[Guide] Podcasting for Enterprise

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

Award Winning Podcasts

In the last 12 months, McKinsey’s Future of Asia communications campaign won 8 awards – 6 Platinum and 2 Gold Hermes Creative Awards.

We at Pikkal & Co are proud to be part of that campaign; to be the podcast agency of record that helps McKinsey Asia plan, produce and promote the Future of Asia Podcast.

If you want to learn from our B2B Podcast experience, download this short guide here:

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

We’ve now produced over 1,000 podcasts for podcast clients including corporates, government and individuals globally. We made a lot of mistakes in the early days and learned a lot in the process. This short guide is our way of helping you get up that learning curve without having to make those mistakes.

Thanks for your interest in our work and in Podcasting.

If you have any questions related to Podcasts, especially turning an idea into a Corporate Podcast, you can email me Graham Brown gb@pikkal.com

I’ll read every mail that lands in my inbox.

The Changing Nature of Trust in 2020

The landscape of trust for all brands today, from premium global consultancies like McKinsey to SAAS platforms to banks, is changing rapidly. As Edelman writes in their recent 2020 Trust Barometer Report,

“trust must be earned”

Corporate trust is under attack on 2 fronts:

1) An evolving decentralized corporate communication landscape
2) The exponential growth in personal communication

Consider the data from Edelman 2019, which states that 81% of people surveyed said

“trusting the brand to do what’s right”

…was a key factor in purchase decision. Needless to say, this % will increase with the value of the purchase.

But how do clients and customers know what that brand thinks, does or feels? What is their backstory? How human are they? What are their views on diversity and sustainability?

We are under increasing pressure to present a humanized and authentic face to traditionally dehumanized and efficient brands. That’s why leaders like Tony Fernandes are the pioneers in getting their voice heard on podcasts where others are still practising wait-and-see.

This is why corporate podcasting is on the rise.

The people Leaders need to communicate with are less responsive to traditional communication channels. B2B audiences are turning to more effective ways at interacting and interfacing with those brands.

People Follow People Not Brands

Microsoft has 9.3 million followers on Linkedin.

In a recent Linkedin post on their company page, Microsoft shared a series of success stories detailing partnerships to solve customer problems. The post received 3 likes. It’s not a Microoft issue, it’s a corporate brand issue:

  • AWS: 2.8 million followers = 212 likes
  • SAP: 1.8m = 78 likes
  • Tencent: 574,000 = 65 likes
  • DBS: 419,000 = 84 likes
  • Grab: 260,000 = 52 likes

So do people dislike corporate brands in 2020?

No.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gets 6,500x more Likes per follower than MS.

When Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia posted a video of him walking through a shopping mall hugging his son, it received 3,300 likes and 185,000 views. By contrast, AirAsia’s post received only 382 likes. AirAsia has 426,000 followers on Linkedin.

People follow people, not brands.

Steve Jobs was a master storyteller, he humanized the Apple Brand.

Elon Musk has created one of the most valuable brands in the 2020s through humanizing his communication, quirky as it may be.

In the B2B space, vendors, partners and potential employees increasingly trust brands that have a human face, and importantly, trust the people inside those brands more than the brand itself. The Leaders that communicate publicly become the experience people have of that brand.

Consider the data on how trusted word-of-mouth influences B2B purchase decisions:

This is why B2B Communication is fundamentally different to B2C Marketing. B2B Podcast are not B2C Podcasts, and their style, delivery and metrics for success are different.

Leaders don’t scale; Leadership conversations do

Think of Podcasts as Communication Interfaces for your Leaders.

Define: Human Communication Interface

In the early days of the Internet, businesses learned they could communicate more effectively and efficiently with their audience. Rather than call a switchboard to get the store opening hours or map, you could look it up online. You could also later on order online.

And podcasts are fulfilling this role now for the people within those businesses. Podcasts are to business leaders what websites are to businesses – a more effective human communication interface.

In 1998 there were a recorded 2,410,067 websites. By 2018 there were 1.6 billion, a 700x increase. If you measure the number of users per website, the numbers have gone up from an average 2.5 users per website to 78 today. The podcast market is far from saturated.

Take a look at the Management Category for Podcasts on iTunes. This isn’t occupied by consultancies with monolithic communications campaigns, but multiple decentralized conversations providing more granular relevance to their audience:

  1. Masters of Scale (Linkedin)
  2. How to Empower (PWC Leap)
  3. Deloitte Asia
  4. Transformation Talks (PWC)
  5. Deloitte Insights
  6. The New World of Work (McKinsey)
  7. The Press Room (Deloitte)
  8. McKinsey on Finance
  9. The McKinsey Podcast
  10. McKinsey Future of Asia

McKinsey has 8 podcasts, not 1.
Deloitte has 6.

