Shared stories unite people. They build community. We human beings have communicated values through storytelling from our earliest times. Even as technology lets us work in increasingly distributed communities, we can still harness the medium of storytelling to draw our organizations together. We can do this by creating organizational podcastscommunal podcasts—that convey powerful stories about our collective identity. Through these commonly held narratives, we can foster a strong sense of shared purpose and belonging.

Over the past few years, we have partnered with organizations in wide-ranging industries to create and distribute podcasts within their communities. Let me share an example from the world of personal finance to bring the story of front-line customer interactions back to the rest of the organization.

Developing Our Vision
The first step in developing a podcast is determining the audience for your story. Like most large organizations, our partner wanted employees throughout their lines of business to feel close to the end-customer experience—to feel that the products and services that they were a part of delivering mattered in people’s lives. Who better to tell such a story than those out in the field interacting daily with the company’s clients? The idea of sharing the customer experience isn’t new, but telling it in the intimate and emotional format of a podcast was. What is more, the 20-30 minute podcast format allows for a conversation—a story—to unfold in a multi-layered and nuanced manner both within an individual episode and as part of the larger arc of a series.

Developing The Show
Once we understood the audience we wanted to reach and the story that our client wanted to convey, we began to develop the show. This involved more obvious things like identifying a host (in this case someone internal to the organization) and a line-up of guests (members of the sales team and the executive leadership team). It also involved aligning all participants around a holistic audience experience for the show including everything from how it is internally marketed and distributed to the sentiment conveyed through the theme music and visual assets. We also strategized about how to use the series format to grow our internal audience overtime and to engage them in an ongoing conversation.

What We Heard
The stories shared in the episodes of our show conveyed again and again the deeply personal nature of the work of financial advising and the profound impact it can have on people’s lives. Far from being just about dollars and cents, the podcast demonstrated the ways that this work is about guiding people through sometimes intense moments in very sensitive areas of their lives. We heard stories of advisors entering people’s lives as strangers, and building a bond of trust over many years. We heard about the profound impact they had on their clients’ lives helping some avoid financial disaster. And we heard about the mark the client relationship leaves on advisors—particularly when someone in the community they serve faces illness or death.

Our partner was able to distribute these stories quickly and easily across the global organization (in multiple languages!) thus bringing the community together around a shared experience and sense of pride in their work.

What it All Means
Audiences listen to podcasts when and where they choose. Listener flexibility combined with the intimate, personal nature of podcast storytelling is powerful. Audiences take action in response to content they hear in podcasts compared to what they see on a page or video at dramatically higher rates. Advertisers flocking to podcasts do so for just this reason. Organizations can harness the potency of this format to strengthen their own community mission and values, and spark conversations across your entire community.