Behind the Headlines With Greg Sherry
Your audience is looking to engage with brands that understand their needs and desires. Are you able to provide them with what they want?
Greg Sherry, executive vice president of communications at Kellen, says brands need to personalize their communication to not only reach, but also engage consumers.
In this interview, Greg discusses why brands need to develop unique communication programs, how to begin developing a strategy and how the communication industry has changed and where it is headed.
What are you most excited about in your new role as executive vice president of communications at Kellen?
Working at Kellen is a tremendous opportunity. We are arguably the leading association management company in the world. We also have world class communications capabilities, which we provide not only to our Association clients, but also many leading companies and brands, especially in those markets and industries where we have strong expertise.
Also, our business model is to invest in building long-term partnerships with our clients. It’s different than many agencies, where the focus is on generating as much first-year revenue as possible. That’s not our approach.
What is the most important lesson about communication you’ve learned throughout your career?
Every company and brand is unique. No two are exactly alike. We might develop similar strategies and program recommendations for companies, let’s say, within a specific industry. In fact, we utilize a very disciplined process and approach in developing our strategic programs.
But, we also understand each company has different strengths and weaknesses, and needs to reach and engage their respective stakeholders in different ways. We take the extra time at the outset of a relationship to understand the nuances and specific challenges facing each client. That leads to much better informed and effective counsel.
What are some of the key components of a successful strategic communication strategy?
Assess the situation (Where are you now?); Identify your goals and objectives; Develop your communications strategies; Build your action plan; Identify what constitutes success, and perhaps most important, how to make adjustments along the way.
During goal-setting, you will identify who your key audiences are, what your core messages are and what channels will most effectively reach and influence your primary stakeholders. It is essential your core messaging is concise and consistent across all stakeholders.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing brands today? How can they overcome it?
Brands can’t just reach their key audiences today. Today’s consumers have more choices and information than ever before, and want to participate, engage and respond. They also want to spend as little time as possible in deciding what fits their needs and wants.
That’s why many companies and brands are developing programs that are personalized to the needs, interests and actions of their customers and different prospects. These same companies are using analytics to uncover insights on customer behavior and to better understand and predict their needs and wants.
Obviously, social media also plays a big role in engaging consumers. Many top brands today are taking social media to the next level by using it to drive sales. Having the right metrics and social listening are key to successful sales and marketing strategies.
With more searches now on mobile than computers, marketers will also need to invest more in mobile. One new area that appears to be growing especially fast is the use of Messaging Apps. That appears to be an immediate opportunity for today’s brands.
How has marketing and communication changed over the years? What are brands doing differently today that they didn’t do in the past?
Twenty-five years ago, when I started in this business, terms like branding had a whole different meaning than it does today. In our world of marketing and communications, companies and brands are now held accountable for more than just relaying a message. They are expected to be experts in both traditional and digital branding; knowing how and when to use each.
From the time I started my career to today, one of the biggest changes is the number of communication channels. This exponential growth of outlets and channels encourages and contributes to the breadth and depth of communication we see today, while adding a layer of complexity to the jobs of communication and marketing professionals.
How do you envision the future of marketing and communication?
We will continue to move more toward mobile. It’s almost too fast to process.
Do you have any advice for those looking to begin a career in marketing?
Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals. Basic grammar is essential. I’m disappointed by how many young professionals lack some of these basic skills. Also, pick up the phone. When I started in this industry, I’d spend six hours a day on the phone with media and clients. You just can’t measure the importance of developing personal relationship in our business.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a baseball player.
2. My hobbies outside of work include…traveling, crossword puzzles, reading and hiking.
3. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…the passion I have for my job. I love being a part of such a vibrant and growing business. I’m very proud of my profession.
4. If I won the lottery…I wouldn’t change much. Really, I wouldn’t.
5. My ideal vacation would be…traveling to any one of my favorite small cities that are rich with history. My favorites are Florence, Salzburg, Munich and Prague, and my favorite U.S. city is Charleston, South Carolina.
6. One thing most people don’t know about me is…I would love to be a New York City walking tour guide when I retire. I love going into a neighborhood and learning as much as I can about that one part of the city.
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