Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Christine Jones, UK-based communications and marketing expert:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi, everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here today with Christine Jones who is EMEA regional marketing and mommunications manager at Sika and has over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, Christine, and thank you so much for joining us today on the content mix.

Christine Jones 0:34
Thanks, Carlota. It’s great to be here and thank you for inviting me.

Carlota Pico 0:37
Well, the pleasure is ours. I can’t wait to start this interview. So let’s get started. Then, to get the interview started off I’d like to learn a little bit about your background a bit about Sika and how you got into your current role.

Christine Jones 0:50
My background is actually in public relations. I studied pr at university which feels like a lifetime ago now. And I joined company previously called Liquid Plastics as a PR executive, which was later acquired by Sika, which was how I moved into Sika. So my role was very much at the time as an internal PR person. Then when social media came along, I kind of picked that up and started doing social media for the company as well. And then I moved over to Switzerland, which is where Sika’s head office is, and I worked in the corporate communications team there for five years, so and then I was solely responsible for the global social media channels and global internal communications. And for about 18 months now I’ve been in the new role, which is the Regional Communications and Marketing Manager, so supporting our countries in EMEA, and Sika is…we’re a manufacturing company, chemicals manufacturing company, but we make products and solutions mainly for the construction industry and also for some industrial markets like automotive. So we’re very much b2b with a small section and b2c, but our focus is definitely b2b, very decentralized in 100 countries around the world, and with quite a wide range of target audiences, everything from architects and surveyors to craftsmen, DIY experts. And so it’s quite a challenge, but very exciting. I think when I was studying PR, I never expected end to end up in the construction industry, but it’s actually a really a really cool industry to work in.

Carlota Pico 2:35
Okay. Um, I was going to say that it must be an industry that’s full of regulations and policies as well, right?

Christine Jones 2:43
Quite a lot of building regulations. Yeah. And that’s something and it’s not specifically a challenge for us, but it’s a challenge for our customers. So it’s something with our content that we actually try and support them with. So we focus quite a lot on technical articles and white papers, and talking about the building regulations that exist in any given market and how they’re changing because they change quite frequently and ultimately how our products and solutions can support them in meeting those regulations. So for example, one product range we have is fire protection systems. So when a building is being constructed, we might coat the steel frame of the building with one of our products, which then protects it, should there be a fire in the building. And of course, this is something which and building regulations often look out for—the fire protection standards of a building.

Carlota Pico 3:41
Okay, I was shocked a little bit with your introduction because you wear so many different hats that there’s so much stuff to ask you! Unfortunately, for times sake, we are going to focus on internal communication, social media and content marketing, which I guess basically covers everything.

Christine Jones 3:57
Yes. Quite a lot.

Carlota Pico 3:59
That is quite a lot to cover in a 20 minute interview! I know you’re an expert on all topics. So I’m excited to learn from you and hopefully apply some of your strategies into my own content marketing activities. Okay, before we get into that, I’d like to ask you what inspired you to pursue a career in marketing in the first place? I know traditionally in school, at the beginning, you started in PR, and then you move, and now you’re in full swing marketing. So yeah, what inspired you to go down that…?

Christine Jones 4:27
I think it was quite an natural evolution from PR. And originally, I wanted to be a journalist. And that was kind of my goal when I was 17,18 years old, and then I ended up doing the degree in PR, which I guess is closely related to journalism, they’re from the same business school. And to be an in-house PR manager is quite rare, I think. PR is often more often outsource to agencies, and I have also worked with some really great PR agencies over the years. And I think it was, it… really the explosion of digital that pushed me more down the marketing route. And with the the introduction came through social media which then starts to blur the lines, I guess, between communications and marketing and, and that opened the door into this whole world of digital marketing, which is 100% it’s not even the future, it is where we are now. We all need to be digital marketers now and I’m actually currently studying for my masters in digital marketing just to kind of brush up my skills because it’s a long time since I was at university. And… but the the passion really comes from, I think, a creative side. I really, really enjoy creating content and creating content that works and understanding what the company needs and what our audiences want to see from us, how we can really deliver content that engages and inspires them. And I think I’ve been doing it for a long time now. But the passion is still very much there.