Podcasts for Corporates aren’t marketing, they are communication interfaces for teams, departments and idaes.

Websites are decentralized communication channels for business. Podcasts are decentralized communication channels for business leaders. In the future; every business leader will have a podcast just as every business has a website.

At Pikkal & Co we talk of using B2B Podcasts to build The Storytelling Organization, meaning creating Leadership at all levels of the business by empowering your people to find their voice. This is how Comms Leads can drive the Digital Transformation of Communications from traditional Pipelines of Control to Platforms of Curation.

Moving from Control to Curation

Your role as a Communications Leaders is going to be increasingly less about controlling and managing reputation of your people to one of curating their conversations. The culture of your corporation, the experience by which people interact with it, is not defined in strategy but the conversations Leaders have about it.

Within corporations, most Leaders don’t want extra money or budgets, they want aircover, they want you to give them the green light and remove the red tape that restricts their inherent ability to take risk. Podcast success requires flexibility in clearance.

That’s why when we work with corporate clients like McKinsey and IBM, we invest heavily in building workflows that allow smooth interface with the organisation structure. Successful Curation requires clear guardrails and guidelines within which Leaders can operate.

Comms Leaders, for example, don’t want podcasts to go to market without a robust QA process. For that we built QA rooms for clients to easily share comments between multiple teams (Comms Leaders, podcast hosts, clients, editors and project managers).

On the recording day, you want Leaders to be authentic and communicate naturally, yet at the same time keep the conversation anchored in the Key Talking Points of the organization. That’s why we build Storyboard tools to help Comms Leaders, hosts and guests coordinate on creating a cohesive narrative for the conversation beforehand.

All of these tools are managed and facilitated by our team.

And core to these tools is our Podcast Analytics platform which provides real time data on content, performance and conversations to help our Podcast Clients create Award Winning Podcasts.

As a Comms Leader you don’t want to be spending time learning new tools, you just want to make sure everything works smoothly and you have a dashboard that feeds you the status of your podcast projects.

As we say at Pikkal & Co – Work:flow. Less work, more flow. The more we can do the heavy lifting and automate the processes “under the hood” of podcasting, the more Comms Leaders, Corporate Leaders and their Guests can focus on “Flow”. Flow, as defined by award winning psychologist Mikhail Csikszentmihalyi, being that state of human peak performance and connection where we communicate clearly, with full awareness and humanity.

Taking this forward – Turning Your Idea into a Podcast

Podcast success for your Corporate Brand is going to be like landing a plane: it all happens in the approach. You don’t want a plane crash, you want a smooth landing, and that happens with a long approach, good data and experienced handling of the project.

Here are 3 factors you should consider in your Podcast planning. You probably don’t have an answer for all of these because you’re a Comms Leader (not a Podcast expert!). Often we find that clients who come to us initially map out their Podcast plans based on existing references points from events, websites or consumer (B2C) podcasts. The problems with this approach is that it doesn’t play to the strength of the podcast. You want this to be a success, maybe even an award winning campaign like McKinsey. To do this, you need to build on the format’s advantages.

3 Factors to Consider in Podcast Planning:

1) Podcast C2A

Now you have their attention, what will you do with it?

We’ve found that most of the Corporate Podcast projects that fail on iTunes and Spotify do so because (1) their conversations weren’t aligned with the Meta Messages of the Brand and (2) there was no clear “call to action” (C2A). The last point is key – if you have the attention of your audience, you need to convert it (in this noisy communications marketplace you might never get it again). Converting attention means taking your audience on a journey with you – could be as simple as “subscribe to this podcast” or “join our webinar” or “download our white paper”.

2) Podcast Metrics

Define: Podcast Metrics

Podcast Metrics – key measures of podcast success. While the most obvious metric is Audience, this is not the most important for B2B Podcasts. For B2B Podcasts, Category Ranking and Keyword SEO define thought leadership and, therefore, are more conducive to developing highly aligned, quality audiences.

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As management guru Peter Drucker famously wrote,

“What’s measured gets done”.

How will you measure your Podcast success?

Like the cockpit dashboard in the plane, you need good metrics. Often Podcasts inherit the metrics of the consumer (B2C) world – ie audience and awareness. And, while these are important to some degree, they are less important than the key B2B metrics of your podcast.

To create an Award Winning podcast you need award winning metrics.

This doesn’t mean having the biggest possible audience on iTunes, but relevance. Yes, you need listeners, but quality is far more important than quantity in B2B communication.

How will you value:

1 meeting with a key partner is worth more than 1000 listeners
1 podcast conversation picked up by a potential client who wants to talk

Often our Podcast Clients don’t yet know the full potential business benefits of a podcast for their team. What appears at first to be an exercise in creating content can evolve into a key communications and business development tool for B2b Brands.

