PR Profiles, Episode 18: Brooke Gabbert, Director of Communications, Study.com
Over her 20+ years as in-house PR council, Brooke Gabbert has tried her hand at all things PR. “My time at Six Flags involved rollercoaster openings and a lot of crisis comms; when I moved to Home Advisor in tech, it was IPOs and acquisitions,” says Brooke in her interview for the PR Profiles podcast. Most recently, Brooke moved into the education technology industry and is now the Director of Communications at Study.com, an online platform that supports 30 million learners a month in achieving their academic goals.
While moving from industry to industry requires you to “be a sponge and learn all the new reporters, terms and trends,” Brooke finds that no matter where she is, the tenets of PR and media relations stay the same. Particularly, do your research and don’t pitch a journalist a topic they don’t cover. “These apply whether you’re pitching a home improvement reporter or an education writer.”
Brooke joined Study.com in 2020 to help transition the company from solely focusing on building the learning platform to also building their marketing and branding. “PR is fairly new at Study.com,” says Brooke. “There’s a lot of opportunity to innovate and be creative building a program from the ground up. You get to throw a lot at the wall and see what sticks, and then iterate on that or not. Having the seasoned perspective that I do, I can see where the company needs that support to scale.”
Part of Brooke’s program includes internal communications, which she thinks is a big opportunity for PR right now. “It’s important to consider your employees as stakeholders and really understand what their needs are,” says Brooke. “Employees are demanding more of companies now when it comes to communication and when it comes to what they’re doing in the community. I think PR folks are in a unique position to elevate that for companies.”
Speaking of community—for the past year, Brooke has been working with The Abbi Agency on creating and elevating one of Study.com’s social impact programs: Keys to the Classroom. “Teacher testing barriers are creating problems for teachers trying to get into the classroom,” says Brooke. “Study.com offers teacher test prep and we know people use it and pass it. We wanted to get that offering out there and help with an issue that is systemic across the nation. So, we worked with The Abbi Agency to concept the teacher certification program and launch it in Nevada. We’ve gotten over a hundred articles since we’ve launched it.”
Brooke has worked with a lot of agencies over her career and has found the most successful partnerships occur when she provides the agency with a clearly defined focus. “It’s really hard for a PR agency when you hand them everything, the whole platter, and just say, ‘go do something with this,’” says Brooke. “What I found as the key to success is to be really focused and make sure that they have all the tools they need for that one goal—or two or three goals—you’ve given them.”