Ash Noland launched an internal podcast for Aurora to keep her frontline workers driving trucks informed and engaged. Interested? Keep going.
On The Inside is an interview series highlighting internal podcasters around the globe. While many of them are hidden behind company walls, we ask them about their podcasting journey. Why do they use the power of podcasts internally? How did they get started? Any lessons learned they want to share? And to be fully transparent here: Not all named people and companies in this series are Pager customers.
Ash, why did you start an internal podcast? It began as a way to reach our distributed workforce. I had field employees who only sometimes had access to their computers to join a live meeting like an all hands. The podcast could be played at an ideal time for the employee, regardless of location or bandwidth needs. As a mom with two young children, I know that it’s nice to have the option to do something later when the kids are asleep. Several parents mentioned they appreciated this flexibility from the podcast.
In your opinion, what is the biggest value of hearing someone’s voice? There’s something to be said for being human and hearing the warmth and timbre of a person’s voice. Written messages lose important tonal context and intonation, meaning your audience lacks certain cues to understand the meaning. This isn’t inherently bad; we’ve been communicating via email for multiple decades now. But it does mean that something is lost. Podcasting doesn’t allow for video, meaning some physical cues are missing. Every communication channel has pros and cons, so it’s important to select the best “tool for the job” for the message to reach and impact the largest number of your audience.
Did you have any podcasting experience before? Not in the slightest. I’m a fan of podcasts, though, and have listened to my fair share, so I tried something new.
How did you get started? Any helpful tools or resources you want to share? I spoke to a few colleagues who had previously worked with sound and a friend who's a self-described techno-junkie. I realized we had most of the tools we'd need and set to work writing a script. As I got through that process, I shared my experiences and findings with my peers in ICology . ICology’s founder, Kristin, connected me to Brian Landau at Vennly. Brian was kind enough to illuminate some of my process's flaws and helped me improve it. I also always shared it with a document I called the “Show Notes” for folks who didn’t have time to listen to an entire podcast but still wanted to glean information. This was really helpful when discussing links and projects on the podcast for listeners who wanted to learn more.
Can you share any details of the show you produced? We called the podcast the Pit Stop - a place where you’d stop, hear about the resources you need for your work ahead, and get back on the “road.” Our weekly episodes were short; my goal was to be under 10 minutes because I knew how quickly an audience could lose interest. I found it was most effective to have a co-host. Otherwise, it became very dull hearing the sound of one voice. Once we got a few episodes under our belt, I began experimenting with employee features. We had a feature where we’d interview employees and write a profile about them. To bolster this series, I’d ask questions that didn’t make it into the published interview and use those to tease out.
Is the podcast still up and running? The podcast was still going strong when I left the organization in May of 2022. I hope they’ve kept it up.
What platform did you use to host and share episodes securely with employees? We used GarageBand to mix the episodes and shared them via our Happeo intranet in the news channel function. We also dropped a note into our podcast-specific Slack and general channels to encourage people to participate.
How did you define success for your internal podcast? Did you measure anything? We looked at the number of listeners and the number of page views on our intranet.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before you started? It seems easy but is somewhat complex. So giving yourself more than enough time to prepare is essential.
Time is such an important factor! Thank you so much for being loud about internal podcasting, Ash.
Ash Noland is a California-based internal and executive comms champ. She previously worked for Waymo and Aurora (where she launched the weekly, company-wide internal podcast) before recently starting a new job at Plume Design.
Like what you’re reading? Read more interviews from our On The Inside series. You’re only one click away from diving deeper into Mette Thesbjerg Klint ’s internal podcasting journey!