Krista Todd, senior director of external communications at PC, gaming and tablet accessories maker Logitech was my guest last week on “In Conversation with Silicon Valley”. The recently-promoted PR and social media leader, and former head of PR at TiVo, shared her views on a wide variety of topics including why everyone should experience agency life; why good persuasion skills matter more than having a PR degree, and why she expects her team will soon have a sales target.
This conversation took place during a live webinar and part of PRSA Silicon Valley’s In Conversation with Silicon Valley series.
PRSA: You were recently promoted. Tell us about your new role.
Krista Todd (KT): My new role combines what I have been doing (global PR for our products and for our brand, as well as social media) with corporate PR. The corporate PR piece adds that layer of managing the reputation of our brand at the highest level, and working with our C-level executives on the company story, mergers and acquisitions, and, of course, our quarterly financial earnings.
PRSA: Tell us who your customers are and what your team focuses on?
KT: We speak directly to consumers. The majority of my team’s focus in on consumer, but our customers are also retailers or distributors, and we also sell into other businesses, who want to outfit their employees with our products. We have a variety of different customers with various needs, so what we try to focus on is maintaining and building awareness directly with consumers, and consumer media.
PRSA: What does it take to be successful in PR and social media at Logitech. What skills do you look for? (Note: Logitech is hiring in PR and Social Media!).
KT: You must have passion. If you love our products, and you love what we do, and you love communications, then you’re going to be really successful here. But what I personally look for is someone who can understand (more than) PR and social; someone who can understand the business as a whole. You have to see how our role plays in to the bigger company strategy. I also look for someone who’s very persuasive because a lot of times when you’re selling in a concept to me, or our CMO, a member of the media, or your business group, you really have to be able to clearly articulate why you’re recommending a certain strategy or a certain creative concept.
PRSA: Tell us a little more about how you got to this role in your career.
KT: I started at an agency. I loved it. Agency life is something that you HAVE to experience, but I don’t miss the time stamps! When I got to TiVo, I was one of three people on the communications team, and 60 days after I got there, the other two were recruited to other companies so I had the opportunity to take on the world! I grew quickly – drinking from the fire hose – learning a lot along the way, making some mistakes, and then I got to grow my team there. After about six fast-paced years, I asked myself: what do I want next? I really wanted to be in a global company; with more complexity in my product lines and also a bigger team, to stretch my leadership skills. Then I was recruited over to Logitech, and I got what I asked for!
PRSA: You mentioned you wanted a global role. Now that you have it, how do you ensure that the programs you create at headquarters are really in tune with what the market needs in Japan or in Switzerland or in other parts of the world?
KT: One size does not fit all! What I’ve learned is that there has to be a balance between global and local. You need to have really good colleagues or agencies at the country level that feed you (local) trends and explain to you the importance of certain influencers in another market.
PRSA: I agree with you on the need to balance local and global but in the consumer world, brand is everything. How do you retain control over your brand presence around the world while also providing the freedom to experiment?
KT: You cannot have a brand represented in different ways from one country to the next. For us, it’s about building and empowering. We build structure through global measurement and global strategy. For example, from a social media standpoint, we have one global tool (Sprinkler) for all global community managers within which they publish, share, moderate and report on content. It’s very helpful because they’re seeing what each other are doing and (it gives) the global team a lot of influence on what is approved and what isn’t. That tool also saves a lot of time and effort by providing guidelines for stories, which (local teams) can then adapt and experiment.
PRSA: What is the relationship between PR and social media and sales at Logitech?
KT: We have conversations with probably every leader in this organization, up to our CEO Bracken, about the role PR plays in supporting sales. We are getting really close as a discipline to having a number, a sales target. We’re not there yet, but there is so much data available now. For example, if you have a really good earned media campaign, with embedded links driving customers to the web site, which leads customers to learn about our products, we can measure that, and I think (the connection) can eventually lead direct to sales. Today, we measure just a few things: engagement and reach. Engagement is number one for us. Whether you’re commenting or sharing on an article that mentioned Logitech, or if you’re re-tweeting or making a comment on our Facebook page or another social property; you’re making a proactive statement that you’re listening to the brand; that you want to have a conversation, so engagement is really number one.
PRSA: Which tools do you use to get those insights about engagement?
KT: We work with Cision. We provide parameters for measurement around high priority countries and influencers and certain key messages, and we’ve created a dashboard from that. On the social side, we use a tool called Sprinklr, which is a content management platform from which we publish, moderate and analyze content. That provides the other metric (reach) for our dashboard.
PRSA: What are the main challenges you and your team face?
KT: There are a few! Keeping the momentum going is one. After a great launch, I think ‘now what’? (In the consumer market) you’ve got to make sure that you maintain coverage or interest for the product you’ve just launched before, during and after launch. How do you make sure that you’re ahead of the game! One of the ways we address that is through something we’ve branded internally ‘Media Machine’. It’s a content model for planning in advance. We use it to plan out those stories – to stay ahead of the game, and decide what’s local, what’s global – and what assets do we have for storytelling. It takes a lot of sophistication in planning!
PRSA: Which are the tools in your PR toolkit which bring you success most often?
KT: I’m going say it: the press release is still it for us! Maybe not for the reasons you might think. The press release really helps to align everybody. We need to make sure our spokespeople are saying the same all around the world, whether you’re in the UK or Brazil, you want to hear that same message. The press release gives a little bit of structure; it answers those important questions of who, what, why, where, when. Plus, we did an audit of our top dozen editors at the end of last year, and we asked them: ‘Is the press release dead? What do you need from us?’ Overall the takeaway was “we still need it, we still need photos, video, links, contacts etc. (in one place), so try not to get too cutesy, because we still need this info, even if you think it’s out of date!”
Members of PRSA Silicon Valley may contact us for the full recording of this interview and for previous interviews in the series.
Krista Todd is senior director, external communications, Logitech.