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Published June 5th 2019

Interview: Porter Novelli’s Kaylea Bowers on Staying Grounded in the Nitty-Gritty and Using Data to Inform Brand Purpose

In which we chat with Kaylea about how she’s risen through the ranks of Porter Novelli while keeping her hand in the data

Kaylea’s spent most of her career working in analytics at Porter Novelli, rising from being an intern at the agency up to Manager of Analytics.

She’s seen lots change since she started out, but the biggest trend she’s seen is an increase in demand for analytics across the board, from a whole range of clients, markets, and industries.

“Our clients know that they can’t just take something back to leadership without data to back it up, so we’ve seen an increasing number of clients rely on us for that sort of intel,” she tells me.

When we catch up, we’re both still recovering from a wild week at NYK Chicago, which has left us both a little tired but with plenty to chat about.

Staying grounded in data

I start by asking what Kaylea does day-to-day, and hear about how she mixes her time between working with her team on their projects, putting out fires, and talking clients through insights and recommendations. The most unexpected thing she told me was how much time she spends deep in the data.

“I spend a lot of time digging into the nitty-gritty. I’ll dive into Brandwatch and use it to pull together reporting, or keep a pulse on different projects we’ve got going on, or set up new projects. Just this morning I was creating 10 Brandwatch queries for a project we’re working on.”

While delegation and support are part of Kaylea’s role, she’s keen to keep her hand in the messy world of analysis, understanding how the technology works and what the new possibilities are.

“I’m embracing my strategic counselor role, but to provide that counsel, it’s for the benefit of both our clients and the teams I work with that I stay grounded in exactly how things get set up, how they work, and how we move through to that final delivery. It’s a lot easier when you really understand the process.”

Developing programs

I ask Kaylea about her approach to her work. After all, her team are dealing with 12-14 different projects at a time, across a wide cross-section of industries and locales.

There are core standards and practices her team will offer to each client, she tells me. But where does each project differentiate?

“When it gets into an industry level or at a specific client level there are definitely nuances and that’s something that I pride our team on taking into account. It goes back to really understanding the client’s business, and not being the man behind the curtain – actually getting to know them.”

In her time at Porter Novelli, Kaylea has developed a number of frameworks for measurement and analytics that help her team work efficiently. This helps keep standards high while the team crafts customized solutions for clients.

An example is how her work reflects Porter Novelli’s focus on purpose. “Purpose is at the core of what we do, and what we do best is to help clients find, live, and tell their ’why’ – their authentic ambition to positively impact society,” she says.

“One of the things I’ve been working on recently is how we combine analytics with this ‘find, live, and tell your purpose’ model. The approach we have taken is to blend the research that we have, and we have a world-class primary research team with years of rich, historical data, with social analytics and traditional analytics.”

In practice, this means the team can present a complete view of how company purpose is or isn’t manifesting itself across different channels. Is it translating into relevant media coverage? Is the brand’s owned social presence reflecting their principles?

“How can we dig into the existing landscape to help inform the plan that we’re going to develop and make sure we’re being true to the brand, true to the environment in which they’re operating, and true to the audience they already have?” she says.

Kaylea doesn’t just use analytics to develop plans and then report on their progress – it’s also very much part of the live execution of the programs her team helps to build.

“Once we have developed that plan and as the program is unfolding, we make sure that we’re using analytics not just as a reporting function, but for program optimization throughout – how can we tweak things here and there?”

Working with a global team

Kaylea and her team work seamlessly with colleagues across the world, which enables them to gather specific local insights for award-winning global-scale campaigns.

For example, when studying niche industries, Kaylea says there are two ways to go about things.

“While we could just do some translations and try to infer meaning on our own as a US team, we also know that that may not be best practice. We have certain biases that will come into play, and we don’t know the context of everything going on in those geographies.

“So to make sure that we are grounding ourselves in reality and taking culture and environmental and regulatory context into account, we need to engage those teams around the world.”

Getting a local perspective on the landscape surrounding a particular industry or topic means that the team are able to pull out all kinds of insights they’d never have found without the help of their colleagues around the world.

“To offer those nuggets of information from a cultural perspective is crucial. We know our client is going to take action using the information we give them within the countries we’re studying. A one size fits all approach isn’t going to work.”

Kaylea’s approach to guiding her team while remaining fully immersed in the ‘nitty-gritty’ is impressive, and we can’t wait to see the innovative work she produces in the future.

Big thanks to Kaylea for chatting with the Brandwatch blog. You can find her on LinkedIn here.

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