The early days of podcasts fit into two broad categories: two people having an in-depth conversation (Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss et al) or a stylised journalistic narrative (Serial, Radiolab etc.).
As the medium gains in popularity and barriers to entry lower, there’s room for companies to use podcasts to connect and engage with an audience that was previously difficult.
In this post, we’re going to talk about its power in employer branding, analyse how Netflix does this so well, and give suggestions on how you can do this too.
There are several benefits of companies developing a strong brand for current and future employees (more here) not least:
Not to mention the benefits it has for the broader business - customers like to buy from companies they admire.
Whether it’s a concerted effort or not, all employers have a brand. The content a company communicates signals its values, and will attract or repel employees accordingly. With investment and a strategy, a company can elevate its branding and reap rewards.
People’s relationship with podcasts is different to other media.
The fact that content is not competing for attention on a news feed means that it doesn’t need to be as flashy and sensationalist, and instead can develop conceptual ideas through a medium where people will give their attention.
Good podcasts are:
Conveying the culture of a company is tough when so much happens behind closed doors. As we’ll see, podcasts can bring these stories to life in a way that makes people want to listen.
In 2018, Netflix launched the podcast WeAreNetflix. The company was (is) on a big international recruitment drive and wanted to control the narrative of what the company culture is like. With exposés of internal culture turned sour (see WeWork, The Wing, Elliott), this latter point is becoming increasingly important.
Each episode is a deep dive into a specific area of the business. The host (a Netflix software engineer, Lyle) interviews the head of a particular department and they discuss “the Netflix approach” to general business problems.
I believe that this podcast is one of the best forms of employer branding for two main reasons.
Interviews last 30-60 minutes giving the host and guest enough time to really go deep on the specifics of how projects are run, and innovative/ contrarian approaches the company takes.
These are valuable insights that make the episode appealing for anyone working in that industry or curious about how it works.
The result is that almost any working professional is a potential listener, rather than creating content for just those people who are actively seeking out working at the company. Invested professionals become spokespersons for the company even if they will never work there personally.
The structure of each episode follows roughly the same format
Whilst this is still relatively simple, there has been enough effort to hook the audience with a well-produced intro, communicate genuine value and leave the listener feeling like it was a worthwhile investment of time.
When the quality and insights are particularly good, listeners will feel compelled to share it with others. Recommending a podcast anything is risky, because if the recipient thinks it's bad, that reflects poorly on you. Conversely, if they really like it, they’ll think highly of you.
Based on the originality of the insights and quality of the production I wouldn’t be surprised that WeAreNetflix listeners discover episodes through a recommendation.
With a bigger pool of relevant content that can be shared, more people get to hear about the Netflix company culture than if content was created only for those actively interested in a job at Netflix. This amplifies the reach of people engaging and thinking about what it’s like to work there, about ultimately considering themselves, or friends for jobs there.
The key is to create content that is going to be interesting to your target audience regardless of whether they are currently considering working for you. You want the content to be shared in the bigger pool of interest.
In simple terms
This then forms part of your funnel for attracting top talent to your organisation.
Netflix is looking to attract experienced hires in almost all areas, meaning topics are fairly diverse. If you have a narrower focus (e.g. laboratory scientists) then creating a podcast series around areas the best laboratory scientists are concerned about (e.g. laboratory innovations; how to be the best lab scientist) will perform this function.
Broadly, the following topics can applied to most industries:
Recent graduates are a slightly different case, as they haven’t yet “settled” on an industry area. The principle of how to make a general interest podcast they would want to share with peers still remains the same though.
For this, I would recommend series based on general concerns someone new to the workplace would have. For example:
Episodes would be told through the lens of what it’s like to work at your company allowing you to thoughtfully convey your values and attract the best people, but the primary focus would be to educate your audience on something they care about. As much as you’d like to be the case, people are more interested in “How to plan your career” than “How to plan your career at [company]”.
Employer branding is an exercise in attracting top talent to your organisation by being effective in your communications. You can do this as follows:
Once we establish a strong podcast production set up, we can repurpose the content to be suitable for other channels (i.e. short videos for Instagram) meaning we can amplify the reach without having to recreate content from scratch.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this read. If you’d like to discuss using podcasts at your organisation, feel free to reach out to email@example.com
I spoke with the show’s host [Lyle].
In addition to WeAreNetflix, they also have short form content about specific values in the company. This means people who are actively interested in the company have a more digestible way to learn about the culture.
I've written a post analysing how Netflix have done a great job of #employerbranding through their WeAreNetflix #podcast and recommendations for others wanting to emulate:
😐 Most employer branding fails as its appeal is limited to only those actively seeking to work there
🔊 Netflix makes accessible, shareable, general purpose content that is infused with their culture
🤩 As a result, listeners become spokespersons for the company even if they will never work there personally
If you're in talent acquisition, or thinking about how to develop your employer brand, then feel free to reach out.
I'm happy to give you some ideas for how your company can use podcasts, and how Cofruition can help you create an industry leading podcast.