As Global Head of Media Relations and Community Marketing at GoPro, Kelly Baker has facilitated the brand’s biggest and most successful marketing programs over the last decade, including its UGC-powered awards program and annual Million Dollar Challenge.
Recently, Baker oversaw the fifth Million Dollar Challenge video, featuring footage captured by GoPro users worldwide. Participants had a chance to earn an equal share of a $1 million payout. The company received 42,000 submissions, and 55 individuals were chosen for the final video, each receiving over $18,000. It’s initiatives like these that reflect how much Baker values community.
Baker’s grounded yet vibrant personality beams through her work. However, the PR pro faces challenges like everyone else, like getting older. Baker finds herself navigating the generational gaps and harnessing the power of collective knowledge. She’s learning that there’s space and a need for her creative ideas and expertise while creating space for the next generation and their perspectives, too. It’s one of the challenges that keeps her up at night.
We caught up with Baker to get her take on the future of the communications industry.
What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?
Baker: The one piece of media I can’t live without is the Sunday New York Times – in print. It takes hours to properly read, but it’s one of the best parts of my week. It has everything I could need to know, from international policy and global economics to business, tech and cultural trends. I also enjoy several NPR podcasts because they remind me of why I love this job – “This American Life” for rich storytelling, “Fresh Air” for masterful interviews, and “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” for levity around current events.
What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?
I find most workplace tools irritating, but that’s because I don’t take the time to learn how to use them properly! I use Notes for everything – To Do lists, meeting recaps, random brainstorming thoughts, campaigns I read about that I think are clever, news or trends that could apply to my work, and admin things that I always forget but need to find. If I die, don’t bother scrubbing my email or searching my Dropbox – it’s ALL in my Notes.
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What excites you most about the future of communications?
Conversational AI, obviously! The pace of innovation is insane and it’s going to dramatically impact the way communications professionals work. But I disagree with the narrative that ChatGPT is going to make our jobs dispensable. If anything, I believe it’s going to make the work more impactful, compelling, creative and fast-paced. To me, it’s a tool for inspiration.* It helps “unstick” me from a creative rut or find the word or turn of phrase when it’s eluding me. (*ChatGPT was not used in the creation of this answer)
What communications challenge keeps you up at night?
Honestly, getting older keeps me up at night. I question if my creative ideas, strategic counsel, and campaign ideas are relevant. Coworkers who are 10 – 20 years my junior are approaching communications and marketing from a completely different perspective. I want to create space for what I know the next generation can teach me without diminishing the value of my experience and what I can teach them. It’s a balance that I’m never sure I’m getting right.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?
Earlier in my career, I worked in an environment where I was encouraged to conform. I was given tremendous professional opportunity, but it came with a subtext of, “You’re talented, but it would be great if you could be a little less you.” It felt like a constant battle to stand my ground. Only in retrospect can I see how significant it was that I didn’t compromise myself then. It taught me to be unapologetically myself.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
A mentor taught me that great leaders praise publicly and critique privately, and I carry that advice with me every day. It’s a core tenant of my management style and a benchmark for how I evaluate other leaders. Also, Hippocrates said, “If you’re in a bad mood, take a walk. If you’re still in a bad mood, go for another walk.” He didn’t give me that advice directly, but I follow it like gospel!