Aarti Shah 25 Apr 2013 // 4:24PM GMT
Recently in a conversation about innovative communicators, a senior PR pro credited Twitter’s Gabriel Stricker for having “turned the entire thing around.” This coincided with Stricker’s recent promotion to VP of communications and marketing.This raised a few questions -- why is marketing being consolidated with communications under Stricker? And what exactly did Stricker turn around? As Mike Issac points out (while breaking news of Stricker's new role), Twitter hasn’t put its full weight behind consumer marketing since Pam Kramer spent three months in the role in 2011. Yet unlike Facebook, Twitter has wrestled with making a compelling sell on the platform beyond a specialized niche. Compare Twitter’s 200 million active users to Facebook’s that topple one billion. Earlier this year, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told the Wall Street Journal his goals include tipping the one billion user threshold -- but to do this, he has to make it easier for users to decipher the platform, and ultimately, its value. From the WSJ interview: Mr. Costolo: Once you become a core user, [Twitter] is indispensable. But you have to invest, frankly, too much to get that 'aha' moment. One of the things that we're spending a great deal of time on are weekly digest emails for casual users. It's a great way for people to start realizing, 'that's amazing and I need to be checking in more frequently.'
Fast-forward to last week and now Stricker is taking on this pursuit, expanding his communications role (defined at Twitter as mostly media relations) into consumer marketing. Costolo told the LA Times in 2012 he tasked Stricker with ensuring “no dying birds on national magazine covers.’” And seems Costolo - and some others in the industry - credit Stricker for doing just this.
It is understood that before Stricker joined, Twitter’s PR team not only struggled with being under-resourced, but had a peculiar strategy of ignoring tech media (as well as business trades) in favor of the consumer behemoths, like Oprah. With a far more tech-and-business centric media strategy in place, the question is, can Stricker make comparable -- perhaps more substantial -- changes on the marketing side?
That remains to be seem. But for now, we know what Stricker has done. Most people in the industry are familiar with his five-year stint as director of global comms and public affairs at Google, as well as his work on political races and a book on guerilla marketing from 2003. But, as it turns out, Stricker also worked on the unsuccessful recall campaign to oust the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez from power (see 14:00 and 17:35).Let’s see how this depth of experience plays out in the new role.