How Toyota makes exercise of podcasts to indicate its human aspect


When Toyota decided to open a podcast in 2018, the corporate had modest aspirations.

“We continuously checked out Season One as a pilot,” says Eric Gross sales space, senior manager, external communications for Toyota Motor North The United States. “We were making an are trying one thing new, and if it didn’t determine, then there would possibly be continuously a lesson to be learned.”


Happily for Toyota and its podcast “Toyota Untold,” the indicate took off, with over 30,000 downloads over the principle season and a 4.5 valuable individual rating on iTunes. Now the indicate is entering Season Two with a revamped format and restructured manufacturing workers.

For communicators taking a see to open a podcast, promote designate journalism and have interaction external and interior audiences, Toyota’s story is a trove of tricks and classes.

Why a podcast?

With one thing as intensive and stressful as producing a podcast, it’s important to fetch team of workers contributors excited and engaged so they high-tail above and beyond to set your tell material. In Toyota’s case, the root for a podcast came from an interior team of workers member who loved and consumed the format on his enjoy.

“We build together a minute team of workers,” says Gross sales space. “All people raised their hand who desired to participate in the mission, and from there we build together fairly a selection of be taught and offered to our CCO, Scott Vasin, who loved the root. He’s continuously pushing us to fetch new things and think innovatively. As far as we knew at the time, no other automaker was once doing [a podcast].”

One key thing helped the podcast fetch off the ground: The mission was once a labor of appreciate for all people fervent.

“It’s now not our rotund-time job,” says Gross sales space. “This one thing we are attracted to doing.”

The interior team of workers includes two hosts (Kelsey Soule and Tyler Litchenberger) and two producers (Alison Powell and Sharon Hong), but it certainly wasn’t continuously that methodology. When the indicate launched, all people was once doing a dinky of the total thing, which Gross sales space likens to a youth soccer sport the build the total children cluster across the ball.

Having handiest two hosts “essentially helps” Gross sales space says. “We wanted our hosts to join with the viewers fairly better and so so as to show more personable experiences.”

Toyota works with an exterior manufacturing company, Crate Media, to edit and distribute the indicate.

“We’re now not experts on this,” says Gross sales space. “They obviously hold experience in producing podcasts, and so working with other purchasers they are ready to sing us on what works, what doesn’t work. They obviously set the podcast [and] edit the podcast. … We are ready to fetch some insights from them per their experience with other purchasers.”

Stories that work

Gross sales space describes pulling the curtain assist to indicate the personality and pleasure that vitality the automaker.

“It’s attempting to humanize and produce a face to Toyota,” he says. “A range of folks see these gargantuan manufacturers, and in addition they don’t realize that there’s most of the these that work for these corporations which would possibly be passionate and enthusiastic, now not handiest about (in our case) vehicles. On the assist of that there are some many things that Toyota is doing in our neighborhood, advancing safety and technology, future of mobility—you already know, these bigger ideas accessible.”

Gross sales space adds that the podcast is a incredible methodology to work on experiences that won’t fit into fleet-hit tell material formats.

“A range of times these experiences aren’t urged or ready to be taught given brief formats,” he says. “We are able to hold company on, both interior and even external company, to again expose most of these cool experiences about what we are doing right here at Toyota and Lexus.”

One story that deeply resonated in Season One was once that of Allyn Pierce and his “Marshmallow Toyota.”

“It is probably you’ll take into accout the brutal wildfires in Northern California final year and Allyn Pierce who owned a Toyota Tundra,” says Gross sales space.

“He labored as a nurse at one of many local hospitals there, and as his neighborhood was once burning to the ground he frail his Tundra to rob sufferers and staff to pressure them down the hill to fetch them to safety, because emergency crews were having a laborious time getting there.”

Pierce shared a listing of the crispy truck on social media, and the image took off. Toyota gave Pierce a brand new truck and brought awareness to the wants of the fire-ravaged communities in northern California. Then, the podcast team of workers shared the unparalleled story with its new platform.

