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Business communication solution: intranet podcasting

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Is podcasting via a company's intranet the best way forward? I believe so, and here's why...

Side note: I'm deeply indebted to both Shel Holtz and Ken Evoy for helping me see why, firstly, blogging has become so important to business, and secondly why podcasting will become just as important. And I'm thankful to Chris Llloyd, my boss at LineOne over five years ago, for allowing me to podcast before 'podcasting' ever existed.

I'm working on a strategic internal communication plan with a client and I have to admit that I have a secret agenda with them: I'd really love to see podcasting introduced to the employee communications strategy.

As with most new technologies, podcasting is earning little more than eye-rolling and "what's that?" from most of the managers at my client. But the benefits of pre-intranet print and audio communication coupled with the reality of today's workplace make podcasting compelling.

When we had the luxury of time (about 6-7 years ago) we could communicate with employees via the printed in-house newsletter. It was a great way to disseminate information, as the employee who didn't have time to read it at work could drop it into their briefcase and devour it at home.

Now, with computer networks and intranets, the only way anyone can do that is to print off every page. Nobody has the time to do that, and you can bet more than one interest group would be livid at the waste of company photocopier paper.

The only other alternative is to sit at the computer and read company news. And who has time for that?

But an uninformed employee is a productivity risk. So how does a company balance the need to inform and educate their employees with the volume of work they expect out of them while not hampering their actual productivity?

One: return to the printed in-house newsletter. I'm an advocate of print for a variety of reasons; its effectiveness is realized only when balanced with other media, including the online media, the channel of choice for current content that is best communicated immediately.

Two: investigate podcasting.

What IS podcasting?

Remember 'way back when', when companies used to keep their sales forces 'skilled up' via audio cassettes? The sales force used to listen to the cassettes in their car (on the way to work, home, client visits, etc). Sales people had the option to listen to the communications at the time and location of their choice, all the while not interfering with their actual sales activities.

The cassettes took time to write and produce, sure, plus you needed to add on duplication and distribution costs and timeframes, but for the dissemination of non-urgent material it was a brilliant solution.

I've listened to countless hours of audio material from Nightingale-Conant and others over the years in my own 'mobile university' (aka my car).

Which brings me back to podcasting.

Podcasting is a brilliant, low-cost way of getting mildly-urgent and non-urgent communication out to relevant interest groups. What makes podcasting so cool is that the files can be downloaded to an MP3 player and listened to while walking the dog, sitting on the bus or train, driving the car, sitting under a tree, enduring long and tedious flights, waiting in airport terminals, switching out taxi drivers who could run the country better than the current mob if only given a chance, and so on...

A podcast can be quickly downloaded onto a player manually, or it can be configured using some clever software (a 'podcatcher') to automatically download onto the recipient's media player of choice, ready for them to listen to on their way to work in the morning. How cool and efficient is that?

So what can be podcast?

I can even see different business units offering their own podcasts, allowing employees to subscribe to those that would be useful and ignore those that aren't. IT can hard-code those podcasts deemed important to everyone into the podcatcher, just as they can make the intranet home page the browser's default home page. Access to external podcasts could easily be restricted, protecting the company's precious and costly bandwidth.

As many commentators are now saying, considering the low-to-no-cost entry into podcasting, its acceptance into the internal communication mix should happen sooner rather than later.


Reports I have written:

Measuring the impact and ROI of social media
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making social media work for your business
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: the new business communication landscape
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing

How to use social media to engage employees
Contributing author to How to use social media to engage employees - for Melcrum Publishing

Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing



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