We had the great pleasure of hosting a webinar with Chris Moss who is part of the content strategy and production team at Novo Nordisk, one of the world’s leading global healthcare companies. Chris gave us an inside look at Novo Nordisk’s successful podcast program, which has reached nearly 7,500 users since launching in March 2021, and hosts more than 30 shows with over 100 episodes.
Chris shared a full slide deck on why they chose podcasting, the benefits of uStudio, and what he believes are the keys to their rapid success.
We’ve included a transcript of the webinar below and as always, we’ve made it available in our Trial App as well as here via an embedded player.
Here are just a few highlights:
(05:32) Chris discusses the reason they chose podcasting as part of an internal comms transformation that began in 2020. According to Chris, “[Novo Nordisk is] very aware of employees' limited bandwidth when it comes to top-down, text-heavy corporate messaging… the best practice is increasingly to mirror the way that people are communicating in their personal lives."
(15:01) Chris discusses various promotional efforts they’ve used across the ecosystem successfully to drive such great adoption, taking advantage of Sharepoint and Yammer social buzz.
(15:25) Chris discusses how crucial executive buy-in has been to the success of the program, making sure exec management is both aware and participatory, coordinating with comms counterparts.
There’s so much more including discussion about the limitations of using streaming apps that aren’t tailor made for podcasting.
Novo Nordisk Webinar Transcript
Thank you everybody for joining this uStudio Let's Get Podding webinar. We are delighted to have Chris Moss from Novo Nordisk to talk about transforming internal communications with a podcast and streaming network. Chris is the Senior Editor of Content Strategy and Production at Novo Nordisk and he is going to share how he and his company uses uStudio to expand the adoption and usage of streaming media and podcasts. And get the company's message across to thousands of employees and their global base. He’ll be talking about the key reasons they elected to use uStudio and make recommendations for those that are getting started in podcasting. I think we have a mix of people onboard today that are considering podcasting and those who are already doing it. I think they'll be content here for all of you which will be very helpful. Chris and his organization have been extremely successful in getting podcasting off the ground over the past year. And I am looking forward to hearing that story. So Chris again, thank you for joining us and the floor is yours.
Thanks Alex, and a warm welcome to everybody from Denmark. I’m here working from home probably like most of you. Just to apologize in advance if two small children run in and start having a Pokemon battle in the background. It's been a challenging couple of days of homeschooling here. Apologies if that happens, but please bear with me. I’m here today to just talk a little bit about podcasting at Novo Nordisk and why we’ve gone with uStudio to help us in this endeavor. I’ll talk a little bit more about why we’ve taking this route in the first place. And also give some examples of some of the ways we are promoting the content, and helping to drive adoption and engagement across the organization. We’ve seen some really great results since launching around about nine months ago.
First things first, a little bit about me before we go on to Novo Nordisk. I worked for Novo for about 8 years now. In my former life I was a print journalist in the UK, working in newspapers predominantly. I’ve done a bit of freelance journalism as well. I moved to Denmark about 8 years ago and I’ve worked for Novo Nordisk in corporate communications ever since. Predominantly responsible for internal comms throughout that time, global messaging from here at HQ in Bagsværd and Copenhagen Denmark. Increasingly our team has evolved over the years that I've been here, and we’re increasingly looking at both internal and external communications. I’m sure it is the same in a lot of organizations you guys represent. The lines between internal and external are increasingly becoming blurred. So we are refining our approach to internal comms all the time. It’s an exciting journey to be on.
A little bit about Novo Nordisk. Some of you may have heard of us, some of you may not. We have a big presence in the US, I think that’s where most of you are joining from today. We’re a leading Healthcare Company approaching our 100th anniversary. Headquartered here in Denmark. But with around 80 offices and affiliates across the globe including a sizable presence in the US as well. And essentially we are working towards our purpose, which is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases including obesity, red blood and endocrine disorders such as hemophilia.
As you can see from this slide, it will give you an idea of how big the organization is. We’re around 47,000 employees worldwide. Split across office space employees and production sites, R&D centers or lab based staff as well. So as you can imagine, we’ve got kind of a complicated audience structure. Trying to reach all these different types of audiences and types of job profiles can be a challenge for internal comms professionals. Again, it gives you an indication of how big we are and where we’re based. As I said, in 170 countries we market our products worldwide to around 80 affiliates in 80 countries, so there are a lot of us out there.
