Katharine Mobley is an award-winning marketer who is blazing a trail for the next generation of women in technology. With over 20 years’ experience in her field, she has witnessed drastic changes in marketing and advertising and the impact they’ve had on technology companies. She is a highly regarded marketing maven, as well as a self-proclaimed data geek and social media addict. Prior to joining First Advantage as Global CMO, she served as CMO at Crescerance and WeCareCard Mastercard®. Earlier in her career, she managed brands such as Coca-Cola, Bank of America, Michelin and Dodge Automotive for global agencies: BBDO, Millward Brown and Allison+Partners. Katharine is a proud graduate of The University of Georgia with a BA in Marketing from the Terry College of Business (1998). She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two sons.
HR: Always be Marketing -- Whether you know it or not, HR is always sending a message to potential candidates and employees. From the posters on the wall to emails and everything in between, what message are you really sending?
Katharine, the title of your 2018 HR Technology Conference panel session was HR: Always Be Marketing. In what ways is HR becoming the "new marketing?"
Marketing has always been about getting people to buy-in to who you are and what you do. HR has evolved so much in the past decade, and now, much of the work of the HR function includes getting that external buy-in, whether it’s from current employees, potential employees or just the community at large. HR practitioners are leveraging tools from the Marketing toolkit to make their jobs easier and more effective – I look forward to diving into my recommendations in this area during my session.
Technology is constantly evolving the ways in which we communicate and connect with each person in the world of work. What do you see as the most important and impactful change in workplace communication happening today?
I think that the technological focus on tools that allow teams to better collaborate and communicate across geographic boundaries and time zones is one of the biggest shifts this industry has seen in years. Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams that combine chat and meeting functionality with the ability to share and collaborate on documents are changing the way teams operate. I know that my personal team is located throughout North America, EMEA and APAC, and yet, they still have the ability to work together quickly and easily through the use of these tools. We’ve heard it said for years that remote work is the hottest HR trend – communication and collaboration tools are making this type of teamwork less of a trend and more of a way of life.
Where do you think organizations are encountering the biggest challenges with workplace communication today – whether internally or with talent acquisition efforts?
It seems counterintuitive, but I think the biggest challenges are internal. I mentioned above that my team collaborates via Microsoft Teams. We are all dedicated users who log in first thing in the morning each day. However, while that tool is technically available for all of First Advantage’s 4000+ employees, we’ve had difficulties onboarding employees from a broader business perspective. The biggest challenge that many companies face in this realm is that, like anything done well, you have to devote the necessary resources – time, money, tools, etc. But internal communications can sometimes be an afterthought for companies; its budget allocated with whatever money is leftover. If employees are indeed your most important resource, invest in their ability for communication channels that encourage employee productivity and success.
Message tone is critical whether communicating externally to prospective candidates or employees. What advice can you share with HR for determining how to set the tone for these workplace communications?
In any form of marketing, you first want to identify your brand voice and what that sounds like. From a strategic perspective, you want to develop documentation outlining how your brand should sound. Is it professionally courteous or does it have a more casual, fun tone? This will likely depend on the type of industry/business you’re in. One example that I love is another Atlanta-based business – Mailchimp – a B2B email service. Whether communicating with customers or potential employees, Mailchimp’s communications maintain consistent ‘silly yet professional’ vibe that is unmistakable and promotes the Mailchimp brand at every opportunity.
What HR technologies do you see as having the most positive influence today on HR’s internal and external communication efforts?
Social listening is having an incredible impact on the way we measure the effectiveness of HR communications externally. You can’t determine the success of a campaign unless you can measure its impact, and through the use of social listening tools, you can essentially run experiments to determine how to most effectively communicate your employer brand and employee engagement outside the company. The impact of these tools will only grow as Millennials increasingly move into leadership roles and Gen Z enters the workforce.
As a self-proclaimed data geek, you understand the importance of analytics for measuring the impact of marketing and communication campaigns. Which communication and marketing metrics should HR be paying attention to and why?
Internally, we do semi-regular pulse checks to gauge how our employees are feeling. Do they feel that leadership is being straightforward with them? Would they recommend our company as a good place to work? That sort of thing. But I also think there’s a lot of value in third-party tools like Glassdoor. Not only can you get a reportable metric on how engaged your employees are, but you can identify trends and focus areas from the qualitative feedback as well.