Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Michelle Keomany, Pernod Ricard’s social media manager, on uniting your brand portfolio:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here today with Michelle Keomany, who is global social media manager at Pernod Ricard and has over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, Michelle, and thank you so much for joining us today.

Michelle Keomany 0:31
Hi, Carlota. Thanks for having me and good to be here.

Carlota Pico 0:33
It’s our pleasure, Michelle, let’s jump straight into the interview to get this interview started off. I’d like to learn a little bit about your background, your company and how you got into your current role.

Michelle Keomany 0:46
So I actually have a kind of a long career within content, but it’s kind of evolved along the way I started as a radio copywriter. I worked in regional Australia. I’m Australian…my accent, as you might be able to hear. From there after six and a half years in radio, I realized that radio was an industry that doesn’t change that much. And I was really wanting something new after that timeframe. And so I realized that during that time, it was kind of the very beginnings of social media and digital advertising. So every time we were doing radio campaigns, there was always be an integrated element. And so I kind of followed that into digital. And then from there, I was a kind of a content writer, like purely more writer, and then all of a sudden, one day my title was changed to content strategist, but it was still essentially the same job. So I was kind of agency side doing a lot of UX website type work. And then from there, I decided, Well, I didn’t decide my mom suggested that I should do my Master’s in advertising because why not? And it turned out to be a really good move. I really enjoyed teaching…sorry, learning…doing my masters and then from there, I was asked to teach an undergraduate of advertising. So it was a very kind of copywriter heavy side and then but they day to day I was doing more UX content. So it was kind of a nice way to do both sides of the areas of content that I’m kind of most interested in. And then I kind of went more into the UX side, I was working in a…I was the kind of UX…UX content strategist within a UX content design team making an app. And then I decided to move to France. So um, yeah, I just kind of thought it was a good time in my career to see what what else was out there. And I’d kind of have a lot of success in Australia and knew that other markets would kind of be open to my type of experience. And so I moved here to Paris from Melbourne—I forgot, sorry, I forgot to mention that before—where I was a content strategist for Nissan Europe, and working across seven different countries and managing the content marketing for Nissan electric vehicles. And this was a really interesting project for me. It was never to do with selling cars. It was more to do with creating content about how how cities are changing and how electric vehicles kind of fit into your lives and how, you know, different kind of policies and regulations between countries that were changing, which was really interesting for me. And then from there, I got headhunted to take on this role at Pernod Ricard, where I am the global social media manager for our corporate communications, which means that I do the full kind of corporate strategy for how we communicate across social media globally.

Carlota Pico 3:30
Okay, alright. Thank you for that introduction. I mean, you moved from Australia to Paris. What was that like? Of course, for audiences who are also thinking about perhaps one day making a career move.

Michelle Keomany 3:44
Yeah, honestly, it was really exciting for me. I did it in a very naive way. I didn’t speak much French at all beyond what I learned in high school, but I really enjoyed the language and the other thing is too, I’d actually never been to France for longer than 4 days to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, I didn’t know anything about this city. So it was really, it was really…Yeah, very naive, but also exciting type of decision to make. And yeah, and I was very lucky to find, to find roles that suited me when I arrived, because I had such strong experience. And I think that was kind of the thing of, you know, a lot of people move overseas in their 20s. And they do it younger and, you know, backpack or kind of do more casual work, though. This was kind of more suited to me and finding something that was kind of more established and doing it that way.

Carlota Pico 4:34
What about the cultural nuances? I mean, Australia is a completely different market than France, obviously. I mean, just continent wise, you’re on completely different continents, so there must have been a lot of cultural nuances when it came to content development.