Here are B2B metrics we use with our clients that you could consider:

a) Engagements – how many meetings, “reach outs”, conversations does this podcast create for your Leaders. Creating a conversation with a key partner, client or industry regulator creates significant long term value for that Leader and their network.

b) Meta Messages – we use our Pikkal Analytics data platform to analyse and process the audio conversation in our client Podcasts. This is what we call Data Driven Conversations. We then categorise that data as Topics. Pikkal Analytics can “listen” to your podcast and tell you what you talk about. Of course, you don’t need fancy technology or data reports, you can measure this manually. To what extent are the podcasts creating conversations and Key Talking Points that reinforce the Meta Messages of your organization’s communications?

On the planning side, we can use Analytics to recommend KTPs that are relevant right now.

For example, if your Meta Message was focused on Venture Capital, Pikkal Analytics could tell you, by analysing the conversations of key B2B influencers, that the hot KTPs right now are:

  • Venture Capital and diversity (especially women)
  • Alternatives to the VC model
  • The effectiveness of the VC model

By taking client Meta Messages and indentify engaging KTPs for future podcasts, we can help Comms Leaders make better decisions when planning out their Podcast Content Calendar.

c) Delivery – often Corporate Leaders approach Podcasts initially as they would media interviews and event presentations. After getting comfortable with the format, some Leaders adapt, others require more work. This requires some coaching, a value-add we give our clients. The key here is measuring the Delivery of the message.

Comms Leaders need to turn into Conversation Enablers, by using Performance Communication data as a tool to drive decision making to team level. Semi-autonomous teams can use Pikkal Analytics data to keep their messaging on point.

If, for example, consultancy has 2 points – the main global podcast “A” and the India team “B”, Leaders in team “B” could compare their content delivery with that of the global “template”.

3) Podcast Casting

Lastly, in turning your idea into a successful Corporate Podcast, you need people, the right people. Often we find that this is the biggest challenge for Comms Leaders because the people you need don’t have “Podcast Host” in their title. Bearing in mind, to win an award, you need both people who are committed to the project and able to deliver engaging conversations.

With over 1,000 podcasts produced across different time zones and cultures, we have developed a good “ear” for what works and what doesn’t. Here are 10 case study examples of podcast projects that we have either worked on or admire as benchmarks for good B2B Podcasting.

Here are a few key takeaways:

The best podcast hosts aren’t necessarily the ones who are the best communicators in day-to-day business. There is little cross-correlation with confidence and podcast host engagement.

The key qualities you need for a Podcast Host are (a) being a good conversationalist (b) broad experience, as opposed to domain expertise (c) listening and empathy

For more information on Podcast Hosting, see my guide on How to Ask Better Podcast Questions.

Whoever you choose for your host, you need consistency.

Our Podcast Anaytics platform tracks a metric we call “TAKT”, based on the German word for “beat” or “rhythm”.

Define: Podcast Takt

Takt – from the German “beat” or “rhythm”. Takt was adopted by Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing philosophy as the “rhythm of the factory”. In “Just in Time” manufacturing, if customers ordered 1 car a day, the factor was organized around a cadence of producing 1 a day. Similarly, Takt is a measure of the cadence of podcast publishing. According to our Pikkal Analytics data, higher ranking podcasts have higher Takt. They also have lower Takt Deviance scores, meaning their podcasts are more consistent than lowe ranking podcasts.

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We’ve found B2B audiences identify with the host not the guest. The guest may get people listening to one episode, but coming back for more will be a function of connection with the host. That’s why you need the host to buy into the podcast and see it as a key platform to amplify their conversations. In the Future of Asia, for example, Chairman Oliver Tonby hosts most of the podcasts, and the choices of guests are his own. In the episodes he isn’t a host on, he provides the audio intro/outro.

The best hosts are also the most open to learning. Good Leaders usually have this characteristic in their DNA, but not always. As a host, they will need to adapt their style to more authentic and open communication. For many corporate Leaders we’ve found they were initially hesitant but after some time, they started to enjoy the experience. Podcasts allow them to communicate with business partners, colleagues and clients on a more fundamental level. Comms Leaders often know the characters of their Corporate Leaders very well, so they’ll also know if those Leaders will enjoy a challenge.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, once wrote that

“90% of the value a Leader creates is in choosing the right people.”

In your Podcast, this is true too. Much of its success will come down to your choices, and this is certainly a process we can support you with and add value to.

If you want to know how to get started…

…or you need help, have questions about this guide, have a project, want feedback or advice on your project – whether existing or at the idea stage…

  • Contact Us here
  • You can email me here: gb@pikkal.com
  • (or if you prefer you can msg me on Linkedin)

Graham Brown

Looking for Podcast Case Study Examples?

10 business podcast case studies

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

podcast planning guide

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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