Carlota Pico 6:05
Yeah. My story is very similar to yours as well. I started off in journalism, actually from journalism—

Christine Jones 6:11

Carlota Pico 6:11
—and then from PR, I’m now in marketing as well. And I also do the events, which is related to—

Christine Jones 6:20
It’s a bit of everything, yeah

Carlota Pico 6:21
I guess that’s what it comes down to in marketing, right? We have to do a little bit of everything and try a lot of A/B testing to see what works, what doesn’t work…

Christine Jones 6:32
Exactly, yeah. And I think if you if you can be flexible, then there will always be a role for you in an organization. I think that’s really a key skill to have as a marketer—to be able to be flexible and do different things.

Carlota Pico 6:47
Yeah, I think that’s a key skill for anybody to have nowadays.

Christine Jones 6:51

Carlota Pico 6:51
The world is constantly changing and we adapt and change as professionals in any field to current circumstances. Okay, moving into content marketing, which we’ve touched upon several times already, but I do want to focus now on that. So metrics vary from company to company. But when it comes to a specialty Chemical Company, who is your audience?…which you’ve defined a little bit, but if you can zoom in further, that’d be great…And which channels are you using to reach your personas? And what would you like to achieve through those content marketing activities?

Christine Jones 7:25
So our audience is very varied and we do we do work with personas to help us really narrow down that audience because it would be unmanageable otherwise. So if we focus on the construction side of the business, it’s very much architects, engineers, and anybody who will be specifying construction products to be used, whether it’s in infrastructure or in buildings, the people that actually install or apply our products so we do a range of roofing systems. So roofing contractors, special contractors, and then right down to the DIY. So the people at home who were using our products, and if they’re doing DIY around the house, or the the kind of craftsmen who you might call in to come and do DIY for you, I know, that’s what we do, because we’re useless at doing DIY ourselves. And so obviously, with such a broad audience, we have to use a wide range of channels. And for sure, our website is one of the most important if not the most important channel for us. And we’ve actually, we’re coming to the end of a project where we’ve completely redesigned and rebuilt the website on a global scale. So every country wherever in they have their own local website, but it’s all based on the same system. And our focus was really to make the website more customer centric. And obviously to have a lot of the tools that make your website work in the modern day. So mobile optimized and easy to find product information. And we also use social media. So I think in pretty much every country, we’re in our local organizations manage their own social media channels. And there’s a lot of traditional marketing still. So trade shows, and specialists, construction press, and even some radio advertising in some of our countries, it works quite well. Obviously, with the situation we’ve been in, in the last few months, the shift has been more towards digital channels, I think the construction industry and was perhaps slower than some other industries to really become digital. It’s a very, very traditional marketplace, but certainly this year that that progress has sped up quite rapidly. So we’re now looking at other ways that we can use digital to support us as well because we have to be where our customers are they’re everywhere right now. So that’s really key for us.

Carlota Pico 10:04
Yeah, I think there are a few key takeaways that I’d like to zoom in, in your response. One would be how important it is to localize your content for certain markets, because what may work in Spain, for example, may not necessarily work in Germany, although we’re in the same sector.

Christine Jones 10:20

Carlota Pico 10:21
I mean, trying to use that content in regions apart from EMEA is just not going to work, especially because of the different personas as well. In terms of digital transformation, not everybody might be on the same page.

Christine Jones 10:33

Carlota Pico 10:33
When it comes to automation and the APAC region versus the EMEA region, I mean, people are on different levels, companies are on different levels as well. Another key takeaway that I would definitely zoom into is the sector nuances and I think every… although it’s the same sector across the world, the developments are very different. And it’s important to also localize content, not according to market, but also according to sectorial nuances.

