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What’s Brewing with Jamie Gassmann of R3 Continuum

The speed at which things have changed in the past 13 months has kept many pro­fes­sion­als on their toes –which cer­tain­ly includes mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­fes­sion­als. We work with some incred­i­ble lead­ers, and it’s been inspir­ing to see them embrace changes, nav­i­gate chal­lenges and take dif­fer­ent approach­es than they set out to take before every­thing became, well, 2020 hindsight.

We recent­ly chat­ted vir­tu­al­ly with Jamie Gassmann, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing at R3 Con­tin­u­um  to talk about the year from her per­spec­tive and how she’s been stretched per­son­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly. R3 Con­tin­u­um (R3c) is a glob­al leader in work­place behav­ioral health, cri­sis, and secu­ri­ty solutions—helping to ensure the psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal safe­ty of orga­ni­za­tions and their employ­ees in today’s com­plex and often dan­ger­ous world. The company’s tai­lored ser­vices include: cri­sis pre­ven­tion, pre­pared­ness, response and recov­ery, threat of vio­lence con­sult­ing, fit­ness for duty eval­u­a­tions, train­ing, pro­tec­tive ser­vices, exec­u­tive opti­miza­tion, and more.

Jamie has been with R3 Con­tin­u­um for 10 years, and she describes the past 13 months as “warp speed” that stretched her and her team in ways like nev­er before.

We’ve talked a lot about piv­ots late­ly. What are some of the big ways your mar­ket­ing plan evolved through­out the past year, and how have you nav­i­gat­ed those quick turns? 

Jamie: A lot has shift­ed in our mar­ket­ing plan, one of the biggest relat­ing to trade shows and events that were either can­celled or went vir­tu­al. These used to be a big part of our lead gen efforts. The con­fer­ence pause in 2020 allowed us to explore oth­er avenues and oppor­tu­ni­ties for lead gen that didn’t get the bud­get atten­tion in the past, things we hadn’t tried before or hadn’t invest­ed in at the lev­el we did.

What did some of those new invest­ments look like?

Jamie: We focused a lot on con­tent devel­op­ment, thought lead­er­ship and dou­bled down on PR and media rela­tions efforts. We start­ed a pod­cast, we expand­ed our blog con­tent and opti­mized our web­site, and invest­ed in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing. Real­ly, it became more of an inte­grat­ed mar­ket­ing approach that focused a lot on dig­i­tal inter­ac­tions and engagement.

What was it like shift­ing your bud­get that quick­ly and get­ting buy in from exec­u­tive leadership?

Jamie: We need­ed to make changes. Stay­ing with sta­tus quo, when sta­tus quo was not avail­able, would have had a dif­fer­ent out­come for us. What I found was a lot of open­ness from our exec­u­tive lead­er­ship to engage our audi­ences in dif­fer­ent ways so that we were deliv­er­ing our mes­sages how and when they want­ed to con­sume the con­tent. Which result­ed in us using new and evolved ways to meet that demand. It pushed us and our orga­ni­za­tion and gave us more will­ing­ness to try new things, and at times much more quick­ly than we would have before.

As a com­pa­ny that pro­vides valu­able ser­vices in time of cri­sis, how have you and your com­mu­ni­ca­tions team bal­anced rais­ing aware­ness for what you can do, with­out being inau­then­tic or oppor­tunis­tic? As oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tors con­sid­er when it’s their brand’s time to speak up about their prod­ucts or ser­vices in a time­ly or rel­e­vant way, what con­sid­er­a­tions would you offer? 

Jamie: Its impor­tant to know the dif­fer­ence between being an ambu­lance chas­er and being an ambu­lance. We know the sit­u­a­tions, the sea­sons and the events that call for next-lev­el pro­fes­sion­al sup­port, and we want to pro­vide a real val­ue to our com­mu­ni­ty. We’ve had to do a lot of lis­ten­ing this year. And that’s where mar­ket­ing starts. When we know where our audi­ence is and what they are going through, that’s when we can say in an authen­tic way, “Hey, we can actu­al­ly help.” And we focus on edu­ca­tion rather than a hard sell.  But before we push con­tent out or send a news release, we eval­u­ate what’s hap­pen­ing in the world and in the media to make sure our con­tent is sup­port­ive, not adding more noise. Things change dai­ly and hourly, so flex­i­bil­i­ty is key.

We’ve seen a lot of blun­ders in the past year from brands and com­pa­nies that said too much or too lit­tle at var­i­ous points. Espe­cial­ly as an expert in work­place behav­ioral health, how have you nav­i­gat­ed tact­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tion in a try­ing year? 

Jamie: Tone is every­thing. And a bad word choice can turn into a PR night­mare. Even well-intend­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion can go awry – if it doesn’t land well, the out­come is still poor regard­less of the inten­tion. Always, but espe­cial­ly through­out high-emo­tion times that may include civ­il unrest and more, we have tak­en a very crit­i­cal eye to our com­mu­ni­ca­tions. We’ve had sub­ject mat­ter experts write a piece of con­tent and dur­ing the edit­ing process, espe­cial­ly this last year we’ve had to say, “not right now” or “this isn’t what our audi­ence needs from us.”

We also know that life has changed for a lot of peo­ple. We have par­ents nav­i­gat­ing school­ing and work-from-home sce­nar­ios, with­out the time to con­sume as much infor­ma­tion as they used to. We’ve adapt­ed to be mind­ful of every­thing peo­ple are going through.

How do you per­son­al­ly man­age stress and invest in your men­tal well­be­ing? And how have you approached your role as a leader in this chal­leng­ing time?

Jamie: It’s been a hard year and a busy year. We’ve made it a point to cel­e­brate each oth­er and the wins that we do real­ize. I’ve made a con­scious effort to reg­u­lar­ly check-in with my team­mates and just ask, “How are you?” – more than just as a greet­ing but as a real inter­est: “Tell me…how are you doing?” And it’s a pri­or­i­ty to make sure they get the breaks they need, when they need them.

Men­tal health is a big one, too. This past year has taught me that you should always know what your company’s men­tal health ben­e­fits are and be pre­pared to spot signs or sig­nals that an employ­ee could use some aid.

For me per­son­al­ly, I’ve been focused on a health­i­er eat­ing and fit­ness rou­tine that has helped me with the stres­sors of the last year. And I remem­ber to be kind to myself. When I’m kind to myself, I can have grace for my team, too. And we can all use that these days. 

Speak­ing of grace and being kind to your­self, What’s Brew­ing for you? 

Jamie: On the cof­fee front – Amer­i­cano with vanil­la and light cream After 5p.m. – stouts and porters all the way!

 

Thank you, Jamie, for lend­ing your exper­tise and insights from the past year – it’s been invalu­able to work along­side you through­out this year like no oth­er. Stay tuned for more Q&As with busi­ness and mar­ket­ing lead­ers as we reflect more on the role of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and PR in these ever­chang­ing times. 

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