When one of the big 4 professional services firms in the world came to us to help them recruit STEM students, we put on our best—and trendiest—thinking caps.
The ask? Find a creative way to show students in the technology space what it would be like to work inside the firm. The solution? A podcast series embedded in 4 docu-style day-in-the-life storytelling videos. The podcast featured employees inside the firm interviewed by other employees in order to uncover some of the nuances of the company that students might not learn about from a website or job description.
From inception to launch, we learned a thing or two about targeting Gen Z—the most highly connected and skeptical audience—using a podcast. Here are a few of those learnings:
Before deciding on this medium, we really put ourselves in the minds of the audience. Gen Z is a generation of go-getters. While they are definitely career-focused (a huge plus for this project) they’re constantly on the move with school and extracurriculars. So we asked ourselves, how can we meet this audience during a time they might be looking to fill? Walking to class or commuting in their car. A podcast made perfect sense.
Podcasts are accessible — students are always on their devices and 75% have a paid subscription to an audio streaming service. They’re efficient— allowing listeners to multitask while still digesting the information. The experience is customizable — you can pick-and-choose the most relevant segments. And frankly, they’re personal — with real people speaking to you, directly into your ears nonetheless, you feel like you’re getting exclusive BTS access.
Authenticity served as a huge check back for us during this project. We wanted to prove that the firm was hip with the kids (as they say? maybe?) without making it feel forced and unnatural. We quickly struck TikTok and Twitch from the list of potential mediums. And while we explored AR and VR, in the end, we went with something more lo-fi. Podcasts are able to emphasize the storytelling aspect we were looking for in a way that isn’t overtly try-hard. Bonus — it allowed real employees to tell real stories without the red tape and risk that comes with the video projects in these larger firms.
When it comes time to record, it’s important to balance authenticity with preparedness. We recommend asking guests to prepare their answers, without crossing the line into scripted responses. When we converse with one another it’s natural to have some ums, uhs, and pauses. It makes us human — and keeping a few of these in your recording reminds your listener that they’re hearing real stories. It becomes really obvious when someone is reading verbatim, and it’s not going to make it past Gen Z’s BS meter.
Our strategy for having moderators from within the firm was simple — it made sense. They were able to ask the prepared questions but could also chime in and riff with the guest. There’s that authenticity again. They could elevate the experience with their own learnings and insights. This allowed the listener to feel like a fly on the wall of a conversation as opposed to a Q&A.
Always introduce guests and hosts ahead of time and, if they aren’t in-person, encourage them to hop on a call to get acquainted. From a logistics standpoint, we recommend trying to get your host and your guest in the same room whenever possible. However, this isn’t always feasible. (Did we mention ours were sometimes halfway around the world from each other? Cue: production coordination!) Having a conversation or two before the red recording light comes on helps build rapport and will make the final product a lot less awkward.
The thought of producing a podcast might feel daunting — but at the end of the day, it’s very doable. In fact, 700,000 people are doing it. The software, how-tos, and case studies are all out there. With the right research, preparation, and partner, you can have a really professional product that delivers your company’s story right where you want it — in the ears of your target audience.