Christine Jones 10:59
Yeah. Localization is absolutely vital, because it’s important that we really engage with our audiences. And I think churning out generic content produced by the corporate team and not doing anything with it to to localize it, it is not going to work—people will see through it. And you’re absolutely right about the different levels of evolution in construction. So one of the markets that we focus on quite heavily is the emerging markets, where they have different requirements to the more advanced markets. So for example, building regulations in the UK is very, very important. There’s quite strict building regulations, whereas in some African countries, the focus is more on getting the infrastructure bill as as the cities really expand and going through growth periods. So of course, we have to make sure any content where we’re producing fits that market. And it’s a big challenge for us because we’re such a broad organization. And we generally have very lean marketing teams. So we don’t have big budgets, and we don’t have a lot of headcount. So we have to work very hard with what we have got. And we do create some content centrally, and the very high level technical stuff, which, of course, should then always be translated to local language for use by the local countries. But I think in terms of content type like case studies, it’s always nice if it’s a local project that’s been used and and we have projects in all of the countries that we work in. And so to take those and use them in the local website in the local social media channels, this is how we’re going to really resonate with the people that we’re trying to attract in those countries.

Carlota Pico 12:54
Yeah, no, definitely. And on the notes that I was making about digital transformation, I also wanted to highlight the importance of distribution channels because yours—


—traditional marketing still works. And of course it does work in perhaps other markets that aren’t as advanced technologically and therefore, yeah, you need some face to face… networking opportunities are a much better return on the company’s investment, rather than using social channels or digital marketing strategies.

Christine Jones 13:22
We’re a very personal company. And despite our size, and I think it’s, it’s always going to be true that humans sell to humans. So that face-to-face and personal selling will always exist for us. And and I think the key is to find the digital channels that supplement it. And particularly during the time right now, where we can’t really do face-to-face. we’ve really seen an influx in the number of webinars that we’re producing, for example, so whereas our sales team would traditionally go to an architect’s office, now instead, they’re doing online seminars. And which actually helps them reach a wider audience because in one day, they might reach 60 architects rather than two or three by traveling around to their offices. So there’s, there’s benefits for both. And I think, to integrate the two together, that’s the sweet spot to have that balance.

Carlota Pico 14:18
Yeah, definitely. I think nowadays marketers are forgetting about traditional marketing. And it’s important to strike a balance to not leave one thing completely on its own and to say, okay, that doesn’t work anymore. Because—


—things work. It just means that you have to add more ingredient to make that perfect recipe.

Christine Jones 14:38

Spinning off of this question, so how are you measuring the impact of your investments when it comes to content marketing investments and distribution?

So measurement is…is a real challenge for us. And I would say it’s one that we we haven’t mastered it yet. And we don’t we’re not spending huge amounts of money on our content marketing. So a lot of what we’re doing is native, organic through social media or through the website, where we are investing, obviously, you then have the metrics that come along with that. So it’s a little bit easier for us. And, and of course, with digital I think it’s easier to measure rather than traditional marketing, so through press adverts, impossible to say what projects came on the back of that unless you deliver some kind of special codes with the advert. So digital is helped us a lot in how we’re measuring our activities. And it’s something that I really encourage all of our local marketers to do, because by measuring what we do, we can demonstrate to senior management, the impact that we’re having, and then hopefully in turn that gives us more budget to play with when they can see what what marketing can really achieve. So a lot of it is through measurement of traffic to the website, goal completion on the website. And we use Salesforce. So of course any leads that were generated with we’re hoping to feed into Salesforce. The, the buyers journey is quite long in construction. So if you have an architect working on a project, it could be two or three years away. So it isn’t super easy for us to say, “Yes, we made this post and it resulted in this project coming in for us!” but it is getting a bit easier for us to kind of follow that customer journey and and link it back to marketing. But yeah, I would say measurement is definitely still a challenge for us right now.

Carlota Pico 15:08
Okay, so in terms of return, the return on investment that you’re looking for is really brand awareness? And also—


—position your…to position Sika as an expert in the market?

Christine Jones 16:51
Exactly. Yeah, that’s, that’s what we really want to be, where we are a leader in our field, and we want to be a positioned as a thought leader, we want people to think of Sika as the experts, and that’s really key for us.

Carlota Pico 17:07
Okay, excellent. So how can brands use social media to connect and retain their audience attention during these unstable times in COVID-19. How are you using your social media to really reach out to your different personas through your social channels?

