So, Your Boss Wants You to Make a Podcast

A Realistic Guide to Making a Podcast for Your Workplace

7 min read

It’s morning, you’ve finally gotten your coffee and bagel, and your team meeting is starting. Your boss looks at you, the lowly communications hire, and smiles.

“I think we have a really exciting opportunity for 2023! We are trying to be more innovative with our communications strategy. I think we should try our hand at podcasting! What do you think?”

You swallow. You smile back. You don’t want to talk down to your boss. Your boss is the one signing off on your paychecks. At the same time, you know this is just another attempt to broaden your company’s or organization's flagging social media audience. Communications and marketing is just like that these days: throw stuff at the wall, see what sticks.

At least it is not a TikTok channel proposal.

So you accept the challenge without rolling your eyes, tossing your laptop, or hiding in the bathroom. Congratulations, you’re the team’s podcast lead now. 

Now what? 

By accepting the charge, you’ve kinda put yourself in a bind. Now you actually have to do the thing. And you have to share that thing with your boss. That’s on you, but hopefully this article will help you with what to do and not to do when making a podcast for your organization. 

Once you’ve slunk back into your cubicle and stare at the ceiling, it may occur to you that you didn’t ask the question…why? Why a podcast? Why the heck should your organization join the millions of podcasts funneled into the beast of RSS feeds and YouTube channels?

5 Bad Reasons To Make a Podcast

There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t make a podcast. Unfortunately, many companies and organizations often fall back on these reasons. If you have the ability to push back, maybe you should consider this list:

  1. Because everyone else is doing it: More specifically…because your competitors are doing it, and if they are doing it you gotta do it.

  2. Because it will make us tons of fans and money: We’ll get so popular, because podcasts are the next hot thing!

  3. Because it will give me busy work: You need to justify your salary somehow, right?

  4. Because it replaces social media: Holy cow, it is absolutely easier to just record an unedited voice memo and upload it to an RSS feed instead of worrying about 5-10 different social media accounts.

  5. Because it strokes someone’s ego: My boss/supervisor/coworker who wants to be the next Joe Rogan/GaryVee/Tony Robbins.

Maybe you can point to one of those five reasons or all of them and laugh or else you will cry. Knowledge is not transformational, however, so now what do you do? Even if the impetus of creating a podcast is based on a bad reason, maybe you can salvage the endeavor. 

Consider the following reasons you can use to convince yourself making a podcast would actually be worthwhile:

  1. One of the OTHER people in your team (key word here is OTHER) is actually super passionate about podcasts and wants to help you make them.

  2. Your boss will actually help and has a background in audiovisual communications (bonus mentorship if that’s what you’re looking for…see point #3).

  3. You want to develop your own audiovisual skills to advance your career.

  4. Your org already has a podcast that needs some attention and love.

  5. Your org’s mission has some goal regarding public education, or needs to reduce their video budget to make that happen.

You might notice that the common point of these “good reasons” has to do with EXISTING CAPACITY. Just because you are the communications or marketing specialist in your organization does not mean you automatically have the additional capacity, team, resources, and institutional knowledge to make a whole new product for your office! Make your life (and the podcast project) simpler/cheaper by identifying the existing capacity in your office to create a podcast. 

Alright, perhaps now you’ve identified a decent reason to use existing capacity to support creating a whole new product within your office. What’s next?

Figuring out everything else. That’s what’s next. 

An industry podcast by any other name…

Cool! You’ve decided that you will bow to the whims of the powers that be and will be making a podcast. Great, what kind of podcast? What’s the format? Is it scripted? Will it have sound effects? Music? Who’s speaking? Is it more than one person? How will you record? Do you have a budget? Who’s editing? Who is promoting it? Are these podcasts single-person lectures? Interviews? Skits? Or, again—an hour-long, unedited rambling thoughts of a wannabe GaryVee?

It’s tough to figure out where to start, especially if your boss has given you a timeline that is completely unreasonable to get a podcast up and running. If you are able to leverage it, you should push for a ‘discovery’ timeline where you can do some halfway decent research and strategy. Ideally? They should give you at least a full working week. 

Seriously. They should be giving you at least 40 uninterrupted hours just to figure it all out. Tell them Lisette told you.

In more realistic terms, where are some places to get decent ideas, and fast? The first is, yes, looking up what your competitors are doing. If you don’t have ‘competitors’, look at comparative industries and see what kinds of podcasts – if any – that they are producing.

If you notice they aren’t making podcasts, or if they are, you can use any information to your advantage. And what is that advantage, you may ask? 

That advantage is whatever you want it to be. 

Do you want to avoid a boring podcast production? If you notice that most of the podcasts your competitors are making are low quality, or aren’t popular, you can make the argument that your production needs to stand out. 

Do you want to avoid putting in a lot of work into podcast creation? Point out that those same competitors are putting in a lot of time and effort and are not seeing a whole lot of return on investment. Make the ‘let’s work smarter not harder’ argument. 

Time = Money and People = Money

If you are going to vet any ideas outside of what you see other people do, you need to be really real about the following:

  1. Time: How long should each episode be? How long is it going to take to plan, interview, create, record, script, sound design, upload, and market every episode? How long do you have to make this podcast compared to the rest of your workload in any given day/week? How long are you planning to stay on this project, or even this job? Be conscious about your time, and your schedule, because even unedited nonsense will take time. 

  2. People: Who is in charge? Who decides the content? Who signs off on content? Who has what skills? This is an incredibly important aspect of this whole endeavor. If your boss/supervisor is not the one hosting or interviewing or planning these podcasts, bosses love to heft off project ideas to the creators without actually investing their own stakes into them. 

Be persistent in working with your boss about their expectations for the podcast. They need to have specific and actionable expectations for any other aspect of your job, and they should have them for this one — even if it’s a simple podcast. If you are the one who is tasked with researching what it will take to launch a podcast, be clear about what time, resources, and support you will need to make it happen. Again, what that looks like will depend on your own goals and skills and how they intersect with your organization’s goals and skills. Most managers and supervisors prefer to hear your personal recommendations when you have a sprinkling of data to back it up.

So, again, if you want to do something interesting — get the data to make your case that “quality podcasts create more buzz!” If you don’t want to waste too much time making podcasts for work, then get that data that says that “if you stick a mic in front of someone, at least a few people will listen!” Additionally, “all Competitor Company had to do was stick a mic in their CEO’s face and people eat it up!”

Be real about your time and resources, and make a case and a plan that meets them. Your boss likely won’t care that you’re doing the project you want to do if you frame it as being in the best interest of the team.

If all else fails… Keep their expectations low and look out for #1.

Overall, I highly advise the ‘work smarter not harder’ argument. Most industries that are not explicitly in the podcasting or audiovisual entertainment business often heft these projects to create busy work for lower level employees. They are often not interested in whether or not these podcast projects succeed, but they are happy to hear if it bumps their following by marginal percentages.

If all else fails, and your boss does not care what you do with this podcast or how you do it as long as it gets done, here’s what you gotta do: 

  • Make an interview podcast. Find people in your broader industry (go VERY broad here!) who are easy to grab and talk to. Use the interviews as potential networking for a new job.
  • If you are the one who is tasked with audio editing, use that time as a skills-creating exercise for a new job.
  • Avoid highly produced episodes if you have a budget under $500 per episode, and definitely avoid it if you are the only audio editor on staff.
  • Don’t! Make! A! Weekly! Podcast! In fact, if you can do it, don’t hold to a set schedule. If you are not being paid to just be the sole office podcaster, do not make your role sole office podcaster.