How Rogers internally promoted its new podcast to its 25,000+ employees

A Q&A with Rogers’ Elisa Barbaro

. 8 min read

A Q&A with Rogers’ Elisa Barbaro
Promotional slide for Rogers’ new podcast For the Love of Work. The slide was recently displayed during a company-wide virtual Q&A session at Rogers

Pacific Content gets to work with huge brands.

Ford Motor Company has around 190,000 employees.

Dell Technologies has around 165,000 employees.

Big companies like this have an audience development superpower that smaller companies don’t have: the ability to promote shows to a massive internal audience of employees.

Today, we’re going to talk about how Rogers did exactly that with its new podcast For the Love of Work.

In the weeks leading up to the show’s launch, Rogers took bold steps to promote and market the show internally to its 25,000+ employees.

The campaign took time and planning, but it paid off in spades.

Even before it publicly launched this week, the show was number one in the Careers category on Apple Podcasts Canada.

Elisa Barbaro is one of the people that helped spearhead the internal marketing efforts for the show. I asked her to explain exactly what they did to activate the show in-house and what that looked like.

Steve Robinson: Why was it important to promote For the Love of Work internally within the company prior to the show’s public launch this week?

Elisa Barbaro: So initially back in January, we thought we were going to make an internal podcast for our employees about what we value and what we care about. And a day and a half later, we walked out of our brainstorming sessions saying, ‘we’re not doing an internal podcast. We’re going to do an external podcast that focuses on what we believe in at Rogers with two goals in mind.’ The first goal was to make our employees proud internally. And the second goal was to be a thought leader when it comes to employee experience for people outside of Rogers. So the podcast almost became an external/internal podcast. And that really laid the groundwork on why we promoted the way we did and why we created an internal launch strategy first with our employees to make them feel that this is a podcast for them, by them. And we let that sit for a bit and then started launching it externally to say, ‘here’s a podcast about us for the rest of the world.’

What kind of internal promotion and activation did you do around the podcast?

From day one, we knew we needed to launch internally first and get our people on board to be ambassadors for the podcast and to be proud of the work we’ve been doing as thought leaders. What we hear from employees a lot is that they’re so proud to work at Rogers, and we wanted to give them an outlet to share that pride amongst their networks, while also improving our employment brand reputation. And so what we did when we launched internally is, we have an all-company open Q&A called “Open Mic.” It’s an open Q&A forum with all employees and [Rogers CEO Joe Natale]. Joe fields questions and answers any questions that come his way for an hour, and at the beginning of this Q&A period, he shares what’s on his mind. And when the podcast trailer dropped on September 14, we had Joe talk about what’s on his mind, and that was the podcast. And what he did was really pull out that employee pride message and say, ‘we created this podcast for you, but also for our audiences outside of the company.’ And we created a slide with our podcast image on one side and a QR code on the other side. And as he was talking about the podcast, we put that slide up. And we made it really, really clear and told everyone to listen to the trailer and to use their phones and devices to scan the QR code. And that way it opened automatically on everyone’s phones. And we’ve got a crazy conversion rate. I think it was 26%. So it was a terrific launch tool that we had never tried before. And it’s something we’re going to continue for everything even outside of the podcast.

What kind of feedback did you get from employees after the event?

We send a feedback survey after each of these open Q&A forums and employees were so proud. Many said ‘thank you for doing this podcast, Can’t wait to hear it already, listened to the trailer and looking forward to it.’ So we heard already a great sentiment from the employees. And immediately following the open Q&A, we launched a podcast page on our intranet site. So as soon as employees opened the internet site, there was a banner at the top of your page that said “introducing For the Love of Work, a podcast about the employee experience, click here to learn more.” So we were already getting people engaged right as the trailer dropped.

And you also promoted the show internally on your company-specific social media platform?

One of the promotional contest banners that was posted on Rogers’ intranet

Yeah, our intranet is called “Rogers Zone.” But we also have an internal social media platform called “Yammer.” It’s like a branch off of “Rogers Zone” that’s pretty much an internal Facebook. Imagine Facebook, but in Microsoft form where anybody can post anything in specific groups and like, and comment.

And Yammer is popular?

Oh, people love it. So one thing to note about Rogers is we have 25,000 employees — some are corporate, and some are frontline. So our frontline employees are on the phones on the roads in our retail stores. They often don’t see a lot of what corporate employees see, like the open forum Q&A, and all company notes. But what they do see is everything on Yammer because it’s easily on their phones. So wherever they are, they can go on Yammer. So Yammer is a really big platform for our frontline employees.

So how exactly did you promote For the Love of Work on Yammer?

So, the open Q&A forum was to announce the trailer and the podcast. And then the next week, September 21st, is when episode one dropped. And that was our big internal push. So that’s when we sent out a note from our chief HR officer that linked (and within the note, he announces the podcast, why we’re doing it, what it’s about) to a Yammer site. So when you clicked on this link, you were brought to a Yammer page called For the Love of Work that we added all employees to. So it’s like a 20,000+ person page. And on the Yammer page, we launched a contest. So the contest was, ‘we’ve launched episode one, it’s on resilience, which is the most important topic on people’s minds these days. Listen to the podcast and let us know your key takeaway and you can win Beats headphones.’

Screenshot of a promotional post on Rogers’ Yammer platform

And within the first day, within the first couple hours, we received 150 comments, which is quite high for any Yammer contests internally. And what we found was that even people who weren’t interested in winning a prize were interested in sharing how proud they were about the show and what they liked most about it. So yes, you got people who said, ‘I learned that resilience is XYZ,’ but you also got people who said, ‘this is a really well-done tool to share our employee experience with the rest of the world. This was a well-done podcast, like best ever.’ Like we were hearing sentiment that had nothing to do with the contest.

So your CEO announced the podcast at the company-wide Q&A session and then you did the intranet and Yammer promo?

Yeah, [our CEO] did the announcement for the trailer. One week later episode one dropped and we did the Yammer headphones contest. And in between those two things, we promoted the show on Rogers Zone — our Intranet.

How did this campaign come together? Where did the idea come from?

There was incredible collaboration to create this podcast internally. It was led by HR. I work in communications. Our brand team, which is our marketing team, was on board. And we also had our creative team on board. So we had about 12 people who were meeting a couple of times a week to bounce ideas off each other and work out a plan. And one of those people as well was our website developer, and everything that we did for our external or Yammer launch, he would digest onto our website — like the education piece and leveraging every piece of creative we had and making the messaging consistent across all platforms.

Of course, another big factor was that our executive team was really on board with the podcast and believed in the power of it to create thought leadership about the employee experience outside the company. So when they gave us their full support, we took it and ran with it and said, ‘we will help you post on Yammer. We will help you post on LinkedIn.’ They gave us range to work with people across every single business in Rogers to say, ‘how do we blow this out of the park?’ So we were included in employee newsletters and our intranet weekly roundups, as we call them. We have what we call new grads at Rogers, who are a group of 150 students who are fresh out of school and have these new jobs at Rogers. And we leveraged them as ambassadors within the company and for the external launch for the company to share their message, these messages, and to share why this podcast resonated with them. So we kind of looked at every single group across the country, across the company, every single communication channel we had to say, how do we get there? How do we put our message on those channels? How do we get those people to talk about us?

What results have you seen so far?

Within the first couple of days of episode one launching, we became number one in the Careers category on Apple Podcasts Canada. And we broke into the top 10 in the Business category on Apple Podcasts Canada. And what was interesting is that we had only launched with our employees, so it was our employees and all the communication channels we did internally that had got us to that, to those charts.

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