I guess the first thing that you guys will probably want to know is why we've decided to go down the podcasting route. There’s a couple of reasons for this, more than a couple of reasons really. I think part of it reflects the journey that we've been on, in terms of refining our approach to internal comms. I think it’s fair to say we’re taking an increasingly decentralized approach. We are very aware of employees' limited bandwidth when it comes to top down text heavy corporate messaging loads. And obviously we find the best practice is increasingly to mirror the way that people are communicating in their personal lives. So we’re taking an increasingly social approach to the way that we communicate with employees. In some ways the pandemic, I think, has helped us. We recently moved to SharePoint online so we’re using Office 365. We had a big Yammer relaunch back right before the start of the pandemic. I think that, in many ways, has helped the adoption of that as a platform and increasingly that's becoming first-port-of-call for much of the communication that we're doing from the internal communications team at HQ.
As I say, we’re taking this increasingly decentralized approach. So we’re trying to empower communiqués across the organization, to communicate, to come up with more targets and communications to their own teams, their own departments, their own geographical regions.
But still maintaining this kind of important role in HQ. Important need to know corporate messaging. We're responsible for that and we're trying to reach people where they are. And for different employee types, that means different things. There are a lot of employees that are using Yammer. There are still a considerable number of people that access news and messaging on our intranet and on SharePoint. But we realized there was quite a big gap when it came to podcasting. And we were very aware that in different parts of the organization, particularly with field sales reps that podcasting is fast becoming a medium of choice for communication between management and field sales reps. We were seeing a number of podcasts going out through various different platforms across the organization depending on where they were. So what we decided to do was to try and bring all of this together all under one roof so to speak. So we set out to find a vendor that could help us on that journey and kick off and attend the process. In October 2020, where we had a few pitches from different providers. And ultimately decided to go with uStudio, which is a decision we have not regretted. It’s been a really fantastic collaboration ever since.
And I think you can see here, to give you a snapshot of how far we've come in a relatively short space of time. We launched back in March this year (2021), so the platform has been up and running for about 9 months now. We now have 34 shows comprising over 100 episodes across those 34 shows. I have 96 different publishers… Later I’ll talk about how we manage our publisher community. But we have 96 people, and this is not just publishers, but those who are interested to learn more about the platform. Interested more about podcasting and how it can help in their part of the organization. So we have a community set up specifically for that purpose. We have 96 communicators in that group to date. Here are some high level stats… Now approaching 7.5 thousand active users on the platform, and that has resulted in 19,334 total plays to date. So we’ve been really blown away by the uptake. The speed of adoption and the exponential growth that we’ve seen across the platform since launch. I think there are a number of reasons why this has happened. I’ll attempt to explain some of the ways in which we promote the content that we put out. And some of the ways we’re trying to help drive the adoption engagement across the organization.
One of the key things that we try to do is promotion, promotion, promotion. I mean without promoting this content it would be easy for it to get drowned in just the sheer level of communication that’s going on across the organization on any given day. So we’re fortunate here in HQ comms teams to have quite a lot of real estate when it comes to the intranet. We have a very vibrant Yammer community that we maintain as well. So we try to use both channels to the best of our ability to promote some of the new content, apart from the platform itself, to let people know that it’s there and what it can be used for. So you can see an example here of what we’ve been developing. GIFs for use on Yammer. It’s a proven really straight forward way of getting the message out there. And we also develop teaser videos every time we produce a new episode of our flagship podcast, if you’d like, which is the podcast I host from HQ which is called Driving Change. The concept behind that podcast is essentially a show about the who, what and why behind our company's purpose. We talk to thought leaders across our organization about some of the hot topics of the day. We try to make sure our strategic priorities are reflected in those conversations as much as possible.
I’ll play a short clip. So this is an example of one of the teaser videos that we put out on Yammer when we launch a new episode. So I hope this is going to play for you all.
