Lauren Angelini, Senior Publisher Operations Manager, interviews our new Director of Corporate Communications, Angela Barnett
Lauren Angelini: Well, first of all, welcome to GumGum!
Angela Barnett: Thank you!
LA: The first question I want to ask is, what do you do here? What is your role and your responsibilities at GumGum?
AB: So, I will be handling all external communications for GumGum, so anything that has to do with the press, any speaking opportunities, social media accounts, anything that really helps to touch on the overall GumGum brand. That also plays a little bit of a role internally in helping make sure we’re all communicating together and that everyone has cohesive messaging that they can use to feel like they’re up to date on what’s happening and where we’re all heading. That’s a high level overview.
LA: Amazing! So you’ll be a part of the marketing team, then?
LA: So what brought you to GumGum? Why GumGum over another similar company?
AB: Yeah, I think two things. The first, being the culture at GumGum. Throughout the interview process it was very clear that GumGum cares about their employees, their company culture, encouraging people to bring their whole selves to work, and having leaders that are very authentic to themselves. That was a really big driving point for me. I’ve worked at several other organizations where it wasn’t as prioritized and I think it’s incredible what GumGum has built.
The second piece is, I really love building out communications teams and helping brands and organizations really elevate who they are in the marketplace. So I think GumGum has a really great opportunity, especially with all of the data privacy situations taking place, to really establish GumGum as a leader in the industry and have everyone know what we do and who we are. And I’m really excited to tackle that.
LA: I think that such an important part of establishing yourself as a brand is really concrete messaging and consistent messaging from everyone across the company. It’s going to be super advantageous to have you, and in a future, a communications team really tackling that.
LA: Did you go to school for communications?
AB: I did! I went to the University of Northern Colorado for Journalism and Business.The internet was just coming around then and learning how to do communications in a changing environment really captivated me. Facebook was just starting to bloom and Instagram wasn’t even a thing yet so it’s been fun to see how the industry has changed.
LA: The joy of tech is that there’s always something new to learn.
AB: Always something new!
LA: So, where were you before GumGum? What’s been your path to get you here since that journalism degree?
AB: I started my career at The Atlantic magazine doing media and events for them, which was really exciting. It was right when publishers were really getting into those events series — that was pretty fun!
Then I spent five to six years doing communications for PR firms in Washington DC, so that was really exciting! One of my first clients was the second largest statistical agency in the country. It’s called the National Education Assessment Progress and they test fourth and eighth graders on reading, science, and math to ensure our students are learning what they should compared to the rest of the world. And that’s when I really decided that I like complex communications. I sat in a room with data scientists and analysts all day trying to figure out what the story should be, which I found really fun and challenging.
Following that, I worked at Digiday. I was their Events Content Editor. I helped them research and plan topics for each of their events, and book top C-Suite speakers to talk on those topics. While I was at Digiday I had to plan several events around ad tech and programmatic and that is what propelled me into ad tech communications.
Then I went to IAS. I was their only PR & Comms person. It was just me for about a year and I grew that team to six people globally — with people in London and in Singapore. I got to build out their brand and communications program, which was really exciting. I joke that it was like getting an MBA in Communications: it was managing all facets of communications from a growing company. And now I am here at GumGum! And I’m very excited!
LA: Amazing! So when I first started, one of the questions everyone asked me was, “How did you end up in ad tech?” because it’s such a small world! So, what brought you into it, what drew you to ad tech?
AB: I think ad tech is really complex and it changes every day. It’s this new frontier. Advertising was the same for many, many years: TV, radio, the basics. And now it’s so different and complex. It’s combining technology and art. Now brands have to not only focus on building amazing creatives, but also have to navigate this whole inner world behind the scenes of your screen. I love that about ad tech.
Also, just getting to work with really smart people, Data Scientists, Engineers, and Product, they all have a very different mindset than I do. I am more on the creative side and not the technical side that can build out these complex systems and understand these complex algorithms. So it just fascinates me that I get to sit and talk with them and actually bring their work to life to a point where, maybe, their parents understand what they’re doing or they can share it and be proud of the work that they are accomplishing. There’s a lot of positivity in that!
LA: I completely agree! So, now that you’ve been at GumGum for a bit, what excites you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
AB: GumGum has incredible technology, right? There are incredible stories to be told, deep insights to be pulled out, and that the company is driving the future of advertising really excites me. I love bringing stories to life and that obviously is something that gets me out of bed in the morning.
And really, I love working with great people and everyone I’ve met with, even in the interview process, was great. I think everyone wonders, “Once I get in there, is it really going to be this nice?”. And it has been better than I anticipated! So I think working for a company that makes you proud to work for them and really cares about the culture, and the people, and not just the bottom line really drives me. I love it. I love that there’s a team mentality here and everyone is ready to help and pitch in and that’s something that drives me. It’s driven me my whole life, so I love that.
LA: That makes me so happy! I feel the same way. The people that we get the opportunity to work with are really incredible and that’s definitely one of the best parts of being here.
AB: Yeah, I mean, it’s a really hard thing to do. I’ve watched several companies try to figure out how to build a culture like this. It’s really, really hard to do and to maintain, especially as you’re growing and changing. Especially for ad tech companies where they feel like a different company every year, it makes it a real challenge. I think it’s really impressive that the culture has sustained itself over this amount of time and throughout COVID. It’s pretty impressive.
LA: I 100% agree — I think it’s amazing. Now, just to finish off, I think we’ll do a fun question! So, I think we’ve all been missing traveling — with no budget restraints, no COVID in the picture — where would you go?
AB: I really want to do Japan and India. I think those two places are high, high on my list when travel opens up! We’ve done all the other continents besides Antarctica and Asia, so Asia is next on my list!
LA: That’s amazing!
AB: Yeah, At this point I will go anywhere! You just get me on a plane and I’ll go wherever you’re sending me!