Christine Jones 17:22
I think the key right now is the consistency in communication. So even if a business might have slowed down or perhaps not be working at all, I think constantly communicating is still really important. So when things do start to return to normal, you’re still front of mind for the customers—they haven’t forgotten about you, so much has happened. And there’s also so much noise out there on social media that to have a consistent, reassuring message almost that we’re here and this is how we can support you—this is really important. We haven’t seen much of a slowdown, and in construction, I think globally, it’s been one of the industries that kind of has to carry on if there’s urgent works that are required. And so we’ve still been working. The one thing that I really encourage our local, local marketers to do through social media is to make posts that are relevant to Sika. So I know there’s there’s the temptation to talk about COVID-19 or to give health and safety messages but that’s not who we are as a business. So it’s not relevant for us. Leave that to the local governments and the the health care experts, let them own and carry that message. For us, it should be about what we’re doing personally for our customers, how we’re still there to support them. And just reassuring that, okay, we’re taking all the necessary precautions, but this is, this is what we’re here to do for you guys. This is how we can serve you, we can deliver this product on time. And we can make sure you know….if your roof is leaking and you need a waterproofing system, we’re there to do it. And so relevancy I think is really, really important not to be swept up in the kind of messages that are coming from all angles. Keep your focus on what you’re the experts in.

Carlota Pico 19:25
Okay, that’s really great advice to just stay focused, because there’s so much content that we can be pushing out to our audience continuously. But if it’s not relevant to our brand, does it really make sense to be promoting it, about subjects that we’re not experts on?

Christine Jones 19:39
Yeah, exactly.

Carlota Pico 19:42
That’s extremely valuable.

Christine Jones 19:44
And there’s, there’s enough people talking about COVID now that it’s not necessary for every brand to get involved, so…

Carlota Pico 19:53
Yeah, absolutely. There’s enough noise out there. I’d love to put some this theory into real life examples. So if you could walk us through some of the campaigns that you’ve led that have really exceeded all of your KPIs, or even a campaign that you really admire that you’ve seen on social channels or across any content marketing channel?

Christine Jones 20:17
There was one campaign we did, and I suppose it was perhaps a little bit more internally focused, but and a few years ago, when I was working for the corporate communications team in Switzerland, we faced a very difficult time as a business… we were we were facing a kind of hostile takeover situation. And and for us, at Sika, we, we very strongly believe that we should remain as an independent business and, and the board of directors in the senior management team they they fought very hard against the hostile takeover. And actually, in the end, we were successful. The whole situation was resolved in a way where everyone was happy, but for a few years, it was, It was really unsure about which way it was going to go. And, and one of the things that we did it was actually during our annual general meeting, and we wanted, of course with the situation, there was a lot of uncertainty for the employees around the world and and also for our customers and our suppliers. So we wanted to deliver a kind of message of solidarity that we’re still Sika, and we’re still here, and we might be fighting this, but in the meantime, we’re focusing on what’s important, and that’s the business. So over the period of mainly for the day of the AGM, but over the period of the week, we started a social media campaign using the hashtag #TeamSika. And we encouraged all of our local organizations, so 100 organizations around the world, to really flood em Twitter and Instagram during this day with #TeamSika. And we…I was absolutely blown. I thought, okay, we might get some posts. I was really blown away with the amount of content and I think it mostly came from the absolute passion of the people working for Sika how they felt in this time. And we had pictures of guys in the factory, guys in the laboratory, and they were holding up little signs that said, #TeamSika. And we actually had a Twitter wall running through the Annual General Meeting. Because the event… because there was such an extraordinary situation, the event ran for maybe eight or nine hours. And I know a lot of people were kind of watching the Twitter wall throughout because the conversation on stage was very heavy. And the Twitter wall was also kind of a bit of like the like relief for the shareholders and the staff that were there. And we ended up being the number one trending topic in Switzerland on that day. And that was with zero cost. We didn’t spend any money on it. We just pushed out a message to our countries—’Hey, this is our plan. Please And share some content’—So that really blew me away. And I mean, I was sat at the back of the hall, managing the Twitter wall, and managing our social media making posts the whole day. So it was a unique event. And I guess quite hard to recreate. But at the time, it goes to show the power of social media and the power that you have as an organization when all of your people come together and really get behind something like that.

