Why Listeners Like It: HubSpot’s Culture Happens
Creativity doesn’t just happen. Instead, creativity is the result of hard work and a series of choices the creator makes. In this series, we’re diving into some of the most creative branded podcasts out there — shows that have become favorites for their audiences. We’re asking their creators: why do listeners like your show? What makes it special? And how do you deliver that special something episode after episode?
Do you know how many B2B podcasts are interview shows?
Neither do I. But I do know that there are SO. MANY. of them.
And so many of these, sadly, are not memorable. They’re just another example of the same archetype, with hosts who ask the same tired questions of the same industry “experts.” They don’t have a compelling hook. They don’t have a cohesive vision. The conversations they feature can end up feeling boring, unsatisfying, and even inauthentic.
That’s why it’s so gratifying to come across an interview show that feels different.
HubSpot’s Culture Happens podcast is technically an interview show, but it doesn’t really feel like one. Rather, it feels like listening in on authentic conversations among coworkers and friends.
Why Listeners Like Culture Happens
HubSpot is famous for prioritizing culture. Co-founder Dharmesh Shah even created the company’s 128-slide Culture Code, which codifies the ways in which HubSpot leaders and employees strive to create a culture people love on a daily basis. Culture Happens is a natural extension of that overarching company value — it’s a podcast about company culture and how to build a happy, inclusive workplace.
Uniquely, Culture Happens doesn’t have one dedicated host. Different employees host different episodes, based on their subject matter: the Remote Work & Inclusion Manager hosts an episode on remote work, for example, and a Campus Recruiter hosts the episode on diversity and inclusion in recruiting. Each episode features conversations with other HubSpot employees and, sometimes, a guest from another company or organization whose background and perspective is directly relevant to the episode at hand.
This flexible but repeatable format yields episodes that consistently feature natural-sounding conversations among people who inherently understand the given topic. That feeling of authenticity that pervades the show is — you guessed it — intentional on the part of its creators.
“With Culture Happens, we really strive to bring authentic and honest conversations amongst employees to life, and I think that’s something that makes our podcast not only special, but enticing,” says HubSpot Culture PR Manager Sophie Hamersley, who runs the show. “People can often feel intimidated to write about their experiences — they worry about grammar, using the right words, and wanting something to be impactful. There’s something about setting up a conversation between two people that takes the pressure off, and you often are left with really rich conversations that show depth, passion, and character.”
It seems that those rich conversations do, in fact, entice listeners. The show has a perfect 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts, and reviewers often cite the show’s spotlight on employees as a reason they love the show. “I love hearing from the employees themselves…Super transparent and feels authentic to who HubSpot is as a company,” writes one reviewer. “I really enjoy how the show features real employees talking about these important [diversity and inclusion] issues,” writes another.
So how does Sophie and her team maintain the authenticity listeners love over the course of the show?
“As a communications and PR professional, my gut instinct is to overprep people,” Sophie acknowledges. “What I’ve found is that actually the less I prepare for people, the more they shine on their own, and have these natural and authentic conversations. Now I focus on setting people up for success by giving tools for transitions, and I help them work through a flow of sections they want to cover. Other than that, they do the talking!”
It’s the show’s format, I think, that truly anchors Culture Happens. Its approach to honest conversations provides a structure for each episode, which examines a different sub-topic of the broad overarching premise (i.e., how to build a company culture that people love). The talent varies from episode to episode, but that focus on real conversations with varying voices across the organization holds strong — and that’s why listeners like it.
Your Favorite Podcaster’s Favorite Podcasts
No one knows good shows like a showrunner. As a bonus, here are some of Sophie Hamersley’s favorite podcasts:
- Eater’s Digest — Sophie is a foodie who grew up in the hospitality industry, so she follows this show for industry trends and to connect with her Dad, a retired chef.
- Code Switch, which speaks to race in all aspects of life: from work to pop culture to everyday living.
- The Future of Storytelling, which she loves for its variety and the way it challenges her to think more broadly in her own work.
A somewhat accidental marketer, I’m first and foremost a writer. I’ve spent a decade working with global brands to craft on-target content and streamline complex ideas into clear (and even…exciting?!) language. Now, I get to spend every day immersed in content and strategy here, as Managing Editor of Marketing Showrunners, at my company, Molly Donovan Content & Communications. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community of eager next-generation marketers and marketing showrunners.
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