“It grew to turn into into this provocative story on social media, and we then interviewed him for the podcast, and that received a ton of listens and downloads,” says Gross sales space.

Other experiences that labored for the team of workers was once a indicate about the brand new Toyota Supra and Toyota’s advocacy for folks with disabilities as section of the “Mobility for All” advertising and marketing campaign.

Low threat, gargantuan reward

The podcast requires a rather minute label for the corporate to hold interaction their viewers on important matters which would possibly be on the total undervalued by top executives.

“Frankly, from a numbers point of view, this essentially isn’t a gargantuan investment,” Gross sales space says about getting purchase-in from the number crunchers.  “It’s beautiful grassroots. We don’t hold a rotund-time workers devoted to it. Right here’s apart from our day jobs.”

That doesn’t mean that the team of workers doesn’t hold desires.

“We behold at this as a platform to sing, have interaction and entertain,” says Gross sales space.  “We undoubtedly did that with Season One, and now we are into Season Two.”

Which metrics indicate success? Gross sales space begins with the 30,000 downloads the principle season completed and hopes to snatch that number for Season Two.

“We resolve on to magnify our downloads and subscribers,” says Gross sales space. “Throughout the Apple platform there was once some appropriate feedback on there and an correct rating on that. We obviously resolve on to proceed that.”

On the different hand, some advantages are tougher to quantify but no less nice to the manufacturing team of workers.

“We’ve heard from folks globally,” says Gross sales space. “We’ve heard from other gargantuan-name manufacturers exterior of the automobile industry who hold said, ‘We resolve on to open a podcast; are you able to creep us though how you were ready to fetch it?’”

The success has been a welcome shock. “I hold we are having this affect that we weren’t pondering of,” Gross sales space says. “We simply desired to fetch one thing fun and tidy and assorted.”

Quick and sweet

For communicators who resolve on to open their enjoy podcasts, Gross sales space recommends paying cautious attention to performance metrics.

“We realized that [in] Season One we ended up with very long episodes,” he says. “Most of them were over an hour long, and in that hour we mixed more than one matters. What came about, unfortunately, was once that listeners started to tune out about midway thru, and by doing that they missed some essentially appropriate tell material at the tip.”

For Season Two, the team of workers decided to interrupt things up, holding every episode tightly focused to support listener attention.

“We’ll focal point on one topic per episode, and we are able to set it about 30 minutes long,” Gross sales space says. “Optimistically, qualified there we are able to see some listeners stick around.”

Gross sales space additionally argues that a usual posting cadence is more healthy for expanding an viewers.

“Somewhat than launching every three to four weeks, we hold a planned agenda thru the tip of Might that we are able to be launching an episode every two weeks,” he says. If that’s obedient, the team of workers would possibly are trying to publish weekly.

A number of fleet tricks

Gross sales space has a pair of concrete pieces of recommendation for would-be podcasters.

“Be as planned as you’re going to be ready to,” he says. “Bear a team of workers constructing in space to again divide and overcome the fairly a selection of responsibilities from hosting to producing.” He says that when his team of workers was once doing a dinky of the total thing, the work modified into too powerful, in particular because podcasting was once a ardour mission on top of their usual responsibilities.

“In usual, hold a glorious time with it,” Gross sales space adds.

He additionally suggests you lean into your group’s inherent strengths.

“Use your experts within the corporate,” he says. “We’ve performed that sooner than, the build we hold one of our interior discipline discipline topic experts on alongside with an external customer, and it’s a nice play there on whatever topic.”

On the different hand, he says, don’t essentially feel constrained by your product line or industry focal point.

“Uncover assorted avenues and topics beyond what your company is identified for,” he says. “In our case, it’s vehicles, and in addition they’re critical, and we are able to proceed to show the automobile story, but what’s in the assist of the designate? Peel that onion a dinky bit, and high-tail a dinky deeper.”

You’ll likely be ready to listen to to episodes of Toyota’s podcast “Toyota Untold” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and google Podcasts.


Ted Kitterman