Michelle Keomany 4:47
Oh, totally. And I think the biggest one for me was because I was immediately working across seven countries. It was really getting to know each of the different markets and then also knowing that anything we wrote was…we were… English was the, the language for Nissan because the their Japanese company which was quite lucky for me, because if it was French…Oh, my French was nowhere near good enough yet…So it was just keeping in mind that things had to be translated, and that the meaning can change a lot. So for example, if we’re doing tweets in English and French, it’s never going to fit in German, because there’s so many… you know, everything is so much longer… so it was small things like that. And also like I was very lucky to work in a French national team because we service Nissan from Paris we had trilingual teams who work with each local market so they were kind of our, my kind of go to people to speak to for the content and what would resonate with those markets. So that was a really interesting thing to do. And something that I would never have been able to do working in Australia where you just work on brands that you know, that only have to do with that one country.

Carlota Pico 5:51
Okay, very interesting. So I do want to focus a little bit more on Pernod Ricard—excuse me for my pronunciation, I did study it, I actually studied abroad in Paris and spent several years learning French but that was a long ago…

Michelle Keomany 6:07
It’s not easy! It’s not an easy language, I do have to say. So, no worries.

Carlota Pico 6:11
Okay, well, Pernod Ricard, for our audience, is a parent company to several portfolio brands like Absolut Vodka, Ballantine’s whiskey, and Malibu rum. On top of its international brands, Pernod Ricard also owns local strategic brands, which from a campaign perspective would require localized content also, I understand. So therefore, could you walk me through how this is structured into your social media pages?

Michelle Keomany 6:40
So basically, we’re actually a decentralized company, which means that our brands operate completely separate to us as the as HQ as kind of the central hub. That’s one of the things that makes the company so strong is that even though we’re still one big Pernod Ricard family, you still have the freedom to do things how you see fit and what works for your brand, especially kind of with so many changes recently with for example, through COVID, obviously, every country has been different and every brand has had kind of different reactions to things. So it is…it is very interesting to see that because we are starting to work together more and but we’d still not, for example, I can’t tell them what to do, and they won’t tell me what to do. But we will kind of work together when it comes to sharing knowledge and, you know, keeping, keeping each other you know, in, in the loop with what we’re all doing and how we can all kind of work together. So it’s a kind of a nice blend with those types of things. Yeah, and the and I think that’s one of the things that I like most or for example for me was I communicate Pernod Ricard globally, when I want to speak from our global voice, If I’m talking about Absolut For example, I always want to keep that connection between Absolut and Pernod Ricard. Because otherwise we end up just kind of promoting our brands all the time and not ourselves as the group because that’s one of the things—we’re not a well known parent company. We have heaps of well known brands, but us as a company, we’re really working on how we kind of become more famous for what we do, I guess, and how we bring together all of these, all of these great things that our brands are doing and show how we all work together, because we’ve spent so long pushing our brands, because that’s what the consumer sees. But from my perspective, I want people to know us in the same breath as when they speak about our brands as well.

Carlota Pico 8:28
Okay, that’s extremely interesting. So from what I understand you, your local brands are managed by local community managers who speak the local language and who target their audience according to local customs, etc. And then you manage the global brand of Pernod Ricard. And right now, your objective is to promote the global brand to a global audience, but not necessarily the local brands. That’s correct.

Michelle Keomany 8:54
Yes. Okay. That’s kind of… I think that’s that’s kind of it in a nutshell! It’s more just kind of making sure that you see how you know, when it’s relevant you see the connection back to Pernod Ricard or us to our brand or kind of having those bridges more, you know, kind of making those more visible when it when it makes sense basically. Or for example, sometimes I just help brands out with, with kind of our knowledge or kind of give my recommendations from a global perspective. Whereas, you know, we don’t always have to be pushing ourselves out. We just kind of work together behind the scenes like that as well.

Carlota Pico 9:25
Okay, Michelle, so could you talk a little bit more about the strategy behind promoting Pernod Ricard to a global audience? What are you doing right now to get the name out?

