Mette Thesbjerg Klint went into podcasting for Dansk Retursystem without any experience or a budget—and from home. Curious? Keep reading.
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.
Mette, how did you learn about internal podcasting? I wanted to bring all Dansk Retursystem employees closer together for quite a while. Many of them are drivers and spend their days in trucks collecting deposit cans and bottles. They can’t read a text or watch a video while driving, but they can listen to a podcast. And when the pandemic hit, I finally gave internal podcasting a go.
How did you get started? I did a lot of research on my own first—partly googling free software and listening to a podcast about how to start doing podcasts by a Danish company called Bro FM . I used Garage Band on the iPhone to record and edit. And I even made the jingle from the free music samples in their app. I ended up with a paid tool to host and publish the internal podcast since this was the most challenging task. I didn’t tell anyone about the podcast before the first episode was ready to be shared.
Can you share more about the podcast? Our internal podcast was about pandemic news. Every week, our drivers faced new and changing rules that impacted their work in the fields. So they needed to know the right thing to do. The podcast summarized all pandemic-related news each week and created a different way of getting information to our drivers without staff meetings.
Do you have a name for your news podcast? Yes, we called it ReturCast , as we are in the return business.
How short are the episodes? The news episodes are short, like 5-7 minutes. The purpose was to make them as brief as possible.
Do you share them frequently? Weekly, every Friday.
Do you experiment with other formats? I did some longer-form interviews, like 15-20 minutes. They were pretty popular, although I only turned a recorded conversation on Skype or Teams into a podcast. These episodes were most popular among our desk workers.
Do you interview people from within your organization? Yes, exactly. For example, I interviewed our Head of HR about the COVID-19 situation, its influence on us as a company, and how working from a distance impacted us.
Do you get any feedback from employees? Do the drivers tune in while driving? They didn’t listen while driving. Convenience was one feedback we got. Our employees were happy that someone else had chosen what was most important to hear that week instead of going through all the information alone. Some drivers and non-desk employees were delighted about the podcast, but it was not as big as I had hoped.
Do you know why it wasn’t a hit from the beginning? I later ran a survey and asked who listened to the internal podcast and if they generally listened to podcasts. None of them did. So they weren't familiar with the medium itself. But for some, it was their Friday thing. Every Friday afternoon, they would listen to the new episode to get the latest information. Some of them really liked it.
Do you have any goals? Do you measure anything? I didn’t have any goals, but we tracked how employees listened to the internal podcast. The podcast reached around 10% of all employees. And the audience split was half office workers and half non-desk workers.
How much time do you spend on one episode? It took some time to work everything out in the beginning. But now I can spend very little time making a new episode because it’s so simple. It’s not a big job for me anymore.
Is your internal podcast still up and running? No. I shared weekly news about the pandemic and how we deal with new information as a company. It didn’t make sense to continue at one point because the situation was stable. For our next internal podcast, I would change the format to longer-form conversations that go deeper into a subject. I think podcasts are perfect for that.
What are some of your joys and challenges in creating an internal podcast? It started as a fun thing. I didn’t consider it as work. It was more like a personal challenge to see if I could create an internal podcast for free. I didn’t know how to do it, so I wanted to learn it. For example, I was speaking way too fast during the first recordings. So I had to do it repeatedly until I was slow enough. But I had no experience in speaking. So I learned a lot in that time—just by doing.
And getting used to hearing your voice! Right! And I did everything from home. I recorded the episodes from my walk-in closet. So it became this running joke in my family to be quiet while I’m in the closet again. But the sound was just ideal in there.
What advice do you have for other internal podcasters? First, you should know that it’s possible to make it simple. I thought you needed a studio, special microphones, and pro editing software. One of my major learnings is that you don’t need all that. You can make it very simple if you want it simple. Secondly, test it on a few colleagues. My first episode was a dummy episode that I tested on teammates and asked for feedback. One of them mentioned that it’s too long. So I made every episode shorter. Thirdly, make sure to run surveys; ask employees what they think, and change your format if necessary.
Excellent advice. Thank you so much for being loud about internal podcasting, Mette.
Mette Thesbjerg Klint is a Copenhagen-based storyteller, journalist, and comms champ. She works as a Communications Consultant for Dansk Retursystem , which keeps Denmark tidy by taking cans and bottles from supermarkets to recycle them. Its deposit and return system collect more than 5 million bottles and cans every day.
Like what you’re reading? Hop over to Ash Noland ’s interview and learn how she turned live meetings into an internal news podcast to include frontline workers.
Credit: Ty Stange