Discover more from Chief Empathy Officers by Pat Timmons
The Second | Chief Empathy Officers | Katie Perry @ Public.com
Diversity of thought makes us all smarter, Empathy + action is a powerful combination, and more from Public.com's VP of Marketing, Katie Perry
I am baaaack and so excited to share this one with you.
My book, Feel Something: How to Embrace Empathy and Build Trust with Your Audience was recently released. To dig deeper into empathy in business, I started this monthly newsletter: Chief Empathy Officers. A series that will highlight incredible leaders embracing empathy in their roles. If it becomes too much, feel free to unsubscribe. If you love it, share it with your friends!
I am so so SO excited to continue Chief Empathy Officers with a marketing leader like Katie Perry, VP of Marketing at Public.com.
As you will learn in Katie’s interview below, the work she has done at Public.com and beyond embody empathy every step of the way.
Let’s get into it!
How does your team at Public put empathy into action? Can you provide an example of a campaign that incorporated empathy and the results of the campaign? (This can be any KPI).
We have several company principles that incorporate empathy into the way we treat each other within the organization, as well as our more than 1 million community members. One of those principles is that “honesty kills BS.” We’ve established an environment where respectful candor is a norm, and so we are able to directly communicate with clarity. Another principle that relates to the first one is that we apply “urgency with empathy.” At a startup, things move fast and can be stressful. As we race to push things forward, we always pair the urgency with empathy toward the other human beings our actions and decisions affect.
These principles come to life in all of our customer communications and in-app copy. We talk like human beings when describing events or terms around the stock market, understanding that the jargon typically associated with investing can feel intimidating and inaccessible for novice investors. We explain things clearly, always finding ways to educate in context and make it so that everyone can follow the message, regardless of where they are on their investment journey.
What is an experience that has proven to you the importance of empathy in marketing?
Anytime I see a brand make a clear misstep, I always think about empathy and how that was likely the missing link. Having empathy as a marketer requires you to step outside of yourself and pressure test ideas from multiple angles--to read the room not just as you would, but as others would, as well. An exercise I’ve applied myself is to think about what different types of customers would think or feel about something we’re doing.
In organizations that have a culture of empathy, people on the team should feel empowered to vocalize the perspective of consumers and the possibility that an idea may not resonate with them, or worse, alienate them completely.
Finally, mistakes will happen and so I also pay attention to what brands do next. An empathetic apology will be effusive, with responsibility assumed (aka, it’s not the “sorry you felt that way” cop-out), and clear actions laid out to avoid the mistake again.
What are your biggest challenges as a business / marketing leader and how can empathy help you overcome those challenges?
At a fast-growing startup, creating alignment across teammates and groups within the organization becomes a more challenging task. As Public’s headcount has grown from just over a dozen to more than 100, one thing I am always trying to get better at is turning instincts into processes. When you’re small, you can rely on your internal methodologies to make decisions and move things forward on instinct. This isn’t scalable as more people join the team and are empowered to make decisions, and so you need to crystallize those mental maps into clear processes.
As a teammate, I am always thinking about how I can better create processes for others to follow and build upon. In my opinion, one of the biggest value-adds you can have in a team setting is to constantly make other people’s lives easier. Clearly communicate, give context, make it easy for people to make decisions if you need input, etc. This requires you to think, “How would this make XYZ person’s job easier?” This doesn’t only apply to working with people you report to—it shouldn’t matter where the person sits in the hierarchy. Do the work to make their life easier.
What is something all marketing professionals should read or watch to make them more empathetic?
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s extremely helpful for marketers to look OUTSIDE of marketing for inspiration. Most industries are bubbles, and purely sourcing and exploring ideas from a single well of largely like-minded people can limit your thinking. I get ideas from so many places: music, art, pop culture, the small business down the street from where I live, etc. Expand your network to include people with different job titles and who hail from different backgrounds. Check who you follow on Twitter: is it all people who look, act, and think just like you? If that’s the case, chances are you’re doing yourself a disservice. A big belief we have at Public is that diversity of thought makes us all smarter, and I agree with that sentiment.
Who are some of the most empathetic people and brands you know and why?
I loved Calm’s response to Naomi Osaka stepping out of the French Open a few weeks back. They supported her decision to prioritize mental health and agreed to take fines of other athletes who did not wish to speak to the press during tournament play. Empathy + action is a powerful combination, and I think they nailed it, while getting the marketing upside of capitalizing on a real-time event.
Another example that I’ve seen from a few brands is allowing customers to opt out of Mother’s and Father’s Day promotions, as those holidays can be difficult for people who have lost loved ones. This is a simple move that signals that the company is willing to put in the effort to ensure people aren’t made to feel bad unnecessarily. I think the gesture, though small, goes a long way.
Liked this edition of Chief Empathy Officers? Did something resonate? Tweet about it with the #ChiefEmpathyOfficers and tag me at @pattimmons_.
Thank you for reading. <3
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