response on social media is also important. We post using the hashtag #TheICPodcast, which helps us monitor the response to each show.
These steps, although important, are reactive. It’s also important to proactively seek out new voices and ideas. We attend events, read the latest books, articles and blogs and consider how worldwide events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, need to be reflected in the show. As a result, the team has a long and ever-growing list of potential themes and guests.
Step two: Strategy, planning and creative development
We researched and agreed the initial objective, format and frequency of the show in late 2018 before it launched. Our objective was to inform, inspire and embolden internal comms practitioners by sharing great ideas and best practice.
We produce one show every two weeks. That’s more than 30 shows since we launched. We break the year into two seasons, taking a break in the summer to catch our breath and plan ahead.
While there have been no significant changes to our approach since the start, we’ve made plenty of tweaks along the way. AB’s creative team developed a strong identity for the show before it launched, and we refresh this each season.
Guests often remark on the quality of our research and questions. Katie Macaulay is meticulous in her preparation for each show, reading guests’ books, blogs, social media feeds and previous interviews. She says: “My research always results in a detailed list of questions for each guest, far too many for a one-hour show! But this level of preparation steadies my nerves and shows respect – it demonstrates we appreciate our guests’ time and experience.”
Step three: Production
Each interviewee is sent a discussion guide before the show to help them prepare. Before the pandemic, the majority of interviews were recorded face to face in AB’s podcast studio on Bermondsey Street in London. “I prefer to conduct interviews in person. So, if a guest couldn’t come to London, I would travel to them. But for the moment, I’m forced to meet my guests virtually,” says Katie.
A handy tip, when recording on Zoom, change your settings to record the interview as two separate tracks. When each speaker has their own audio file, editing out coughs, paper shuffling and any other unwanted interruptions becomes far simpler. Once the interview is complete and the into and outro recorded, all the audio and music files are sent to our producer, who works his magic creating the final edit.
We have upgraded our production equipment recently to the Shure SM7B – the profession podcasters’ favourite mic, a two-channel Cloudlifter and the Scarlett Focusrite. But, we began podcasting on a shoestring using a USB Yeti microphone and editing on Garageband.
Step four: Distribution and promotion
During each season we release a new episode fortnightly on a Wednesday. Once the final edit of the episode is received, we upload it to our SoundCloud RSS feed, which automatically pushes the new content to other linked web services – our website, and our iTunes, Spotify and Google podcast profiles.
We maintain a content calendar to maximise reach and engagement for each show. Our Creative Team writes shows notes, blogs and designs a range of promotion assets, including audio clips and our favourite quotes from each conversation. At the end of each interview, Katie asks her guests what message they’d like to put on a billboard for millions to see. (A question borrowed from The Tim Ferriss Show.) We enjoy mocking-up these billboards and giving them as framed gifts for guests.
Step five: Measurement
Most episodes are downloaded more than 1,000 times within the first 30 days of release, which puts the show in the top 20 per cent of all podcasts. Our top episode, How to Thrive in IC with Rachel Miller, has been downloaded nearly 3,000 times. We have created a KPI tracker to enable us to measure each episode’s performance. These stats inform our planning and enable us to drive improvements over time.
Katie says: “It’s important to look beyond the vanity metrics. This podcast is meant for a niche audience of internal communications professionals seeking fresh thinking and a sense of community. What’s most important to us is impact – creating a valuable listening experience for our target audience.”
Season 4 of The Internal Comms Podcast kicks-off in September 2020. The team would love to hear from you. To suggest a topic, theme or guest, email ICPodcast@abcomm.co.uk.