Welcome to episode 4 of the Driving Change Podcast. My guests this month, anthropologists working in digital health and devices delivery solutions.
Our research is looking at the social person. The person that is constructed by the people in their society and the culture around him and her.
Sometimes we bring back knowledge and insights that are not very comfortable. Because it’s not easy to deal with in a business setting.
Join us as we discuss the power of their qualitative research and why innovation starts with empathy.
Just an example of some of the ways we use different types of promotion geared towards different channels we own or have access to.
I haven’t explained here why you’re seeing ‘SoundOn’ everywhere. This was a choice we made to basically brand the hub, if you’d like. Obviously, like the rest of you guys, if you’re using uStudio already the app itself is called uStudio when you download it from the app store. But we wanted to give the hub itself, the catalog of shows, branding that we can use throughout the organization. So we opted to take that approach, and that’s been a pretty effective way of getting the word out as well.
And some more examples of how we promote content, I mentioned earlier SharePoint… still a lot of people are using SharePoint. Accessing news on SharePoint, so if we have a high profile guest… This example here is one of our former CEO who I interviewed a couple of months ago for the most recent episode of the podcast. And so we’ll put that out as a news story. We’ll then promote that… highlight that content on our intranet bulletin page so it gets as wide of exposure as possible. And also share those links… share some of those assets that we’ve developed with different parts of the organization so that different communicators can put the word out in newsletters or however they communicate with their parts of the organization. Banners, again, another easy way of promoting the podcast. We get a lot of click-throughs on bulletin page banners, particularly on SharePoint, and again it’s something that’s easily shared and can be repurpose on different platforms depending on circumstances and target audience that you’re trying to reach. So we find both these ways to be really effective. And we see some very clear spikes in the number of listeners around the time we put these promotions out. So it’s clearly having an effect and the desired effect.
Another example here… Something that’s been crucial to our success so far is safe to say executive buy-in. So making sure that first of all our executive management is aware of the platform. They’re aware of what we’re trying to do with it. We’re actually inviting them on as guests. We’re clearly linking some of the content we’re putting out to our strategic priorities. And then we’re following up with their comms partners, senior comms partners across the business to help coordinate Yammer posts, newsletters, even verbal promotion in team meetings and all company meetings. So that constant word is getting out there about the platform and the kind of content that we’re trying to push out. But it’s safe to say that a lot of that has to do with the flagship stuff we produce at HQ. Our success would have been nothing without the efforts of a dedicated bunch of podcasters that we’ve got across the organization. I think as I mention at the top of this session we have 34 shows now. And that represents every part of our business. So there are shows about what’s happening in R&D, what’s happening in production and product supply, IT and Digital Health. These are just some of the examples here. Even the intern community at Novo Nordisk has its own podcast where they’re sharing learning, best practices, tips and tricks. So it’s a really vibrant community. I think anyone going on to the app finds it very easy to find something relevant to their work for them to check out. We’re seeing a lot of returning audience members, and a lot of new followers who are subscribing to the different podcasts in the different parts of the business. It’s been a real fantastic effort by everyone involved in this. And like I say, this publishing community itself is a very engaged and dynamic bunch of people. Which certainly helps when you’re trying to launch a new communication platform.
And the way we manage this publishing community is to use another tool we have access to in Office 365 which is Teams. Which I’m sure many of you will be familiar with. We have a SoundOn podcasting Teams community. And we’ve set this up as a dedicated space for training materials, you can find user guides, tips and tricks. We added tabs that link to uStudio’s Knowledge Base and uStudio University so people who want to get more serious about podcasting can take that route and can take advantage of some of the fantastic resources that we get from uStudio as part of the package. And then it acts just as a forum as well, where I can go on and share any updates that are coming. Any new features that are coming to the platform. I can invite fellow podcasters to share best practices, tips and ticks with other piers… with me. If they’ve got any questions they want me to take to uStudio, this is the forum so they’ll drop me a line here. It’s just a great way of keeping track… keeping on top of what’s going on in the organization. What some of the challenges are out there… concerns. Anything that there is to do with the podcast platform, this is the place for people to come and discuss it.
