“Work hard from the beginning to create a strong team and a culture that serves everyone who works there”
1. Tell us about your role at Carabiner Communications?
I set overall strategic direction for the agency as well as oversee our client services and quality standards. I also drive business development activities.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
After receiving a Journalism and Public Relations degree from the University of Utah, I began my career working at Burson-Marsteller (now Burson Cohn & Wolfe) in New York City. While I enjoyed living there, I wanted to raise my family elsewhere so I accepted a job in Atlanta with a PC technology company. After that, I went on to found two public relations and marketing firms, the most recent one being Carabiner Communications (the other was acquired by Hill & Knowlton). Over the course of my career, I’ve helped to launch hundreds of technology products and executed campaigns designed to create thought leadership, awareness, and visibility.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
An amazing amount of data is being generated every day, yet we continue to struggle with how to fully understand and utilize it all. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two solutions that have the potential to help us manage this data and use it to our utmost advantage. Today’s marketing technology tools are also helping to analyze data in a way that enables companies to more closely align their offerings with the real needs of the customer. Traditionally, marketing has been a one to many proposition but that’s evolving as martech is allowing us to segment audiences with greater accuracy and deliver information that’s more relevant to each customer and then deliver it in the channel they prefer so it’s likely to have more impact. Prior to these tools, marketing was more about guesswork and relying on one’s intuition, but that’s rapidly changing. With these technology advancements, I think we can say that we know more about our customers and prospects than ever before, yet we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
4. How has digital content development and marketing helped marketing professionals?
Digital marketing has allowed us to reach prospects in a place where they are spending ever increasing amounts of both their business and personal time—online. At the same time, martech is enabling us to collect more data about prospects and their interests and tailor our digital marketing to that. While good digital content enables us to inform the prospect in relevant and compelling ways, digital marketing is the way we actually deliver it, whether in the form of website content, email campaigns, banner ads, social posts and ads, or SEO.
5. How has technology contributed to the development of PR services?
I haven’t seen a lot of technology innovation in this regard that isn’t a copy of digital marketing technology being applied to PR content. If you post content developed for PR purposes on social media, for instance, you use the same technology to know who saw the message, who watched the video, and the other ways that content is being consumed or interacted with. For other channels, however, it can be harder to measure PR’s impact and that’s an age-old problem. Let’s say a PR campaign results in an article being published in a newspaper or a company’s thought leader being interviewed on the radio. It’s much harder to determine how successful those activities were. There are newswires, media monitoring tools, and databases we use daily in our PR programs, but they haven’t changed much over the years other than they are now accessible online.
6. Can you explain how messaging and branding services help companies in optimizing their sales?
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have strong, compelling messaging and branding that resonates clearly with your audience. Good messaging hits at the core of the prospect’s needs and desires while a strong brand makes it clear who your company is and what it stands for. Conversely, if your message or brand is obscure, the prospect will have to work too hard to discover you and will be unmotivated to buy. Bottom line, without the right message and brand, you’ll be spinning your wheels and wasting a lot of marketing dollars.
7. What can help organizations conduct better content marketing?
This harkens back to the previous question, but you have to start off with fresh, creative, and highly relevant messaging that is based on a solid understanding of your prospect’s needs and pain points. If you speak to the heart of what the prospect requires to resolve a problem or do something better, your content will be embraced by your audience.
8. What advice would you give to technology startups?
Even though you’re small and just starting out, you have to do things with a David versus Goliath mentality. What I mean by that is you have to act with a confidence that comes from knowing what you have is better than what’s on the market today. And, if you don’t feel that way about your product, it’s better to keep things in development or start over completely. I’d also tell them to battle through the valleys. There are times when things just don’t seem to be moving forward no matter what you do, and those are the times to remind yourself of your value to the market and just keep going. My other advice would be to learn from not only the mistakes your competition makes but admire and replicate the good things you see other companies doing. Also,
work hard from the beginning to create a strong team and a culture that serves everyone who works there.
9. What digital innovation in sales technology do you think hit the mark in 2019?
There is a company in Atlanta called SalesLoft that offers a sales engagement platform that helps organizations deliver better experiences to their customers throughout the customer lifecycle. The platform delivers crucial insights into customer needs, which I think is really key since we already have technologies that help uncover leads but few that actually enable the building of more meaningful relationships.
10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
The best way to prepare is to fully understand the potential benefits that AI and machine learning can bring to almost every industry, from manufacturing to consumer electronics to healthcare. Early innovators in AI are applying it to these large data pools to gain actionable insights and to enable computers and machines to function in a more intelligent manner. On the flip side, AI needs to be utilized in ways that are respectful and don’t alienate . People don’t want to feel like they’re living in a Big Brother environment.
11. Is your agency planning any major developments?
Carabiner Communications continues to grow and evolve based on the needs of the marketplace, and we are planning some big announcements in 2020. In addition to our integrated marketing services, we’re also seeing a resurgence in the desire for public relations programs designed to instill trust and credibility. PR and marketing, in fact, are part of the same toolbox every business needs to position themselves for success.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I wouldn’t be where I am without the team we’ve built at Carabiner—it’s absolutely vital to the range and quality of services we deliver to our clients. Our team leaders are committed to executing carefully planned strategies that deliver results and help to ensure our clients’ success. We can also assemble exactly the right group for every project or campaign since we’re comprised of senior strategists, designers, writers, media outreach pros, lead-gen specialists, and others. For me, it’s a very satisfying experience to lead this team of professionals. I marvel every day at what they’re able to accomplish.
13. What movie inspires you the most?
The movie “White Christmas” has to be my all-time favorite. It’s a sweet, touching story that’s also got a little of everything—music, comedy, and some romance. If you haven’t seen it, two singers played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye join sisters played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen to perform at a Christmas show in rural Vermont. While there, the men run across the general they served under during World War II and respected greatly. When they learn that the retired general is running a country inn that’s in trouble financially, they enlist the women into putting on a show with them at the inn to bring in business. While some people might think the story is a little schmaltzy by today’s standards, I find its message uplifting.
14. We’ve heard you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
We do have a fun group! Here’s a photo of us at one of our team luncheons.
15. Can you give us a glance at some of the applications you have on your phone?
I have the business apps you’d expect like Gmail as well as social apps like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Because it seems I’m always traveling to somewhere, I also have Google Maps and Waze, as well as the Travelocity app. There also apps on my phone that cater to my personal interests like reading and podcasts. Probably my most unusual one is one called myTuner Radio app that lets you find and listen to radio stations around the world. I’m originally from Great Britain, so I enjoy listening to the BBC.