PR Tips from the Pros: Katherine Barna, Tumblr's Head of PR
This week, we’re bringing you even more PR advice from the pros—this time, straight from Katherine Barna, Head of PR at Tumblr. Check out our primer for using Tumblr to promote your brand, then read on for Barna’s expert tips for making the most of the social media platform.
1. How can Tumblr help small brands reach new audiences?
The Tumblr audience is hungry for new, fresh content. And with Tumblr’s reblog feature, it's possible for a piece of content to travel around the network and raise visibility for your brand in a fast and super-connected way. So there's an easy opportunity to reach new people and make a fan out of someone who wasn't familiar with you before.
2. What opportunities exist on Tumblr for small brands?
One of the great things about Tumblr is that it is completely customizable—you can really make your Tumblr reflect who you are, whether you're a person or a small business. If you’re a small brand, it's also easy to use Tumblr as your proper website and have it up and running in minutes. We support seven different post types, from audio and video to text and quotes, so the content you're sharing is much more rich and compelling than anywhere else on the web.
Also, on the back end, there's this media-rich following experience where you can stream all of your favorite content into one place—which is helpful for keeping up on what’s happening in your industry. Someone recently referred to it as a mullet approach: business in the front and party in the back!
3. Are there specific brands that are using Tumblr really well?
Absolutely. Brands.tumblr.com highlights many of the terrific companies using Tumblr today. Newsweek (my former employer) was an early example of a brand engaging directly and openly with its followers. The presidential campaigns both have Tumblr blogs and are using them to directly reach the voting public. Coca-Cola, MTV, and Calvin Klein are creating beautiful animated gifs. The Hunger Games created an entire online fashion magazine on Tumblr called "Capitol Couture,” Nike built e-commerce into its site, and The Standard Hotels created a Tumblr comprised almost solely of animated yoga poses. The opportunity for a brand to do true, creative storytelling is limitless.
4. What type of content plays best on Tumblr?
There's a home for every possible type of content on Tumblr. I think what's been fascinating has been watching brands embrace the animated gif format. It's all the fun of a video without that barrier to entry of the play button. But what’s more important than the format is that the content feels authentic and genuine.
5. What three tips would you give brands looking to best engage and grow their audience on Tumblr?
First, jump right in. Start following people and engaging with them on the platform.
Then, look to assets you already have to put on your Tumblr. Are you a fashion brand with great vintage images? Amazing! A media outlet with a huge wealth of written content? Use it!
Finally, let people know you've arrived. Tumblr makes it easy to share content to Facebook and Twitter, and that lets your fans know you're here.
6. As a PR pro, what three PR "don'ts" would you tell brands to stay away from?
1. Don't put your PR ahead of your product. Too often, there’s the idea that you can just message your way into a solution. But your product and user experience needs to be in a good place before you start thinking of how to talk about it.
2. Don't assume the journalist has as much knowledge about your company as you do. Journalists are busy people—you have to spend time helping them get to know your company.
3. Don't treat every social platform the same. Learn the nuances of each and build your strategy accordingly.
Want to see what it's like to work for Tumblr? Get a peek inside Tumblr's New York offices, meet other Tumblr team members, and browse the company's open positions!
Photo courtesy of Dennis Crowley.
Alex Honeysett is a Brand & Marketing Strategist and the creator of The Pitch Course, an in-depth, self-paced online course that teaches entrepreneurs how to find, pitch, and land speaking gigs, guest blogs, and podcast interviews. After spending nearly a decade leading communications strategies for multimillion dollar brands and startups in NYC and London, Alex now teaches entrepreneurs how to message and promote their own businesses, human-to-human. Alex's articles have been featured in the Daily Muse, Forbes, Inc., Mashable, DailyWorth, TIME, and Newsweek.More from this Author