CovidComms Awards Ireland

UCD Business wins best in-house communications team

UCD Business Impact podcast
UCD Business Impact
Winner: Best in-house team corporate communications
CovidComms Awards Ireland

One of the first things that the in-house communications team at UCD College of Business will do once lockdown is eased in Ireland is to meet for the first time in the real world. The five-person team was put together in March 2020 with a brief to design, create and implement a way to engage and offer business expertise to an audience that ranged from prospective undergraduates to international business leaders.

The team had to have the requisite capacity and determination to launch a new product while simultaneously coping with professional and personal upheaval. Its members were drawn from marketing teams across the schools of University College Dublin, as well as academia. They are connected by Zoom and email.

Their solution was to create the UCD Business Impact Podcast, which received approval on 1 April 2020 with a modest target of 250 listeners for the launch episodes. A key objective was also to include leading faculty members and feature their research.

But the initiative got off to a rocky start when the first ten potential interviewees each rejected their invitation. Like so many others, they were scrambling to reorganise their personal lives and balance work from home commitments. UCD’s professors, for example, were rewriting module plans while working out how to deliver engaging content online.

The team quickly learned to schedule far in advance, and to have interviews saved just in case. The first three episodes of UCD Business Impact Podcast were recorded by 16 April, and it launched on 21 April 2020. It is hosted by Emmet Oliver, lecturer at UCD Quinn School of Business, who is a former business journalist and communications director. Today, more than a year on, the team receives requests from PRs to interview their CEOs on the podcast.

Each podcast involves a pre-chat, preparation and the actual recording. Unable to access a new state-of-the-art media suite at the university, the team used Zoom to conduct the interviews and coached interviewees through best practice for recording.

The podcast features interviews with world-renowned academics, industry leaders and alumni – the university has Ireland’s largest alumni base – who offered different perspectives on the ongoing crisis, such as business, social and workplace implications on both a national and global scale. They were told to offer insight in an accessible and exciting way to a general listener who may not have a background in business but was interested in the subject.

The in-house team had to both draw on existing expertise and upskill, from learning to cut audio, to uploading content to streaming platforms or writing copy for new online forums. And the process is ongoing. They are constantly testing new marketing tactics, launching social media competitions and looking at ways to extend global reach.

Within the first year, the team produced 40 podcasts attracting a combined audience of more than 15,000 listeners. They are using iTunes, Spotify and web player to reach their community of listeners, including the key markets of Ireland, North America, Asia and Europe. And what started as a rapid response to a rapid crisis has, and will continue to, cast a lens on current social and business issue.