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Marketing, PR, Community, and Support are really the same thing.

Seriously.

How’d I come to this conclusion? That takes a little bit of background: It all started when I became a Community Manager at 2K Games; a mere six years later I was leading both Interactive Marketing and Customer Service. From there I went on to work at Trion Worlds where I ran the Community department before going on to lead the entire Communications department. After that, I landed at Smule, where I became Director of Marketing and oversaw all of the above as well as the brand and its products. Now? I’m the Director of Support at Tumblr and am using everything I have learned to create a meaningful dialogue with our community while sharing their voice internally to help us improve our product.

I’ve spent the last ten years of my life running departments in all four of those disciplines and, in doing so, have concluded that while my job description and daily duties changed with each department, at the core of my work I was doing the same thing: communicating with the people who use my company’s products.

4 departments with 1 core purpose, what could possibly go wrong?

Often these four critical departments are siloed, working apart from each other or worse, engaged in an active turf war over who gets to do what. If you’ve worked within one of these teams, I can safely bet you probably dislike the Others (or at least have some hilarious and cringe-worthy stories about the dastardly things they’ve done to you over the course of your career) This doesn’t need to happen, in fact it shouldn’t happen.

If you change your mindset and realize that everyone is doing the same thing for the same reason, it’s far, far easier to break through these blockers and actually get shit done.

Pancake There’s been several specific moments over the course of my career that led me to the conclusion that Marketing, PR, Community, and Support are one in the same. There was that time I posted a picture of my dog in a Borderlands collector’s edition box and she ended up on the front page of reddit (and then Kotaku…and the Guinness Book of World Records). There was Extra Life 2013, when Trion Worlds teamed up with the Children’s Miracle Network, launching an unprecedented giveaway and outreach campaign that enabled us to raise over $65,000 with our community while livestreaming for 25 hours to millions of viewers. There was a reddit post about a customer service SNAFU I responded to that ended up being one of our best viral outreach efforts, ever (and this is coming from a gal who hates using the term “viral outreach efforts” in almost any circumstance.) All of these examples overlap: they are community management, customer support, marketing, and public relations wrapped into a cohesive (thus more successful and impactful) effort.

This mindset has helped me turn my current department at Tumblr around in just three months. When I joined Tumblr back in December we had a 7,600 ticket backlog. Today, we have zero backlog and have expanded the team’s roles and responsibilities within the company without increasing headcount or hours; in fact, we’ve actually decreased the overall workload–all of this because I kept one simple thing in mind: support, marketing, public relations and community are one in the same, and working with one another is much easier than working against one another.

Tin can phone photo courtesy of Sebastien Wiertz.

Elizabeth Tobey

About Elizabeth Tobey

Elizabeth Tobey is Director of Support at Tumblr and an East Coast native who spent the past 7 years in San Francisco. She’s an avid reader, writer, runner, and video gamer who lives in Manhattan with her husband, two cats, a tarantula, and a miniature dachshund named Pancake who is kind of famous on the internet.