Episode 20: How to Build a Brand and Other Comms Tips from Caryn Marooney, VP of Global Communications at Facebook

This week we are joined by Caryn Marooney for a salon episode that focuses on PR and communications. Caryn shares tips on how to build a brand, when to take PR in house, and how to handle a publicity crisis.

Caryn leads global communications for Facebook and its family of apps including Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Oculus. Prior to joining Facebook in 2011, Caryn co-founded OutCast Communications, one of Silicon Valley’s premier technology communications firms. As co-founder, partner and CEO, Caryn was responsible for planning and executing communications strategies for companies of every size, including Amazon, Netflix, Salesforce and VMware.
Caryn was named to the board of directors of Zendesk in 2014. She is originally from New York City and holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

Highlights from the episode:

2:29 What was the biggest challenge that you saw startups facing with respect to communications? What types of pain points did you see them encounter most frequently?
3:22 What should startups focus on first when it comes to letting the outside world know they exist?
5:00 What process do you recommend founders go through to define brand and communicate company values?
7:10 How prescriptive should a founder be about their brand versus letting it evolve?
9:03 Can a brand get away with different brand personalities or does it need to consolidate around one identity?
9:53 How do you get attention from the press? How do outside PR firms help with that?
12:26 How do you vet if a PR firm is good and how do you get the most value out of working with one?
16:07 If you don’t have a significant “mic-drop” moment to launch a product, should you avoid PR altogether?
17:01 At what point should they bring a PR function in-house?
18:58 How do you ensure you get enough attention from your agency?
24:44 Tell us about the REBS model and give a example of messages or communications that fit the model well
24:37 Does a company’s communications strategy change as it grows?
26:56 In times of crisis, how do you handle PR?
29:02 Should founders seek marketing and communications executives for their boards?
30:59 What is your favorite tagline or slogan from a tech company?
31:35 What’s a book you’d recommend to founders in your area of expertise?
32:08 What’s something that you believe that most others don’t?

If you have any questions you’d like us to ask our guests, or founders you’d like to hear on this podcast, feel free to email us at founderrealtalk@ggvc.com. If you like what you hear, please rate and review us on the Apple podcast app to help others find this podcast.

GGV Capital is a global venture capital firm that invests in local founders. As a multi-stage, sector-focused firm, GGV focuses on seed-to-growth stage investments across Consumer/New Retail, Social/Digital & Internet, Enterprise/Cloud and Frontier Tech sectors. The firm was founded in 2000 and manages $6.2 billion in capital across 13 funds. Past and present portfolio companies include Affirm, Airbnb, Alibaba, Bitsight, ByteDance (Toutiao), Ctrip, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Gladly, Hello Chuxing, HashiCorp, Houzz, Keep, LingoChamp, Namely, Niu, Nozomi Networks, Opendoor, Peloton, Poshmark, Slack, Square, Wish, Xauto, Xiaohongshu, Yellow, YY, Zhaoyou and more. The firm has offices in Beijing, San Francisco, Shanghai and Silicon Valley. Learn more at ggvc.com, @GGVCapital or GGVCapital on WeChat.