Internal Company Podcasts (Case Studies)
Some trends surrounding branded podcasts include the interview or conversational type method of podcasting, short-form podcast episodes, and video podcasting. These trends have been gathered by examining the branded podcasts of Trader Joe’s, GE, American Airlines, Goldman Sachs, Samsung, and Walmart, as well as, topics cited by credible publications.
1. Trader Joe’s
- In 2018, Trader Joe’s introduced a branded podcast called Inside Trader Joe’s. Hosted by Tara Miller, its marketing director and Matt Sloan, the VP of marketing products, Inside Trader Joe’s tells the story of the company’s humble beginnings and how it became the powerhouse it is today.
- It delves into Trader Joe’s secrets, its history, how the company works, and how it does business. It also features interviews from the company’s marketing executives, founder, and even employees on the floor. The winning stories shared in this podcast motivate sales representatives at the company. These sales representatives are also offered tips on winning customers.
- A new episode of Inside Trader Joe’s is published once a month, with each episode being 15-20 minute long. It is produced by Steve Goldstein, the CEO of Amplifi Media and Dave Beasing, a veteran programmer. Inside Trader Joe’s leverages the libsyn podcast hosting platform. The podcast does not include any regular segment per episode.
- Inside Trader Joe’s was ranked number 5 on the iTunes “Top Podcast” charts just after launching its first episode. It has a 5 star rating on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
- In 2015, General Electric (GE) introduced a branded podcast – produced by its in house media agency, The Grid and its advertising agency, BBDO New York – called The Message. It was co-produced by Panoply and GE Podcast Theater.
- The podcast was created using the Panoply Network. The science fiction Serial podcast was written by Mac Rogers and follows a popular sci-fi series called Cyphercast. GE describes the podcast as one that takes listeners on “journeys to the limits of technology.”
- GE launched this podcast because it recognized that branded podcasts as a form of advertising was getting popular in the US. It also wanted to tell a story that was different from what other brands were doing. GE also wanted to target and engage with a new audience.
- The podcast was hosted by Annapurna Sriram, an actor and actress who portrayed a fictional character called Nicky Tomalin. Each episode was 20 to 30 minutes long and published weekly. There were no regular segments included in the podcast.
- Although the podcast did not discuss anything about the company, it became popular among a new audience, one which GE’s sales team was able to reach. As described by a marketing executive at GE, it is a win-win because “consumers get hooked on the entertainment and marketers find loyal audiences.”
- Just a few weeks after the podcast was released, it reached over 1.2 million downloads and was number 1 on the iTunes podcast charts. In 2016, the podcast won a Webby Award for Best Use of Native Advertising. By 2017, it reached almost 8 million downloads. GE ended the podcast in 2017.
3. American Airlines
- In 2018, American Airlines blurred the lines between internal and external communication by introducing a podcast called “Tell me Why.” The podcast serves as an engaging medium that communicates policy changes to the company’s employees and offers a glimpse into the direction it is taking. It also delves into American Airlines’ rationale behind policies like the introduction of no-fills basic economy fares.
- The platform used to host the podcast is Soundcloud. Tell me Why releases new episodes bi-weekly. It is hosted by Ron DeFeo, the Vice President of Global Communications at the company and produced by both Ron DeFeo and Adib Abrahim. Each episode is between 5-10 minutes long.
- Although produced for American Airlines’ employees – including its sales team, the podcast is publicly distributed and available on platforms like iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Player FM.
- Tell Me Why has been successful so far, as evidenced by the fact that it has seen more views than around 98% of other internal communications content by American Airlines. It was also first place in the podcast segment of the Ragan’s 2018 Employee Communications Awards.
- There are no regular segments included in each episode of Tell Me Why.
4. Goldman Sachs
- In 2015, Goldman Sachs launched a podcast called Exchanges at Goldman Sachs to position itself as a thought leader in the financial industry and to inform its team of developments shaping industries. It is produced by Goldman Sachs’ in-house content studio.
- Hosted by Jake Siewet, its Head of Global Communications, the podcast discusses market developments. The platform used to host the podcast is Megaphone. On average, about two episodes are published weekly. These episodes tend to be 10 to 30 minutes long.
- In most of its episodes, the podcast has a brief series called the lightning round where guests are asked to quickly mention their favorite books, a leader they are inspired by, favorite quotes, and other questions specific to their field.
- In 2018 alone, The Exchanges at Goldman Sachs saw over 3.5 million downloads and 180 million impressions. The podcast was a finalist in Branded Podcast at the 11th Annual Shorty Awards.
- In 2018, Samsung launched a podcast called What’s NEXT. The podcast explores future technologies and takes a look at unique technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, internet of things, virtual reality, and augmented reality.
- The podcast also explores the latest of Samsung Electronics so its internal team can stay updated on new technologies. It is hosted by Ryan Lawler, Head of Content at Samsung NEXT. New episodes of the podcast are released bi-weekly. These episodes tend to be 21 to 30 minutes long.
- What’s NEXT is produced by the marketing team at Samsung NEXT. The platform used to host the podcast is Backtracks. While there are no regular segments included in each podcast episode, in most episodes, guests are asked the technology they foresee taking over in the nearest future.
- Since this podcast was just introduced in 2018, no success metrics or data have been published yet.
- In 2017, Walmart introduced a podcast called Outside The Box. The podcast features “conversations with some of the most brilliant thought leaders, innovators and visionaries working today.”
- Outside The Box uses the Megaphone podcast hosting platform. A new episode is published every month and these episodes 20 to 25 minutes long.
- The podcast was produced through a partnership with a creative agency, Omelet. Its host is Charles Crowson, a Walmart associate.
- The podcast does not have any regular segments included in each episode. While Walmart mentioned that Outside The Box surpassed expectations for downloads, it has not offered any specific figures on the number of downloads it reached, neither has it offered any other success metrics.
TRENDS IN INTERNAL COMPANY PODCASTING
1. Interview & Conversation Style
- Several companies have seen success using a two-pundit formula, a method that involves podcasters engaging in conversation and conducting interviews with guests each episode.
- This method of podcasting is easy to execute and delivers messages in the way the company intends for them to be heard.
- Companies like Goldman Sachs and Samsung credit their success in the podcasting sphere to their consistency in using the interview format for their podcasts.
2. Short Episodes
- Brands are recognizing that Americans and millennials in general – the cohort making up the majority of podcast consumers – have a short attention span.
- As advised by Panoply, a podcast hosting platform which has collaborated with multinational brands like GE, podcast episodes should be kept short and digestible.
- A study by cited on Medium revealed that the most successful podcasts have episodes that are between 20 to 40 minutes long. Most branded podcasts are within this length.
- Trader Joe’s, American Airlines, and Goldman Sachs have podcasts with episodes that are less than 30 minutes long. These companies have found short-form podcasting successful.
3. Video Podcasting
- A rising trend in this space is video podcasting. This involves including video in podcasts, rather than just audio. As over 50% of communication is nonverbal, this form of podcasting makes messages more engaging because viewers can see the facial expressions and body language of the presenters.
- The main goal of internal company podcasting is to connect with audiences, something video podcasting does better than the standard audio podcasting.
- Brands like Goldman Sachs do not rely on audio podcasts alone, they also publish video podcasts on their websites on via YouTube.