I think earlier I said exponential growth, and it’s still growing. More and more people are finding out about the platform all the time. We’re seeing people ditch Microsoft Stream, which was pretty much the only option we had prior to this. We realize that Stream just wasn’t built for podcasting. They’re going in and realizing the [uStudio] app is very similar to apps that they use in their personal lives. It has all the features you’d expect from that. I think just the ease and convenience. Not just in terms of end-users but also publishers as well. I think it’s fair to say that most, if not all of the podcasters that have published shows/episodes have been really really happy with how easy it is, how straightforward it is to update, to upload, to maintain, to create shows to get the word out. I’ve given examples of some of the promotion tools that we’re using here, but many are using some of the built-in promotional tools that uStudio offers to really good effect as well.
That’s in a nutshell our journey so far. We’re really happy with the success we’ve seen so far… 7.5 thousand users which is really great to see. But we think it’s got so much more potential. We’re constantly looking at the data, trying to tweak the concept of some of our shows. We’re encouraging other podcasters to do the same. Go in and check the analytics, the dashboard. Which again is really easy to use. You can get some really great insights from that. And constantly trying to improve the output of what they’re doing, improve the content, improve the way they’re promoting that content. Next year will be an even bigger year for us. The plan is to kick it off with almost like a relaunch campaign early in the new year. We got a podcast lined up with our CEO. It’s the first one in the new season of Driving Change. We’re hoping to get off to a good start and then keep that momentum going throughout the year.
That’s pretty much everything I have to say. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you guys may have.
Thank you so much Chris. The first question that came up while you were presenting was what’s your definition of podcast. Is it audio or video or both?
That’s a good question. I would say for me it’s audio, that’s purely from a personal perspective. It’s also overwhelmingly the format we use at Novo Nordisk. Probably because Stream is still so heavily used. So I think most people that are putting out video content will tend to focus on that. Saying that, we do have some examples of video podcasts on the platform. Increasingly that is something that some of our podcasters are turning to. It really can be either. And I think it’s great that the platform gives the opportunity for both.
Awesome. There are some specific questions coming in on production. Do you have a standard for recording setups and for equipment for these 96 publishers or is there a variety?
No, not at all. As I’ve said, we’re taking a decentralized approach here. Which we thought would be a bigger risk at the beginning to be perfectly honest. But we’ve been blown away by the quality of the content that’s being put out across the organization. So we don’t have any kind of centralized control, as such, over recording setups. We give a lot of guidance and again we’re using a lot of the resources that uStudio provides for us in terms of the kind of podcasting gear, the sort of setup you need. But equally we are appreciative of the fact that different departments, different teams have very different budgets and very different needs. So what is suitable for us is essentially putting out a global product for a cross section of employees. We have the resources here at HQ within our team to do that in a professional studio setup. But equally we’ve seen people using very low-fi setup with an iPad in a room recording a conversation and adding a jingle in iMovie and doing it that way. It’s raw, but I think that’s the whole point. A lot of the appeal of podcasting is the authenticity of it. If you try to do too much with big production values, it’s not always necessarily the right way to do it, depending on the situation. So we don’t have a standard setup, but we try to provide guidance depending on budget, need and target audience. That kind of stuff.
I imagine then each group does it’s own editing and post production work?
Yes. We’re very fortunate in the sense that within our corporate communication department we have a video and live production team who are experts in all things video and audio. So we have them on hand to help with the production of our podcasts. We’ve got it fairly easy in that respect. But most other publishers will either do the editing themselves with guidance from some of the material we’ve given them, or they’ll engage with a vendor or agency to help them. So we’ve seen examples of both.
Along those same lines a quick question. How do you find those publishers, or how do they find you? I mean you’ve gotten so many.