Michelle Keomany 9:35
So for example, we we do a lot around sustainability and responsibility. It’s one of our really, well, I’m so impressed with… well, I’ve been I’ve been here for about a year now. And every time we are really kind of pushing, we’ve kind of been the leaders in a lot of the sustainability things before it became a whole thing around climate change. They’ve been doing it for a very long time. So that’s one of the things that I am focusing a lot more on and how we kind of show talk more about what we do like for example, we have biodiversity projects in all about vineyards across eight different countries, you know, things like that we do a lot in the space of responsible consumption. So people learn more about drinking in moderation, and things like that I you know, those things I find very interesting. I didn’t know that they were going to be part of my role. So those are the global topics that we that we’re really pushing to show that were leading on and how we communicate that out more. I think that’s one of the things that I’m that I’m focusing more on. And in terms of more more specific to social media, for example, on Instagram, we’re really trying to show that we are one cohesive brand, like I kind of mentioned before, if I post something on the Pernod Ricard global channel, I want it to look like Pernod Ricard first, and then the brand that we’re talking about second, so you know that that came up with… I had to do that… we’ve come up with a whole new kind of visual style, because we have, as you can imagine, with nearly 200 brands worldwide, we have so many assets flying around And so I don’t want to make more on top of that, because it’s just doesn’t make sense. So then how do I take what they’re doing, but then make it feel Pernod Ricard at the same time as it feels that brand so that was… that… I find that a really interesting thing to do and finding that kind of harmony of how we speak together.

Carlota Pico 11:15
Yeah, no, that’s so exciting. It must be a challenge as well. I can definitely understand how having so many different brands around the world can be very difficult to manage and also to oversee and maintain the same style throughout the different pages. I do want to focus fu a little bit on what you said before about sustainability and biodiversity. Congratulations on those initiatives, by the way, I mean, definitely top notch and I’m very happy to learn that such a reputable brand is behind some of the most important topics right now. And definitely promoting those issues to their worldwide audience. How are you measuring the success of those types of campaigns?

Michelle Keomany 11:57
It’s kind of just basic kind of social media data that we do. We have engagement rates we have, you know, we check, like reach and impressions, things like that. And I think one of the things for me in terms of sustainability, I find it a really interesting topic, but it’s not… you know, the next step for me is how to make it more engaging. Because right now we tell people the great things we’re doing, but then what’s that next step? How do we become more involved in conversations, though? How do we make, you know, kind of be more interactive or things like that with the content? That’s kind of the next step now that we’ve started communicating more on these topics, and really trying to own that and show all the great work we’re doing. So yeah, I don’t know if that answered your question.

Carlota Pico 12:36
I think it does. So more about brand awareness. Like the goal is brand awareness.

Michelle Keomany 12:41
Yes, exactly. It is

Carlota Pico 12:43
Not attached to like actual financial gain as some of your other channels.

Michelle Keomany 12:46
No, not at all. And yeah… I think that’s the thing though, like, we know now that consumers, really looking for brands that that are in line with that with how they, you know, with their beliefs and and I think that’s one of the the coolest things I found out when I started at this company or the you know or the kind of the reason I wanted to work with Pernod Ricard is that I could see that it’s come all through the company, the way that that we speak the way that we kind of plan ourselves and what how we, you know, we even the way we kind of, we acquire brands, for example, we think of moments of conviviality, which is it’s a word in English, but it doesn’t really get used as much. So conviviality is about kind of sharing these moments and what that what comes with that and those moments when we come together and share kind of positive experiences. And that’s how we think about our brand portfolio. It’s not in terms of “Oh, this… we have this market cap here, let’s go for that.” It’s of how do we kind of bring more to people’s lives and meet people where they are and with, you know, that and I really like that spirit that’s behind it. That’s how our kind of our mission statement is created. Its “créateurs de convivialité”, which is creators of conviviality. So, yeah, I think that that you really feel that throughout the company, and it’s a really it’s a really good good vibe I guess.

Carlota Pico 12:58
That’s so interesting. I love it. Okay, Michelle, so for all of our social media experts out there, and also for those who aren’t that, that don’t have such a strong expertise in social media, I do want to talk about how you allocate your budget to your social media channels. So what does this look like? How should a brand know how much they need to spend across our social media channels?