Carlota Pico 23:28
I mean, I’m just hear nodding my head because I’m so engaged in your story. I want to be apart of the #TeamSika trend as well. That’s great! It’s also a great way of how to turn a negative situation into a very positive situation.

Christine Jones 23:46

Carlota Pico 23:47
And it’s a great it’s a great example of what professionals in crisis communication can do as well in terms of using their own employees as brand ambassadors because that really shows how proud employees are to be part of your brand, and how much they are in line with their culture as well and with your goals. Excellent. Well, I do want to talk about internal communications, because I’m under the understanding that you were formerly part of the internal comms team at Sika as well? So I’d like to ask you what this means and the methods that you use to be effective in your role.

Christine Jones 24:30
So I essentially was the internal comms team, it was just me. So it was quite a challenge as you can imagine, 100 countries and at the time, 20,000 employees and all the different languages that they speak, and also having people who were not kind of computer based, so people in the factory and in the warehouse and in the laboratories, it was definitely…. yeah, definitely challenging to manage internal comms on that level. And I think we’re still growing in that respect. I think we’re still finding ways that work across Sika, but we did, we did develop a new intranet, which ties in with their collaboration platform. And this really helped to bring people together and break down the potential silos that exist when you have a decentralized organization. So, and we’ve actually just relaunched now—our intranet is called Sika World. And we’ve just launched Sika World 3.0. So in our in our third iteration, and it’s getting better and better all the time. And actually, right at the start of this year, we launched Microsoft Teams internally, which was a godsend throughout the lockdown because of course with the face-to-face video calls that we can now do, this really helps when you meet face-to-face. We do a lot of internal newsletters as well throughout the business. So on a regional level, we have an EMEA newsletter, which comes from our head of region. I’m a big fan of video messages as well. So that’s something that I really push. And our head region he hates being recorded, I think, as everybody does, but he also understands how important it is. And I think after we did the first one, and he saw the response from people… that…. that pushes him now so we do a video message once a quarter, which is for everyone. We do only release it in English because we’re just producing it internally and yeah, we don’t have the resource to translate or to provide subtitles. Although, at start of the crisis he did record in four languages—we did English, German, French and Italian and he spoke and delivered each one In those languages, so that that just blows me away that anybody can be fluent in so many languages. And but yeah, I think internal comms will be something that develops. And we still need to find a really good way of reaching those people who don’t have a secret email address that aren’t on the network that are working more in the factory or in the warehouses. We do…we are… I think we are very good at reaching the remote people because we use email quite well. And, and the new tools that we have—the intarnet and the collaboration platform— they’re available on the mobile, which I think is really important when you have your sales force out in the field. They’re not often sitting at the laptop. So you need—as with your external customers— you need to use the platforms and the channels that they’re actually using themselves. So the mobile phones of course is absolutely vital for you. I think we will continue to develop in the future as well.

Carlota Pico 28:05
Okay, so you’re using Sika 3.0, you’re using Microsoft Teams, you’re using video messaging, are you also organizing annual retreats or regional retreats to put a face to each other… more than a face, actually, but to connect with each other in person?

Christine Jones 28:22
No, not on a regional level. I think locally, some of the countries do have these kinds of events, typically around Christmas time, I would say, and we do have a global senior managers meeting which happens every other year. But for the employees, no, we’ve never had a kind of global get-together. That would be quite remarkable if we could pull that off.

Carlota Pico 28:48
Because how many employees do you have 20,000?

Christine Jones 28:51
24,000 now.

Carlota Pico 28:53

Christine Jones 28:54
So yeah, that would be a big party!

Carlota Pico 28:57
That would definitely fill a few planes up! The airlines would just love you guys. Okay, we’re going to be moving into our set of rapid-fire questions which is your recommendations to our audience about certain topics to get the session started off, I’d like to ask you about your source of inspiration—so an influencer professional role model that you would admire…?