Good question. To be honest with you, the majority have found us. When we first launched we promoted the platform heavily on Yammer and SharePoint and all the usual channels we’d normally use to promote any kind of global messaging. And we got really good leads from that. The original Yammer post I put up 9 months ago is still getting people to ask if they could join, can they find out more about this? So it’s fair to say most of them have found us. We were aware when we started off on this journey, just over a year ago, that there were a number of podcasts being produced already. So as part of the process, before we got into the tinder process, we reached out to some of the more established podcasters, the ones that were already doing it and using Stream, and made them aware of our plans. Asked them what they thought of those plans, what they felt they needed from a platform. So there were a lot of discussions going on with the people that have been doing it the longest. We had them all on board straight away so that we were able to launch with not just the flagship products, but we were able to immediately port some of the established audiences and shows across to the platform from the various different platforms that they were using beforehand. That really helped us to get off to a strong start because we instantly had audiences that were already engaged in this kind of content coming across the platform, seeing how it works and spreading the word further. A bit of both.
It sounds like they must have agreed with you that this is a better platform for podcasting than Microsoft Stream.
Yes, without a doubt. It’s fair to say there’s a big gap in Microsoft’s offering, frankly, that isn’t provided for.
Changing topic a little bit, there’s a question about the data. A lot of employee experience apps like this, whether its a learning management system, HR systems or the podcast solution track end-user usage. Right, so you can know if you want to get to the level of detail, who is listening to what and how much of it they’re listening to? That doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue, but there are some European questions regarding that data access. Do you gather aggregate data or specific user data? And what are your thoughts?
We care about aggregate data, and we don’t have any concerns about the integrity of the data storage we’re providing to uStudio. We went for a fairly extensive IT security process before we launched the platform. The only potential issue we could see is the fact that admins are able to see individual user data. So an approach we’ve taken with some of the other platforms. We’ve got various other analytics dashboards that we use for things like SharePoint and Teams from within Novo Nordisk. Now Yammer as well, we’re building one for that. It’s just to make that user data anonymous. So we’re not able to see that information on an individual level. That’s the GDPR workaround that we’re taking with this to make sure we’re in compliance.
There are options in the uStudio platform if anybody asks questions and wants to work with us. But there are obviously individual company policies, and it’s kind of a gray area based on how your company reviews and interprets their own policy, the European guidelines etc. Unfortunately there’s not a one-size-fits-all, but we’re happy to work with anybody that has specific requirements.
Another question, changing the topic again to compare podcasting to other channels of communication. Do you find that podcasting is replacing some emails or other communication channels? Or is it incremental to them? How do you view it fitting in the ecosystem?
I can mainly speak from our own experience. There’s a dedicated internal comms team that is responsible for global messaging. About 18 months ago we used to publish an employee magazine. It was focused and more of a deep dive into features. More of human interest stories that were separate from the day-to-day news flow that we put out on SharePoint. We got rid of tht magazine around 18 months ago for various reasons. Sustainability being a big part of it. We didn’t want to have a printed magazine any more. To some extent the kind of podcasting that we’re putting out has replaced what we used to do there. The Driving Change podcast, which is the one that’s the flagship podcast, is focused more on giving that kind of deep dive on a given topic, on a subject. We’re getting into the personal lives of the people we’re interviewing on there as well. It’s definitely replacing that kind of communication. If I were to look a little more broadly, I’d say some of the more functional podcasts that are being produced are starting to replace more traditional means of communication. Particularly when engaging people out in the field. An awful lot of our employees aren’t sitting at a desk, they're in production, in the lab, out in the field. I think this is a really effective way of reaching them. Some don't necessarily have a company laptop for instance. Some of the traditional ways we would have liked to reach employees are via SharePoint for instance, just isn’t possible with a big chunk of our staff base. So I think podcasting offers an interesting alternative to that, and we’re certainly seeing that it’s reaching some of those people.
Fantastic, thanks Chris. That was a good recap of ‘why podcasting?’ right? We are inundated with emails and other communication channels. It is interesting in your case that a large portion of the workforce doesn’t have access to the internet of SharePoint right?
I don’t see any more questions in the Q&A, and I’ve run through my list. Chris, we really appreciate you joining us today, and you’ve got some thanks in the chat session here from the attendees. Thanks to all that are listening on a recorded basis. You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you’re not a customer yet. And we would love to talk to you about how you might be able to join a podcasting journey like Chris and Novo Nordisk have.
Chris, an excellent presentation. And look forward to seeing your continued success as you kind of relaunch with the new CEO in the new year.
Great. Thanks very much Alex. Thanks everyone for joining.