Michelle Keomany 14:29
And I think I think for me, honestly, it’s quite easy in the in this role, because we, for example, Facebook does not like businesses or brands, unless you do paid advertising. So for me, I don’t focus on Facebook. You know, the we the algorithm doesn’t favor us. I don’t have budget to do ongoing paid campaigns. So Facebook for me, it’s kind of a set and forget, I honestly just kind of whenever we do Instagram posts, we share to Facebook and I don’t really think about it. Much more than that, because it hasn’t community wise and hasn’t been really growing for a while. So then, for me, I really focus on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. I also follow the, the LinkedIn and Instagram of our CEO, Alexandre Ricard. He is the one of the youngest CEOs of what they call in France a CAC (Cotation Assistée en Continu) count company, which I guess is like your top 50 on the stock market, I’m not sure what else we’re what it’s called elsewhere. So he has quite a profile. And he’s very innovative and obviously you know, he he does actually break the mold of what people see in like a kind of a very traditional French CEO. So we we really grow his channels as well in part as part of our mix. But back to your question for me mainly, I do paid on Instagram and we’re starting to think about Twitter a little bit more. And LinkedIn is just way too expensive for us. And we have such a strong community there anyway that we haven’t felt the need to do a dedicated paid campaign unless there was really something massive that we would, you know, think about the budget for that. But right now, we haven’t had the need. But we were using the elevate platform on LinkedIn, which is an kind of an add on for internal. I think it’s, I’m not quite sure now I remember but it’s basically for internal stuff to push out stories about us. And it helps with recruitment and things like that, but they’ve actually just discontinued it in its current form, but it will be coming back we heard at the end of this year, so we had a lot of people really enjoy that and being able to kind of learn more, because we’re such a big company were present in over 70 countries. It’s, you know, so we we really are a global global company and trying to keep that together and knowing that with my role in terms of social media, it’s it’s external, just as much as internal because and I quite like that duality of it. It’s something new for me as well.

Carlota Pico 16:52
Yeah, we use our social media channels at VeraContent as well for future employee purposes, but also for branding and company and corporate purposes, and we use different channels according to our objectives, of course. Which leads me into my next question, what are the components that should be considered or included in the majority of social media marketing budgets and what does Pernod Ricard, as a b2c company spend the most money on so I know you’re also a b2b company because of course some of your channels are restaurants and other types of entertainment but at the end of the day, you have consumers who drink your beverages so it’s a mix of the two.

Michelle Keomany 17:38
Honestly for me, I have I have quite a small budget for global because I have so much content and so much stuff coming from everybody else. I actually my…I’d say for myself, content creation is actually quite minimum or my budget is actually doesn’t need to be that high because I have I have that churning around me from everyone else, which is quite a nice position to be in and that’s why I was mentioning before that my role really is to kind of shape it in the last bit to make the last kind of leg to make sure it represents Pernod Ricard. I think for me, the biggest thing is a kind of budget to create, like that, that last finesse, like sometimes if we receive elements, I’ll make them and we’ll you know, we’ll turn it into a video or we’ll do the opposite and re-edit something else to make it…say for example, it’s too long, we’ll make it shorter. So I found that that’s quite a quite a handy thing to have in terms of content creation is to make sure you have budget to make those final changes and or to shape things the way you want, but not necessarily start from scratch every time. I’m a very kind of frugal Content Manager. I hate spending money on stuff that you don’t have to and because I come from doing things myself in an agency I you know, I really don’t overspend or I kind of I always am…yeah, I’m a bit of a tight-ass when it comes to that.