Christine Jones 29:18
I actually attended a social media workshop a couple of years ago in Berlin and they had a speaker there—English lady called Chloe Combi—and she’s the author of Generation Z. And, and… she… I found her so captivating. She came right at the end of the two day session. So people were starting to flag a little bit and she was so engaged in the way she spoke and so passionate about the topic and she was talking about generations Z and how marketers can reach that audience which of course is a…is a really key audience for the future. And I just I found a passion for her subject and the way she engaged the audience. It really inspired me and it really made me think about how also me as a leader within our organization and needing to engage people internally how I can really talk to them as well and, and make them feel inspired, too. So yeah, she would be about that’s a relatively new one—I only saw her a few years ago—but it really stuck with me.

Carlota Pico 30:28
Okay, what did she do that was so engaging?

Christine Jones 30:31
I think it was definitely the level of knowledge that she had and the ease at which she spoke about generation Z and all of the research that she done. You could really tell that she lived and breathed this subject and…and…that definitely comes across when you’re watching somebody. And you know, lots of people are experts in lots of different topics, but to see and and feel that real level of passion and level of knowledge was amazing, really captivating.

Carlota Pico 31:06

Christine Jones 31:07
And there was some funny stories as well, which I think always helps.

Carlota Pico 31:11
Christine, this reminds me of a TED talk. I think she would be a perfect TED talker.

Christine Jones 31:15
Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if she hasn’t done well actually, I should look that up.

Carlota Pico 31:22
I’ll look that up as well after this interview! So moving into your recommended book or publication.

Christine Jones 31:30
So I actually have a couple time that I’m reading at the moment and I picked them up before I interview so that I could remember the titles. One is Being Creative, which is by Michael Atavar. And as I said earier, I think the creative nature of my work is what really keeps me going. So this was one I picked up and I think I was in…randomly in a shop somewhere…and I saw it and it caught my eye but it’s really interesting and the other ones is Content Chemistry—I’ll show it there—which is by Andy Crestodina. And I’m only partway through it but I think sometimes, especially for someone like me who’s been doing this job for such a long time, it helps to have an inputs from outside of your bubble of working colleagues, just to help you think about different ways to do content to create it, and what types of content and and how you might market that. So yeah, that would be my other recommendation.

Carlota Pico 32:36
As as one of my favorite parts about doing these interviews is I get to learn so much from all of you, because it’s always about practical examples. And through real examples, I just, I’m getting so many ideas of things that I want to do as well within VeraContent, which is our agency that helps brands and localize content. Okay, and the last question of today’s interview will be your favorite app at the moment?

Christine Jones 33:05
So with lockdown, I’ve been doing a lot of gardening. So I downloaded an app called Picture This because I am not an expert gardener. And last year we moved into a house where they’re already quite mature garden, so a lot of unidentified plants. And Picture This actually, you take a picture of the plant and then it tells you what the plant is and then you can understand how you should care for it. And I’ve been discovering that there’s a lot of weeds that I had to dig up which I thought were plans. So yeah, that’s been…that’s definitely been keeping me busy throughout the last few months. Unfortunately, the weather in the UK is not so great at the moment, so there’s not much gardening happening. But I think the technology of the app is really interesting as well the and recently with the picture recognition. I find this really intriguing, too.

Carlota Pico 34:01
Okay, so what makes the app so great is one the technology but also the UX, the interface? How easy it is?

Christine Jones 34:07
Yeah, super easy. Yeah. Yeah. Because you could spend hours on Google trying to figure out what that plant in the garden is. And this, just really, you take a picture, and then it brings information right to you.

Carlota Pico 34:21
I think it’s really important to zoom into that last comment. Content needs to be easy—to read, to use consume, it has to be valuable. But on top of value, it’s not going to create value if it’s not understood.

Christine Jones 34:35
Absolutely, yeah.

Carlota Pico 34:36
And understood by different audiences.

Christine Jones 34:39
Yeah, definitely.

Carlota Pico 34:40
On that note, Christine, we’re gonna end our interview. Thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you and to learn about your journey in marketing, communications, internal comms and all the different hats that you’ve worn.

Christine Jones 34:55
Thank you so much. It’s been really great and hopefully somebody somewhere learn something from it.

Carlota Pico 35:01
I’m sure our audience has learned a lot throughout our interview I have definitely. And to everybody listening in today, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every week, so keep on tuning it. Thank you so much for joining us. Have a lovely day and see you next time. Bye!

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