Jennifer‌ ‌Brenner‌, ‌Creating‌ ‌Value‌ ‌Through‌ ‌Brand‌ ‌Monitoring‌

Jennifer Brenner has a deep understanding of marketing and business leadership, and how this relationship can create value. She is an expert on brand monitoring and business leadership, and our full conversation revealed many helpful insights on this. 

The Accelerating Value podcast series focuses on how we see, create, and plan value. Every week we talk to new guests, who are leaders across various disciplines. We understand their definition of value and showcase their expert insights to help you in your own quest to create value.


Here are some of the key takeaways from the episode:

Let's talk about the arc of your career. I'm going to presume that once upon a time you were probably like every other marketing and communications person out there: you saw everything from a function-first perspective, and then somewhere along the way you began to have a series of epiphanies. Do you remember what those were?

I think when I started to watch communications agencies I started to watch the media ecosystem really evolving. Comms functions, both at the agency side and in-house, bringing social and earned media together, and all of those other sources, and looking at it together. That was something that was really hard for me to wrap my head around, because I felt like there are a lot of comms functions that are just not evolving as fast as the ecosystem is evolving, and I think that's hurt them to some extent. That was certainly an epiphany.

And then I think, being exposed to these platforms could bring it all together. I really started to get my brain around technology and analytics and the ability to look at things, and not just stick a finger in the wind and make decisions. To actually be able to realize data to inform decisions, to inform strategy, to be able to better see around corners. That's what really prompted me to make a shift out of agency life, and out of comms specifically, and into technology. I wanted to be part of that leading edge of developing technology that can help evolve and shift that dynamic.

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Do you have a sense of what is holding the communications and PR profession back in this area?

marketing communications

One of the things I see is that they don't tend to see that the world has shifted, but they're still responsible for the same measures and metrics that they always have been. I think there is a real reluctance to let go of that because they're not quite sure how to demonstrate their value. 

So you're now at Zignal (CMO) and you're kind of sitting astride both the normal CMO type role, but you're also kind of the industry whisperer because you really understand the audience. As we moved through the latter half of 2020 and you start to process all this, what do you think you've learned out of the past twelve months or so?

My focus has really been on the customer and the end-user of our product. How are they using it? What are the use cases? What are the outcomes? That's really key in technology because if you can't articulate how somebody is going to use your product and improve the outcomes that they're getting, you’re not going to sell the product. 

What I've seen happen in 2020 has actually been very good for our business because, for a long time we were trying to explain to people and bring people along this journey of: things have changed, you can't just look backward anymore. And listening to coverage, you have to look at it in real-time to understand what's happening in a connected way to understand all of these different channels of where it's happening. But then to be able to use that data to see your own corners and start to get a better sense of what is going to happen by looking at emerging narratives. 

What has it meant for you personally? What have you learned personally out of 2020?

For me, every day is a new day, and as a business leader, the lesson that I really learned was how to compartmentalize and look at what's happening in the world and look at what we need to do as a business and in a way that is authentic to who we are.

For people who don't know who Zignal is, let's talk about what it is that you do and how customers are really using this in real life?

So Zignal Labs, we've been around for about ten years. Our start was in politics because at the time there wasn't an ability to pull in and listen to all of the things being said and be able to react to those in real-time. So we built our platform based on the premise that brands, organizations, political candidates, are going to need this access to real-time data and the ability to powerfully analyze that. 

Where it gets really interesting is when they (our clients) start looking at big topics and the broader environment that they're part of. What we're finding is that all of these conversations happening online and all of these conversations that we talked about in terms of that mixed, interconnected media ecosystem, are not staying online anymore. Oftentimes, those can be early indicators, and we call them emerging narratives. 

You can find these emerging narratives that are going to be either threats to your brand or things that can be opportunities for your brand, and get an earlier jump on them. That can put you in a significantly better place. Helping to have comms and marketing make that journey is what we're really focused on. We’re also starting to look at how we can put open-source intelligence into the hands of risk officers. 

When you think about yourself and your family, your community, the causes you believe in. How do you think about your own value creation? Personally, not professionally. 

One of the most fulfilling parts of the last three years of my career is really getting connected to the idea of doing something that you really believe in and doing something that you can really develop expertise on and be a thought leader on. To have your personal mission connected with your work mission is the holy grail.

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