Carlota Pico 18:57
I’m sure that your management must love that that you’re always on the saving side of a budget. The way that you’re repurposing content for other users, well, that’s quite smart, an awesome tip to give to our audience, especially for those on a tight budget, like startups or even big brands who just want to repurpose content for other channels. Okay, well, company’s thinking about budget, companies are expected to spend $120 billion in digital marketing by 2021. And I’m sure this will be allocated for social networks. So with that in mind, what do you think the future of social media will look like? And also taking into consideration the coronavirus pandemic which obviously impacted every industry

Michelle Keomany 19:49
Honestly, I hope it’s not more TikTok because I’m too old for that! I don’t get it. I’m just gonna put it out there. You know, I do… I can’t see honestly at this point. I have I was kind of expecting Facebook to kind of come back but it really they just kind of seem to be going from I don’t know, like kind of issue to issue and I’m recently now they’re talking about the you know, a lot of brands have come together to actually boycott Facebook. So obviously like that’s not where I’ve been focused for a while anyway because I’m I’m a I’m a company brand, you know, company page we would never, you know suited to Facebook community type vibe anyway. But I found I’ve been you know, as a kind of social media person, I found that very interesting. I think Instagram is continuing to evolve very quickly, like I saw that they have this new feature, which is kind of like TikTok now, you know, like, you can kind of see with them, you know, they have more of a messaging system, you know, because they know everyone’s chatting more so on WhatsApp. So now you know, like, for me, for example, I only have the Facebook Messenger app on my phone, I don’t have Facebook, you know, and then I will message friends on Instagram at the same and in the same way that I would be using messenger which I find really, really interesting in that sense. In the future, like, I think for us as a corporate Twitter is, is… has as come back, and especially now people are craving news and look for our topics such as public policy and sustainability, like Twitter is a really great place to start, you know, to kind of be part of those conversations and to do more around there. So for me, I will probably be more focusing there. And now LinkedIn is just so strong because we’re a strong company. So that’s kind of a nice and nice, kind of easy win for me with them with in terms of the engagement that we get on LinkedIn. And that channel for us like that works really well. But something we’ve done, which is constantly I get questions about from around the globe, is that we only have one global LinkedIn page, which is managed centrally. And we made the decision to not let countries start their own. And that’s and that has actually worked out really well. I think because it’s one channel we’ll be speaking one voice we have life pages, which are a kind of a Twitter or Twitter or LinkedIn add on where they can have their own static page for each country. And then, but then I kind of see how that works well, because for example, on Instagram, we have heaps of obviously localized pages because it needs to be localized. And there are just so many to manage. So I’m just kind of I think about that, you know, divided on every single platform. And it’s, it gets quite messy. So but I think LinkedIn is one of those platforms where you can have that strong global voice and represent things, as you know, as it comes. So yeah, I think that’s been a good decision in the end, and we’ll kind of keep growing those as they are. And yeah, I guess from corporate communications, we don’t need to get too, you know, kind of adventurous or too experimental in the way we do things.

Carlota Pico 22:36
Yeah, that’s a really important statement that you just made that you’re looking at it from a corporate communications perspective rather than a local brand perspective. So it’s all about maintaining the same voice on your channel so that all your markets worldwide know what will they understand and know what Pernod Ricard stands for and what where they’re going towards Yes. Okay, we are at the end of the first section of our interview. Before we finish up, I just want to pick your brain on one last thing. So when it comes to the content, HubSpot’s CEO said the following quote: “What separates good content from great content is a willingness to take risks and to push the envelope.” So zooming into social networks, what do you think separates good content from great content on social networks?

