ShowrunnerI listen to several podcasts each week and one of my favorites is ‘The Showrunner’ podcast, co-hosted by Jerod Morris and Jon Nastor. While the basic premise is a podcast about podcasting, I have found it to be much broader than that simple premise. In many ways it is about the craft of communication; how to do an interview, how to craft content and how to deliver your message so that the listener has a great experience. In other words it is about communication through the medium of podcasting.

Morris talks about the four elements of a great listener experience. I find them to be an excellent format for any Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner to think through when trying to communicate the message of compliance or the specifics of your compliance program to your employee listeners. It is yet another way that the tools of social media can be adopted and adapted by a CCO or compliance practitioner to further expand compliance in an organization. As Morris explains it, “You really are trying to create an experience for an audience. Take people on a journey, and I think the four essential elements really break down the components of what it takes to do that.” His four elements are (1) Authenticity, (2) Usefulness, (3) Sustainability, and (4) Profitability.

  1. Authenticity

I think the big shrink of a podcast is the ability that it gives you to create an authentic connection with an audience. Authenticity is the first of the four essential elements. Morris explained, “authenticity really boils down to knowing yourself, knowing your audience, and then understanding the intersection between the two.” He went on to provide the following example, that “to create an authentic connection with anybody, first you have to know what you bring to the table. What knowledge, what experience you have, what your passions are, but I think sometimes people really mistake authenticity and transparency, and they think that being transparent and just putting anything out there is going to create a connection, but that’s not true.” As a CCO or compliance practitioner, you need to be able to share your passion for compliance and integrating fully into the fabric of your organization.

  1. Usefulness 

This means the information you are presenting has value to your audience. Morris said this element has paths to audience use, are you there to: (a) entertain, (b) educate, or (3) inspire? Why is your audience listening to your presentation? The best podcasts, like the best presentations, combine elements of all three. You are certainly there to educate about compliance and if you can present it in an entertaining way, your employee base may be more inclined to listen and even participate. Yet if you can also add an inspirational component this could bring you the highest listener experience. Morris ended his thoughts on this element with, “People are coming to us to learn about the craft of podcasting, and so we’ve got to make sure that yes, we’re going to do all three of the elements if we can, we’ve got to understand the number one thing people are coming to us for and make sure we give them that above all else.”

The subparts are not in a vacuum or even two of the three should not be taken in a vacuum. So even if you inspire with your message, you need to have an educational component that your employees can take away and use in the business going forward. However if you cannot entertain them enough, they may have turned off from listening before you can even get to the educational lesson.

  1. Sustainability 

For the podcast and greater social media world, this means “show up, show up reliably, and show up reliably over time, because you can be building an authentic connection, and it can be useful, but if you’re only there every now and then, if people expect you to be there and you’re not there, or, heaven forbid, if you just don’t even start in the first place, you can’t really create anything remarkable.” For the CCO or compliance practitioner I think this starts with being available and making a personal connection. Obviously this means getting out of the corporate office and into the field to meet your employee base. Since any Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program will deal with foreign government officials and business outside the US, this means getting out into the international world.

But it also means more than simply creating a personal connection. While you can use these personal connections to help you communicate, you also need to keep your audience base abreast of any changes that may be relevant to them or could be used as good teaching points going forward. You could put on podcast or other training when new enforcement actions come out to highlight the lessons learned about the bribery schemes that got company’s into FCPA hot water. You must sustain your momentum going forward.

  1. Profitability 

Most people think that this element relates strictly to monetary gain. However, even in the podcast and greater social media world, profitability is broader than such a facile analysis. Morris said, “It involves the experience. It involves us getting more out of the experience than we’re putting into it, intrinsically, and in the same way, our audience is getting more out of the experience. All of those together, authenticity, usefulness, sustainability, profitability, they converge to create a remarkable audience experience. Whether it’s person, you’re planning an event, whether it’s a party that you’re having at your house, or whether it’s a podcast that you’re trying to create an experience over time.”

I really appreciated how Morris made clear that not only do all of these elements tie together they also build on each other. It all comes together in his final concept, which for his podcast training is the Unique Show Positioning (USP). Morris explained, “Unique show positioning is basically what makes you different, I think, especially in anything that involves content, and that involves content online. There are so many options now for people, and really it’s not just with online content.” However the other key is your audience and its expectations. Morris said, “The unique show position is really understanding the audience that you’re going for, understanding the other options that they have, and making sure that you uniquely position yourself to stand out to get the attention in the first place. That way the audience has a chance to experience you and then judge you based on your merit. If there’s nothing unique about you, if you’re not positioned in a different way, then it’s going to be very hard for you to get the attention in the first place.”

For the CCO or compliance practitioner, I think USP is a critical element in communicating the message of compliance. There is so much internal training and communications to employees that many messages can get lost. Overlay the email traffic and that most folks out there have a day job to try and do business and you begin to see part of the problem. Morris and his message from the world of podcasting and social media suggested doing something different to get the attention of your employee base. Provide compliance related information in a manner that will grab their attention. Use the social media tools available to you. Why not bring subject matter experts (SME’s) on the FCPA to record podcasts and make them available internally? It certainly might be an interesting way to make education about compliance attention grabbing for your employees.

Morris’ four elements of a remarkable listener experience can be used in any format to think through your compliance related communications. Morris provides you with a way to ruminate through the delivery of compliance information so that it will not be overlooked.

You can check out The Showrunner podcast by clicking here.

Jerod Morris, VP at Rainmaker Digital.FM, can be reached at

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© Thomas R. Fox, 2015