Five minutes with a Communications Director, Paula Keve: How to adapt from Dow Jones to a start-up environment
Paula Keve has worked in various marketing and communications roles for the past 15 years in a variety of sectors, including large businesses such as the BBC, Bloomberg, BNP Paribas, Dow Jones, and The Wall Street Journal, where she served as Chief Communications Officer.
After many years in large corporations and taking time out to have her third child, she has made her transition to start-ups; joining Student.com and currently Head of Communications at Catapult Sports, an Australian based start-up in the sports tech space, serving over 1500 of the world's elite teams with technology that improves performance.
VMAGROUP’s Melissa Pierson explores how Paula has adapted her communications expertise from Dow Jones to a start-up environment.
Tell us about your current role?
I run the communications function at Catapult Sports, overseeing the media, social and content for the entirety of the product suite. I'm particularly involved in their overall marketing and communications efforts to launch a consumer product, which is a big focus and opportunity for the company. Catapult has grown from 125 people to 300 in the last year alone so both the growth and pace is fast.
What was the scope of your previous roles in large businesses and how does it compare to your experience at start-ups?
In my role at Dow Jones, for example, I looked after media relations, CSR and internal communications. The issues management stuff was meaty, with some complex and fascinating conundrums to get your head around that can take up a lot of time. I found the scale at which we could roll out internal communications initiatives really rewarding because there's so much impact you can have at large organisations such as Bloomberg or Dow Jones. On the flip-side I've really enjoyed experimenting with the more digital and social aspects of communications in a start-up environment. You have to work harder and be smarter about being heard, but there's everything to play for and no legacy to work through, which can be liberating.
How have you adapted your approach from a large listed organisation to a start-up?
It's important to maintain structure and be methodical at a start-up. It's easy to try and spread yourself thin because there are so many possible avenues to pursue, competing priorities, and campaigns to be executed. But I believe focus is a key part of the start up success story, so I'm constantly reminding myself to zero in on what's going to have the most impact, then trying to smash it. Within the infrastructure of larger organisations, I always found that structure and discipline came more naturally.
In your opinion, what are the best tactics for a start-up when thinking about increasing their PR/Communications activity?
Work out your social strategy early - which channels make sense, what audience are you speaking to? What's the content you're going to feed them? Building a solid social framework (across organic and paid) will be a great use of financial and human resource to raise awareness as quickly as possible in-market and drive people to your site. I would also recommend working closely with an SEO function as traditional media relations can be a great support for organic traffic growth early on in a company's life cycle.
How do you get around the issue of resource to get things done? As in a large organisation there are different people responsible for various elements of any one project, whereas in a start-up it’s just you.
Hard work! There's no shortcut for it, though if you find one let me know.
What skills have you taken out of working in a start-up environment?
Thinking digitally about everything you do from the ground up. Never stop learning.
Special thanks to Paula Keve, Head of Communications at Catapult Sports, for taking part in VMAGROUP’s new Q&A blog series, that will be providing valuable insights into the communications profession from the experts themselves.
For more information on this blog series or general careers advice, please contact Lucy Cairncross.