Slack hasn’t had a CMO since November of last year, when Bill Macaitis stepped down and moved to an advisory role within the company.
Although she does not carry the title, Kelly Watkins, head of global marketing at Slack, now makes all marketing decisions and reports directly to the company’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield.
The workplace productivity messaging platform (which can also sometimes be a distraction) is valued at nearly $4 billion, and has snagged clients like IBM, Airbnb, Capital One, Dow Jones, Buzzfeed, NASA, Deloitte Digital and Ogilvy.
That’s an impressive list, and it’s caught the attention of tech juggernauts Microsoft and Facebook, who have deployed their own workplace productivity messaging platforms (that can also sometimes be a distraction).
Ad Age recently spoke with Watkins. The interview has been edited for clarity.
How often do you check email?
I’m so bad with email these days. Personally, once or twice a day, but within Slack itself, we generally don’t use email.
Is it forbidden?
Not at all.
How many channels does the official Slack Slack have?
Yea, we have a global team and then we have a bunch of different departments as well.
What’s your biggest Slack fail?
Slack is growing and so we have a couple of people who have the same name. One time I totally asked someone who I thought worked in IT a question. They were not the person I thought they were.
What was the question?
I was trying to figure out how to get Zoom to work in the conference room.
Because everyone at Slack uses Slack, is there a lot of random giggling in the offices?
Yes. There are some people internally that are incredibly talented with GIF-ing, where they are able to find the most perfect GIF to respond to something.
What do Slack employees do to get off Slack? There are some organizations that are addicted to Slack and they worry about over reliance, for example.
We use Slack, but we have meetings as well. For the marketing organization in particular we meet every month and come together in person.
What feature do you like most, but feel is underutilized?
The remind feature. You can do “/remind” so you remember to say happy birthday to someone, or set a reminder to submit an expense report.
Also, do not disturb mode can give people context of where you are or when you will be back. I also like starring the channels and people I talk to most so they are easy to find.
Who are your competitors?
We are one of the first in this space and the past several years, have really been defining the category. The fact we’re seeing other people get into this space has been so validating to us.
We’re creating a new tool for businesses to use at work. There is a lot of effort that goes into figuring out the category and showing what value it provides to companies.
Slack is a big breakthrough in not just how businesses will function today, but how they will function in the future. So honestly, right now, our biggest competitor is ourseleves. It’s on us to keep moving the product forward.
What’s your favorite emoji?
The dancing lady. She’s the woman in the red dress who is dancing.
I love it because it has such good energy. And because it’s someone who is really in the grove and enjoying life. Also, there’s a dancing shark — the left shark from the Super Bowl — emoji that’s animated, but you have to add that one.