PR’s Top Pros Talk…COVID – Julie Crabill
Julie Crabill, Chief Marketing Officer of GoNoodle
Julie Crabill, Chief Marketing Officer at GoNoodle, discusses how public relations fits into a CMO’s workload, and how communications professionals can effectively work with both a CCO and a CMO. She shares tips on how companies can become better clients and how agencies can help. Julie also notes the value of leveraging local news channels to get your message out there.
Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of diversity and urges marketers to understand that it’s a profit center, not a cost center.
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About the Host:
Host: DOUG SIMON
Guest: JULIE CRABILL
DOUG: So, Julie educational tech obviously is really taking off in this COVID environment. Can we start off, can you just share a little bit top line about GoNoodle?
JULIE: Yeah, GoNoodle… and thanks for having me Doug. GoNoodle is very focused on getting kids moving and bringing them mindfulness content, so helping them deal with their emotions. So, we know that there are teachers and parents out there really armed with educating kids, and we’re about giving them brain breaks, making sure that your screen time can be active time, especially in this world where kids are sitting behind a screen looking at zooms all day. Just getting them up, getting them moving, reconnecting them with themselves, with others, and making sure that they really feel like no matter where they are, they can have a moment of positivity, good energy and movement.
DOUG: Great. And we’ve spoken to a number of CCOs on this program. As a CMO maybe you can lend some perspective on where the public relations role plays within the CMO totality of workload.
JULIE: Absolutely. And you know my background Doug, I have a lot of PR in the background. And for me it’s really about being a communications driven chief marketing officer. So, I think that depending on the company you’re working for there should be a heavy focus on storytelling on making sure that you’re engaging with your different audiences, speaking to them and finding them where they are. And I think those are all core tenants of public relations that that make it into the C Suite, whether you’re a CCO, or a CMO. And of course, if you’re a CMO there’s additional layers on top of that, but many of today’s CCOs I think also consider those layers of paid digital, paid marketing efforts and kind of the holistic view of how we market to and communicate with our audiences.
DOUG: So that sounds like the silos are breaking down. Does that mean the best ideas always win?
JULIE: I think that that’s true. You know depending on the company you’re at, hopefully, if you’re not at a company where the best ideas always win, you might want to start to look for another company. But yeah, I really do think that the silos are breaking down, and we realize, just like America, just like the world, that we are stronger together that we are apart. So, I think the more that people can knowledge share and bring different ideas to the table, the better the end result will be for the users, which is really what it’s all about.
DOUG: One of the things we’ve seen with COVID is that CMOs of all types realize that the communications function has grown even more important, including how you communicate to internal audiences, what you’re messaging is in the media and being more aggressive, could be authentic, and get your statements out there. What’s your take on best policies for navigating that?
JULIE: I think it goes back to the core tenants of be authentic, be real, let people know that you’re never going to please everybody all of the time, but you’re going to do your best and you’re going to be honest about your efforts and what you’re attempting to do. And I think we’re in a time where people are going through a lot – personally, politically. The world is tough on people, and I think the best thing that we can do as marketers, as communicators is remind people that we get it, we’re there for them, we are people too, we’re experiencing the same sorts of things that they are. And then whether it’s to an external audience or to your team, making sure that you’re meeting them halfway and having a conversation about what they need. I think it goes back to one of our earlier conversations about being a good client if you’re in house versus external, and the idea that you expect people to understand where you are, but you don’t take the time to tell them where you are. And I think that’s one of the things that we have to get past now, we have to slow down, be kind and give each other some grace and some space and have those conversations that will allow us to better flourish together.
DOUG: Those are great points about how to be a good client. Now can the agency play a role in helping their client be a better client, and how would they go about doing that?
JULIE: Absolutely. So, I think it’s ask questions and listen. I think that it’s take the time to have a conversation about the sacrifices that will occur if things have to change. I think oftentimes on the client side people expect… I need them to understand that my business is working this way, and these things are happening, and it’s not all about the press hits, or it’s not all about this or that. But then on the flip side they say, but they need to get all those press hits, and where are those press hits, and are they any good? So, I think it’s about making sure that there is a shared understanding of if this change happens, here’s what we expect to happen. And I think I even to this day will get text messages from former clients who are saying “I’m working with this agency and I haven’t been able to get us any coverage of our news.” And I’m telling them if your news doesn’t have COVID or Trump in, it you can’t really hold that as the single barometer of whether they are good at what they do or not. You have to find a way to get through that and have a conversation about it.
DOUG: Julie, so that’s definitely true what you say on the national level with national media and that can be a difficult challenge to communicate that with clients that you’re not going to break through one of the cable news networks when they’re politics 100%. Very different story on the local broadcast side. We just finished a survey, and local TV producers told us that they’re only going to be spending 30% of their newscast dealing with politics during October and that means there’s still 70%, a significant majority of opportunity for organizations to get their message out locally, and local news of course has even a greater audience than all the cable networks combined, all the network newscasts combined as well. And they can have a powerful effect, especially if you’re targeting them in markets that are important to you where you have employees or where you have customers.
JULIE: Yeah, I think it’s a great approach right now. Everything you just said, it really makes clear that there is an opportunity there to tell the story directly to that local audience if that’s what kind of impacts your business, if that’s where you’re trying to go. I think there is a lot of opportunity to tell a story that really matters to people. As we talked about, there’s a lot of struggle right now. And I think if you can make people feel like you’re doing something for them, where they live and where their families are, and you are sort of a friend who doesn’t make them feel guilty, doesn’t make them feel any worse than they already do, those are the kinds of things that I think from a local perspective can really bring people a lot of positivity into their lives. So, it doesn’t just help your marketing message, it actually does something really really good for people making them feel like you care about them where they are.
DOUG: Great, now that’s an excellent takeaway. Would you like to wrap up with maybe a couple more takeaways for the audience of what they should start doing immediately?
JULIE: Yeah I mean a big topic for me personally right now, and one that you’ve covered recently with Damon Jones, the CCO of Procter and Gamble, is diversity. And I think we as marketers need to understand that this is not a cost center – it’s a profit center. This is not a checkmark – it is something that will make us all stronger and better at what we do. If we are trying to speak to a wide and varied audience of people, we need our teams and our companies to have that same diversity that we’re speaking to to be able to create the best products. It’s what we talked about earlier about silos breaking down between marketing and product and sales and engineering. All of these silos kind of breaking down and people working together, you need that same diverse collaboration in order to drive and create something that will work for the future. And making products for kids is inherently about that same diversity and trying to always constantly think about how can we be more inclusive to everybody who might be interacting with our products. So, I think that’s my big focus right now.
DOUG: And that’s an awesome message to leave everyone with. Julie, thanks so much for getting together with us and sharing your great ideas.
JULIE: Thank you Doug, it was great.