The Podcast Powered Projects initiative is now up and running, and one thing that’s arisen (and about which I’ve had a few other enquiries too) is how one might get a podcast that can be consumed only by people within one’s own organisation.

There are a number of challenges to unpack here, so let’s take them one by one…

Corporate culture in many organisations determines a level of opaqueness about how information is distributed and shared. There is stuff for internal use, and that for external. Those boundaries are still pretty hard for many organisations, even when there isn’t a veil of regulation or commercial confidence that is necessary to be cast over information. As a result “we want this only available to our people” or even “we want this only available to a subset of our people” is a common requirement.

Podcasting openness, however, is key to why the medium had become so successful. Based around a somewhat archaic standard RSS, podcasts are basically MP3 files stuck on the internet, even if some organisations are trying their damnedest to make it a closed garden these days.

Mobility and ease of consumption is the other factor that’s been hugely influential in allowing podcasting to become so popular. My podcast player on my phone silently downloads episodes to which I’ve subscribed in such a way that I can listen to them when I’m on the move. Audio is the only medium that you can consume whilst doing something else like, in particular, driving.

So when an organisation says that they want their podcasts to be consumable only by their people, they are setting a challenge that means that their content may well be consumed by no-one at all. To date, there are four potential approaches that I’ve found – and I’d be grateful to hear of any more!

Option 1 – stick it on the internet anyway

Really, is it that important to keep your onboarding podcast for new joiners so secret? Stick it on the internet, and don’t make a big fuss about it. To be honest these days, even if you do make a big fuss about it you’ll be hard pressed to get an audience anyway.

Pros: maximum consumability and ease of use

Cons: (the one I most often hear) “We’ll have to involve our comms/marketing people and they’ll make our lives a misery”

Option 2 – use a dedicated private hosting service

The only one I’ve investigated with any depth to date is ustudio.com which looks really good, but isn’t cheap. Has its own player for iOS and Android which means that podcasts will download automatically to users’ phones. But they won’t be in the same place as their other podcasts.

Pros: security, consumability

Cons: cost, not quite the same way to use podcasts as people are used to

Option 3 – use Microsoft Stream

If you are an Office365 subscriber, there’s a thing called Steam which allows you to share video content privately. You can create a static image video with your audio (PowerPoint can do this relatively easily) and there’s a mobile app that allows users to subscribe and download content for consumption.

Pros: a work around for O365 users.

Cons: it’s really for video. Might incur extra costs for some O365 subscriptions

Option 4 – put them on an intranet site

You might as well just stick the content directly in the bin if you take this route. Nobody looks at your intranet, so absolutely nobody will download audio from it to try to shift it onto their mobile phone, which you’ve probably locked down to prevent them doing anyway.

Pros: Don’t

Cons: no really, don’t.

I have a hunch that it might be possible to set up RSS feeds on closed-access servers somehow which would be visible to some Podcast players, but I’ve not yet had the chance to experiment with this.

As I say, other suggestions gratefully received.

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