Michelle Keomany 23:30
Well, I don’t know. For me, for example, one of the opportunities that I found when I when I first started here at Pernod Ricard is that we are actually, sorry, a major sponsor of music festivals. And so for example, Tomorrowland is one of the ones that we have a really strong partnership with. And I had no idea that this you know, apparently we we sponsored a six out of the 10 of the world’s largest music festivals, and I found out that we were going to be I’m helping Boiler Room, kind of online DJ channel, I guess, to do their first festival. And they’ve been doing these really kind of underground shows for a very long time. They have a really strong audience, and they’ve never done a festival. And we helped them do the first ever festival last year, and I kind of was thinking to myself, “How come nobody has asked me to put this on our channel?” and they’re like, “Oh, but you can do what you want, Michelle.” So, you know, for me, it was finding these opportunities to kind of go: here’s this kind of newer audience for us where, you know, like, right now on social media, if I post, we post a picture of a cocktail or a bottle, like a product bottle, it will go crazy in likes, we get heaps of engagement, but you’ll see you know, inside that our audience is essentially tiny. We’re reaching the same people with the same content over and over. And so to break out of that, I’m looking for opportunities like this Boiler Room festival where we went and do Instagram Stories from every night. We did these little cuts together all the footage the Boiler Room dude with our brands, cause we have four different brands there. And the brands are doing their own communications, but about them. So I needed to bring everything together under Pernod Ricard. And this was one of those things where that’s what I’m going to do to keep trying to like finding those new ways to speak to new audiences. While my music festival content might not have had as many likes as a cocktail, or a product bottle, we had a lot more of a new audience, and we had more engagement. So it was that was a nice thing to see like, and that’s the that’s the kind of the the way I kind of, I guess I approach content for for our company, because it’s not just about the product. It’s about the other steps along the way. So yeah.

Carlota Pico 25:36
Yeah. Well, thank you for bringing a real life example into your response because I think that’s extremely useful for our audience to be able to relate how some of the talk can be transferred into the walk. So Michelle, we’re going to be moving into our set of rapid-fire questions, which is basically your recommendation to our audience. To get this section started off, I’d like to ask you about a book or publication or an event that you’d like to recommend.

Michelle Keomany 26:04
For me I am I remember a friend of mine actually started the branch of the Content Melbourne Meetups, just after I left and I always followed them on Twitter to see the speakers they had and their content they were covering. And obviously through that kind of network, I saw that obviously there are other you know, there’s a, there are content meetups in lots of cities, and just following them on Twitter and seeing what they’re doing. And the kind of overview of the speakers they have in the range has been really interesting. So a lot of those are a lot more UX content focused, which is kind of half where my brain is sometimes. So I found out that quite an interesting way to kind of keep on top of that type of industry outside of what I’ve been doing.

Carlota Pico 26:44
Okay, excellent, well I’m sure your friends will really appreciate that shout out. Okay, the last question of today’s interview will be your favorite app at the moment and why?

Michelle Keomany 26:58
Well, I am, so I am because I mentioned before, I’m very used to where I am, I prefer to do things myself a lot of the time, I’ve kind of find that the after I kind of brief someone, I may as well have done it myself. So I tend to do a lot of social media posts myself. And there’s an app called Canva, which is the which you can use on your phone. And I love it. And I actually found out recently, it’s actually in Australia app. And it’s, yeah, it’s kind of a made for social media editing app. And it’s great. And other than that, I listen to a lot of NTS online radio, they also have a really good app. And I all day through work, I kind of just listen to NTS. So they’d be the kind of two things my go to.

Carlota Pico 27:41
Okay, I actually love Canva as well, I use it and I’m a fan of it. And I met. So I was in South by Southwest in 2015. And during that time, I had the opportunity to meet Guy Kawasaki, who’s one of the evangelist of Canva. And this was just starting off and so I’ve been one of the early users and yeah, can’t get enough of it, it’s a great tool to use.

Michelle Keomany 28:04
Yeah, I just started using it and I love it!

Carlota Pico 28:07
Especially it saves you a lot of money as well. Because myself, I’m not a designer. So I wouldn’t necessarily know how to design some of the assets using across our social media channels. But thanks to Canva I’m able to save some money and design it myself, because it’s very easy to use.

Michelle Keomany 28:24
Exactly. That’s exactly right. Yeah, it’s really efficient.

Carlota Pico 28:27
Awesome. So Well, those are great tips. Thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. It’s been a pleasure to have you on our podcast.

Michelle Keomany 28:34
Thank you for having me!

Carlota Pico 28:36
And thanks, everyone, for listening in. 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 in. Thanks again. Have a great weekend and see you next time. Bye!

Michelle Keomany 28:54

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