SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter’s head of marketing and communications Gabriel Stricker shared rules that communications pros should follow to adapt to the modern age of communications.
When developing the communications strategy around Twitter’s IPO, he “started with the picture and worked backwards.” To go beyond the expected image of executives ushering the start of trading, Stricker focused on making the IPO user-focused.
“It seems wrong that on a day when the world will be celebrating us, that we let the message be about us and our execs,” Stricker said. “Is there a way for the picture of that day to be about the users? Start with that question.”
Twitter’s iconic IPO image included Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame, Cheryl Fiandaca, the spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department and Vivienne Harr, a nine-year-old who started a lemonade stand to help end child slavery and then used Twitter to raise more than $100,000.
He also advocated for companies to “outsource for coverage and not competency,” reiterating that Twitter didn’t lean on an agency for its IPO.
“It’s not just a day — it’s an entire process,” Stricker said. “It seems inappropriate that you would turn over the financial standing of your company to someone else…[in-house teams] can’t just be for peacetime communications.”
Stricker reinforced the basic “love thy reporter” tenant, touching on the well-worn tension between PR professionals and reporters. He discouraged milquetoast media materials that are frequently devoid of personality and risk.
“You have to reverse engineer press materials,” Stricker added. “Can this content inspire, in addition to educate? Can it take a risk? Express our personality?”
When it comes to content Stricker advised against the model of brands manufacturing a conversation in hopes of generating interest in it. Instead, brands should approach content as a “a canvas for expressing our humanity.”
The agency of the future, he added, understands who their client base is — and isn’t — and in turn are able to genuinely embody the values of the clients they take on.
The Q&A portion was led by Alexander Jutkowitz, chief strategist for Hill + Knowlton Strategies (the session sponsor) and managing partner for H+K’s subsidiary Group SJR. Jutkowitz delved further into alleviating the tension between agencies and clients and how to reinvent the agency model and content generation to be more conducive to the digital world.