My name is Katie Tankersley. I am the Global Head of Product Marketing at Outbrain, Inc. Outbrain is a leading recommendation platform for the open web. Our technology enables 10 billion daily recommendations to consumers across more than 7,000 online properties and connects advertisers to these audiences to grow their business. Outbrain is headquartered in New York with offices in 18 cities worldwide.
While my title is specific to Product Marketing, I also play a liaison role across the entire Global Marketing Organization whereas I intersect directly with all facets of marketing including design, programs, growth and regions.
I was hired at Outbrain as a 100% remote employee based out of Atlanta, Georgia, US.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
For my directly managed team, I have less than 10 individuals. Across the entire marketing organization I work with over 30.
Where are your teammates located?
My directly managed folks are located in the US - Atlanta (me), NY, Chicago and in EU we’re in UK and FR. The entire marketing org is scattered across most all of our sales offices as well as our IL office.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
I lead a team of amazing Product Marketers. Product Marketing is the bridge between our product / engineering teams and the sales teams. We essentially take complicated technical products and master the messaging and positioning so our sales teams can effectively sell. We also handle all sales enablement including training and sales collateral as well as GTM (go to market) strategy and execution.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
Communication. This is key. A strong remote culture is fueled by check-ins and open and direct communication. Use all the tools at your disposal - Slack or other instant messaging, Zoom or other video conferencing, etc. Hop on calls, be available and reach out.
Strong remote cultures are built on strong connections. Strong connections are built with Hailey.
How do you make sure your team is happy and engaged in their work?
I ask! I meet with my team members 1:1 either weekly or every other week (depending on their level). You can tell easily over video conference when someone is struggling so you have to have those “face to face” conversations.
You can tell easily over video conference when someone is struggling so you have to have those “face to face” conversations.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
Developing a sense of “team.” In a recent employee survey my folks rated their sense of “team” very low. I’m not surprised for a few reasons… we have very few team members in the same city/location. And those within the same cities aren’t back to being in an office all the time. Plus I’m full time remote - and since the pandemic most of my business travel has stopped - so I can’t hop on a plane to do an onsite visit. We don’t get the chance to go get beers after a tough day or go out for lunch regularly. That’s the toughest part of being remote, in my opinion.
I frequently encourage those on my team that do have offices to go in when they can - to build community. Even if it’s with co-workers outside of our marketing department. That’s so important.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
We’ve done virtual games, virtual off-sites.
We’ve only done this one and it was fun! We enjoyed the “Wheel of Fortune” games the best.
I don’t do it officially but now that you ask that I may start doing that! Unofficially we typically do start our team meetings off by sharing personal updates and asking questions about vacations, etc. It’s easy over video conference to just jump straight to the topic at hand, but I prefer to go “off script” for a bit to build a community.
Products & Tools
Resources for remote leaders
Of course - meditation and mindfulness. Those are my best tools. You have to take time to breathe and recognize what’s happening in the present moment. So often we’re thinking about the past or what we need to do later today/tomorrow/next week. But especially when I’m with my team I strive to be present.
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"Adding Hailey has been by far the lowest effort, highest impact thing we’ve done to bring our globally scattered team together!" - Mary Grace Reich