CMO Q&A: Samantha Skey, SheKnows

Samantha Skey, chief revenue officer and CMO at SheKnows, speaks about content creation and empowering kids.

Tell me about your dual role as chief revenue officer and CMO.
With digital media, I’ve seen the functions coalesce. When you find programs that really engage users and deliver value to advertisers, it becomes clear that you need to have marketing and revenue focused.  Much of our revenue strategy revolves around developing a loyal audience who we can collaborate with and who want to return to our site, and believe in us. The responsibilities are intertwined.

How are PR, marketing, and social media structured at SheKnows?
The PR function reports to our VP of marketing. Jennifer Ottum is our manager of PR and we work very closely together. We have another staffer on the team who focuses more on consumer PR, and someone who concentrates on social. Marketing and social media report into me.

Your #BossyIs campaign, inspired by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s #BanBossy, asked 9-year-old girls what bossy means to them. What are some results from the initiative?
Within five days of the launch, the campaign video garnered more than 6,600 views on YouTube, 3,300 Facebook interactions, and 1,000 Twitter interactions.

The total media reach was 7.2 million, with coverage in outlets including Mashable, Parade, and The Frisky. It was successful because we understood who we were creating content for and the content was topical and emotionally relevant. 

It showed our strategy for social, which is to amuse, inform, and inspire. We felt this content provided all three. When you have these moments, when your three drivers are available, it’s usually an official win.

We reached a lot of moms in particular, who seemed to really relate to the campaign. Previously, they thought of us more as a place to find how-to articles and features, rather than as a hub for more emotionally driven videos or amusing content.

Do you have any extensions of #BossyIs planned going forward?
Yes. We did a follow-up with boys and we learned that kids like making content and their parents are interested in teaching them how to get better at video storytelling. 

We’re developing an initiative that allows kids to produce narratives through video. Our new unit is called Hatch, which is a component of SheKnows Studios that focuses just on tweens. SheKnows Studios is
the division of our company that produces original and branded content. Hatch will focus on creating original content with tweens, who we are referring to as Gen STEM.

Our objective is to teach them about media literacy and how to produce a strong digital narrative. Kids producing content will be a big driver of Hatch. They enjoy it the same way they enjoy drawing or other more tactile forms of content generation. It’s a fun area for us to collaborate with the moms we serve. This will launch in September.

How is the partnership going with the creative writing and mentoring nonprofit Girls Right Now?
The organization will be very much tied into the Hatch process. They are teaching girls, mostly from tough ZIP codes, to express themselves through the written word, which includes everything from poetry to expository prose. We hosted an event in June in New York, where activist and author Gloria Steinem was the main speaker. We also had the Girls Write Now community members produce their own versions of #BossyIs.

What is your goal for the rest of 2014?
To enable all of the experts from within our community to produce and share their own content that they are passionate about, in the areas of lifestyle and media that we serve – food, beauty, home, and parenting. 

We hope to engage more of our members in the production of quality content that they are proud of and want to share because there is something powerful that comes from content creation, beyond what they might post to social. Our Experts Among Us platform is something we’ll be investing a lot of resources, time, and thinking into this year.

Are you doing anything new in terms of internal communications?
We’ve hired 75 people in the last nine months, so we’ve had an exciting year. We have a lot going on, in terms of building our point of view and culture for our employees.

We also launched Experts Among Us for our staffers, as well. Many of our employees are brilliant, bright young women, and they experience fun stuff throughout their days or they document activities they think our overall audiences would benefit from. They are now citizen journalists and are creating articles for us. In May, one of our employees wrote an article on meditation and others are doing fitness pieces. 

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